After reassuring Joyce that Dawn was fine and they would all be home by dinnertime, Buffy put the phone away and joined the group surrounding her sister. She was just in time to watch Tara ghosting her hand over the small puncture wounds on Dawn’s neck, causing the oozing blood to stop and, according to Dawn, alleviating the pain.
“Wow. Good trick,” Buffy said. “Have you always been able to do that?”
Tara blushed. “My mother taught me her healing spells, but I don’t think I could have done it that easily without the boost I got here.”
“Boost?” Willow turned a suspicious glare on Max. “You said she was just anchoring us to the earth. Was she taking magic from me—us?”
Tara flinched away from Willow’s accusatory words, and Winston’s eyes narrowed as he stared at Willow.
In his usual calm and soothing manner, Max said, “What Tara means is, her normal healing ability was enhanced by the time she spent anchoring us to the earth magic that is the source of her strength. She was pulling additional power from the earth, not from us. All she was doing for us was anchoring us to that earth magic as a counterpoint to any other powers we may have been exploiting.”
“Oh.” Willow bit her lip, then gave Tara a tentative smile of apology. “I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t mean for that to sound the way it did. I’m just feeling a little… drained… and I don’t know why.”
“The why,” Max said, “is because you have just participated in a very powerful and potentially dangerous spell. It was the sort of spell that would be stressful for even a well-trained practitioner with years of experience in that sort of magic. The fact that you and Rupert could participate on an equal basis with someone of my...” He coughed. “…experience, as well as with someone as capable of—” He paused when Winston cleared his throat and walked away. “… someone like Winston, is a tribute to how potentially powerful you both are. The spell has undoubtedly taken a toll on all us and I suspect we’ll sleep well tonight.”
Willow frowned, then looked over to where Winston had picked up one of the swords and was swinging in a comfortable, if casual manner.
“Winston doesn’t look tired. Look what he did to Doc. And he’s the one who sent the magic into Glory. He should be more drained than any of us, and he looks like he’s just getting started.”
Before Max could come up with a suitable reply, Spike said softly, “I’m guessing it’s in everyone’s best interest that he seems to think he’s done for the day.”
Max shot him a startled glance, but nodded. “You have no idea how right you are,” he said, also in a voice too quiet to be heard by anyone without vampire hearing.
“Reckon whoever sent him back to help us knew what they were doing, then,” Spike said as Buffy walked up.
“I sincerely hope so,” Max replied, then smiled at Buffy. “I take it your sister is going to be all right?”
“I think so. She’s made from me, so she’s tougher than she looks. And she’s safe now.” She poked Spike. “Xander’s going to take Dawn home. I told Mom we’d be there for dinner as soon as we’ve made sure everybody else is going to okay.”
“I believe everyone else is going to collapse and sleep for the next twelve hours or so,” Giles said, smiling at Tara who was making no attempt to appear to be anything but exhausted. Even Willow was visibly moving slowly and yawning, although obviously trying to hide it. Giles yawned himself and began walking down the hill. “I’ll be in my car. If you want a ride back into town, I suggest you join me there.”
“Come on, everybody. We’ll walk you to the cars, and then I have to go remind my mom that this has gone much better than it did in our time.”
By time Buffy and Spike got to Joyce’s, she’d already fussed over Dawn enough that she was able to relax and listen to Buffy’s terse recitation of the fight with Glory.
“So, she’s gone, and you didn’t need to jump off a tower to save the world? Mission accomplished?”
“Seems so,” Spike said quietly. “Bit hard to believe it’s all over now and everything still feels the same. ‘s like there’s another bloody shoe just waiting to drop…. ”
Buffy frowned at him. “I’m calling it a win, so you can just keep your Gloomy Gus comments to yourself.”
“Right you are, love. We did what we came here to do, so we should be celebrating.”
“Exactly,” Buffy said. Although she could feel his lack of confidence through the claim, she didn’t call him on it until they were on the way home.
“Why are you still worried? We did it, didn’t we?”
“Doc’s little kidnapping attempt made me think, is all. Most demons are probably pretty happy just livin’ on the hellmouth, but there’re always gonna be some that think bringing hell on earth could be a lot of fun... for demons. Remember old Angelus thought pulling the whole world into a hell dimension was a brilliant idea.”
“So, you think Dawn’s not out of danger yet?”
“All I’m saying is, don’t count on it. I’m not gonna relax until summer. If we get through till then ‘thout losing your mum…. or you, or having to stop some other demented demon from starting an apocalypse, then I’ll be willing to say mission accomplished.”
“Wow. You just totally smushed my excitement.”
“Sorry, love. Not saying any of those things are gonna happen, just that we won’t know if any of them were meant to be until time’s up.”
He stopped walking, pivoting in front of her and resting his hands on her shoulders.
“Don’t want you to not be happy and enjoy that we kicked the hellbitch out of our lives, just be aware that I’m not letting down my guard until it’s mid-summer and you and your mum are still here and the Bit is having the time of her life at the beach.” He rested his forehead against hers. “Love you too much to take a chance on losing you anyway just because I got careless and thought we were home free.”
Buffy leaned into him and slid her arms around his waist.
“You’re right,” she sighed. “I was so focused on Glory, I forgot that there are other things that could go wrong yet. I don’t think ‘home free’ is something a slayer ever gets to be. ‘Nice summer vacation’ is probably the best I can hope for.”
“Exactly. Just so you don’t spend that vacation the same place you did in our time.” He dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “Now, what say we go home and finish what you started this morning…”
Buffy laughed and pulled away from him to begin walking again. “You are incorrigible.”
“I’m not. I’m very corrigible. Just try me.”
“Is that even a word? Are you making fun of me?”
“Would I do that? Mock somebody who could kill me?” He laughed and took her hand. “And yes, it is a word. I promise you it is.”
They entered their apartment and dropped their weapons inside the door.
“Clean ‘em tomorrow?”
Buffy nodded her agreement. “Yeah. I’m too tired to worry about cleaning swords tonight.” She perked up. “Hey, maybe the demon guts and blood will disappear just like the bodies did.”
He laughed. “We can always hope. Race you into the shower… speaking of demon guts and blood….” He gestured to himself and then to her.
“Oh, ugh! I’m surprised Mom didn’t make us eat out on the porch. Let’s drop the clothes here near the swords. I’ll decide tomorrow which ones are worth washing and which ones should just be tossed out.”
“Not tossing my coat!” he growled as he shrugged out of the tattered-looking leather.
“You could use a new one, you know,” Buffy said with a frown. “If you really can’t part with that… trophy… you could always just put it away in a trunk or something.”
He held up his coat and studied it, then cocked his head at Buffy. “If it bothers you, why haven’t you said so? I can find another one.”
She shrugged. “We talked about this a long time ago. To me, it’s a reminder that you killed Robin’s mother—another slayer. To you, it’s a way to honor her death. I don’t really get that, but I believe you that you don’t mean it to disrespect her.” She sighed and shook her head. “But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me once in a while. Not often,” she added quickly. “That coat says ‘Spike’ to me, and if something happened to you, I’d probably sleep with it—at least until it didn’t smell like you anymore. But I could get just as attached to a new one….”
She stopped talking and began shedding her own torn and bloody clothes.
Spike dropped his hand to his side, letting the coat trail on the floor.
“Should have spoken up, love. It’s not as important to me now as it was before I got the soul. More like it’s just part of who I am, you know?”
“I know,” she said, smiling at him as she walked toward the bedroom. “Right now, I’m more interested in the you that’s usually underneath it. Meet you in the shower.”
He watched her naked body disappear around the corner and hastily dropped the coat on the small pile of torn and bloody clothing, following quickly with his own boots and clothes. He hurried after her and the sound of running water.
Unlike her playful behavior before Joyce’s phone call, Buffy was all business in the shower. Her face was already glowing from having had a refreshing scrub, and she was shampooing her hair before Spike had even entered the bathtub. Taking his cue from her, he began gently washing her body with a loofa sponge, making no attempt to turn the familiar activity into foreplay.
As soon as she’d rinsed her hair and body, she changed places so he could be under the water, and while he washed the dust and grime from his own hair, she efficiently and quickly scrubbed off his body. She giggled when, in spite of her lack of attention, his cock began to fill.
“Is that a hint?” she asked, exchanging the sponge for her hand and beginning to lather it from the tip down to his balls. His muffled growl made her giggle again as the instant response under her hand answered her question. Ignoring his increased breathing and encouraging whimpers, she pushed him under the water until he was rinsed off, then, with a promissory kiss to the tip, she stepped out of the tub and began to dry off.
Spike turned the water off and quickly joined her, taking the towel from her hands and helping remove the water from her skin. While she dried her hair as best she could with another towel, he gave his own body a rapid rub and ran the towel over his hair.
“Good enough,” he growled, dropping the towels and picking a giggling Buffy up to carry her to the bed.
“My hair’s still wet!” she said, her complaint lacking any trace of sincerity.
“We’ll put a towel under your head,” he promised. “Or you can be on top. I’m easy that way.”
“You’re easy all ways,” she grumbled, squirming until he put her down. She shoved him hard enough to knock him onto his back, then pounced on him, smiling when he easily caught her in mid-air .
“See?” she said, as he held her hips and pulled her toward his face. “So easy….”
“Know what my girl likes,” he said, his voice already slightly muffled by what he was doing to her.
Helpless to do anything in her current position but offer panting encouragement, Buffy whimpered her way to a quick orgasm. As he lowered her hips down his body, she sank down onto him and began to squeeze her appreciation for his foreplay.
“And she knows what I like… “ he gasped as she brought him to so close to release that he had to roll over so she was beneath his moving body and he could bring her along with him. With the experience born of making love on an almost daily basis for well over a year, they were soon smiling at each other’s sated expression.
“Nobody does that better than we do,” Buffy sighed.
“Got to admit, you’re probably right, love,” he said, his rich chuckle jiggling her body. She wriggled against him for a second, then, with a sigh, nudged him into rolling off.
She kissed his disappointed face, but sat up saying, “I need to dry my hair before I go to sleep.”
Following words with actions, she walked to the bathroom, from which he could soon hear the droning whir of the dryer. While she was doing her hair, he moved under the covers. When she returned, he held up one side for her to slip in beside him, which she did with an appreciative smile.
As she snuggled into his side, she yawned saying, “We probably should have patrolled tonight. It’s still pretty early.”
“We worked hard enough already tonight,” he said. “Evil’s just going to have to wait.”
“Sounds like a plan,” she agreed as her eyes drifted shut. “We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.”
“That we will, Slayer.”
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