Buffy arrived at the Magic Box only slightly out of breath to find Spike and Winston already there.
“Okay, what’s up? You’re all wearing ‘something needs killing’ face.”
Spike snorted and exchanged a glance with an equally amused Winston, while Giles just sighed and nodded.
“Alas. It’s possible that will turn out to be the case. Although, you must remember, at this point the man may still be completely human….”
“Man? So Wes found him? Caleb?”
“He thinks he may have a lead on a cult religious figure who is suspected of luring young women to his ‘church’, only for them to disappear. He is coming here tomorrow with more information and photographs to see if you recognize the man.”
“If he’s already a suspect, why don’t the police arrest him?” Buffy glared toward Los Angeles as if she could intimidate the LAPD into doing their jobs.
“They have no proof. No bodies and no way to connect the disappearances to him.”
“If it’s really him, I don’t need proof,” Buffy muttered as she sank into a chair near Spike. “Why didn’t Wes just email us a picture?” she asked as Giles retrieved something from the counter and silently slid a printed out photograph across the table to her. “Aha!” Buffy snatched it and stared at the fuzzy copy of a flier for a revival coming up soon. Giles and Winston flinched back as she made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a vampire’s snarl.
“I take it you think that is the same man who was killing potentials in your time?”
Spike took the photo from Buffy and frowned at it. “I only saw him up close once when he was gouging—” He broke off when Buffy kicked him under the table. “Um, I mean, I only saw him in the midst of a fight and we were just tryin’ to get everybody out of there in one piece, but it could be him. No doubt about it.” He gestured to Buffy as she took the photo back to glare at it some more. “Slayer saw more of him than I did. And from up close. She’s the one that brought him down even after he’d got himself all enhanced by Evil.” He snorted. “And after he knocked the big poof on his egotistical arse. Seein’ that was almost worth watching what came next.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at him and shook her head.
“What did you see?” Winston asked, clearly curious about the byplay between them.
“Enough to let the First almost get to me,” Spike growled. “Played right into its hands, letting the sight of the poof with Buffy make me stupid. I went home and left her there.”
“You weren’t with her?”
Spike cleared his throat and avoided Buffy’s narrowed eyes. “Not as such, no. I’d followed her, you know, just in case…. but Angel was there and I….“ He paused, clearly at a loss to explain why he’d left in a way that wouldn’t be embarrassing.
“And he got all jealous of a hello kiss and went home to put Angel’s face on the punching bag,” Buffy said briskly. “All of which is neither here nor there. By this time, I had the scythe—thanks to Spike, by the way—and I was able to slay the bad guy and make sure he stayed slain. So I did it without help from either one of the testosterone-overloaded vampires.”
“Ah, yes. This ‘scythe’ that you’ve mentioned before. I presume it would prove to be critical to defeating the First Evil?”
“Yeah. Big time. It’s totally awesome, and I think we need to go look for it sooner rather than later.” Buffy sighed. “I would have liked to have it to use against Glory, but even if we could have found it then, it would have changed everything so much… I was just afraid to do it.”
“I feel sure that was a wise decision,” Giles said, smiling when Winston immediately agreed.
“For you to have had such a weapon years before it was actually needed… we can only guess what that could have done to the timeline.”
“Exactly,” Buffy said, her relief at their agreement was obvious. “But I don’t see why finding it a little bit early, if we can, would mess things up too much.”
“You know where it is?” Winston seemed startled that she could have known that all along and resisted the urge to retrieve it.
“Sorta. I looked for the old winery and mission last year, but I couldn’t find them. I’m hoping this year it will be easier because we did find them then—now, just not quite this early in the year.”
“I suppose, given that potentials are still being targeted, that we need to run down all the events from this year in your time so we know what could happen, even if it isn’t as likely.”
“Yeah, okay. But let’s wait till Wes gets here. Then I don’t have to go over everything twice.”
Giles nodded reluctantly. “I suppose there’s no actual urgency, since aside from the attack on Abigail we’ve seen no sign of danger here yet.”
Winston glanced at Spike and Buffy before saying, “Don’t forget, I have second-hand knowledge of much of what led up to Spike’s sacrifice to close the hellmouth. I hesitate to talk about it because their own knowledge will be more immediate and likely to be correct. However, should we need to be wary of something I know about, I can mention it if or when one of them isn’t around.”
“Sounds like a plan, then.” Buffy stood up. “We’ll see you tomorrow when Wes gets here.”
“Where are we going?” Spike kept pace beside her, but stayed in the shadows as befitted his status as a vampire with more sun tolerance than most. They’d concluded that was as close as they were going to be able to come to explaining his occasional daylight appearances without giving away anything else about the Gem.
“I dunno. It’s a nice afternoon, I haven’t had lunch yet, and I just thought my fiancé should take me out for a nice lunch. Possibly at an outdoor café….”
“In case you haven’t noticed, love, in addition to having a bloody obnoxious amount of sunshine, Sunnyhell is more than bit warm at this time of year. Nobody wants to sit outside to eat.”
“Point,” she admitted, wiping sweat off her brow. “But I also know it doesn’t bother you like it does me.”
“Just lookin’ out for my lady,” he said, nudging her arm. “Instead of an outdoor café, why don’t we find a nice air-conditioned bar?”
She laughed and pushed him away. “I might have known. Okay, just so it’s not Willy’s”
“Wouldn’t do that to you, Slayer. I know just the place.”
“I’m sure you do,” she said, smiling to herself as she allowed him to lead the way to a quiet bar she’d never noticed before, where they settled into a booth to enjoy both the cooler air, and in Spike’s case, a cool beer.
“Look at us. Having a little afternoon break in a nice place where nobody knows us. Just like regular people.” Buffy looked around with a smile, kicking Spike when he rolled his eyes at her. “We are. Regular people, I mean. Just ones that have… unusual jobs.”
“Whatever you say, love. Have a look at the menu and order yourself some ‘regular’ food.”
Spike dodged a claw-tipped paw and dove for the legs of the demon blocking his way to where Buffy was fighting more vampires than he liked to see at one time. With a growl, he went into game face and wrenched the big creature to the ground. He buried his teeth in the demon’s throat and tried to ignore the pummeling his head was taking. With a final snarling shake of his head, he managed to get through the thick neck and rip what he hoped was an important artery. The gurgling noise that accompanied the gush of disgusting green ichor was enough to let him know he’d won, so he leapt to his feet. and raced to Buffy just in time to intercept an obviously older and smarter vampire circling to attack her from behind.
“I don’t think so, mate,” Spike growled as he grabbed the vamp by his unusually long hair. With a yank, Spike pulled him around with one hand and punched him with the other.
“Hey, I’m on your si—” Without waiting to explain that they were not on the same side, Spike drove a stake through his chest and pushed through the dust to Buffy’s side.
“Hogging all the fun again, Slayer?” he said as he dusted another clueless opponent that assumed Spike was part of the attacking crowd.
“Would I do that?” she said, mentally sending him a grateful smile.
Using their ability to communicate silently to its full advantage, they had soon whittled the numbers down to where Spike could sit on a tombstone and have a cigarette while Buffy took out her indignation on the remaining two vampires.
“What’s wrong with you guys? Don’t you know it’s still summer? I’m on vacation! And I’m getting married. I don’t have time for this!”
With a final “Ha!” she ran her stake through the last of the gang and dusted herself off. “Yuck, I’m covered in vamp dust, and you’re wearing… something gross and smelly.” She cringed away from his playful attempt to kiss her, causing him to laugh. “You’re welcome, love. If I hadn’t done that, I’m not sure you would have noticed that wanker sneaking up behind you.”
“Humph,” she sniffed. “I guess that’s it for tonight then. We both need showers, and I have to do a load of laundry now too.”
They strolled out of the cemetery and down the street, ignoring sidelong looks from the few pedestrians still out.
“I guess we must look as grubby as we feel,” Buffy grumbled when, as they approached their apartment building, a passer-by had actually turned to look at them more closely.
“Reckon so. We get so used to being dusty and bloody, I don’t even stop to think about it anymore.”
He opened the door to the apartment and held it for Buffy as she entered and dropped her stakes on the floor.
“Race you into the shower,” she said over her shoulder as she headed for the bedroom at a jog.
“I’ll be naked first!” He laughed aloud as he zipped past her at a speed she couldn’t match.
Rather than try to catch him, she just dropped her clothes on the bedroom floor and walked to the bathroom in time to see him trying to wrestle his jeans off. “You’ve still got your boots on!” she said, laughing to herself as he growled at her. Still chuckling, Buffy knelt down and untied his boots for him so he could kick them off and wriggle out of his jeans. As she stood up to get into the tub, she ran her hand lightly over his half-erect cock, giggling when that brought on another growl.
Before the water had even become warm, Spike was in the tub behind her and pulling the shower curtain closed. He put his arms around her and nuzzled her neck, saying, “It’s a good thing I love you so much or I might have taken offense at your teasing.”
“But you do,” she said, turning around with a smile. “You do love me… and you still smell like icky demon blood.” She stepped around him and pushed him under the water. She handed him the shampoo, then began to wash his back, giggling when he growled at exploratory fingers lingering over his ass and wandering between his cheeks.
“Playing with fire there, Slayer,” he said. “That’s a good way to get demon slime on you.” He turned around and pretended to be rubbing his head on her face. With a laugh, she shoved him away, then sponged off his neck and shoulders.
“You scrub it out of your hair while I get rid of the rest of it, and then get out of my way so I can rinse off the vamp dust in my hair.”
“Bossy bint,” he said, rinsing the shampoo out of his hair. “It’s a good thing I like that in a woman.”
“I am the boss,” she said, working her way down to the body part that seemed most interested in what she was doing. She was spreading the soap over it with her hands, smiling at his gasping growl. “And don’t you forget it.” She continued “washing” his cock until, with a final growl, he spurted into her hands and fell against the tiled wall, breathing hard.
“That you are, love. Always were and always will be.”
“Good, so if that’s settled, help me wash the vamp dust out of my hair…. Please?” She stood under the water until her hair was wet, then turned around and presented her back to him.
“It would be my pleasure, boss-lady.” He poured the shampoo into his hand and massaged her scalp, smiling at her appreciative moans. “I think I need to make sure there isn’t any vamp dust hiding in any hard-to-reach places,” he murmured, trailing his sudsy hands down over her breasts and into the neatly trimmed curls between her legs. It took him only a minute with his talented hands to have her whimpering and gasping. Using his right arm to hold her up, he quickly brought her off with his left. He held her spasming body tightly against his until she went limp, then put both arms around her and nuzzled his marks on her neck until her breathing was almost back to normal.
Spike stepped closer to the shower head and allowed the water to pour over them both until all the suds seemed to have been rinsed away and the water was cooling off.
“Time to go,” Buffy said with a small shiver. She pushed him away gently and stepped out of the tub to grab a towel. After turning the water off, he joined her to towel off his own hair and body. By silent agreement, instead of getting dressed again, they pulled on bathrobes and wandered into the kitchen area.
“Kinda early for us to go to bed, isn’t it?” Spike said. “Not that I’m objecting if that’s the plan….”
“The plan is to have a snack and relax on the couch for a while. And then, yes, maybe go to bed earlier than usual. We might have to get up early tomorrow to meet Wes at the Magic Box if he comes right away.”
“I’m a vampire,” Spike muttered, only half-seriously. “I don’t do mornings!”
“Sometimes you do,” she giggled, sending him a mental image of how she’d awakened him a few days ago.
“I doubt Oxford is going to be that much fun,” he said with a laugh. “But point taken. I can be a morning person if there’s a good enough reason.”