After the first few weeks, when they jumped every time there was a sudden noise or a bright light, they became resigned to the idea that the portal wasn’t going to reopen any time soon.
“Red didn’t do it on purpose, did she?” Spike said. “It’s prob’ly going to take her a bit to recreate what she was doing when she sent us on holiday.” He wiggled his eyebrows at Buffy and held up his beer bottle. “Got to say, as unexpected side effects go, this one’s not that bad. She’s done worse to us.” He cocked his head. “Got to wonder why it is when her magic goes awry we always seem to end up married, or planning to get married, though. Think she’s got some kind of match-maker thing going on?”
Buffy made a face at him, but didn’t respond to his ridiculous suggestion with actual words. Instead, she focused on his reminder that they’d been marooned in a pretty pleasant place.
“It is kinda like a vacation, isn’t it?” Buffy said. “No slaying for me, no nosy Council wanting to tell me what to do, no skanky women who can beat me up, no robot-making, wannabe evil guy making my life miserable. You don’t need to find blood to eat, or to worry that you can’t hit back if somebody hits you... We can just relax and be normal people. It’s kind of… I dunno… calm and normal and—”
“It’s not boring! It’s relaxing. I’m relaxed. No work except dancing – I like to dance – and we’ve got friends to have fun with. I’m not bored.”
“Well I’m bored!”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re not bored either. You have friends who play poker. You work in a bar. With free booze. And you spend every night flirting with slutty girls and watching half-naked dancers. It’s like Spike Heaven.”
“Flirting with women I can’t follow home because everybody thinks I’m married to you,” he pointed out. “And you’re the only half-naked dancer I’m watching. By the time we leave work every night, it’s a wonder I can even walk.”
She turned away, her face flaming. “You are such a pig.”
“I’m only human, Slayer. Very human, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m a young, healthy man who lives with a gorgeous woman he can’t touch except when somebody else is watching. If this keeps up much longer, I’m gonna wear out my left hand.”
She glared at him, shuddering at the vision he’d just planted in her brain. Finally finding her voice, she choked out, “TMI, Spike!” The image remained, in spite of her best attempts remove any visions of a naked Spike stroking himself.
“It is what it is, luv. It’s not like my feelings for you disappeared with my fangs. And now I’m married to you and I still can’t touch.”
As he spoke, he’d been walking toward her, and he raised one hand, hovering over her hair. Buffy was frozen in place. Her normal urge to hit him at the slightest provocation had long since vanished, but she steadfastly refused to admit that there were other urges taking its place. She stood still while he lowered his hand to stroke her cheek, closing her eyes so as not to see the naked longing on his face. With a sigh, he withdrew his hand and went back to the couch to watch TV.
Buffy wondered aloud where this world’s Spike and Buffy were, or what, if anything, they would remember of the time a very different Spike and Buffy had inhabited their bodies. Although she scoffed at Spike’s theory that they’d been slipped into this world the same way Dawn had come in to theirs, sometimes it did seem as if they had been deposited into a world that had just made a space for them and adjusted around it.
As the days went on, and she and Spike played the public role of happy newlyweds, she found herself looking forward to the times when the presence of other people meant that they had to cuddle together and kiss frequently. Remembering what he’d said about his frustration, Buffy tried to keep her body’s responses hidden from the very warm and human man nibbling on her neck and whispering in her ear. But their time spent providing their friends with evidence of their passionate relationship had become her favorite part of the day.
“You’re killin’ me here, love,” he groaned one night as they stopped in the hallway to the office and dressing rooms for the expected make out session. “Can’t stop thinking about….” He pulled her against his body, letting her feel what she was doing to him as she indulged in kisses that curled her toes in spite of her mental reminders that she was kissing Spike. She couldn’t help the whimper that escaped when they had to move apart to allow other employees to pass by.
“Get a room!” Jake said. “Oh wait. You’ve already got one. I don’t know why you guys think you have to go at it so hot and heavy here. You’re off in another five minutes, you can just go home. You’d think you never got a chance to—” He was interrupted by a question from someone else, and continued down the hall without finishing his comment.
Spike and Buffy stood, breathing hard and staring at each other until Buffy dropped her head and turned away. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “We probably shouldn’t….” She glanced up at him, blushing to her roots. “I just like… you’re a really, really good kisser.”
“’S alright, pet. Nobody ever died of a hard-on. If you like kissin’ me, you keep it up. Not gonna hear me complainin’.” He took a deep breath and straightened up, adjusting himself. “Let’s go home, yeah?”
They left the bar to the accompaniment of lewd, but good-natured, comments about where they were going and what they’d be doing when they got there. Smiling as best they could, they walked out holding hands, although Buffy somewhat reluctantly pulled her hand away as soon as they were out of sight. Spike said nothing, only sighed and put his own hands into his pockets.
When they got home, Buffy went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. She came out and peeked into the living room to see Spike already lying on the couch, pillow over his head and body hidden under the blanket. She flashed back to the night she’d accidentally walked in on him getting ready for bed, and how she’d not been able to take her eyes off his body before he’d wrapped the blanket around himself and smirked at her. “I sleep naked, love,” he’d said. “Better get used to it.”
Shaking the image from her brain, she went into the bedroom and shut the door behind her.
Some weeks later, they had a late night encounter with a would-be mugger. Although the encounter itself turned out to not be nearly as much fun as it would have been if Spike could have flashed him some fang, or if Buffy could have picked him up with one hand and shaken him, they did manage to show the man that he’d picked on the wrong couple. He quickly discovered that the petite girl and rather small man knew perfectly well how to take care of themselves in a street fight. When they’d left him whimpering on the sidewalk, they exchanged heated looks that left them both breathing hard.
“Buffy....” Spike all but groaned her name. “Please, love. Just let me—”
He stopped talking and dipped his head to kiss her. Spike still took every opportunity he got to act as he was expected to by their friends and co-workers. And Buffy had long since given up trying to pretend she was only playing along. She enjoyed the kisses every chance she got, smothering her guilt at what she knew it was doing to Spike.
But when they were alone, she still maintained the distance they’d had when they arrived. They remained apart until they were around people who expected them to be showing a lot of physical affection. Other people were Buffy’s safety net, leaving her free to indulge in all the affectionate behaviors that she was careful to avoid when there was no one else around to limit their activity.
Suddenly, here they were, in the dark, by themselves, kissing on a public sidewalk. Surrendering to what her body was demanding, Buffy put her arms around his neck and sank into the kissing. Not until her knees were threatening to drop her to the ground did she tear her mouth away from his.
“Let’s go home,” she whispered into his neck, breathing in his scent and the warmth of his skin.
Without another word exchanged, they linked hands and ran the several blocks to their home. Once inside, Spike hesitated, his gaze going back and forth between the couch and the bedroom. Buffy blushed, but held on to his hand. “I think there’s room in the bed for both of us.”
Giving a happy whoop, he picked her up and carried her, giggling with mingled embarrassment and excitement, into the bedroom. He walked to the bed and turned around to fall backwards on it, landing with Buffy on top of him. She gazed down at him just long enough to see his expression fading from happy lust to uncertainty, then fastened her mouth on his and resumed the kissing they’d interrupted in order to run home. This time, there was no interruption as their young, healthy bodies took the kisses to their logical conclusion.
The next morning, Buffy went into the living room, picked up the pillow and neatly-folded blanket off the couch, walked back to the bedroom, and silently placed them on the bed. She tried to avoid Spike’s eyes and the awed devotion shining there, but she could feel them burning her skin.
The alternation in their sleeping arrangements, visible only to them, was a major change that soon affected all aspects of their lives. They were both a little surprised at how easily they’d fallen into the new relationship and how comfortable they felt there. Buffy insisted on blaming it on the situation that had apparently already existed in this world, Spike insisted it just proved what he’d tried to tell her – that they were made for each other.
They began to spend more time at home, making love in every room of the small house, and even outside in the yard one very dark night. Buffy had stopped stiffening up when, in spike of Spike’s attempts to keep the words to himself, a rare, whispered “I love you” would slip out. She never responded verbally, but she would sigh and hold him a little tighter.
Life was good, and if Buffy occasionally suffered pangs of guilt over being away from her sister and duties for so long, Spike was usually able to jolly her out of it. He pointed out frequently that since they hadn’t asked for their situation and had no control over how long it might last, they might as well just relax and enjoy it.
Lying in bed one night, Buffy admitted to not missing her superpowers nearly as much as she’d expected to. “What about you?” she asked, running her fingers across his bare chest. “Do you miss being a vampire? Do you miss being super strong and fast?”
“What do you think?” he asked, pulling her against his body and enjoying the way she willingly cuddled up to him. “I wouldn’t trade one day or night with you like this for all the speed and strength in the world.”
“I’ve gotta admit, I think I could get used to this,” she agreed as she snuggled against him. “As being trapped in other dimensions goes, this has got to be the best one ever.”
“Best one ever,” he echoed, kissing the top of her head and squeezing her tightly.
The love-making that followed was more intense than usual as each of them tried to ignore the knowledge that their vacation could end at any time. They fell asleep, still intimately connected and wrapped up in each other.
“There it is.” Spike glared at the glowing portal hovering a few inches above their newly-mown backyard.
They stared at the portal they had been so anxious to see when they’d first arrived. Although Buffy missed Dawn and her friends and still suffered from bouts of guilt, the idea of returning to Sunnydale and her life there had lost a lot of its appeal. She looked at Spike’s grim face and sighed.
“You know we have to go. <i>I</i> have to go.”
“I know. It’s just…” He shook his head. “It’s over, isn’t it?” Buffy wouldn’t meet his eyes as he continued, forcing out the words that he knew she was thinking. “I’ll be back to being a soulless vampire, and you’ll be The Chosen One again.”
Going up on her toes, she gave him a sweetly sad kiss. In spite of the Slayer in her making a reappearance after months of being invisible, she was surprised to find that Spike was the one to finally break the kiss.
“Better go, love, before the bus leaves.”
His hand remained in hers as he followed her through the glowing portal, but she quickly dropped it when they stepped out. Only Dawn included Spike in her greeting, giving him a quick hug and a sincere “Welcome back.” Spike’s few attempts to talk to Buffy were waved off as Dawn and the Scoobies surrounded her.
“I’m glad you guys are okay,” Willow said, earning a grateful smile from Spike at her use of the plural. “I was afraid you might have gone different places, or it might be some kind of hell dimension, or a jungle full of lions and tigers, or—”
“No,” Buffy said softly. “Not a hell dimension. It was actually… very nice. It was a good vacation from here.” She didn’t meet Spike’s eyes as she admitted, “We—I wasn’t really ready to come home... yet.”
“Well, it was only a few days, I guess. If you were having such a good time, maybe I should I have waited longer to bring you back.” Willow smiled at her own joke, the smile fading when Buffy shook her head.
“It was... longer than that for us. A lot longer... Which was okay, because we... we really liked it. We—I was really happy there.”
Willow put her hand over her mouth. “Did I send you to some kind of... heaven dimension?” Her brow wrinkled with dismay.
“There’s no such thing as a heaven dimension, Will,” Xander said. “And if there was, what would fangface have been doing there with Buffy? No offense,” he adding, shrugging at Spike who just snorted and looked away.
Willow glared at him. “If there are hell dimensions, then there’s no reason why there can’t be heaven dimensions, Xander. It could happen.”
Buffy hastened to assure her friend. “No, Will. It wasn’t heaven – not Heaven like you mean anyway. No angels and stuff. It was just really nice. We were happy there. And now we’re back and…” Shaking her head and rubbing her eyes, Buffy turned and ran, leaving them all staring after her.
“What was that all about?” Xander glared at Spike as if it was all his fault that Willow had sent them someplace Buffy hadn’t wanted to leave. The vampire was just staring after her, his face impassive as his sharper hearing picked up the sound of muffled sobs. When he could no longer hear Buffy, he turned his attention back to Xander who was still demanding an explanation.
“Where were you that she liked it so much?” he said again. “What was it like? Wasn’t there much slaying to do there?”
Spike shook his head. “She wasn’t a slayer, and I wasn’t a vamp. We were just two regular people, living their regular normal lives. Going to work, hanging out with friends, coming home, doing chores, shopping for groceries...” He shrugged. “We were just normal people.”
“That doesn’t sound very heavenly,” Willow said, frowning. “Sounds pretty much like life here... minus the slaying, I guess. Why would Buffy want to be ordinary? And why would you? What did you guys do without your super-powers? Why would she want to stay like that?”
“Ask her,” Spike said abruptly. “Ask her why she wanted to stay there.” He strode off to his crypt, now sure that Buffy had no intention of continuing their domestic relationship in this world.
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