Spike walked into Willy’s and went straight to the bar, shoving a small demon off a stool.
“Jack and O Neg, and keep ‘em coming.”
“Decided to come out for your drinking tonight?” Willy said, putting a glass in front of Spike and pouring a bottled mixture of whiskey and blood into it. “Haven’t seen you for a few days.”
“Decided to do my drinking where I can enjoy some company.” As he spoke, he was swiveling on his stool and surveying the room. He nodded to a wrinkled demon he’d known since he first came to Sunnydale, and looked over the female vampires and demons scattered around the room. He dismissed the obvious vamp prostitutes and the less than human-looking demons, focusing on the few female vampires who were eyeing him back. He picked up his drink and the bottle and walked to the booth where two reasonably pretty ones were smiling at him.
Spike drank and flirted with the two vamps for a while, but eventually got bored. Even though the blonde one was rubbing her bare foot up his leg, he found himself with no noticeable interest in pursuing things with her. He told himself it was due to loyalty to Dru, his one true love, and steadfastly refused to acknowledge the little voice whispering how often being around Buffy made his cock stand up and pay attention.
Giving the girls a story about needing to be somewhere else, he left them disappointed but hopeful for the future. As he left the bar, taking the bottle of mixed booze and blood with him, he wandered toward Restfield, taking occasional drinks from the bottle. A flash of fangs at a wino who followed him for a while, insisting he needed to share, was all it took to eliminate that problem.
“Probably could have given myself a good buzz just off his blood,” he grumbled to himself as he entered the cemetery, following the sounds of battle. “Don’t know why I didn’t—oh yeah. There’s why.”
He sat on a small monument and watched as Buffy whirled and quipped her way through a small group of vampires. As so often happened, the body part that had been so disinterested in the girls at Willy’s was soon hardening into its usual response to watching Buffy in action. He shifted uncomfortable and adjusted himself as he watched her finish them off.
Keeping his coat closed over his obvious condition, he stood up and managed a one-handed clap when the last one’s dust had drifted away.
She spun around, stake at the ready, then relaxed and smiled at him.
“No fun to be had at Willy’s either?” she asked.
“Not as much fun as watching you playin’ with poor ignorant fledglings,” he said, wincing to himself as she colored and looked away.
“Must have been a really slow night,” she mumbled. “If that’s more exciting than whatever, probably adult, activities you usually go there for.”
“I go there to drink and gamble, Slayer.” He held up his bottle. “Took some take-out with me of the one, and didn’t see any suckers to take money off for the other.”
“No lady vamps there, huh?” Her voice was casual, but the tenseness in her shoulders put the lie to her attempts to seem worldly and unconcerned.
Cursing himself for an idiot, he nevertheless said, “None that caught my eye like you do.” Trying to save the situation, he added, “Anyway, I’m a one-woman man. Always have been. I can wait till I find Dru again.”
“Right. Drusilla. I almost forgot why you’re still here.” Her eyes flew to his. “Did you say until you find her? Does that mean you’re not staying in Sunnydale?”
“Not my home, is it, Slayer? And we know she’s not coming back to me, so I’ll have to go to her.”
“Oh. Well, of course you will. That makes perfect sense. You should do that.” She started walking deeper into the cemetery, keeping her face turned away from him.
“Glad you agree,” he said as he fell into step beside her. “Care for some company for the rest of the evening?”
“Sure, that’ll be fun,” she said, still keeping her face where he couldn’t see it.
They walked along in silence until he finally said, “If you don’t want me to leave, Slayer, just say so. It’s not like I have to go running off right away. But I do have to leave eventually.”
Buffy sighed and stopped walking, finally turning to face him. “I know you do. But I… I’m used to having you around all the time, and I… I kinda like it. I don’t want to rattle around in that big old house all by myself.”
“I’ve got right used to you too, pet. But once your mum takes you back, and you and your little white hat pals are spending more time together, you won’t need an old vampire in your life. I don’t want to be alone there any more than you do.”
“I guess not.” She sounded dubious.
“You know it’s true, Slayer. This whole thing has been unnatural—sworn enemies forming a truce to save the world? Who ever heard of such a thing?”
“Yay us. We’re one of a kind.”
“I expect we are at that, luv.”
When they’d cleaned out a nest and released all the captives with instructions not to pick cemeteries for moonlight picnics, without discussion, they began to walk toward the mansion. Buffy was uncharacteristically silent as she walked, glancing around from time to time. He assumed it was more from habit than because she thought there would be anything out this late at night stupid enough to take on both of them, but he extended his own senses just in case.
She took her key and unlocked the front door, mumbling her thanks as he automatically reached over her to hold it open. He growled at the sound of several heartbeats coming from the kitchen.
“Wait here,” he said, moving silently in that direction.
She didn’t wait, of course, but made her own silent way to the entrance to their kitchen, stopping behind him.
“What the bloody hell are you humans doing in my kitchen?” Spike was in full vamp face as he burst into the room with a roar. “Are you stealing my booze?”
The two men who had been pulling bottles from the pantry froze, their faces grotesque in their fear. The bottles they were holding crashed to the floor, smashing and filling the air with the scent of Jack Daniels and increasing Spike’s snarls to incoherent sounds of rage.
“We… we thought there wasn’t anybody living here except her.” They pointed at Buffy, staring at them with wide eyes.
Spike’s voice became, if anything, more fearsome as he stopped snarling to say, “And you think that made it okay to break in?” He stalked toward the men, now cowering against the fridge. “You think it’s okay to break into someone’s home because she’s just a little girl?” The cold menace in his voice felt good to him after so much time spent being gentle around Buffy and her friends. He inhaled deeply, grinning at the fear he could smell from the two would-be burglars.
“Uh, Spike… technically….” He ignored Buffy’s attempt to remind him she was more than capable of taking care of herself.
“Do you know how long it’s been since I tasted warm, fresh from the source, human blood?” he said as he loomed over them. “How wonderful it tastes when it’s full of fear and regret?” He reached out one hand and took hold of the closest man’s shirt, bringing his throat close to his face and the sharply pointed fangs so visible there.
Buffy stepped up beside him, not touching, but waiting while he struggled to control the demon demanding he take his revenge on the interlopers. Through the rage and hunger, he could feel her beside him, not interfering, but obviously not planning to watch him kill. With a last snarl that felt more like a moan, he threw the man against fridge. Pointing to the whiskey-soaked floor and shattered glass, he growled, “Clean up this mess!”
He remained in game face the entire time they fumbled around the kitchen, finding the broom and dustpan, extra paper towels to soak up the whiskey, and doing their best to remove any trace of what they’d done. Buffy’s hand on his arm and her quiet “Thank you, I know that was hard” went a long way toward soothing his still-raging demon. He nodded, keeping his fangs, but ceasing the snarling.
When the two men had done what they could to remove the broken glass and spilled alcohol, they paused, trembling, waiting for more instructions.
“If I ever catch you within a mile of this house again, you’re going to die long, painful deaths. Is that clear?” They nodded vigorously, hope beginning to glimmer in their eyes. “You might want to spread that word to the other lowlifes in Sunnyhell. This is William the Bloody’s home and he won’t tolerate intruders.”
Spike let his face go back to his human mien for the first time since he’d burst in on them. He put his arm around Buffy and pulled her closer. “You see this little girl? The one you thought was the only one living here? She’s the lone reason your entrails aren’t hanging from my shower curtain right now. And not just because I don’t like to make her unhappy. It’s because she can kick my arse more often than not. Remember that the next time you think you’re safe breaking into someone’s home. You don’t know who or what’s waiting for you inside.”
“I think they get it, Spike,” Buffy said, sliding her arm around his waist and giving him a small squeeze. “Let it go. It’s been a long night.” To his disappointment, she let go as quickly as she’d put her arm around him.
“Right you are, love.” Dropping his own arm from her shoulders, he grabbed each man by the collar and marched them to the open kitchen door. “I hope for your sake that door isn’t damaged,” he growled. Shaking their heads and babbling, they assured him they hadn’t damaged it, just picked the rather simple lock. Without responding, he lifted and propelled them off the porch, through the air and into the yard.
He didn’t look back as they scrambled to their feet and took off running, but entered the house and busied himself with checking the door and closing it. He didn’t look at Buffy as he muttered about getting a better locking mechanism for it, but she finally came over and put her hand on his shoulder.
“It’s fine, Spike. It’s over. You scared the daylights out of them and I’m sure they’ll never be back.”
He stood up straight and met her eyes, taking the hand from his shoulder and bringing it to his lips briefly.
“You know if you hadn’t been here, they’d both be dead now, don’t you?”
She nodded. “But they aren’t, and the mess is almost cleaned up, and nobody got hurt, so I’m going to brush my teeth and go to bed.”
She hadn’t pulled her hand away, so he continued to hold it. “You should do that, pet. It’s going to be morning soon.”
“I’m gonna need my hand for that,” she said softly, still without pulling away, although she twitched it a little as she smiled.
“Right. Let go of the poor chit’s hand,” he muttered. As Buffy turned to go, he said, “Slayer, what I said about leaving….”
She stopped, her shoulders clearly tensing up. “Yes?”
“I’m not going anywhere until you’re safely back with your mum and we know it’s going to work out there.”
“You promise?” Her voice suddenly sounded much younger than before.
“I promise. Not leaving here until I know you have people who love you around.”
She nodded and kept walking to the bathroom.
“Even if they aren’t me,” he whispered, admitting to himself what he was just realizing.
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