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Challenge #578 What If I Loved You? Part 1 by slaymesoftly
Chapter Twenty-two
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“What time do you think it is?”  Buffy absently traced her finger around Spike’s nipple, smiling when it popped up.  She kissed the little peak and then reached across him to do the same to the other one. He opened one eye to peer at her.
“Don’t start something you don’t plan to finish, there, Slayer. It’s close to daylight, so early morning?”
“I wasn’t really trying to start anything.”She yawned and stretched, groaning in pleasure at the minor aches she felt.  “I was just having fun with you.”She sat up, smiling at his automatic ogle when the sheet slid down to her lap.  “I should probably go home and get dressed. Not in that order.”
“Or,”he said, pulling her down on top of him. “You could just plan to spend the day here with me and we could go back to sleep.”
“Sleep? Is that what you want?”She giggled as she let her legs drop open. “I think at least one body part isn’t interested in sleeping.”
“That part doesn’t recognize the difference between night and day,”he purred, pulling her closer. “When you’re around, it’s always awake.”
“I really should go….”
“Nobody will be up yet at your house. And didn’t you say Mum wasn’t expecting you home?”
“Yeah,”she wriggled against him, letting him slide easily into her. “That was definitely the vibe I got. I don’t think she was happy about it, but she kinda expected it.”
“Brilliant woman, your mum,”he said as they began moving together, their bodies already familiar with when and how to move for the best result. “We definitely have time to make it a good morning.”
He rolled her over, smiling at the way she wrapped her arms and legs around him as if they’d been making love for years. In what seemed only moments, she was clutching him and crying out as they came to a mutually satisfactory conclusion.
“Wow”Buffy relaxed, but kept her arms and legs around him, letting her legs slide down to wrap around his so they were pressed together head to toe. “Was that a quickie?”
She felt his chest vibrate under her cheek as he chuckled.
“Was. I can be quick when I have to…I can be slow, too…”
Feeling him begin to swell within her, Buffy unwrapped her legs, rolled to the side, and began pushing herself away.
“Oh no, you don’t. I need to go home, take a shower…maybe a nap…”
He laughed and let her up. “Okay, love. You could join me in the shower here, but it’s only cold water.”
She shivered and pulled the covers around her.  “No thanks!”
“If you think you’ll be here often enough to need it to be warmer, I’ll work on it this week. Maybe get a space heater too.”He stood up.  “Be right back.”
Buffy watched as he walked a short distance into the tunnel, admiring the way the muscles in his butt flexed with each step.  She heard the sound of running water, and then he was back, drying off with a small towel. She laughed at the wet curls on his head, earning herself an insincere glare. 
“My clothes are all upstairs, aren’t they?”she grumbled as she threw off the sheets and stood up. 
“So are mine. I’ll get them.”  Carrying the towel and rubbing his wet hair, he went up the ladder and began searching for their clothes.
“What the—?”  He glanced at the door which was being knocked on quite vigorously. “Who’s here at this hour of the morning…. and why the bloody hell are they expecting to walk right in?”he added as he saw the door being pushed against the bar holding it closed.
 “It might be Dawn. Maybe something happened to Mom. Throw my clothes down!”Buffy ran to the bottom of the ladder and held up her hands.
“Here you are, pet.”He tossed her jeans, shirt, and bra down the steps, but held her underwear to his nose until she said, “And my panties, you pervert!” before laughing and dropping them to her.
Meanwhile, whoever was at the door was continuing to pound, and he growled as he pulled on his own jeans.
“Keep your knickers on!”
Without fastening the top button, he strode to the door, towel in hand, chest and feet bare and wet hair curling over his forehead.  The pounding hadn’t let up and he was snarling as he pulled the door open.
“This better be bloody important, Bit—Lydia? What are you doing here at this hour?”
She didn’t answer immediately, giving him time to notice that her hair was loosely brushed and hanging down her back, her usually buttoned to the top blouse was open far enough for him to see that she wasn’t wearing a bra, and her normally covered legs were bare beneath her skirt. She shivered as she stared at him, whether from the sight of half-naked Spike or the morning chill, he wasn’t sure.
“What are you doing here? Is something wrong? Where are George and Nigel?”He peered outside, realizing that the morning was more advanced than he’d guessed, and seeing no sign of her bodyguards.
“I got out before they were up,”she said proudly.  “Aren’t you doing to ask me in?”
As she spoke, Spike heard another heartbeat and saw Nigel coming toward them from behind a near-by tombstone. The watcher shook his head and mouthed “I’m sorry”as he came closer to the crypt.
“Spike? Aren’t you going to ask me in? It’s chilly out here.”
“Really not a good idea just now, pet.  If you’re cold, why don’t you go back and get the rest of your clothes?”
“Why isn’t it a good idea? You’re obviously awake and—”
“I’m not dressed for company, luv. Really think you should just—”He beckoned Nigel to come closer.
“Nonsense. I’m a grown woman, and as well as we know each other, I’m certainly all right with seeing you undressed….”
Lydia, who hadn’t taken her eyes off his bare chest and abdomen, never noticed his gesture, nor that he was looking past her.  She pushed the door open and walked in past him. When she went to close the door, Spike grabbed it, holding it open. “No, let’s let some of this fresh morning air in here. Clean out the cobwebs, so to speak.”He made eye contact with Nigel, the panic on his face more than clear. Nigel jogged up to the crypt and stood in the doorway.
“Lydia. This is inappropriate behaviour. Come out this instant.”
She whirled around, dismay on her face. “What are you doing here?”
“Trying to keep you from making a fool of yourself,”he said curtly. “Now let’s go.”
“No. William has invited me in, so I’m just going to visit for a while. You can go.”
“He did not invite you. You have pushed your way into his home at what is an ungodly hour for a vampire. Please remember who you are.”
Lydia ignored him, approaching Spike without taking her eyes off his bare chest. “You don’t mind that I'm here, do you, William? We can continue our conversation from yesterday—”One hand reached tentatively toward the skin she couldn’t seem to look away from, and Spike grabbed her wrist.
“Spike, did I leave my—What the hell is she doing here?”
Buffy emerged from the bedroom level to find the two watchers and Spike frozen in place. As she came all the way up into the room, she took a long, hard look at Lydia, noting the barely hidden breasts and long hair. Telling herself there was no way Spike had been expecting Lydia at his door this early, Buffy took a deep breath and calmed her urge to kill somebody.
“Where are my socks and boots?”she said as casually as she could manage through gritted teeth. “Oh, here they are. Where we left them.”Satisfied she’d made her point, Buffy picked up her things and sat down to put them on.
“What is she doing here?”Lydia’s question echoed Buffy’s as she glared at the barefoot slayer.  “Oh my God. Did she stay here last night? How incredibly inconsiderate of her.”Her eyes fell upon Spike’s tee-shirt on the arm of the sofa. “She made you sleep up here so she could use your bed? How typical of her behaviour around you.”Spike had dropped her wrist as soon as she stopped trying to touch him, and he stepped back a safer distance.
Torn between indignation at Lydia’s refusal to believe what she was seeing, and dismay that Nigel was watching the scene with much less delusional eyes, Buffy began to put on her socks. She ignored Lydia’s babbling until she had her boots on, then glared at Spike –who had yet to speak –picked up his tee-shirt, walked over to him, and threw it at his face.
“Get your clothes on and fix this!”she ordered, before putting her chin in the air and stalking past both watchers and out the door into the sunshine, leaving Spike holding his shirt as he stared after her.
Nigel moved forward and tried to take Lydia’s arm. “We need to leave. This does not concern us.”
“It most certainly does concern us. That…woman…is a slayer. And clearly she is using her position and William’s inability to fight back to coerce him into doing her bidding. Making him drive her friends and family around, risk his own life fighting against his own kind, and now kicking him out of his own bed…”
“She didn’t kick me out.”Spike had pulled on his shirt and finished fastening his pants.
Lydia’s mouth opened and closed as she shook Nigel’s hand off her arm. “You mean you…she…Oh my God. It’s worse than I thought. She’s using sexual favors to bribe you to help her. Or, worse yet, she’s forcing you to—”
Spike looked helplessly at Nigel, who shrugged and made hand-washing motions.  Spike sighed deeply and took Lydia by the shoulders, being sure to hold her out at arm’s length as her eyes went back to his now-covered chest. He shook her gently until she raised them to meet his steady gaze.
“I help her because I’m in love with her,”he said, slowly and distinctly. “Have been for longer than I care to admit. We hid our relationship—”He rolled his eyes when Nigel coughed vigorously. “Prob’ly could’ve done a better job of it, now that I think on it…”He growled and continued, “Be that as it may, we tried to hide it because Rupert thinks the Council needs to get used to the idea of me as a trusted friend and co-fighter against evil, before they learn that the Slayer –Buffy –has another vampire in her life…romantically speaking.”
“But you…me…we…”She pulled her shirt collar around her neck as reality began to set in and her years of observation training began to overcome the willing denial she’d had in place since arriving in Sunnydale.
“I flirt with you, Lydia. And I call you ‘pet’and ‘luv’because that’s what I do with pretty birds. It’s who I am around women. Nobody takes me seriously. And I spend time with you because that’s why you’re here and I’m trying to help. But I’m a one-woman man and always have been. You know my history. I was with Dru for well over a hundred years.”He shook his head and released her shoulders. “She knew I was in love with Buffy before I did. It’s why she left me.” 
Lydia’s expression went from shocked and crushed to that of a watcher making mental note of new facts and back again almost too quickly for them to be sure they’d seen it. But Spike was confident she’d just added that new information to her final report.
She pulled away from his hands, still clutching the neckline of her blouse.  Without another word, she whirled and bolted past Nigel and out into the bright sun.
Spike and Nigel made eye contact again. “Well that…. didn’t exactly go well, but it could have been much worse, I suppose.”
“Could’ve. Think we should all be grateful that Buffy doesn’t kill or harm humans. That’s the only thing that’s held her in check this week.”He gave Nigel a tight smile. “She doesn’t share well.”
Nigel sighed and nodded. “That actually explains quite a bit of her behaviour this week.”
“She’s been a bit stressed,”Spike agreed. “Coming on top of almost dying, her mum’s surgery, the big lump she’d been seeing rejecting her slayer side and leaving town—”
“Wait –she’d been seeing someone else? But you said you…”
“Said Id been in love with her for years. Didn’t say she reciprocated. She had no idea how I felt about her until the staking. And then there was her mum, and Glory…near-death experiences can bring you closer together pretty quickly, and the Slayer and I have had more than our share lately.”
“That’s why the Council knew nothing about this.”
Spike nodded. “There was nothing to know until a week or so ago. And we’ve been too busy since then to be making big announcements about it. Still sorting it out ourselves, truth be told. It’s a bit of unexplored territory, innit? Unsouled vamp and slayer?”
Nigel smiled and shook his head.  “I guess it is.  I’ll just be getting back to the hotel then. I imagine Lydia will be willing to leave, now that her illusions about her relationship with William the Bloody have been destroyed.”
“It was Rupert’s idea that I be…nicer…than I might have been. He thought it important that she like me. Didn’t mean to hurt her,”Spike said. “I hope she knows that.”
“She’ll figure it out eventually. She came here already prepared to be enamored of you, but the flirting didn’t help…and it didn’t make George very happy…”Nigel raised an eyebrow and Spike nodded.
“I know.  I think we reached an understanding. He seems a very patient man. Sooner or later, she’ll see what’s right under her nose.”
“I’d like to think so. They are good people with the potential to produce more watchers with brains and skills.”He cleared his throat as if wishing he could take back that little piece of information about the Council’s interest in its employees, then moved on. “Anyway, what’s done is done. It was her own foolishness that made her so susceptible to the flattery of a potentially deadly vampire. An important lesson learned, I hope.”
Spike studied Nigel for a moment. “Something tells me you aren’t just here as extra muscle.”
“I’ve no idea what you mean,”Nigel said, his face impassive, although his yes almost had a twinkle. “I’m merely the bodyguard you both recognized as the one you needed to worry about first.”
“And I suspect we were more right than we knew,”Spike responded, reminding himself to share his new suspicions with Buffy and Giles.
“Well, I’ll just be going, and let you go back to your…sleep.”
“I’m up now. May as well check in at casa Summers and see if I’m still welcome there.”
Nigel raised his eyebrows and pointed to the bright sunlight outside.
Spike laughed, and sat down to put on his boots.  “Next trip, remind me to take you on a tour of Sunnydale’s tunnel and sewer system. I can go pretty much wherever I need to as long as I have something to cover my head, a close-by manhole, or an easily opened basement.”
Nigel nodded and studied Spike in turn. “Something tells me it’s a very good thing you are on our side.”
Spike looked up, saying with perfect seriousness, “I’m on her side. Never forget that. Haven’t lost my taste for human blood or the chase. But have too much reason not to indulge it now.”
“And a chip in your head.”
“And that.”Spike smiled at him, doing his best to appear harmless in front of this man he was just beginning to realize they may have underestimated.
The meeting in the Magic Box later in the morning was relatively short. Giles filled the three curious watchers in on Buffy’s short demise years ago, and the fact that it had sent the slayer succession line in another direction. Nigel nodded that he’d known some of it, but he had no idea that Faith was incarcerated only a few hours away.
“I’d assumed she was a glitch of some sort, and had been killed fairly early, sending the line back to Buffy, where it belongs.”
“I’m quite sure Travers knows exactly where Faith is, but as long as Buffy continues to do the job of the Slayer and keeps the hellmouth from ending the world every spring, they have no reason to see that Faith—”
He paused and looked at the three sets of eyes watching him. Lydia and George’s showed only curiosity about his next words, but Nigel’s held a warning. Giles met his gaze, then nodded, changing in midstream. “…. they have no reason to try to arrange her release. She did, in fact, commit murder and deserves to suffer the consequences.”
“So the line will not go on if something happens to Buffy?”  George seemed to be trying to absorb the idea that Buffy was a slayer, but not the one intended to be active.”
“I must assume not. If that happens, Faith then becomes the only active slayer on the planet.”
“Which, to some extent, makes it even odder that you are still keeping records on Buffy’s activities,”Lydia said dismissively. “She’s not the current slayer, so why keep records?”
Giles did his best not to lose his temper as he struggled to answer her implication.
“It is even more important that I keep records of a slayer who has died once, and yet continues to serve –preventing, at last count, four separate apocalypses. In addition to her normal evening patrols where she turns uncounted numbers of vampires to dust and sends countless demons to wherever it is that demons go when they’ve been beheaded. I believe it is worth recording these things.”
“She’s been the Slayer for quite some time, has she not?”Nigel said thoughtfully. “She may well be on her way to setting the record for longevity.”
“That would be my sincere hope,”Giles said.
“And Spike’s”George added softly.
“Yes. I believe that to be so. With a master vampire of Spike’s experience and skill watching her back, I’m hoping she will continue to survive her nightly duties for a long time to come.”
“Wasn’t she somewhat involved with another old vampire when she was younger? Angelus, if I remember correctly?”
“She was,”Giles said shortly. “Angel, as he now calls himself, had been cursed with a soul many years ago. After almost a century of existing on the edges of society, feeding on animals and being generally useless, Angel was persuaded to move to Sunnydale to assist Buffy when she arrived. He was of some help to her from time to time –more in the nature of providing information than anything else –but they unfortunately developed a romantic relationship. Totally inappropriate, of course, with her being so young, but apparently fairly typical of Angel when he was human. There were…circumstances…that caused the soul to be lost. A loophole in the original curse, as it were. It was a trying time for everyone…”He shut his eyes and clenched his jaw momentarily. “Angelus had planned to end the world by opening a portal for Acathla.  To our surprise, Spike, whom Buffy thought she’d killed in a fire only to find he was crippled instead, came to her offering to help stop Angelus.”
At the surprised murmurs, he nodded. “Yes. Although they were enemies at the time, and had fought each other to a draw more than once, they worked together in this instance. Spike’s primary motivation was to tear his sire away from her devotion to Angelus, as well as to save the world he enjoys from destruction. To make a long story short, with Spike’s assistance, Buffy was able to prevent Acathla from opening –at great personal cost to herself, I might add –and Angel was lost.  The Powers That Be apparently felt he could still be useful here on earth, and returned him, soul intact, from the hell dimension to which he’d been taken by Acathla.
“He and Buffy were unable to recreate quite the same relationship they had before he lost his soul, and he chose to move to Los Angeles and continue his quest for redemption there. The whole situation did not end well, and caused Buffy much heartache.”
“Then, why on earth is she taking up with another vampire? And one related to the one that hurt her so badly? Won’t this go just as poorly for her?”
Giles gave a grim smile. “As Spike will be the first to tell you, over and over if necessary, he is nothing like his grandsire. He has no soul to lose, and he has incredible self control when it comes to his demon. As I understand it from a short conversation with one of the Initiative’s people, Spike was the first vampire they tried the chip on that could actually control his need to feed. The chip prevented others from harming humans, but left them writhing helplessly from its reaction to their desire to do so. Spike was able to control his demon well enough not to set the chip off unless he was actually trying to harm somebody.”
“This is information that should be in my paper!”Lydia said. When they all stared at her, she flushed. “Well, it would have been pointless to come here to interview William if I weren’t planning a follow-up to my thesis.”Very reluctantly, she asked Giles, “Unless, of course, you have already—”
“I have kept extensive records on William the Bloody since he first arrived in Sunnydale. However, they, and my records on Buffy’s nightly activities, are my own personal journals that will only be seen in the event of my death. If then. Feel free to use whatever information you have obtained during your visit.”
“Excellent! Are we ready to go then?”  She beamed at Nigel and George, already on her feet, and as quickly as that, the visit was over.  Giles promised to give Nigel’s and George’s regards to Spike and Buffy as he watched them follow Lydia out of the shop.
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