They slept till almost noon, Buffy’s growling stomach being what finally drove her to get up.
“Wow. It’s a good thing neither one of us has a day job,” she said as she headed for the bathroom. “We’d both be fired.”
Spike waited until he heard the water running in the shower to get up and join her there. When he pulled back the curtain, her hair was already wet and she was holding out the bottle of shampoo.
“Do my hair?” she asked, turning her back and moving to make room for him behind her in the tub.
“Not exactly what I was planning to do,” he muttered, as he took the bottle from her and obediently poured some into his palm.
“Hair first,” she demanded. “Fun stuff later.” She reached behind to stroke his semi-erect cock, sending it into fully awake and ready mode. Her giggle made him growl again, but he began to lather her hair while she teased him with light touches. She turned to face him, arching her back and tipping her head back under the running water to rinse out the shampoo. She then added conditioner and smiled at him.
“I guess that can sit there for a few minutes while we do fun stuff.”
Without further discussion, she sank to her knees. “Hang on to something,” she ordered and fastened her lips around the head of his cock. Spike gasped and braced himself on the wall while Buffy, water streaming down her back, sucked and licked him into a frenzy of mingled swearing and endearments. Grateful for super strength, she was able to hold him upright while he shouted his release. She still had her mouth on him and was still holding onto his hips when he recovered enough to pull her up into a tight embrace.
“Just when I think I couldn’t possibly love you more than I already do….” he murmured into her neck.
“So, it was okay, huh?” she asked with another giggle.
“It was brilliant, and if I didn’t know who taught you to be so good at it, I’d be looking for the man who did.” He paused and snorted. “Not sure if I’d want to kill him or thank him.”
She giggled again. “But you do know who it was. He taught me lots of things.”
“He did. I wonder how many of them we have time for before you have to go talk to Dawn and ruin her life?”
Buffy stopped giggling immediately. “Do you think that’s what I’m going to be doing?”
“Ah, no, love. Probably not. I’m just remembering how poorly she reacted when she found out by herself from the watcher’s books. It’s going to be very different this time, and I’m going to try to be a bit more understanding.”
“I wonder if you should be the one to tell her? I mean, you were with her when she found out.”
He leaned her back under the stream of water to rinse the conditioner out of her hair.
“Maybe I should. Could give her a bit of perspective that this time she’s getting a good explanation rather than having to depend on an old vamp to help her break into the watcher’s books.”
“Maybe…. It looks like she came with all those fake memories of already knowing you.”
“No reason why she wouldn’t, is there? It’s what happened before.” He held up the bath sponge and body wash. “Am I doing you, or are you doing me?”
“I already ‘did’ you,” she snickered. “Must be my turn.”
“You it is,” he said, as he poured body wash onto the sponge and began to stroke her body. When he abandoned the sponge in favor of his soapy hands, Buffy grabbed it and began her own vigorous scrubbing of his back and every place else she could reach while still enjoying his attentions to her breasts and other parts. Which led to discovering that two wet, soapy, slippery people probably should not try to have standing up sex in a bathtub. The resulting goose egg on Buffy’s head was only slightly smaller than the painful bruise on Spike’s left hip.
When they’d finished expressing their respective opinions of their bumps and bruises and somewhat untangled themselves from the awkward heap on the bottom of the tub, they began to laugh, resulting in more sliding around in the tub as they tried to rinse off while laughing too hard to stand up. By the time they finally had enough control to get to their knees and continue rinsing off, the water was growing cold, and Buffy scrambled out of the tub as soon as she felt suds-free.
She was drying herself off with a fluffy towel by the time Spike had turned the water off and stepped out.
“Well, that was a bit of a mood-killer,” he grumbled, reaching for a towel of his own. “C’mere, let me get that,” he added when Buffy began trying to dry her hair.
With his help, and another couple of towels, her hair was soon dry enough for Buffy to get dressed. She gave him a kiss of thanks, and went to put some clothes on and comb her damp hair. By the time Spike emerged wearing nothing but his jeans, Buffy was nursing a hot cup of tea and her breakfast was in the microwave. Seemingly very comfortable in the chilly apartment, he took some blood out of the fridge and poured it into his mug.
“Sometimes I envy you that lack of body temperature thing,” she said, shivering in spite of the sweatshirt she was wearing.
“It has its perks,” he agreed, waiting until she took her bacon/egg/cheese sandwich out of the microwave before putting his breakfast in there. He touched her neck with one hand, smiling ruefully when she recoiled. “But I’d rather be warm enough for you to want to touch.”
Buffy glared at him. “Don’t take this personally, but if you put that icy hand on me again, I’m going to break it.”
He snorted, but moved away to take his warm blood from the microwave oven. He wrapped his hands around the mug for a moment, letting the heat seep into his skin before he began drinking. “This should help,” he said. “Not as good as the real thing, hot from the tap, but….”
“On that disgusting note….” Buffy put her cup in the sink and went to finish dressing. She came out to find Spike sitting on the couch sipping his blood.
“I’m going to go check on Mom… and I guess I should look in on Winston?”
Spike shook his head. “He was pretty clear he wanted to be alone. Giles can call him if it seems necessary, but I think the man just needs to sleep for a couple of days. His vitals were almost back to normal by the time I left him yesterday, so I think he’ll be fine.”
He picked up the remote and turned on the TV. “I’ll try to get there this afternoon in time to talk to the Bit. Might have to run an errand or two first, but I’ll be there by the time she usually gets home.”
Buffy nodded, then abruptly changed the subject.
“I don’t think I’m going to tell Angel about Glory. Not unless it goes south and we need the backup. I don’t think having more contact with him or anyone in LA is a good idea. I’m really kinda surprised he hasn’t shown up here again.”
“So am I, to be honest. I thought he’d be too brassed off and curious to stay away. But you’re right, there’s no sense poking the bear… so to speak.” He frowned. “Were you thinkin’ about calling him? You didn’t do that the first time, did you?”
“I didn’t, but I think Willow talked to somebody there, probably what’s-her-name, Fred?”
“Fred. Nice bird. Bit nerdy like Red, but more into science than witchery.”
“Oh yeah, you told me about her. Well, anyway, whatever she and Willow talked about, it didn’t bring anybody from LA running up here, so I guess it’s all right.”
She walked over to him, smiling when he licked the blood off his lips in anticipation of the light kiss she brushed over them.
“Okay, I’m going to go see Mom. I’ll see you later this afternoon. And then remember we have a Scooby meeting tonight. We need to be thinking about how much to tell Xander and Willow.”
Buffy was pleased to find her mother cleaning house and muttering about being at home when she had work to do at the gallery.
“Does that mean you feel okay?”
“I feel wonderful. I don’t think I realized how lousy I’d been feeling until that pressure disappeared. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to consult a doctor about the headaches.”
“Too long,” Buffy said shortly. “And too long before you let me know that you weren’t feeling well.” She shook her head. “And I probably wasn’t home enough, so I didn’t know–”
“You were supposed to be a college student. And you had Glory to worry about too.”
“I still should have noticed you were sick,” Buffy muttered. “I didn’t handle the news very well when you finally told me.”
“How did you find out?”
“Oh, I was out with Spike and–”
“I thought you weren’t dating him in your time?” Joyce frowned.
“I wasn’t. I was still with Riley. But I had a… an accident, and I needed to pick Spike’s brain about how he killed the slayers he–”
“It’s who he was. William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayers. So, when I asked Giles what they’d done wrong, he said to ask somebody with experience. Spike had to turn it into a date at the Bronze.” She bit her lip. “Of course, I didn’t know then that he… liked me…” Buffy smiled when Joyce rolled her eyes. “Okay, I didn’t know he was in love with me. So, I just thought he was being a pain in the ass about it.”
She shook her head. “Anyway, it didn’t end well, and I said something that really hurt him and then I came home, and you told me you had to go to the hospital for some ‘tests’ and I went out on the back steps and cried. And then Spike came in the yard with a shotgun in his hand, and he saw me crying, and sat down beside me and… he patted me on the back. It was weird.”
“Oh yeah, He was really, really mad at me… well, I guess he was really, really hurt, but I didn’t figure that out till later. Anyway, he came there to shoot me, figuring he might have to pay for it with an exploding brain, but I’d be dead. Then he saw me crying and forgot he wanted to kill me.”
“Kill you?” Joyce said weakly.
Buffy gave her a hug. “Remember what we said about our time, Mom? We’ve had some good times and some bad times. That night was kind of a mix of both. He didn’t want to admit he wasn’t the big bad so he made himself sound way more evil than he was, but then he tried to kiss me, and I–Well, never mind. That part was bad, and then he sat down and asked if he could help me, and… I dunno things started to change then, I guess.”
“And now here you are—living with him”
“And now here I am. And just as much in love with him as he’s always been with me. It took me a while, but I learned what he’s really like and, yeah, I’m living with him.”
“Well, I’m sure you know what you’re doing,” Joyce said doubtfully. “I do like Spike, I just… I had hoped for something… different for you. Aren’t there any married slayers?”
Buffy shrugged. “In my own time? There might be a few, but now, when there’s only ‘one girl in all the world’, I don’t think so. Most slayers don’t live this long, Mom. And I don’t mean as long as I have now, I mean as long as the age I was now in my own time. One of the ones Spi–one slayer back in the 70’s had a son, but I don’t think she was married. When she died, her watcher raised her kid.”
“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to get you upset. I just had a flashback to how I felt when I finally found out there really was a reason for your headaches, and wishing I’d noticed them sooner. Didn’t mean to take you on my little walk down memory lane.”
“I’m an adult, Buffy. It would have been my responsibility to take care of my health, not yours.”
Buffy stood up and shook her head. “When you’re the Slayer, you get used to being the one who’s responsible for everything. Rescuing people, saving the world every spring—it’s hard for me to deal with things I can’t control by beating them up or slaying them.” She gave Joyce a wry grin. “It’s probably a character flaw, but not one I can do much about.”
Joyce shook her head. “There is so much about your life I don’t understand….”
“Trust me, Mom, I’m still trying to figure it out myself,” Buffy said, giving her mother a hug. “But you’re way ahead of where you were back in my time, believe me.”
Dawn burst in the door much earlier than she normally would have.
“All right, I’m home. Now tell me whatever it is you’ve been trying to hide from me.” She looked back and forth between Buffy and Joyce. “Well?”
“We’re waiting for Spike to get here, honey. Why don’t you put your stuff down and get a snack?”
“You’re stalling me!”
“Nobody’s stalling you,” Buffy said with a sisterly glare. “We’re waiting for Spike because in my time he was an important part of… of what we need to tell you, and he’s not here yet. He had some errands to run this afternoon.”
“Fine, Dawn muttered. “But I think you’re stalling….” She threw her books and jacket on the stairs and went into the kitchen to rummage around for food.
Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. “It’s a good thing I’m older and more mature now,” she whispered to Joyce. “I remember in my time we fought and screamed at each other all the time. And she hated that I was the Slayer.”
“I think you’re handling her beautifully,” Joyce said, hiding a small smile.
Before Buffy could respond, she heard the kitchen door burst open and Dawn shriek in surprise. She followed Joyce to the kitchen and frowned when Spike threw a blanket on the floor.
“Where’s your ring?”
He held up a finger. “I’ve got it, just thought it might be best not to advertise that I can get around in the daytime. The less her royal sluttiness knows about me, the more of a surprise weapon I’ll be.”
“Huh. That’s actually a pretty good idea.”
“I have my moments,” he said, blowing her a kiss. “Are we ready to ruin the Bit’s life yet?”
“Ruin my what?” Dawn glanced anxiously back and forth between the three adults, none of whom was smiling. “I changed my mind. I don’t wanna know anything.”
“Wish you had that choice, Niblet,” Spike said, putting an arm around her. “But you don’t. Best I can do is tell you this is gonna be a bloody picnic compared to how you found out the first time.”
“You’re scaring me,” Dawn said, pulling away to stand by Joyce, who put her own protective arm around her.
“It’s going to be okay, honey,” Joyce reassured her. “But you do need to know this so you’ll understand why you need to be careful.”
“Careful about what?”
“Glory,” Buffy said. “You have to be careful about Glory.”
“Why?” Dawn’s voice almost broke. “Why do I have to be careful? Aren’t you and Spike going to take care of her?”
“Let’s go have a seat in the parlor and I’ll tell you a story about something that happened in our time.” Spike led the way back into the living room and waited until everyone was seated. He pulled a chair up to where Dawn was sitting on the couch and sat down, facing her.
“Let me tell you my story, then you can ask questions, alright?”
She nodded dubiously and watched him with an anxious expression.
“So, you know Glory’s a hellgod, right? We haven’t kept that from you. What you don’t know, is that she wants to go home to her hell dimension, but to do that she needs a Key. Using that Key is a bit of a one-time thing, yeah? She uses it, opens that portal, and steps through. Only way to close it is with the Key. Good news is – hell beast is gone; bad news is, so is the Key and there’s now an open portal to a hell dimension.”
“I already know this stuff,” Dawn huffed. “What’s it got to do with me?”
“There’s an order of Monks that’s been guarding the Key for over a thousand years, hiding it from Glory, who didn’t much care because she couldn’t use it yet. Then it was getting close to when the portal could be opened, and Glory found them. A few of them managed to escape with the Key and they sent it to the only one they thought might be able to protect it.”
“Buffy,” Dawn said dully, “They sent it to Buffy.”
“They did. Now, in our time, you were getting all antsy about the things going on around you, and you asked me to help you find out what everyone was talking about. Happened a bit later on in our time, but the bottom line is, I helped you break into the Magic Box–”
“You helped me break in to Giles’ store?”
“Hey. Evil vampire, Bit. Never forget it.”
“Pffft,” she said, waving her arm. “You aren’t evil now, and you probably weren’t then. You were probably already in love with Buffy.”
“Totally beside the point,” he said. “Point is, I was evil and you should have been stayin’ away from me instead of asking me to help you be bad.”
She grinned at him. “Okay, so we broke into the store. Then what?”
“You went lookin’ for the information you wanted, and when you found it…. Wasn’t what you wanted to learn. And not how you should have had to learn it.”
“Which is why we’re telling you now,” Buffy interrupted. “We don’t want you to find out like that.”
“Find. Out. What?” Dawn tried, unsuccessfully, to stamp her foot while still seated. “What don’t I know?”
“Youare the Key, love.” Spike’s voice was gentle, but there was no mistaking its sincerity.
“I’m the what? The Key? Glory’s Key that she wants…. That’s ridiculous. I’m Dawn Summers. Yeah, the Slayer is my sister, but I’m just a normal, ordinary girl.”
She looked at her mother for confirmation, but saw nothing there but fear and sadness. A quick glance at Buffy showed the same understanding and pity. She spun back to Spike. “I am a normal girl! Aren’t I?” she finished in a softer, pleading voice.
“I wish that were true, love,” he said. “Let me try to explain about what those monks did to protect the Key….”
When he’d finished, and nothing from Buffy or Joyce gave her any reason to doubt his words, Dawn shrank back into the couch.
“I’m not real?”
“You are real!” Buffy said, as Joyce hastened to put her arm around Dawn. “You’re as real as you can be… you just didn’t get here exactly when and how you think you did. All those memories you have—that everybody has—they arrived the same time you did. But you are real and we love you. You’re my little sister—”
“And my L’il Punkin Belly!” Joyce added.
Buffy made a face. “And Mom’s L’il Punkin.”
“I don’t believe you,” Dawn said, even as her eyes filled with tears. “I’m real! I’m Dawn Summers and I’m fourteen years old.”
“Yes, you are. You’re my Little Niblet and have been since I first saw you peeking down the stairs at me three years ago….or six years ago, depending.”
“Huh, right, you guys are from the future. So, if you both survived Glory, you must have kicked her butt, so what’s the big deal? Why were you sent back?”
“I think we’ll leave this explanation to you,” Buffy said, standing up and tugging Joyce to her feet. She gave Dawn a reassuring smile and squeezed Spike’s shoulder as she went by. “Mom and I will just go outside and enjoy the rest of the afternoon sunshine.”
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