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Tenderness by Sigyn

    Spike and Buffy lay panting from mutual spent desire. They’d broken some of Spike’s furniture, and the rug they were on had bunched up dramatically. Buffy’s head and shoulders lay on a cushion that Spike had pulled from his green chair and slid under her head as he worked himself over her. “Oh, god,” Buffy panted.

    “Uh-huh,” Spike said. He partly sat up and leaned his head on the edge of the soft chair.

    “I think some of that was actually illegal,” Buffy said.

    “Keeping to the straight and narrow was never exactly my scene, love,” Spike chuckled.

    “I don’t know,” Buffy said teasingly. “You’re pretty good at navigating some narrow spaces.”

    “Mm,” he hummed. He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She let him only because she was too tired to shrug him off. It felt good. There was a long moment when she just let him do it. “Want to see what’s on the telly?” he gestured to it with his chin, casually. “I think there’s a Dracula double feature. Christopher Lee is hilarious.”

    Buffy shook her head, almost pulling away from him. “No,” she said. “I should get home.”

    Spike sighed, and gripped her tighter. “You know, I wasn’t asking for a sign of undying devotion, slayer,” he said, annoyed. “Just thought you might like to rest a bit before you disappear again.”

    “I don’t disappear. It’s just... I don’t want you thinking this is anything. It’s... it’s just this.”

    Spike grunted in annoyance. “This,” he said, making her look at him. He ran his thumb gently over her lips, and she felt another spark of desire. Again. How the hell did he do this to her? Even Angel had never fired her blood like Spike could. “What is this?”

    “It’s what it is,” she said. “Don’t try to turn it into something it’s not.”

    He looked bewildered, and a little hurt. “Does nothing I do mean anything to you?” he asked. “I mean do you see it, do you feel it? I’m not just thrashing at you for my own pleasure – though it is enjoyable,” he added. “But I don’t have to make sure you’re comfortable. I don’t have to rub your shoulders between bouts to get the kinks out. I don’t have to... hold any consideration for you at all. There’s no chip making me do all that. Do you even see that I do it?”

    Buffy felt bad. She did see it. It hurt her to see it. Sometimes he was so nice it made her sick. She was happier when he was hungry, violent, sly and seductive. The gentle sweetnesses he touched her with – making sure he had her favorite drink for when she had to rehydrate, setting the ice on the back of her neck to ease the muscles tense from driving in stakes, his tender caresses –  all made her feel like she was lying to him. Or something. Not to mention he was an extremely generous and energetic lover. He seemed to crave her pleasure as he craved blood.

    He shook his head. “I just want to hold you,” he whispered. “Just for a while. Where’s the crime in that?”

    “I don’t want that,” she said. She pulled away. He sighed and let her.

    “God,” he scoffed, and turned his head away. “You know, sometimes I wish you would never come back here.”

    She looked over at him. “Do you mean that?”

    “No,” he said bluntly. “I never mean it. I still wish it sometimes.” He looked back at her. “You show up, sometimes completely out of the blue, and do these... incredible things to me.”

    “You do them back,” she whispered.

    “Yeah,” he acknowledged. “But then it’s like I don’t exist for you. You know, some of what I ask doesn’t have to mean true love. A touch, a word, a... goddamn Friday night movie.” He looked away again. “You talked to me more before this–” a word to describe it evaded him, and he dropped it.

    “I’m... I’m not a snuggler.”

    “That’s a goddamn lie,” he muttered. He sat up and rummaged under the furniture to find his jeans, and yanked them on. “I’ve got a heart under all this dead flesh, you know,” he said. “I get lonely. I like friendship, a cuddle in the corner, I’ve enough human in me for that. That ever occur to you?” He stood up and glared at her. “You’ve got me envying bloody Xander for crying out loud, for a bowl of stupid popcorn and a goddamn Twilight Zone marathon. You know, I used to watch Twilight Zone when it was new, let me tell you, some of those reveals were shocking back then.”

    She’d been at Xander’s two nights ago, and hadn’t made a point of it. “Were you following me?” she asked, suspicious.

    “Dawn mentioned it,” he muttered. “Christ, she’s held me more than you do.”

    That little reveal blindsided her. “What are you talking about?”

    He looked chagrined. “Forget it,” he said.

    “No, I won’t forget it!” Buffy looked around for something to cover her naked body with and came up with Spike’s coat. She pulled it over herself and stood up. “What have you been doing with my sister?!”

    “Nothing, all right? Settle down!”

    “She’s only just fifteen!” Buffy shouted. “Have you been acting your little seduction routine? What are you playing at?”

    “Would you keep your knickers on, pet? I haven’t been fooling about with your sister.”

    “Then what did you mean when you said that?”

    He looked awkward. “Just that she’s a hugger. I mean, half this furniture’s around so she’s comfortable when she’s holed up here when the others are out. When there was only one chair in front of the telly, what do you think happened?”

    Buffy clocked him hard in the face. “You keep away from her, you pervert!”

    “There was nothing perverted about it, all right?” he shouted back.

    She punched him again.

    “Jesus! Give a bloke the benefit of the doubt, would you?”

    “I don’t trust you enough to go anywhere near that far,” she growled.

    “Yet you trust me with her alone all the bloody time,” he growled back. “There’s no chip keeping me from seducing anyone, and she’s no damned toddler, and it’s never bugged you before. You gonna tell me all that’s changed in the last minute?”

    “Yes!” Buffy snarled. She clocked him so hard he staggered back against the wall. “Why would Dawn be snuggling up to you?!

    “‘Cause the others were all sick of hearing us cry, all right?” he shouted.

    That took the wind out of her anger almost instantly, but Spike was already insulted. “Bugger this,” he muttered, opened the door of his fridge, and pulled out a mason jar of blood, with the air of a man grabbing a beer. He usually never touched blood around her, so she knew he was doing it to show his scorn. He banged the door to his crypt open and marched out into the graveyard to sulk.

    Buffy felt bad. She pulled on enough clothes to look decent and went out to follow him.

    He wasn’t far from his crypt, sitting on the edge of a gravestone, staring glumly at the night. Buffy sat beside him on the wide stone and waited for him to say something.

    He didn’t. Only took another swallow of his blood and wouldn’t look at her.

    “Maybe I overreacted,” she said quietly.

    “Ya think?” he muttered. He sighed and set the jar of blood on the stone between them. “Look, things were crazy while you were – gone. The others did their best with the bot, but... frankly they were out gunned. It made them busy, and tired. Dawn was all alone. Everyone had someone to turn to when they felt miserable, Xander and Anya, Willow and Tara. Giles was planning on leaving. Dawn felt like she had no one. Not for her.” He looked back out at the night. “I really did have no one,” he said softly. “She’d get lonely, or overwhelmed, or just... fourteen, and she’d come here. Potato chips and after-school cartoons, I wasn’t gonna push her away when she sat beside me. She missed you. When she cried I couldn’t help it, I...” He looked down. “I was always bloody crying,” he admitted. “Look, go ahead and ask her. Arm around the shoulders, peck on the top of the head, that’s as hot and heavy as it got, love.” He shook his head. “I wouldn’t do that. Not to her. I like the niblet, hell, I love her, but only as your sister. I promised you I’d protect her until the end of the earth. I’ve kept that promise. I’ll protect her from every ghoulie and beastie and midnight demon on the bloody planet.” He looked out at the night. “Even from me.”

    Buffy felt terrible. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

    “I don’t know,” Spike said, standing up and walking away a few paces. “It’s like ever since you touched me I’ve turned more demon and less man in your eyes. I’ve got a heart in here, you know,” he gestured to his bare chest. “I may not have a soul, but I’ve got a heart.” He closed his eyes and bowed his head, his arms crossed, holding himself.

    Buffy wanted to hold him. She wanted to kiss his soft, hollow cheek, wrap herself around him, bury her head in his shoulder. She wanted his arms around her, more of those gentle caresses she could hardly bear to accept unless she was half out of her mind with desire, or almost passed out with exhaustion. But that would feel too much like something real... and she didn’t want this to become real. Real ended, real bruised her and left her broken and bleeding, real only ever hurt. She wanted the fire to burn her up, not warm her toes and keep out the night. If the fire was anything so domestic, she’d miss it too much when it ended. And it would have to end. Particularly with Spike, it would have to end, no matter how romantic he was. She couldn’t make it up to him with warm snuggles and gentle words. She just couldn’t. And she knew if she just tried to jump him again – which would be much easier on her – he wouldn’t let her. Not in the mood he was in.

    “What kind of blood is this?” she asked, hoping it wasn’t pig.

    He glanced over at her with a shrug. “Eh, veal.” He looked back into night, away from her.

    A moment later Buffy’s warm mouth, filled with cold blood, pressed itself against his. He moaned with sudden, burning desire, shocked out of his melancholy. He gripped her tightly, sucked every drop of life sustaining force from her hot lips and delicious tongue and naughty little teeth. A second later they were rolling on the ground, and he sustained a bruise on his ribs as they knocked over a grave stone.

    It wasn’t the casual, companionable cuddle he’d asked her for. But after that kiss, he wasn’t about to refuse her.