When they could no longer see Charley, Buffy and Spike worked together silently, pulling the heavy drapes over the broken window and anchoring them in place with an old wardrobe.
“Not pretty, but gets the job done.”
“I guess. I wonder if Willow or Giles can come up with a spell that would keep humans out too?”
Spike shrugged and shook his head. “I’ve never heard of one, but there could be wards put up to warn us if anyone is poking around, just like on your mum’s house. That, and old fashioned locks on the doors, I reckon.”
Buffy sighed. “Fine, you check all the doors and windows and I’ll clean up the glass.”
Fifteen minutes later, the glass had all been swept up and put in a cardboard box left over from Buffy’s move back to her home, and Spike had finished locking all the first floor windows and doors except the one now blocked with a heavy piece of furniture. They stood in the foyer, neither one making any move toward the bedroom.
“Are you still staying here tonight?” Spike asked when Buffy stood in one place, staring at the door.
She startled and spun around to stare at him. “I… don’t you want me to?”
“Bloody hell! Of course I do. But you look like your post-slaying urges might have left with that piece of human trash we just let go.”
“You don’t think we should have let him go? What would we have done with—” Her eyes grew big when Spike’s expression momentarily showed exactly what he thought they should have done, and she moved closer to the door.
With an exasperated sigh, he shook his head. “I’m sorry, love. This whole being a white hat thing is not in my nature. It’s not how I deal with things.”
“You think you should have killed him?”
“All I’m sayin’ is, the demon in me thinks I’m a bloody idiot for letting a meal walk out the door. A meal that was here to do us some kind of harm, even it was only to run back to his boss and report that I’m a bit too friendly with the Slayer. I know that you think we had no other choice, but it’s a mite too far out of my normal comfort zone to let an enemy walk away.”
He walked over to Buffy, but waited until she nodded permission to rest his hands on her shoulders. “I’m going to need some guidance sometimes, sweetheart. I know right from wrong—all vamps do, in spite of what your watcher might have tried to tell you. We know when something is wrong by human standards, we just don’t care. I’ve had well over a hundred years of doing the exact opposite of what’s good and right, and I’m not always going to have what’s right as my first reaction. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to please you, or that I’m not going to try, but even when I’m doing the right thing, you’re probably gonna be able to see me fightin’ with the demon sometimes.”
Buffy sighed and dropped her head to the side to rub her cheek against the back of his hand.
“As long as you win those fights, I guess it doesn’t matter that you might want to do something else.”
“I’ve never lost a fight in my life,” he said, with the beginning of a smile. A smile that faded when she quirked an eyebrow at him. “Well, except against you, I guess.” He gave her an abashed grin. “But then I was fighting against goodness, not for it.”
He dropped his hands to her waist and pulled her closer so he could nibble on her ear and kiss the side of her neck. “Back to my original question about where you’re spending the night…. Where were we when we were so rudely interrupted?”
Buffy giggled and brushed her hand against the rapidly hardening bulge in his jeans.
“We were trying to see who was going to be the first one to the bed,” she said. “I think I was winning.”
“Only because I like watching your arse when you’re walking in front of me,” he said with a grin. “How about we decide to arrive together?” He swooped her up and began walking toward his bedroom. He paused and dipped her so she could turn off the lamp, then shifted into game face to make his way into the bedroom and kick the door shut behind them.
The windows in Spike’s bedroom had always had heavy, blackout curtains, so there was no question of anyone seeing in from outside, even if he’d turned on the light. But with Buffy’s murmured agreement, he left the room in total darkness as he placed her on the bed and followed her down.
“I can’t see you,” she whispered, stroking his face and running a finger over his fangs.
“But you know I’m here, love. Always will be. You’ll never be alone in the dark.” She felt his face fade back to the human one she was so used to, and raised her mouth to his.
“Always works for me.”
Buffy awoke just as the sun was filtering its light into the hallway from the uncovered windows in the kitchen. She stretched and moved out from under Spike’s tightening arm.
“Let me go. It’s daylight and I need to get home before Mom wakes up.”
“Be careful, love,” he said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “You know it’s not just creatures of the night looking for you.”
“I’ll be fine,” she said, brushing her lips across his, but slipping away before he could pull her back onto the bed. “Go back to sleep. Now that we don’t have to be careful about it, Faith and I will come by and get you on the way to tonight’s Scooby meeting.”
“I’m bloody sure Two doesn’t feature being known as a ‘Scooby’ any more than I do,” he grumbled, even as he dropped back onto the bed and shut his eyes.
Buffy gave a soft giggle and left the room. She looked right and left, then chose to go out the kitchen door rather than the front. She was pleased she had when she peered around the side of the house and spotted two men loitering across the street. She checked the garage, glad to see that Spike had closed it as best he could with the broken doors, and that the very substantial door into the atrium was also closed and locked. Satisfied that Spike was as safe as he could be from humans, and knowing his senses didn’t shut down completely when he slept, she crept through the overgrown shrubbery in the back yard and sneaked away through the neighboring properties.
She walked into her own kitchen to find Joyce just starting the coffee. They stared at each other, Buffy wearing her guilt all over her face and Joyce wearing an expression that varied between angry and sad.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” Buffy began. “I meant to—”
Joyce shook her head. “Don’t,” she said. “I knew you didn’t come home with Faith, so I wasn’t worried. Not about your physical safety, anyway.”
“I love him, Mom. And he loves me. I know this isn’t what you wanted for me, but it’s my life. For as long as I have it. And I want to have Spike in it. He loves me,” she repeated.
Joyce sighed and turned away to fix her coffee.
“I believe he does, Buffy. Much more so than that other vampire ever did, I’m sure. But it’s just hard… to know you’ll never marry and have children of your own. That you might not even….” She shuddered. “That you might not even live to be old enough to regret that you didn’t.”
Buffy bit back the “welcome to my world” that she wanted to snap out and gave her own deep sigh.
“I’m not too crazy about that thought either,” she said. “But I think having somebody as strong as Spike in my life might put the odds a little more in my favor. He’s pretty determined to keep me alive.”
Joyce nodded. “Would you like some cereal? Or eggs? I might have time to—”
“That would be great, Mom. But what I really need is to take a shower and figure out what to wear to school today. Something that doesn’t scream ‘I’m going to kill our principal because he’s planning to help the mayor murder us all at graduation.’”
“Kill the principal? I know you don’t like Mr. Snyder, but—”
“Relax. I’m not really going to kill him. Much as I might like to. He’s human, so off limits. But it’s hard to look at that little weasel every day and know he’s working with the man who wants to use the blood of—” She broke off at the expression on Joyce’s face. “You know what, Mom? You don’t need to hear any of this. We’re going to take care of it somehow, long before graduation. Everything’s going to be fine. I’m just going to take my shower now….” Buffy edged out of the kitchen, leaving Joyce staring into her coffee cup.
After ignoring Harmony’s sarcastic comments about ‘what the nerds are doing’, the core Scoobies met in the library for lunch. Faith perched on a desk near the table, close enough to hear and participate, but far enough away to make it clear she wasn’t a part of the group.
“Afraid you’ll catch something?” Xander said as he indicated the empty chair next to him.
“Dirty looks from your snooty girlfriend,” Faith said, remaining in place.
Xander’s expression darkened. “Probably not going to be a problem,” he muttered, turning his back on her.
Buffy and Willow exchanged sympathetic looks but didn’t say anything about his comment. Cordelia had been noticeably more and more distant lately and her “something’s going on with my parents” explanation hadn’t really helped to explain it. Willow’s “she’s decided she’s too good for us again” hadn’t helped Xander at all, although he tried to defend Cordy by saying something really was going on with her parents. They were spending a lot time with lawyers and their driveway only held one late-model expensive car now. Cordy had offered no explanation for where her own car had disappeared to, leaving the rumors to fly wherever they might.
Giles cleared his throat to get the attention back to him.
“I realize you are giving up your own time to socialize with your friends—” There were snorts all around, including from the normally silent Oz. “Yes, well, at any rate, I thought you should know, particularly Buffy and Faith, that Wesley Windham-Pryce will be here by the weekend. He is quite anxious to meet you….all.” Giles paused, frowning.
“What’s a Wesley whatchamacallit?”
“Wait, let me guess. That’s my latest watcher,” Faith responded for Giles. “I wonder what’s wrong with this one?”
“Please try to keep an open mind and give the poor man a chance,” Giles said in a less-than-reassuring manner.
Buffy couldn’t help herself. “Oh, I know that look, Giles. You already know what’s wrong with this one.”
He looked uncomfortable, but said firmly, “Mr. Windham-Pryce is quite… young. But he comes from a well-respected family of watchers and I am sure he will be quite competent.”
“Un huh,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “Well, at least he’s not my watcher.” She made a face at Faith, who flipped her off.
“Actually, Buffy,” Giles said slowly. “As you know, I’m no longer employed by the Council. He is meant to be here for both of you.”
“What? Oh no. Not me. I’m just getting you trained!”
While all the teenagers giggled, Giles tried very hard to appear appropriately stern, but gave in and sighed in resignation.
“I’m sure you will have the poor sod whipped into shape in no time,” he muttered almost to himself as he went back to the book on ascensions he’d been reading, leaving Buffy and Faith to exchange high fives.
When added to Buffy’s report of having met a demon who offered to sell them the Books of Ascension, Giles’s perusal of the little bit of information available in his books gave them some hope that they could prevent the mayor from reaching his goal. Giles agreed that they needed to get those Books before the demon could offer them to the mayor, although the $5000 requested might be difficult to get from the Council.
Faith exchanged a look with Spike that had Buffy narrowing her eyes at them. “What are you two thinking?”
“We’re thinking we should just take the books we need. Or have you suddenly decided you want to negotiate with demons?”
Spike raised an eyebrow at Buffy, who snapped back, “I’ve already negotiated with a demon!”
When she watched his face shut down, she touched his arm in apology. “And it was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done,” she added. “I didn’t mean to make it sound like it wasn’t. It’s just… stealing the books from him seems like such a… bad… thing to do.”
“Then leave it to the evil guy, to do it,” Spike said, squeezing her hand. “You and Two can just hang out and be backup in case the demon is smarter than we think. Go ahead and tell him you’ll have the money by tomorrow night, and arrange a place to meet.”
Buffy sighed her reluctant agreement, and looked at Giles. “Do we know what the Books of Ascension do exactly?”
“Not exactly. But they appear to contain information—spells and whatnot—that he requires to complete the ascension ritual. The mayor is only half demon, and he needs to become invulnerable before he can undergo the transformation at the end of a successful Ascension ceremony.”
“So, if he doesn’t have the books that tell him how to become invulnerable, he’s just a regular old demon and he can be slain?” Buffy was suddenly much more on board with stealing the books from the demon book-seller.
“We must assume so.”
“Well, all right then. One book stealing appointment coming up. Let’s go.”
“Well yeah, it’s not like he gave me his address and phone number. I have to leave a message with some sleazy guy at a newsstand and then he’ll let me know when and where.”
As they walked downtown, Spike began dropping back more and more until Buffy turned around with her hands on her hips. “We don’t have to hide anymore. Are you ashamed to be seen with us?”
“Don’t think it’s in my best interest, pet. Even if the old wanker knows about you and me, that’s not the same thing as seeing all three of us chatting like old friends. Not to mention, I can be better backup for you two if I’m not visible until I’m needed. You go on and do what you need to do. I’ll be around.”
As he finished speaking, Spike faded into the shadows of a nearby alley. Buffy frowned as his signature faded.
“Can you feel him?” she asked Faith, who shook her head.
“No. But I don’t have as much experience with him as you do.”
“That’s pretty sneaky,” Buffy muttered. “I wonder if he can hide his signature, or if he just got too far away too fast?”
“Don’t know. But if he can keep those vamp vibes down until he gets really close, it’s a wonder he only killed two slayers. Must be a slacker,” Faith snorted.
Buffy laughed, but frowned. “He fought more than two. I think he probably killed at least one more, but he doesn’t count it because her watcher drove him off and dragged her away. I don’t think he’d hide what he is, though. Not with a slayer. He likes—liked—fighting us, but he wants it to be a fair fight.”
“Well that’s just stupid.”
“That’s Spike,” Buffy said, wondering if he was close enough to hear them. Just in case she added, “Sexy but not very bright.” A muffled growl told her that he was closer than he seemed, and she sent her slayer senses out until she had a general idea in which direction to look. It did her no good because he was not visible to her enhanced, but still human, eyesight. She giggled and waved in his direction, then walked off to deliver her message.
Buffy left the message with a bored-looking newsstand attendant, then she and Faith moved away from the middle of town to do a patrol through the closest cemeteries.
“Can you still feel him?”
Buffy shook her head. “No, I don’t know where it is. But it’s not like we need a bodyguard. We’re slayers!”
“Damn right we are. These vamps won’t know what hit ‘em.”
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