Betas: Mabel_Marsters, Tanit, Slaymesoftly
In Harm's Way
Chapter Twenty: Moods
“I. Am. In love. With you.”
With all the force of a desperate slayer, she shoved at him and he stumbled back, but Spike's eyes never left her face as she said, “You have no idea what you're talking about. This is absolutely crazy. You've hated me for years and now all of a sudden, you're in love with me?”
The stubborn glint in his eyes was too much for her and she looked away. God, she just wanted to crawl back under her covers and go to sleep. She didn't need this right now. It was hard enough as it was to ignore the feelings she was beginning to have for him, without Spike coming out in the open with the things that he thought he felt for her.
When he started to chuckle, her head snapped up and she glared at him.
“Hate? I have never hated you.” He ran a hand through his hair as he paced the room before stopping in front of her again.
She hadn't expected that from him. He'd never hated her? She made a pfft like sound and crossed her arms over her chest.
“No, really. From our first confrontation in the school, I knew I liked you.” He grinned at the memory of that night and she couldn't help but grin as well. “Oh, you were young then, but you had the courage of a seasoned pro. You didn't miss a beat when I started with the verbal jabs, and when you threw down your weapon.” Spike's eyes rolled back for a moment as if he was in the throes of ecstasy. “That was the moment I knew I wanted our dance to last a very long time. That is why I let you and your mother live that night.”
“What?” she argued, getting into the memory. “You ran off like a scared rat that night.”
“Before your mother came along, I had you and you know it.” He shook his head when she started to protest. “Ah, ah, don't deny it. And did you honestly think that I was afraid of a middle-aged woman who couldn't even use the right side of an axe and a very young slayer who I had been getting the best of?”
He was smiling at her fondly now and it kind of wigged her out, but at the same time she had butterflies in her stomach and her flesh tingled with goose bumps. She'd seen him with that look on his face before when he'd looked at Drusilla, but never directed at her.
He shook his head. “No, Slayer, I have never hated you. Even when you foiled my every plan and made my life a living hell; even when you put me in a wheelchair and I lost Drusilla.”
“Hey! None of that was my fault.”
“Oh, it was all your fault, and I wanted you dead for it; but I didn't hate you. I had too much respect for you to hate you.”
“What?” She couldn't believe her ears. Sure, his attitude had changed recently, but in the beginning, she really had thought he hated her.
“I've wanted you dead and I've passionately disliked you, but if given the choice, I would rather be fighting you than anyone else.” He shrugged. “I think I've proven that I don't want you dead anymore.” He took a step towards her and lowered his eyelids in that sexy way of his. “I still feel passionately about you, but if given the choice now, I'd rather be shagging you than anyone else.”
“Go!” she yelled with a finger pointed towards her door. She'd almost been pulled in by his little speech, but as usual, he put his foot in his mouth. Buffy was grateful this time. His crude words were enough to remind her of what he was. And right now, she desperately needed that reminder, because her heart was shouting at her to give in and jump into his arms.
“You can kick me out of your room, but that doesn't change the fact that I love you. I'm not giving up that easy.”
She sighed, remembering Giles' instructions to keep stringing Spike along for the good of all humanity. She couldn't do that. It was wrong. Even with all that he was and had done in the past, she had some respect for him as well. As gently as she could, she said, “I could never love you, Spike, because of what you are.” Then she sighed and to herself as much as to him, she said, “Whatever you think you feel, you need to get over it.”
“I can be good,” he said, his stare direct and unflinching.
He thought he could, but she knew it was near impossible. With the Gem of Amara on his finger and the chip out of his head, he could turn on them all at any moment. . She shook her head.
Losing what little patience he possessed, Spike growled, “Do you know how many people I’ve come across since you told me where this ring was? Hmm?” With an agitated wave of his hand, he continued, “Hospital personnel, shop clerks, your friends—oh! And the commandos, including your boy, Riley.”
She hadn't thought about that, but it didn't mean that he would be able to continue that way. “So, you've refrained from doing any violence the last couple of days after a century of killing. Should I give you a medal?”
“Hey!” was his indignant reply. “I've fought on your side for weeks with that sodding chip in my head. How easily she forgets.”
Buffy snorted at that. “Oh, right. You fought with the good guys, not for money, not to get in your “spot” of violence, but out of the goodness of your dead heart. And that's why, the first chance you got, you went rushing to a doctor who could take it out.”
“First chance!” He began to pace again, mumbling under his breath. Then, he turned and pointed a finger at her. “I’m not going to argue with you. You and me, we're the action sort. I’ll prove to you by my actions that I can control myself.” Grabbing the doorknob behind him, he kept his gaze steady with hers as he swung the door open and took a step out.
Halfway into her sigh of relief, he was in front of her again. “I know in my blood that we're meant for each other.”
With a shiver and half closed eyes, she shrugged, trying to shake off the attraction that was causing her heart to race. “Since you’re on stolen blood...”
“Action,” Spike said, more to himself. Then, he gripped her shoulders, pulled her closer and pressed his soft lips to hers.
Buffy could feel the passion coming off him in hot waves, and his lips tasted so good. She groaned and leaned into him, but as his arms went around her, she pushed him away. “Is that,” she said, breathlessly, “what you call control?”
The vampire smirked as he left the room and stopped just outside the door. He did the head tilt thing that had made her knees weak when they had been engaged. “I'll control my natural urges to harm the humans, but I never said anything about controlling my urges when it comes to you. Even I don't have that much restraint.”
With a raised brow and a wave, he spun and walked towards the stairs. Buffy licked her still tingling lips and flopped onto her bed. Below her, she heard the front door shut firmly, then she heard the high pitched screech of brakes and a car door shut. It sounded more like someone had arrived. She went to the window and saw Spike sign a slip of paper for the FedEx driver. The man drove away as Spike tore open his package, pulled out his duster and swung it around, slipping it on. Buffy heard the Desoto roar to life as she moved back to the bed and sat down. She didn't think she'd ever get used to the idea of Spike running around in the daylight, but off he went with a squeal of his tires, leaving Buffy to wonder where he could possibly be going.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Spike had no idea where he was going. He'd pulled off a grand exit after a great, action packed kiss, but now what to do? It's not like he'd spent gobs of time out in the sun. He turned right at the end of Revello Drive, and now feeling foolish for leaving as he had, he turned down the next street with the plan of driving around the block and going back to the house.
Knowing that Buffy would think he was stupid for pulling up right away, he drove slowly. A big red ball bounced across the street in front of him, and he slammed on the brakes as a little dark haired girl followed. With his wheels smoking, he hit the steering wheel and cursed. It wouldn't do to kill one of them, just after he'd vowed to prove to his lady love that he could control himself. Still, the little girl was frozen to the spot, inches from his bumper. He knew that he hadn't hit her, but now he felt like taking her over his knee for being so careless.
He got out of the car and frowned at her. “What are you doing in the middle of the street running after a ball like that? Didn't your mum ever tell you to look both ways?”
Her big brown eyes filled with tears and her lower lip trembled as she shook her head. “My mommy went to heaven.”
With a roll of his eyes, he said under his breath, “Probably got run over.” And louder, he said, “Well, get your ball and get back on the sidewalk where you belong.”
She jumped to obey and stood on the edge of the curb, watching as he drove slowly past her. Spike took one more disapproving look at the girl, but then realized that she was alone. What bleedin' adult would let a little child wander out alone? The demons were all underground at this time, but he watched the telly. Every day, some small child was gone missing; snatched from their yards or schools, never to be seen again. Children had more to fear from the adults of their own kind than vampires and demons, because children weren't usually out alone at night to be taken by creatures that owned the dark.
He pulled the car over to the curb and crossed the street, thinking that Buffy would like it that he'd done a good deed. The girl smiled at him and he frowned back. “Where are your parents? Who's supposed to be watching you?”
“You talk funny, mister.”
“What's your name?”
“That's a mouthful, Anabella, is. How old are you, poppet?”
“I'm fife.” She held up five skinny fingers.
The small pink bike near the steps of the house behind the girl gave away where she lived. “Come with me.”
She followed with quick steps to catch up to him. Spike rang the doorbell. He waited. Then he knocked, or rather pounded on the closed door.
Then, he felt quick tugs on his coat. “Mister, aren't you hot in that coat? My grandma says you'll catch cold ifins you wear a coat when it's hot.”
The door swung open and a plump, gray haired lady gasped, holding a hand to her breast.
“Granna, this man almost rannded me over,” Anabella said in excitement.
Grandma's fright at seeing a dangerous looking stranger at her door turned to outrage. She glared at him but said, “Bella, get inside. Now!”
“She ran after a ball and right in front of my car. It's a good thing I was going so slow. Would've hit her otherwise.”
Grandma stepped back and moved the door until it was almost closed. Spike felt a deep satisfaction that she feared him. How easy it would be to overpower the woman by pushing on the door, then step over the threshold.
He shook his head to rid himself of such thoughts. “You might want to watch her a little more closely. Not only could she have been hit by a car, but if I was the bad sort, I could have easily swooped her up and made off with her, and no one would have been the wiser.”
The door opened a bit further. “She wasn't supposed to be out there. Thank you for bringing her to me. Anabella must have slipped out while I was upstairs. I've just been busy packing up my son's house for him. ”
“Oh, yeah. I saw the for rent sign in the window.”
Anabella pushed her way by her grandma and held an Oreo cookie up to him. “Wanna a snack? It's snack time.”
He flashed the little one a smile and bent down so that he was eye level. “No thank you, poppet. But listen, you little sprite, no more running in the street, yeah?”
Grandma smiled down at them while Anabella stared at him, contemplating her answer. “Okay, mister, but you still talk funny.”
“Bella! That's rude,” Grandma scolded.
But Spike just chuckled and ruffled her hair before straightening up. He nodded at the woman and took a step back. “I've got to go. Stay safe.”
“Wait, young man! You wouldn't know of anyone who is looking for a place to rent, do you?”
He started to shake his head, but stopped. Buffy wasn't too happy with him staying at her mom's, and really, he didn't fancy staying in that bright guest room under the watchful eye of Mrs. Summers while he courted her daughter. “Does this place have a basement?” Buffy's house was just on the next block over and she had a basement. If this place had one, it just might work.
“Why, yes, it does. My son had it finished with a bathroom, bedroom and a play room.”
Spike drove away from the house on Mantova Street in high spirits. Anabella and her dad were moving in with Grandma Carol who lived four houses down. The house would be ready to move into in a couple of days. It came fully furnished. When he mentioned that he was looking for a place, Carol hesitated, until he mentioned that he could pay six months rent in advance. Her eyes had lit up then and she grabbed one of her son's business cards to give to him. She just warned that they didn't want loud parties, drugs, or pets.
She suggested that he wear something different when he came to meet with her son, because it was his house and he had the final say. He bit back an insulting reply to that and just nodded, knowing that she was probably right. At least he had something to do now. Sunnydale's tiny indoor mall was just a few minutes away.
The mall was just opening and the place was almost empty, which suited him fine. If he wasn't eating them, he'd just as soon see as little of the human population as possible. He strolled into Bloomingdale's because it was the closest department store from where he parked and found the men's department. Right away, a female clerk pounced on him.
“Can I help you?”
Spike raised an eyebrow at the snooty little woman. It was obvious that she didn't think he could be helped but was sent over to babysit him and make sure he didn't lift any of the merchandise.
“I'm looking for something to wear to a meeting with a potential landlord,” he told her as he absentmindedly ran his hands over some ugly print shirts. “Gotta look a bit respectable.”
“We have some nice suits over there.”
With a grimace at the thought of putting one of those namby pamby suits on, he said, “Not that respectable.” He marched over to a rack and held up a light blue, button down shirt. “What do you think of this?”
“That will work. Perhaps a new pair of shoes to go with it?” she suggested, hoping to add to her sales commission.
There was no way he was going wear anything but his boots. He passed the jewelry counter and did a double take when he saw the glass baubles prominently displayed there. It was official. Everything came back in style at some time or another. He chose a large ring that would match the size of the other chunky rings that the Slayer seemed to favor.
The last thing he purchased was a pair of sunglasses. Standing just outside the mall, he donned them and smiled. That was much better. He'd forgotten how sensitive his blue eyes were to sunlight.
The house appeared to be empty, but Spike knew better. Buffy was there. He could feel her, smell her, hear her heartbeat. He shut the door loud enough to shake the wall, announcing his presence and stomped up the stairs. Buffy opened the door just as he passed it. She looked sexy with her hair out of place and sleepy eyes.
He smiled at her. “Hi, honey, I'm home.”
She eyed him with a scowl marring her beautiful face. “I think the whole neighborhood knows you’re home. Could you be any louder?”
He shrugged, then his face lit up. He shoved the garment bag with his new shirt at her. “Here. Hold this for sec.” He began patting the pockets of his coat until he found what he was looking for: a small box wrapped in metallic blue paper and topped with a now crumpled bow. “For you.”
In one swift move, he took the shirt from her and shoved the box into her hand. Spike was a bundle of nerves as she stood there gazing at the box. He felt like a teenager again.
“Aren't you going to open it?” he asked.
“No,” she answered with a shake of head, holding the box out to him. “I don't want anything from you.”
“Aren't you the least bit curious as to what Ole Spike would get for you at Bloomingdale's?”
“Let me guess. A box of black widows?”
“That's the kind of gift Drusilla would have loved.” He smiled fondly as he thought about the bizarre things that made the dark vampire squeal with delight. He straightened up and wiped the smile off his face when he realized Buffy was glaring at him now. Was that jealousy? “I can tell you that Drusilla hated what's in that box, because they never worked for her.”
The flicker of curiosity brightened the Slayer's eyes. Gingerly, she unwrapped it and let the paper fall to the floor. The clerk had put the ring in a fancy velvet box. It creaked as she opened it and then she stared at him in confusion. “What is it?”
He grabbed the ring from the box and held it out for her. “It's called a mood ring. The colors change according to your moods. Trinkets like this were quite the rage a few years back, but you were probably too young to remember.”
“Spike, why are you buying me presents? You know this was settled this morning.”
His coat rose and fell with his shrug. “Help me out here, Slayer. I bought it more for me than you.” He pulled out a small laminated card. “This here is the guide to the colors and moods. If you wear the ring, I'll know what kind of mood you’re in and can proceed accordingly.”
The velvet box came flying at him and with expert timing, he caught it. He loved it when she got violent and couldn't help but smile as she slipped the ring on her finger. She had to try three fingers and it eventually ended up on her index finger.
“I'm going to wear it, because I think it's cool, but don't--” She glanced up at him and cut off her words, staring at him with a little smile.
He looked behind him and then back at her. “What?”
“Nothing. It's just...your whole face changes when you smile like that. You know, not a smirk, but a real smile. I noticed it when we were under Willow's spell. Makes your eyes...” She stared at her hand.
He looked at the ring, too and was fascinated as the green color turned to a deep amber. “Hmm,” he said, consulting his little card. “Amber: Nervous. Mixed emotions.”
The door to Buffy's room slammed shut and he found himself standing in the hallway alone. Likes my smile, does she? Well there's some progress. Got a the box thrown at me, but she kept the ring. He hummed a little ditty as he opened his own bedroom door and slipped inside.
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