The Espresso Pump
Author’s Notes: Thanks as always to Kar for the beta and to my fabulous readers for the reviews. I was really proud of the last chapter. This one was tougher, and the Dead Things chapter is turning out to be really difficult to write. Hopefully I can pummel it into shape this weekend. Anyway, this one is a shortie.
Notes about the timeline: I am taking some liberties with how events fell on the calendar. The holidays didn’t get much play in season six after Halloween. I’m sticking them where they work for this story. Characters not my own. No infringements intended. Some dialog borrowed from episodes.
In our eleventh installment Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer.
Chapter Eleven: The Espresso Pump
It was ten minutes after five but Lisa was late, as usual. It didn’t really bother Buffy though. Thanks to the extra pay she had already wrapped up her shopping for everyone. Except Spike. After all, what was a girl to buy for her undead semi-secret lover?
Finally Lisa rushed in, reciting her usual litany of excuses. Buffy just smiled, finished up a grande cappuccino and slipped into the back to ditch her apron and brush her hair. Anya and Xander waved from their table where she’d been half-watching them argue about wedding plans for the last hour or so.
“You guys are still working on the seating chart?” she asked as she took a seat.
“I’m really wondering why we don’t go with open seating,” Xander commented. “Make it a buffet thing.”
Anya rubbed her eyes. “This is exhausting. Aren’t weddings supposed to be fun? This is making me miserable.”
Buffy shrugged. “You could always run off to Vegas. It would probably be cheaper.”
Anya frowned. “That’s what Spike said, too. But it’s important to take your vows in front of friends and loved ones. Isn’t it?” Xander just squeezed his frazzled girl’s shoulders. “By the way, are you two coming to the wedding together? Because if so that’s two less potential ‘and guests’ we have to feed.”
Buffy blinked at them. “I… what?” She felt suddenly like she was in that dream where you show up to class without any clothes on.
“Oh I’m sorry.” Anya sounded exasperated. “Are we still pretending not to know about that? I’m losing track of all the things we can’t talk about.”
Buffy looked at Xander, but Xander was pointedly studying Anya's notebooks. She kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing did. She kept waiting to feel ashamed, but that didn’t happen either. "You're not yelling?" Buffy asked him when it became obvious he wasn’t going to go first. "I thought you'd be all--"
"Not thrilled," Xander admitted. "But, I'm not getting stake-happy either." He raised his gaze to her, and gestured with his eyes toward his fiancé. "You haven't always been crazy about how I handle my love life either. For the record I think this is a terrible idea, but mostly I'm upset that you didn't think you could tell me about it."
She still couldn't quite pick her jaw up. "Xander, I... it's just, I didn't know how to tell you." Disappointing Xander was definitely low on the list of Things Buffy Likes Doing.
"I really wish you'd stop trying to protect me from what's going on in your life, Buff." He shook his head at her when she started to object, and she had to admit he was right. That was exactly what she had been doing. "I really don't want to know the details. Like, at all. You don't either," he said to Anya when her mouth started to open. "Just... be careful."
"Can I take anything for you folks?" a voice boomed behind her shoulder just as Anya mouthed 'later.'
Everyone shook their heads but the busboy continued hovering over her until she said, "We're good, Dennis, thanks." When he was gone she muttered, "God, he creeps me out."
"Lushokites have no sense of personal space, but they are relatively harmless," Anya replied absently as she frowned at some of her papers.
"He's a demon?" Xander asked.
Buffy shrugged. "Yeah, I figured that out pretty quick, but I recognized him from Giles Grimoire of the Benign."
"I promise my wedding guests are mostly harmless as well," Anya assured her. "So please refrain from slaying at the reception."
"Can that count as my present?" Buffy asked glibly. When Anya made a horrified face, she grinned at her. "Just kidding. Sorry, I shouldn't tease the stressed. After all, you did take my recommendation on dresses."
Anya slapped her hands against the table. "Yes, at least one thing has been decided. Only four hundred decisions yet to make."
Buffy gave the pair a sympathetic look. "I'll leave you to it. Good luck."
Xander grabbed her elbow as she reached for her cups. His expression was unreadable. “What?” she asked quietly.
He shrugged. “Nothing. It’s just…. You look good, Buffy.”
“I am,” she agreed. “And if I’m ever, you know, not? I know who I can call.”
Xander yanked the end her scarf playfully and they traded one last smile before she headed out into the chilly evening air. Probably she should eat some dinner, but her other appetites were overriding that urge at the moment and there was only so much time before she needed to patrol.
Spike just finished his mug of blood when she waltzed in after a quick courtesy knock. Still wasn't used to that. Didn't always happen. Of course anymore when she kicked the door, she followed up by tackling him and ripping his clothes off, so he wasn't complaining.
"Tough day at the office today, sweetie?" he asked as she set two cups on his casket countertop.
She smirked at him and pushed one of the cups in his direction. "English Breakfast," she explained. "You don't have to drink it."
The slayer had brought him a cup of hot tea. Chosen because he was English and it was the waking hour for him. She was bloody adorable. He took a sip and found she'd added a little too much honey. He wasn't about to insult her little gift. "You're too good to me."
"I'm really not," she said quietly. She licked her lips. "Xander and Anya know," she announced.
He raised an eyebrow. "That explains something. Come downstairs with me."
"It's toasty down here," she said as she hopped off the ladder. "Um, how did that happen?"
He gestured toward the space heater. "Found that waiting for me when I got in from Willy's last night."
"Someone bought you a heater?" she asked. Quietly she muttered, "I should have thought of that."
"Not exactly. Demon girl left it along with a bill and a note." He dug it out of his back pocket. "Says she's been informed that 'it is appropriate to consider the comfort of guests even when their preferences differ from your own'. Makes a bit more sense now."
She chucked her coat and settled on the rug in front of the heater. He grabbed some pillows off the bed and propped himself up slightly so he could finish his drink in comfort. He stretched his legs out behind her and watched her in profile. Buffy sat with her eyes closed, occasionally crunching an ice cube from her cup.
"Was there a row?" he asked finally. He rolled his empty cup toward a box full of spent bottles.
She shook her head. "Nope." She sounded a bit surprised.
She reached back and shoved his chest a bit. The slayer wasn't much of a cuddler when awake, he'd found. She was more prone to that sort of playful violence than to hand-holding.
Buffy scooted back from the heat and pressed herself against him. "Too hot, Slayer?" When she nodded he fished an ice cube out of her cup of water and pressed it against the back of her neck.
The cold made her tense for a moment, but then she loosened as the small thing quickly melted against her skin. "That's really... nice," she whispered, so he did it again.
"Sweater's getting soaked, Slayer," he pointed out, pleased when she immediately removed it. Then he could watch the water trickle across her skin.
A few more cubes and she turned her head to look at him. Ran a hand up his chest and pressed her palm over his still heart. "You're all warm," she commented.
A number of biting comments about body heat, lack thereof, and her taste in men sprang to the forefront of his mind, but he ignored them. Instead he reached up to unfasten her bra and sat up to press his bare chest against hers. "You're warmer."
He slid another cube down between her breasts and followed the water trail down and then further. She turned slightly pink when he guided one thigh up and over. Before long though she was swept up in it, head lolling and fingers tight in his hair as he tasted her. A flick here, a stroke there, and the space heater casting enough light for a tremendous view of her.
He nudged at her, pushing her until she bent back on her elbows, that glorious hair brushing his cock and the Slayer feeding herself to him. Occasionally he could catch her looking at him with that blissed out expression that never ceased to amaze him. He kept waiting for some disaster to befall, but instead Buffy shivered against him.
When she recovered she edged herself down his chest and settled herself slowly around his cock. He'd expected her to go at him hard, the way she so often did. Instead, she flexed her muscles around him, moving slow and steady until he practically dissolved within her. He clutched at her thighs, struggling for some semblance of control. She covered his hands with hers and pushed his arms back until she held him pinned to the floor. He could hear his own lost sound as his hips began to buck without his consent.
"Spike. You look amazing like this," she whispered shyly. And that was all it took.
They dressed slowly. "Will you come to the house on Christmas Eve? Mom's expecting you for dinner."
He blinked at her dumbly for a moment. Holiday dinner with the family? He was completely domesticated. He could not possibly care less. "Nothing better comes up," he gave as an answer.
She rolled her eyes and squeezed his hand briefly. "Come on, let's go kill something."
"...So she's all 'tremble masculine one and prepare to feel my wrath'. It was extremely unnerving."
Willow laughed around a mouthful of caramel corn. "But you guys have met before, right? Weren't you telling me she keeps calling you the 'boy with the muscular forearms'?"
"Man, thank you. The man with the muscular forearms."
"Well, at least it's apt."
Xander grinned at her. "Anyway, she got Anya's message confused with a summons I guess. And let me say, vein face? Not a good look."
Willow nodded and offered him some more popcorn. He waved it off and patted his slowly shrinking gut. "So it doesn't bother you that she's spending a few days with the vengeance crew?"
"Oh, it bothers me. It bothers me a lot that D'Hoffryn is going to sorta be my father-in-law. Also not so pleased that she's spending three days with a bunch of demons who are going to try to talk her out of marrying me."
"Not gonna happen, bub." She firmly clamped down on the voice telling her that it wouldn't be so bad if they succeeded. "Anyway, I'm kinda glad. Gives us one last chance for our own holiday tradition."
Xander pressed a socked foot against her own. "What do you mean, Wills? You won't do Christmas Eve with me once I'm an old married guy?"
She pressed back. "You and Anya will have your own stuff. And maybe even kids, like, many many years from now. You're not going to have time for me."
"That's so not true. I'm always gonna have time for you." He gave her that Xander smile. "And even if and when there are kids, you'll be witchy Aunt Willow who buys them Hanukkah socks, or solstice socks, or whatever. And they'll watch Charlie Brown with us."
"I know it's dumb," she said quietly. "And I'm really happy for you, 'cause I know you love Anya even if I totally don't understand it--"
"Well that's good," he teased. "Wouldn't want you macking on my girl."
She whapped his knee with her foot. His joking with her was making her even sadder. She was so selfish sometimes. What was the matter with her?
But as usual, Xander was reading her loud and clear. He paused the tape and stared at the frozen image of Charlie's tree while he spoke. "You know, I think it made it easier on me, you being into girls. It's like... I still get to be the man in your life."
"You are, you know," she agreed. She struggled for a way to explain it. "I know it's stupid, but I'm jealous. I mean -- gay now, but I can barely remember when you weren't in my life."
"Still gonna be in your life, Wills."
She managed a weak smile. "Losing Oz was really hard and loosing Tara? Hello to the pain. But you better stick around, buster, because I really don't know how I would deal."
Xander pulled her in close and kissed her forehead. "Guess I'll have to stick around then."
She settled comfortably against his shoulder. He unpaused the tape. "Snoopy dance," she crooned softly and he hugged her closer.
"Think there's any chance you and Tara will get back together?" he asked quietly.
Willow squeezed her eyes shut. "I had thought so, maybe, you know? I mean, doing really good with the magic. Sometimes I patrol with Buffy and she lets me flambé a vamp or two. Oh, and we got a tip from Clem – do you know Clem -- about some freaky demon eating Double Meat Palace drones, and I had to bind it before it ate Buffy. But otherwise I've been spell-less." She forced her eyes open. "But I stopped by the Pump to say hello last week and Tara was there with another girl."
“Clem keeps Anya in reptile bits.” He patted her hand. “Maybe they were just study buddies?”
"Maybe. But I don't normally kiss my study buddies."
"Ouch," he replied quietly.
"Yeah," she agreed.
After a moment he added brightly. "Well, it could be worse. You could have Buffy's love life."
"Poor Buffy. Alone for the holidays. Maybe we should have invited her, too?" she said, but she didn't mean it. She liked having Xander to herself once in a while. Xander gave her an odd look. "What?"
"You don't know," he intoned.
"Don't know what?" she demanded. He shook his head so she gave him her resolve face. "Tell me or I'll tickle it out of you," she threatened.
He told her.
"Wha-- no! You're sure? How do you--"
He explained the circumstances of his discovery.
When her brain was able to process language again she tried to think of something to say. "Wow."
"So what, Wills?" He eyed her suspiciously.
"Is he really compact yet muscular?"
She managed to leap away before he could catch her and then he lunged. Before long she was clutching the kitchen counter breathlessly, trying to wrench herself away from his fingers because he knew her spots as well as she knew his, giggling with him like a pair of naughty kids up past their bedtime, trying to catch Santa in the act.
Dawn lounged in front of the fireplace and yawned, stretched her arms and legs and then curled up. She had a full belly and there was a little fire in her spine from whatever Spike had sloshed into her eggnog when no one else was looking. In the morning there would be presents and omelets. Until then, she had a lot of thinking to do after having overheard Giles and her mom on the phone that afternoon.
Through barely open eyes she could make out the blurry blobs of Spike and Buffy on the couch behind her, knees touching and Spike’s arm on the back of the sofa. Not so much PDA that it would piss Mom off but still really weird to see. It was one thing knowing Buffy was spending naked time with him in theory; it was another thing to have them all snuggle-bunny in the living room.
Tara put on her coat and thanked them for having her. Poor Tara with her horrible family and no special friend to spend the holidays with. Not that she wanted Willow and Tara back together, at least not yet. She was still officially angry with Willow, but she missed Tara. She was glad Buffy had invited her for dinner. It had also helped with the comfort level that Spike wasn’t the only guest at the table.
Buffy sighed and announced that she should walk Spike back to his crypt, but then Mom said he should just stay in the sort of wry tone that clued Dawn in on her mother being up to something. Then Spike was thanking her and Mom was going up the stairs and she could hear Spike whispering something – probably something really depraved – to her sister.
Maybe Spike would know something. She’d found some faxes from the COW in Anya’s ‘to shred’ box, but babelfish had spat out garbage. Spike spoke a bunch of languages, but she wasn’t sure she should get him involved. Could be that Giles’ translation was all wrong, with all that stuff he’d told Mom. But then he had a whole bunch of people working on it.
‘Cause one prophecy said that the twice-dead beloved of the undead would bring forth a child. And the other said that in the time of something-or-other, the Slayer would give birth to legions. Plus some seer or oracle-thingy was griping about how the balance was off and that great evil would find its way into the world. Which— Dawn hadn’t noticed some humungous surplus of good in the world suddenly, and there had been two slayers for years. It was all so confusing and dumb. Why couldn’t prophecies just be straightforward?
Anyway, if Spike was the undead guy in the prediction, he might get really spooked. But then it didn’t say the undead was the dad, just that the mom was loved by some undead one. Maybe it was all crap anyway, because Buffy? Mother to legions? How many was a legion? And vampires were dead, so wasn't their.... stuff dead too?
She turned it all over in her head, half-listening to the sounds of her sister and Spike making out on the couch. Dawn couldn’t quite decide whether that was gross or not. Wondering if they needed to be using protection? Definitely gross.
“Nice of your mum to let me stay,” Spike whispered.
Buffy huffed out a laugh. “Hmm. Nice. Right. You do realize it means you’re totally not getting any tonight.” Dawn clamped down on a snicker.
Spike made a loud noise of protest. “We can be quiet.”
“I can’t.” EW!
“Really not helping, pet.”
Her sister sighed. “For one thing, my mother is in the house and for another…” Dawn felt toes sticking into her ribs and yelped. “Big faker here will be right next door.”
Dawn sat up and gave her sister a big sham of a glare. “Fine, I’m going to bed. Listening to you to suck each other’s mouths off is making me all queasy anyway.” Buffy made a face at her, but Dawn dropped a quick kiss on her temple. “There is that cot in the basement,” she reminded her in a rush. “Merry Christmas!”
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