Spike watched from the couch as Buffy kicked Sunday and her gang around the room, sneering the entire time about “skanky, stuff-stealing, bleached blonde bloodsuckers”. He never moved, except to applaud a particularly good quip, or wince at a slayer kick that went somewhere extra painful. When there was nothing left but dust, he stood up and clapped. Not the sarcastic slow claps of his first sight of her fighting, but genuine appreciation for her work.
“Looks like you’re all back up to snuff,” he said. “Not hurt anymore?”
She shook her head. “Nah. A good night’s sleep and my slayer healing fixed my arm right up. And making a dust bunny out of that snotty bitch just made my day. I feel great!” She threw her arms out and jumped at him. Vampire-quick reactions allowed him to catch her and pull her against his body as she wound her arms around his neck and wrapped her legs around his waist.
“You feel bloody wonderful,” he said, nuzzling the side of her neck. “And you smell even better….”
“I’m all sweaty,” she protested feebly as she turned her head to give him better access.
“You’re also turned on,” he breathed against her ear. “Think I can’t tell what fighting does to you?”
“Wait! What? What do you mean… how do you… oh….”
“Does the same thing to me, love,” he murmured, his hands cupping her ass and holding her against him. “Every time I fight you, every time I watch you fight… It’s a wonder you didn’t kill me one of those times I couldn’t walk well enough to get out of your way.”
Buffy giggled, sliding down and rubbing herself against him, eliciting a heartfelt groan. “Really? All that time I could have just….” She fastened her mouth on his, falling quickly into the kisses that made the world and everything in it fade into unimportance. Between the kissing and the pressure against her clit, Buffy was somewhere between fainting and having an orgasm when they were interrupted by noise from outside.
Still dizzy from unsatisfied lust, and not happy about the interruption, Buffy allowed Spike to put her down on the floor. He fell into place on her left while she retrieved her stake and waited to see what was coming into the empty vamp nest.
The squad of ninja-like soldiers that burst through the door was not what either one had expected.
They stared at each other, Buffy taking in the commando uniforms, Riley frowning at the stake in her hand.
“What are you doing here?” they exclaimed simultaneously.
“You first,” Riley said, eyeing Spike with suspicion. Spike glowered back at the much larger man.
“I had a… a little problem with one of the people living here,” Buffy said, tucking her stake behind her back. “I just came by to… talk to her about it, and to get my stuff back.” She began picking up things that Sunday had taken from her dorm room, gesturing at Spike to grab the rest of them. As soon as they’d picked up everything that hadn’t been ruined, Buffy pushed Spike toward the door and said, “Nice to see you, Riley. See you tomorrow in class!” She pushed Spike the rest of the way out and hissed, “Let’s get out of here.”
“Buffy!” Riley called after her. “Where are the… people… who were living here?”
“Oh, I think they must have moved out in a hurry. They left a lot of dust behind.” Glaring at Spike’s snicker, but giggling in spite of herself, she began to jog, anxious to get away before it occurred to any of the men staring around the empty room to follow her.
“Uh, Finn?” Graham tried to get Riley’s attention while frowning at the device in his hand.
“What?” Riley’s response was barely audible as he stared at the door through which Buffy had disappeared. He only noticed what Graham was saying when the man repeated himself in a louder voice.
“I said I only recorded one heat signature in here. One of them was only room temperature, and I’m guessing it wasn’t the one holding the stake.”
“You saw that, huh? I was hoping maybe I imagined it.”
“We all saw it. Your little co-ed crush was standing in a room full of vamp dust, holding a stake; and unless something’s wrong with the equipment, the Billy Idol wannabe with her is a hostile.”
When they felt they were safely away from the commandos, they slowed down and began the walk toward Buffy’s dorm.
“What the hell was that – the ghostbuster squad?”
“I’m not sure. That’s the second time I’ve seen them around the campus at night. And the second time they’ve almost caught me slaying. I didn’t know Riley was one of them, though.”
“And who or what is a ‘Riley’ when he’s not playing ninja soldier?”
“Oh, he’s the TA in my psych class. Willow thinks he likes me, but I’m pretty sure he just thinks I’m an idiot who falls asleep in class and wanders around by herself too much at night.”
Spike gave a low growl and Buffy glanced at him from the sides of her eyes. “What?”
“Nothing. Just the demon responding to the idea of another man thinking he—”
“What does your demon have to do with anything?”
Spike stared at her. “Everything, love. He’s… it’s… part of me. Part of who and what I am. Come on, Slayer. You’ve got to know this.”
Buffy was silent as they entered the dorm and carried her belongings back to her room. Spike sprawled on the bed while she wandered around putting things away. Having remained quiet as long as he could, he finally said, “Slayer? Buffy?”
She raised bleak eyes to his, causing him to rise and cross the room to where she was standing, parasol in hand. “What’s wrong, luv?”
“Is that what not having a soul means? That your demon is always there?”
He frowned at her. “Demon’s there no matter what. Won’t be gone till I’m dust. A soul might make him a mite unhappy, but it wouldn’t make him vanish. Can’t. He’s always there. It’s what keeps me alive – so to speak.”
He snarled and whirled away from her. “Should have known that was coming. Angelus – the bane of my existence.”
“When he has his soul, the demon—”
“When the bugger has his soul, he feels guilty. So he keeps the demon in check. That’s all. Without it, the demon has nothing to rein it in and the true Angelus comes out.”
“I control my demon, Slayer. It doesn’t control me. Don’t need an artificial conscience to keep it in line. I know right from wrong—and so does Angelus. We just don’t care. Or, I didn’t care; not until now.”
He turned back and put his hands on her shoulders. “You can’t be my soul, Buffy, but you can be my conscience. Not saying I won’t make mistakes. It’s been a long time since I let the lessons my mother taught me control my actions. Went out of my way to be the opposite of what I was raised, once I got turned. The freedom was… freeing.”
“You’ll be here. To tell me if I’m making a mistake. To remind me what’s right and wrong.” He frowned at her. “Not to say I’m gonna turn into some sort of goody-two-shoes, mind you. A vamp’s got to have some vices… But with your help, I can maybe keep from making any big mistakes.” He smoothed her hair and his eyes softened even more. “I want to make this work, Slayer. If it doesn’t, and I have to leave, I want to know that we gave it our best shot.”
The confusion in Buffy’s eyes was painful to see. “I don’t understand…” She stared at Spike as if she could find the answer written on his face. “How can you… And Ange-Angelus couldn’t… He hated me!”
“He hated that you’d made him love you,” Spike said. “And all those years of living with the soul… I think his demon might have gone a bit barmy. Not that Angelus wasn’t always a right bastard,” he hastened to add. “But he was even more twisted once you—once the soul went away.”
“You can say it,” Buffy said, turning away from his entirely too sympathetic eyes. “Once I made him lose his soul. Go me. And then he didn’t even love me anymore.”
“Angelus never ‘loved’ anybody, pet. He’s got a sense of family, I’ll give him that, but the only person he really cares about is Angelus.” Spike blew out a breath and mumbled, “I hope I don’t regret sayin’ this…” Speaking a bit louder he said, “You made him so happy, he lost the bloody soul that makes him so special to you. He loved you. Trust me. It’s just, the demon twisted it into something obsessive once it didn’t have the soul to keep it in check. You were still special to him… just not in a way that was likely to make you very happy. Or safe,” he added watching her as she wrapped her arms around herself and kept her back to him.
“But I’m safe with you – and you don’t love me.” She whirled around, blinking back tears. “I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense!”
Spike growled low in his throat, then threw himself down on her bed. He stared at the ceiling for several seconds, then sighed and sat up, motioning her closer.
“If I tell you something, will you promise not to remember it or think about it when you’re slaying?”
“Demons are just like anybody else, pet. Some are bad, some are good – more bad than good, I’ll admit, but there are some of both. Remind me to take you around one night and introduce you to some harmless demons so you don’t go accidently slaying somebody you’ll wish you hadn’t.”
“You think I’ve slayed good demons?”
“Dunno, love. I’m just saying, Sunnyhell is full of demons doing jobs that a human wouldn’t last ten minutes at. Who do you think makes the late-night pizza deliveries, or works down in the sewer tunnels when something needs fixing?”
Buffy’s eyes grew wide as she thought about all the times she’d handed money to a delivery boy, wondering what he was so obviously terrified of and worried that she needed to escort him safely back to his car.
“Oh my God. I never even… that makes sense, I guess. But it’s not like I go around looking for funny-looking delivery people, or prowling the sewers unless I’m chasing something. What’s that got to do with slaying vamps?
“Because it includes vamps, pet. Not many, and you aren’t likely to come across them, but even some vamps have demons that don’t crave the bloodshed.”
“So, what happens to them? Do they starve to death before I can stake them?”
“No. They do what you want me to do – what the poof does – they bag it. Or they—never mind, you don’t need to know about that. All you need to know is that all those Sunnydale butchers that have fresh blood to go aren’t there just because your ex ate a lot. They have other customers. Vamps and demons.”
“Oh.” Buffy sank down beside him, frowning. “But they don’t have souls?”
He rolled his eyes and flopped back on the bed with a growl. “My bloody grandsire needs a soul, because without it, he’s an evil version of the wanker he was as a human.” He turned his head to the side to look at her. “Not all of us were as selfish and amoral as Liam O’Connor was before Darla found him and made him her—Made him what he became.”
“But you… you aren’t exactly famous for your sweet, gentle disposition,” Buffy said. “You were just as bad as he was. And Dru…”
“I’m what they made me, pet. Won’t deny it. And I’m not sorry about it. The baddest of the bad. William the Bloody.” His mouth twisted as he said it and Buffy wasn’t sure she hadn’t seen a flash of pain go across his face. “But William Pr—the man I used to be is still in here.” Spike touched his chest, then took Buffy’s hand and rested it on it. “He’s in here. Doesn’t have his soul any more, and he isn’t the wimpy pushover he was at one time, but he’s here. And he’s just as big a fool about lo—he’s just as stupid about women as he ever was.”
“So, this,” Buffy gestured back and forth between them. “You think it’s stupid?”
“Don’t know yet, do I?” he said, tugging her down to lie beside him. “I can tell you this is the first time ol’ William picked someone worthy to….” He stopped and cleared his throat. “Think I might have made a better choice this time.”
Buffy allowed him to keep his arm around her, and she rested her head on his chest, but her body was rigid. When several minutes had gone by and he had done nothing else but stroke her hair, she gradually relaxed and brought her own arm across his chest, resting it there.
“You’re assuming we have a choice,” she said.
“There’s always a choice, Slayer. Jus’ because it’s not as impossible as we thought, doesn’t mean we have to do it. It just means I can stop worrying I’ve lost my mind ‘cause I can’t stop thinking about you.”
“And I can stop feeling like some kind of freak because I…”
She let her voice trail off as she snuggled a little nearer, just barely stopping herself from throwing one leg over the muscular thigh she was pressed against. Almost against her will, the hand resting on his chest began a gentle stroking motion, exploring the muscles and sinew covered by his tight tee shirt.
There was a soft vibration under her hand that she soon identified as a contented sound.
“Are you purring?”
“Don’t be daft!” he said, the vibration stopping immediately. “Kittens purr. I was just… humming.”
“Yes. You know, hum, hum, de hum…”
She giggled. “Oh yeah. Humming.” She giggled again.
“Are you mocking me, Slayer?” he growled, wrapping his arms around her and rolling over on top of her. He buried his face in the side of her neck, still mock-growling and pretending to bite her with his blunt human teeth.
Rather than react as her body wanted to, with a violent spasm that would throw him away from her throat, she let herself lie still and enjoy the way it felt to have that strong body pressed against hers from head to toe. She even turned her head to the side to allow him better access to her neck, which he was now running his lips over and nipping lightly at the skin under them. His tongue tickled her throat as he licked his way from one side to the other.
Buffy’s breath was getting shorter and she was unconsciously beginning to move under him until he reached the other side of her neck and ran up against the scars left there. He flinched back with a snarl, glaring down at her startled face.
“What the bloody hell…?”
Trying to mask the shame she felt, Buffy bristled back at him. “What? Like you’ve never been bitten?”
He relaxed and rested his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry, luv. I just forgot about those scars for a second. Demon over-reacted.”
Buffy bit her lip and shifted her eyes away from his. “Is it ugly? Does my neck look like a vamp chew toy?”
“Ah, no, Buffy. I didn’t mean that. Just surprised me, is all. You couldn’t be ugly if you tried, Slayer. They’re just scars, barely noticeable to anyone but another vampire, I’d wager.”
He kissed her closed eyelids and her face, working his way to her mouth and kissing it persistently until her own lips softened and began to respond to him. Within minutes, their tongues had joined and the marks on Buffy’s neck were well on their way to being forgotten. Kisses that had made Buffy’s knees weak when she was standing up, had a totally different effect when she was lying down with Spike’s body pressing hers into bed. Her legs went around his thighs, and she clutched their lower bodies together with a grip that he couldn’t have broken if he’d wanted to.
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