A leavening of truth
[A/N: Sometimes, I’ll think, okay, I’ll write this – and be all set and ready to go with what I think the muse wants to write – only to be shot down the instant the pen hits the paper, or the cursor hits the screen. And then, what flows from the pen (or the keyboard) isn’t what I wanted to write at all or what I thought I’d been working out (plot-wise) in my head. That’s what happened tonight. I was sitting in IHOP, while my son ate dinner, with a pen and notebook, sort of waiting for the muse to strike. I actually wrote a sentence on Destinies. . . and then flipped the damn thing over and wrote six pages of Resolutions. So much for plans. . . Title and quotes are as attributed. Disclaimers, unfortunately, prove that Joss still owns nearly everything. Bloody bugger.]
Previously: Riley has seen Buffy and the groups are now converging on the Magic Shop. This picks up immediately following the last installment.
Chapter Five. A leavening of truth
There is more truth in honest lies,
Believe me, than in half the truths.
Samuel Butler, Notebooks, p. 52
Good lies need a leavening of truth to make them palatable.
William McIlvanney, The Papers of Tony Veitch
In wartime, truth is so precious
that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain
Desire is in men a hunger,
in women only an appetite.
Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook
take me now baby here as I am
pull me close, try and understand
desire is hunger is the fire I breathe
love is a banquet on which we feed
come on now try and understand
the way I feel when I'm in your hands
take my hand come undercover
they can't hurt you now,
can't hurt you now, can't hurt you now
because the night belongs to lovers
because the night belongs to lust
because the night belongs to lovers
because the night belongs to us
have I doubt when I'm alone
love is a ring, the telephone
love is an angel disguised as lust
here in our bed until the morning comes
come on now try and understand
the way I feel under your command
take my hand as the sun descends
they can't touch you now,
can't touch you now, can't touch you now
because the night belongs to lovers ...
with love we sleep
with doubt the vicious circle
turn and burns
without you I cannot live
forgive, the yearning burning
I believe it's time, too real to feel
so touch me now, touch me now, touch me now
because the night belongs to lovers ...
because tonight there are two lovers
if we believe in the night we trust
because tonight there are two lovers ...
Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen
Spike held the back door for Buffy, watching her closely as she visibly composed herself. He’d been ambivalent about her phone call to the Initiative, already resigned to the idea they were going to have to rely on their assistance to remove the chip. What he hadn’t been fully prepared for was her timing and Finn’s reappearance, though the latter shouldn’t have surprised him at all.
Finn had to have known when he left that something was bound to happen between them. What Spike was relying on now were Finn’s residual feelings for his ex-girlfriend and him be considerate over her condition.
Only the soft lighting bathed the shop and Giles had yet to open the front door, waiting until all of them were assembled. Buffy handed Anya her order, smiling crookedly as the former demon checked it for accuracy.
“Are you certain this is wisest course of action?” Giles broke the silence as everyone took up various positions around the shop.
Connor deftly climbed the stairs to the restricted section, taking them more than two at a time, while Dawn leaned against the counter. Spike looked on while Buffy got comfortable and answered him. “It’s a little late to be rethinkin’ things, i’n’t?”
“A bit.” Anya’s bag rustling partially muffled the next comment from Giles. “We aren’t prepared for the Initiative to reinsert itself into Sunnydale. And now, with the Council on the move. . . “ Giles let his voice trail off, unwilling to put his fears into words.
“We’ve already been over all this, jus’ now the bloody wankers are here.”
“The Council’s coming too?”
Spike’s comment was drowned out by Dawn’s almost shrill question.
“The Council’s involvement was the downside of Faith’s ploy to fool the California authorities.”
“Geez, Wes, didya have to get all wordy?” Dawn’s sarcastic mutter diffused some of the tension in the room. Spike smirked and winked at her while the other Englishman tried to splutter out a response.
“Forget it. Faith did what she had to and I just did the same thing.” Buffy waved off objections and interruptions. “We don’t know if Riley’s brought a whole bunch of commandos with him.”
“The Council is sending a wetworks team.” Wesley sat heavily down across from Buffy.
“So what?” Buffy reached for Spike’s hand. “We faced Angelus and all his bad guys. The Council can’t be anywhere near as bad.”
“The Council operatives are all human, Buffy.”
“And they’re coming here to take my babies. Not letting that happen.” Spike’s low rumble punctuated Buffy’s forceful words, while Connor’s higher pitched growl had everyone looking upward.
“They can’t do that.” His features hardened, his eyes going unexpectedly feral. “We aren’t going to let them do that, right, Dad?”
“No, we aren’t.” No one commented on Connor’s pointed decision to address Spike that way before he was again speaking. “We’ve got company.”
Less than twenty seconds after leaving the Slayer and her entourage, Graham had two of the other reconnaissance groups converging on the Magic Box, preparing to take up surveillance positions on the shop. Sloth, who was the group’s sniper, was getting into position across the street, with orders to just observe and ascertain which position had the best advantage. The last pair were being given their orders when Riley confronted Graham.
“Is this necessary?”
“I believe it is, sir.” Graham lifted his steely blue eyes to meet Riley’s, not flinching away from the other man’s obvious short temper.
Riley’s jaw flexed, the muscle tensing and his neck bulged. “And why is that?”
“This is her home turf, sir, and the hostile is with her. Just what do you expect to happen here?”
The taller man was the first to look away. A sigh broke from his mouth and Riley shook his head, turning away from Graham toward the Magic Box. “I wish I knew.”
“The girl has obviously moved on.”
“Yeah, thanks, Graham, I got that update.” The ticking in his jaw was back, this time more prominently. “The question is to whom.”
“My bet’s on the English guy.”
“Funny. They’re both English.”
Graham hid the smile he knew wouldn’t do anything to help Riley’s temper. “Vampires can’t procreate.”
“Graham, this is the Hellmouth. Demons aren’t supposed to exist at all. And yet we’ve catalogued how many species in this place?”
“Anyway, we’ll know shortly.”
More than half asleep, Tara fought the rising nausea threatening her rest. The second Buffy had mentioned ice cream, she’d wanted to vomit up the contents of her stomach. For almost two weeks now, she’d been deliberately ignoring the very obvious signs. There was no denying it any longer.
She was pregnant.
Tara marveled at the thought, aware that she’d almost resigned herself to not ever having children – at least without some sort of intervention. How ironic was it that the first time she experimented. . . not that Oz could be considered an experiment, not the way she felt about him, but the first time she had straight sex, she got caught.
A tiny little laugh erupted from her lips and she rolled onto her back, staring up at the ceiling of her bedroom. Really, I should have expected that. . . this is the hellmouth, after all.
What made it even more ironic that it had been Oz – her ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. Tara realized with a start that she loved him, not with an all consuming passion, but more with a sense of comfort and familiarity. Why it had taken her until now to realize it, she wasn’t quite sure. But she did. Oz was her part of her family, along with Buffy, Spike, Dawn and even Wesley. And Giles.
That feeling was partially why she had allowed the sex to happen – and it wasn’t all planned out, it just sort of . . .
They’d been in her bed, waking up later than they normally did on a weekend; Tara had been up most of the night writing a paper that was due the following Monday, and Oz had gotten in late from a gig. She’d woken up with his hand covering her breast and his erection pressing into her from behind, and Tara hadn’t known what to think. At first she’d nearly panicked, then she’d calmed her breathing and her emotions. It was just Oz, and his reaction and their position were normal when two adult people as close as they were slept in the same bed. Nothing more than that. It was impersonal, or so she tried to tell herself.
Fooling herself had lasted only long enough for Oz’ hand to tighten around her breast and his hips moved closer. Panic was about to set in when he stopped moving, a soft snore rumbling in his chest. Tara’s heart fluttered in her chest. Okay, I need to get out of this . . . before it becomes really awkward.
It was already too late. Oz was waking up and his hand around her breast tightened, then his softly muttered “Shit” had a reluctant smile forming on her lips.
He slowly extricated himself from around her. Oz rolled onto his back, throwing his arm over his face, shielding his eyes. “You’re awake.”
“Yeah I am.” Tara kept her back to him, afraid to face him.
“I’m really sorry. I . . . “ Oz blew out a breath, keeping his eyes averted from hers. “I didn’t mean to. . . ”
His voice trailed off and though Tara could hear the regret, there was some other underlying emotion threading through his words. She usually kept her mouth shut about other people’s emotions, but some demon was riding her shoulders. “Are you really sorry?”
She’d caught his attention with the quietly worded question. Oz rolled to his side, attempting to get a glimpse of her expression. “Tara?”
“You wake up earlier than I do every time you end up crashing here. Why?”
There was probing curiosity in her gaze and Oz couldn’t lie to her. “Are you really sure you want to know why?”
Tara raised her eyebrow and Oz looked away. “I can’t stay here in the morning. I have to get up.”
“Because?” She was pushing and she knew it, but Tara suddenly didn’t care. She wanted the truth from him, because their relationship, whatever it was, wouldn’t survive if they weren’t truthful with each other.
“Because I need to take care of things.” The admission hung in the air, almost as if his words had been written there. “Because I want more than just snuggling with you.”
A small, knowing little smile played about her lips. “You do know I’m a lesbian and I’m not attracted to most men.”
“Well, there is Spike, but then he’s like a class all his own.” Tara couldn’t help the little dig, knowing Oz knew exactly what she was hinting at.
“He is kinda sexy. In a predatory way.”
Her hand fluttered over her heart and her giggle was unexpected. “Yeah, but he’s totally into Buffy, so that’s not an issue.”
Tara paused, ducking her head to avoid looking at him. “I’m not in love with you.”
“I know that.” Oz shifted, staring once more up at the ceiling. “I can’t help how I feel. I love you.”
There, he’d said it. Oz closed his eyes, waiting for Tara to toss him out and tell him that they couldn’t be friends any longer.
Gathering her courage, Tara spoke. “Oz, I don’t think I could fall in love with you. But I do have feelings for you. Like you’re a part of me, a part of my family.”
“I can live with that.” And strangely enough, he could. He wasn’t really in love with her either, but he did love her. To him and to wolf, Tara was family, was pack. It was enough for him that the emotional ties existed between them. Oz didn’t fool himself either, into thinking that he wasn’t sexually attracted to her, the proof was there, still hard and heavy between them. Tara thoroughly surprised him with her next words, nearly shocking him into growling.
“I’ve never been with a man before.”
If she thought that was going to curb his arousal, she was sadly mistaken. Oz ground out his response. “Not helping.”
“I’m not sure I wanna help.” His head snapped around so that he could look into her eyes. She wasn’t joking, that much he could tell. What he didn’t know and couldn’t tell at all was what she was thinking.
“Do you ever wonder what it might be like? Doing something for the first time?” She picked at a piece of imaginary lint on the comforter, avoiding his eyes. “I’ve been touched. . . and had oral sex. . but . . . “
Her voice trailed off, unwilling to mention who she’d had lots of oral sex with, but Oz knew. Willow was always the third invisible person in their relationship, and it sometimes weighed on him and he guessed it was bothering her as well. But the thought. . . the image of Willow and Tara having sex . . . Oz growled low in his chest, his erection pulsing at the mental pictures.
After that, Tara’s memories sort of blurred. She wasn’t entirely sure how it happened, and who moved first, but the next thing she could recall, she and Oz had been in a liplock, his tongue thrusting into her mouth, his hands loosening her nightgown and pulling on her panties.
His touch was different, more assured, less. . . delicate than all her other lovers. Hard, insistent and . . . grasping in ways her female lovers hadn’t been. Calloused fingers and short, blunt nails pushed heavily into her skin, tugging harder than she was used to. She could feel all the harder edges, flat planes where rounded curves usually were and her brain shut down, just allowing her senses to feel. Oz kept making noises, not growling, more like soft almost-puppyish noises that caused shivers to race along her spine.
Her body was reacting, but a part of her remained aloof, marking the differences between this and all her other encounters. She’d never been one for one night stands; nearly all her sexual moments had come as part of long term relationships. With a start, Tara realized that this relationship with Oz was one of her longest. . . and really, she did care about him. . .
Oz was trailing kisses down her side, little nipping bites pulling at her skin. His nose nuzzled just beneath her breast and when his mouth latched onto her nipple, Tara felt . . . The difference was indescribable. She couldn’t wrap her brain how very different it was from having Oz suckling at her breast than Willow. . . it was harder, needier.
Everything about this was that way. He wanted her with an intensity that she’d never encountered before. Not even Willow had wanted her like this. It was as if he wanted to consume her, crawl inside her skin and . . . Oz thrust his fingers inside her wet pussy and Tara couldn’t breathe.
Though he was small in stature, Oz was still a man, still built like a man, with thicker, blunt fingers, broad shoulders and narrow hips, strong arms. And a hard, heavy penis that was throbbing against her inner thigh. Tara’s emotions seesawed between fear and curiosity, wondering at this new sensation, this new. . . presence in her bed that hadn’t ever been before. With a hesitant hand, she reached down and ran her palm over the length, almost jerking her hand away at the last second.
Oz growled then, his mouth lifting away from her breast. “Do it again.”
Tara flushed hotly. Her hand reached over, curling around his erection and he covered her hand with his own, pumping them both up and down. “Like that.”
It felt odd, and she didn’t quite understand how it worked, but he was panting heavily, his chest heaving with effort. His fingers thrust inside her, and she arched her hips, as they brushed over a spot she didn’t know existed. “Oh. . oh. . Oz?”
He rose up on his knees, spreading her legs open. “Don’t tense up.”
Oz didn’t give her time to have any more second thoughts. No sooner had he finished speaking than he was holding his penis at her opening, slowly pushing his way inside her. Her body tensed at the intrusion, until his thumb found her clit and her legs fell open, her hips curving upwards. It was slow, agonizing and more than once she found herself fighting tears, but each time, Oz would do something, and she’d relax once more.
And then she couldn’t relax. His body was inside hers, his erection stretching her, filling her and Tara instinctively curled her legs, trying to force away the intrusion. Oz leaned down, his face bare inches from hers and his eyes were so bright, so intently focused on hers that Tara could almost see the emotions swimming with the dark orbs. His hand brushed her hair back, off her face and he smiled a little, his lips curling with happiness. “You look kind of different from this position.”
She couldn’t help the nervous giggle from escaping. “So do you.”
The laughter eased her fears, and Tara unclenched her legs. “I’m gonna start moving now.”
His hips moved, and Tara’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head. This is soo . . . this is so . . . . “Oh. . . “
There was no more time for thought, no more time to mark the differences, because once he started moving, Oz didn’t stop, the friction of his body within hers giving her no relief. She needed him to keep going, for him to help her find her peak.
Hours or minutes later, Tara was never sure afterward just how long they’d moved together, her senses fired, stars exploding behind her closed eyes and she felt him shudder, his entire body seizing up, clenching, then he was pouring himself into her depths, his seed filling her womb.
So, now, here she was, six weeks later, that seed having found fertile ground.
How the hell am I gonna explain this one?
Disconnecting the cell phone, Lawson watched from the shadows as the Brachens and Glai-Glia spread out, watching the Initiative soldiers take up places outside the Magic Box. The two demon clans had pretty much taken over the police and fire departments, even inter-marrying, and their rivalries only extended to the annual bowling, softball and basketball tournaments. Rogan, the brother of Lawson’s girlfriend, nodded once, then sprang easily and silently half-way up the side of the building. He clung there for moment, then started the climb up the solid brick.
In the days following the battle with Angel and his forces, the Brachens had requested a meeting with the Slayer and her people. Since both species passed for human and were mostly non-violent, a truce was negotiated and they were able to keep their jobs and homes. The fact they also agreed to peace-keeping duties weighed heavily in their favor, and on the nights when none of the Slayer’s group was able to patrol, the Brachens took over the job.
The emergency plan they’d formed in case of another emergency rolled into high gear the instant Spike, Wesley and Dawn had started making phone calls. Upon learning who it was they were gearing up against, Lawson and Rogan had to turn away volunteers. Instead they’d split off-duty Brachens into groups and had set up round the clock surveillance on the house the soldiers had rented.
Lawson felt like he was in an old western, where the good guys were surrounded by bad guys. . . and the bad guys were in turn surrounded by renegade Indians. He wondered, for a brief second, as he watched Rogan hang by his fingers on the building ledge, then swing his legs lightly up and over the side, if anyone but Spike and the Watchers would get the imagery.
Getting the all clear from Rogan, who could see everything from his vantage point, Lawson flipped open his cell phone and said one word when it was answered. “Ready.”
He braced himself, wondering how long the night was going to be. He was just glad he wasn’t inside with the soldier boy.
The door rattled, just seconds after Connor had alerted them all to Riley’s arrival. Buffy looked over at Spike, who held up his finger in a ‘wait’ motion, then he flipped open his cell phone. He spoke only once, listening intently to the voice on the other end. Nodding his head at the older Englishman, Spike smiled and severed the connection.
Before Giles moved to open the door, Spike filled everyone else in. "They’re only eight. Two are headed in here, two on the street, one in the Espresso Pump and another up on the roof. Three are back at their digs."
"I thought you said eight?" Dawn looked up from the counter, sliding her hair back over her shoulder.
“Last one in their digs is the medical officer." He made a face at her, laughing when she stuck her tongue out at him. "Lawson an’ the others are in position."
"Then let’s get this show over with so I can go home and sleep." Buffy waved her hand in the direction of the door, shooing Giles off.
Everyone was quiet as Giles opened the door. "Riley."
“Hello, sir." It looked like Riley was going to shake his hand and to forestall that action, Giles stepped back, motioning the two into the shop.
Their footsteps echoed across the fake marble floor and no one spoke. Dawn moved away from the counter, standing almost behind Spike, watching the two soldiers warily.
It was hard not to notice how cold their reception was. No one smiled, even Dawn was giving them the cold shoulder. “Hi.”
Riley knew, now, how very much an outsider he was. And just how unwelcome.
“Hi. Why don’t you have a seat?” There was no hint in Buffy’s demeanor that she’d ever been intimate with him, none at all. There was barely an acknowledgment that she even knew his name.
He reluctantly sat, taking the seat opposite where Buffy was siting, Graham a silent sentinel at his back.
“I guess you’re wondering why I called.”
“That’s one of the things.” It was almost funny, how very cordial they were being with each other, if the awkwardness hadn’t been so evident. “How about we do this without an audience?”
Buffy shook her head negatively. “Got no secrets, so we’re good.”
“Even with him here?” Though he tried for merely curious, Riley’s feelings for Spike were clearly heard.
“Spike stays.” Something in either her tone or her expression gave her emotions away and Riley flinched.
“Why did you call?”
“We want the chip removed.”
Even Graham reacted to the anger in Riley’s tone and he stepped forward, intent on restraining him if that became necessary.
Wesley mirrored Graham’s movements, stopping just beside Spike. “Yes. Although it was ultimately Buffy’s decision.”
“And you agree with this?” Not knowing Wesley’s identity, Riley addressed his question to Giles.
Spike fought the smile Rupert’s unconditional support engendered. No reason to tip our hands this soon. . .
“You just expect us to take out the chip that controls this vampire?”
So much contempt flooded his tone that nearly all of them flinched. This time, Buffy didn’t bother to hide her emotions. She snapped back, her own anger rising. “Yeah, I do. You put it there, you take it out.”
to be continued. . . .
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