Spike held Buffy’s face for the kiss until she was whimpering and reaching for him. Then, without breaking the kiss, he dropped his arms to pull her into his body and hold her there. Unlike the more or less platonic embraces when he left Sunnydale and the equally heartfelt but chaste one they’d shared after her Cruciametum, this one was soon as intense and passionate as the one the night before. Although now, there was no mother upstairs to worry about.
They finally pulled their mouths apart so Buffy could take a deep breath. Spike rested his forehead against hers, his breathing just as ragged as her own.
“Bloody hell, love,” he groaned. “I might spontaneously combust if we do much more of that.”
“I like kissing you,” she said, her breathing still heavy. “Isn’t there some way we can kiss without—”
Spike pulled his head back.
“Without what? Without me getting a cockstand? Not a chance, love. That happens anytime you’re close enough for me to smell you, never mind having your tongue in my mouth and your body telling me you want it as much as I do. If you can kiss me without getting into it like you do, I’ll try to keep my hands… and other body parts… away from you, but that’s the best I can promise.”
“I thought you were going to let me have some time to…. to…. I don’t know. To fall in love? Or not fall in love, but want to sleep with you anyway?”
“So did I, sweetheart. And I meant—mean it, but I’m only flesh and blood. Being dead doesn’t mean I’m…dead….” He frowned. “That made more sense in my mind.” He sighed, releasing his grip just enough that they weren’t pressed so tightly together. “What I’m trying to say is, I want you so bad I’m having a hard time controlling myself. That’s never happened to me before—”
“You never—” She gestured at the impressive bulge in his pants, accidentally brushing her hand against as she did so and earning a moaned “bloody hell” from Spike. “Not even when you were human?” She blushed. “And sorry! That really was an accident.”
“You can have accidents like that anytime you want to, Slayer,” he said, shifting his hips away from her.
He smiled and caressed her cheek. “If I thought you’d done it on purpose just to tease me, I’d be bloody brassed off at you right now. But I know you didn’t. And it felt just as good as if you’d done it on purpose.”
She met his eyes doubtfully, but nodded. “So, if I do it again, you’ll know it was on purpose. “’K?”
His eyes glazed over, making her giggle. “Back to when you were human. Didn’t you ever get like that then?”
He snorted. “Poor William spent half his adult life walkin’ around trying to hide the effect women were having on him. He couldn’t do much to control that body part, but since his chances of anyone getting close enough to touch it were somewhere between slim and none… all he had to do was hide it.” He shook his head. “When I became a vampire, it was just something else to learn to control—like my fangs and my demon. Not saying I didn’t let it out to play whenever I could, but if I couldn’t or shouldn’t, yeah, I can usually ignore it.”
“Shouldn’t?” Buffy frowned. “I thought being soulless was all about not having to worry about ‘shouldn’t’?”
“It is, mostly. But sometimes even a soulless vampire knows when he really shouldn’t do something. Usually would have less to do with what’s right or wrong and more with what’s safe or not safe, but the point is, sometimes you just shouldn’t. And I’ve never had any problem with that… until now.”
“Should I be flattered or frightened?” Buffy asked. She dropped her arms and moved back a little. He immediately released his light hold on her.
“Not trying to do either one, love. No sense flattering you, you already know I think you’re desirable, amazing, and more than I deserve. And I’m not trying to frighten you. Christ knows I don’t want you to be afraid of me… for any reason. Just trying to explain….Fuck if I know what I’m trying to explain. I just… it was easier when I didn’t think I’d ever—” He shook himself and growled.
“So, are you saying no kissing until I’m ready to… to… whatever?”
“I can’t answer that for you, love. We can try that…. If that’s what we need to do. Or we could…”
He cocked his head at her. “There are lots of ways to take the edge off and make each other feel good without actually getting all naked and… naked.”
Buffy blushed. “I think I know what you mean, but I don’t….” She peered at him from under her eyelashes. “But not specifically.”
“Don’t worry about it, love. Let’s just get to your meeting and worry about it later, yeah? I’m sure the sight of your watcher and friends fighting to put a stake through my heart will calm my todger right down.”
Buffy pointed to the windows. “It’s still daylight, and I haven’t been home yet. The meeting won’t be till after dinner, so you can finish your blood and take your time. I’ll call you when I’m leaving the house and you can meet me somewhere.” She picked up the phone charging on the counter and memorized the number before putting it back.
“Need to get you one of these,” he said, nudging the small phone. “That way I can talk to you without going through your mum.”
“Could come in handy,” she admitted. “I wonder why Giles hasn’t bought one for me.”
“The watcher probably still uses carrier pigeons to communicate,” Spike scoffed.
Buffy made a face at him and turned to leave. “I’ll call you in a couple of hours,” she said.
“I’ll be waiting.”
She hesitated, then darted in to peck him on the lips and was quickly out of reach again.
“See ya,” she said, almost running for the door, pausing only to grab the book bag she’d dropped there.
“That you will, love,” he said, smiling to himself. “That you will.”
Buffy dashed home, changed her clothes and had a snack. While she waited for her mom to get home and for the sun to go down, she looked over her homework for the night. She wondered if Spike would be willing to help her with it this year, and wondered if her mom would approve of him more if he did.
Joyce got home in time to see Buffy putting her books away and asked, “Done with homework already?”
“Yep. Started it as soon as I got home. We didn’t have much today. I think the teachers are all too tired to grade papers.”
“Why would they be tired?”
“I dunno. I think Snyder’s harassing them as much as he does me. He’s already getting psyched about graduation for some reason.”
“Oh. Well. That’s good I guess. How is school going? You are going to graduate, aren’t you?”
“Oh yeah. I’m doing okay. Willow helps with notes and now that Spike’s back—”
“And what does Spike have to do with graduating?”
“Don’t you remember how he helped me study for those exams I had to take last year? He knows a lot of stuff.” She frowned. “I’m not sure why, because he acts like he’s never been to school… but I think he’s lying about that. He reads too much and he knows too much stuff not to have gone to school somewhere, sometime.”
“So, he’ll be helping you again?” Joyce’s voice was tightly controlled, but Buffy rolled her eyes anyway.
“Mom. I’m going to be spending time with Spike. I know you don’t like that idea, but he’s going to be good backup for slaying. If he helps with my homework, that’s just like a… bonus.” Buffy sighed and stared at Joyce until she reluctantly met Buffy’s gaze. “And I… I like him. A lot.”
Joyce shook her head. “I was afraid of that.”
“He likes me too.”
“He’s in love with you,” Joyce corrected. “But even if he wasn’t another vampire, he’s an older man. You should be with boys your own age. I don’t know why you have this thing for older—”
“Mom. I might not live long enough to be as old as Spike would be if he was human.” Buffy bit her lip when Joyce flinched. “Sorry. But it’s true. I’m not your average teenager, and I don’t want an average boy. I want somebody who understands my life—my world. Somebody who can share it with me. And that’s Spike.”
“I thought you were just going to go slow and see how you feel? It sounds like you’ve already made up your mind.”
“The only thing we’re going slow about is sex.” Buffy shrugged when Joyce flinched even more visibly. “Sorry, mom. But it’s not like I’m a virgin. He promised not to push me, but—”
Joyce waved her hand. “I’m fairly certain the rest of that statement is not something I want to hear.” She sighed. “I assume this means you’re rethinking your idea that you would never want to have sex again? Especially with a vampire?” Joyce sat down and dropped her head to her hands resting on the counter. “I just want what’s best for you, Buffy.”
Buffy put her arms around Joyce and hugged her just tightly enough to emphasize her greater-than-normal strength.
“I know you do, Mom. And I appreciate it. But I’m not a normal girl. I never will be. And no matter how much we might hate the idea, I’m probably not going to live a normal life span or anything like it. If I can find somebody who makes me happy, don’t you want me to have as much time with him as I can? Spike is perfect for me in so many ways. He’s almost as strong as I am, he’s good backup in a fight, he understands my life, and he makes me laugh when I want to cry.”
“Buffy, he’s a vampire!”
“And I’m a slayer. Neither one of us is exactly a shining example of what we’re supposed to be. We should hate each other… and we did used to. But now we don’t. We don’t want to kill each other anymore, we want to—”
Without raising her head, Joyce once again held up her hand in the universal signal for “halt”. “I’ve got it. Details are not needed.”
Buffy giggled. “Sorry, Mom. Forgot who I was talking to for a minute.”
Joyce gave a shaky laugh and raised her head to smile at Buffy. “I know you’re legally an adult now, but I am still your mother, not your best friend. Save those details for Willow.”
“Okay, Mom. I’ll keep all our conversations PG from now on.”
“Please do. And please help me with dinner by making a salad while I warm up some spaghetti.”
By the time they were through eating, it was dark outside and Buffy was getting restless. She pulled out the paper with Spike’s number on it, went to the phone, and dialed.
“Is it time, love?” His warm voice was all she needed to hear to know she was doing the right thing by letting him into her life.
“Yep. I’m going to leave now. Do you want to meet me there, or somewhere on the way?”
“Are you walking?”
“Um… yeah? That hasn’t changed.”
He laughed. “We’re going to work on that, Slayer. I think it’s considered un-American for a teenager not to be driving by now.”
“Very funny. I’ve been busy. And what’s that got to do with anything?”
“Probably nothing. I’ll catch up with you somewhere along the way so we can arrive together.”
“Okay. See you in a little while.”
She pulled on a jacket against the nighttime chill and filled her pockets with stakes. She added holy water, but opted not to wear a cross, blushing when she admitted to herself she didn’t want anything coming between her and Spike when they next kissed. Buffy debated about the sword, then shrugged and put it in a harness on her back. She yelled her good-night to her mother and went out, being careful to lock the door behind her.
Buffy felt the tingle only a split second before she recognized who was causing it. She laughed at Spike’s disappointed expression when he dropped to the sidewalk beside her and she didn’t flinch.
“You know I can tell it’s you by now,” she said, nudging him with her arm. “Don’t you?”
“Didn’t think about it. I knew you could sense vamps, didn’t know you could be so specific.”
“I didn’t used to be. I had no idea what Angel was until he kissed me and vamped out, but I figured out what those neck tingles meant pretty fast after that.”
“He vamped out when he kissed you?” Spike’s voice was a combination of disbelieving gasp and angry growl. “What happened?”
“I screamed, he jumped out the window, fell off the roof and ran away.”
“Reckon I can’t top that for a first kiss, can I?”
Buffy stopped and pulled on his arm to make him turn and face her. “When you kissed me the first time, you weren’t trying to hide what you are, I didn’t scream, and I spent all the time since then wanting you to do it again. I think you win.”
“Well, that’s alright then,” he said, smiling as he lowered his mouth to hers. “I think I win, too.”
They remained on the sidewalk kissing until a passing driver honked and yelled at them.
“Let’s go,” Buffy said, breaking away reluctantly. “The faster we get this meeting over with, the sooner we—”
“The sooner we what?”
She could hear the anticipation in his voice. “The sooner we can do a patrol and go home,” she said primly. “What did you think I meant?”
His only response was a growl as he fell into step beside her. Their swift strides brought them to Giles’s apartment in a short time, and Buffy reached for the door, only to find Spike opening it for her and holding it until she’d entered. She gave him a grateful smile as she ducked under his arm and waited for him to close it behind them. A glance around the room showed that everyone was there except Faith.
A chilly silence greeted Spike’s arrival, but he just gave one of his patented smirks as he followed Buffy farther into the room. He nodded at Giles, and smiled at Willow who gave a tentative wave. He met Oz’s eyes, keeping his demon quiet as he allowed the wolf to assess him. Oz gave a shrug and broke the eye contact to put a protective arm around Willow. Spike grinned and shook his head.
“What was that all about?” she whispered to Spike, forgetting that Giles had walked over to them.
“Nothing, love. Just the two predators in the room—not counting yourself, of course—getting to understand each other.”
“An interesting way of referring to a slayer,” Giles said, making no attempt to keep his voice down.
“If you’re a vampire, or any other sort of demon or evil-doer, that’s exactly what a slayer is. Something that hunts and preys on you. What would you call it?”
Giles looked momentarily discomfited and glanced at Buffy, but she seemed unfazed by Spike’s assessment.
“It’s okay, Giles. I’ve made my peace with what I am… what Faith and I both are—”
“You’re nothing like that loose cannon,” Spike growled, glancing around the room to see agreement on everyone’s face. “Is she expected?”
Giles shook his head. “I invited her, as I always do, but she shows up when she wants to, and doesn’t when she doesn’t. It will be something of a relief to be able to hand her off to another watcher.”
“Just so the Council doesn’t think they’re handing me off,” Buffy said. “I’m not having some new watcher-guy.”
“Well, you have some time to get used to the idea. Travers did say within a fortnight, so we have at least a week, perhaps more.”
“The question is, what the hell is the evil undead doing here?”
Spike met Xander’s indignant question with a calmness that surprised Buffy. Instead of the expected snarky response, he studied Xander for a moment and then said, “Buffy tells me you saved her life a couple of years ago. Gave her CPR or something so she could carry on and put old Batface out of our misery?”
Xander frowned and gave a cautious nod. “Somebody had to. Angel couldn’t.”
Spike frowned. “Couldn’t or wouldn’t?”
“He said he couldn’t because he had no breath. What of it?”
“He lied,” Spike said tightly. “And thank you.”
Xander blinked. “For what?”
“For saving Buffy’s life, what do you think?” Spike expression said he wasn’t sure how bright Xander was.
Before they could continue the conversation, the door slammed open and Faith jumped into the room, pausing just inside to make a rude noise at the vampire following so closely he bounced off the barrier.
“Let’s go, B,” she said. “There’s work to do.”
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