Spike strolled into the living room, mug of blood in hand, and asked casually, “What did who say I wasn’t supposed to see, luv?”
She gave a guilty start and glared. “You listened!”
“Vampire,” he said simply, pointing to his ear with his free hand.
“Stupid vampire hearing.”
“You gonna answer my question or just insult my ancestry?”
Buffy sighed and pulled the note from her pocket. “She gave me a note from the other me –one I’m not supposed to let you see.”
He titled his head at her and then pulled his own note out. “Sounds a lot like the one I sent to myself – also not for sharing.”
Spike put his back in his pocket and turned away. “I’ll look at it later and if I think it’s something you need to know, I’ll tell you about it. You alright with that?”
Buffy nodded, putting her own note into her back pocket. “Sounds like a plan. And if I think you need to know what mine says...”
“Exactly. Need to know basis.”
“Right. Need to know.”
They stood around for a few minutes, eyes darting around the room, feet shuffling and hands twitching before the vampire finally said, “Sod this!” and pulled the note back out of his pocket. He set his mug down on the top of the television set and carefully unfolded his note.
Buffy gave a sigh of relief and removed her own letter, quickly opening it and running her eyes over the words there. Her brow creased as she read what her older self had written, confusion plain upon her face. She looked up at Spike and saw that he was staring at her – the speculative expression back on his face.
When he noticed her looking, he cleared his throat and folded the note back up until it was very small.
“Well, nothing there worth sharing,” he said briskly. “Just vamp to vamp stuff.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed with relief. “Me too. Just Slayer stuff; nothing for you to worry about.“
“Well, that’s that, then.”
“Yep. Nothing to see here.”
Looking for a change of subject, Buffy asked, “How long do you think it will take us to get a car to use?”
He raised an eyebrow, growling when she rolled her eyes and elaborated.
“How long do you think it will take us to get a car without stealing one?”
“Spoil sport,” he grumbled.
“Yeah, yeah. I got it, Slayer. How about one that I win in a poker game or take off some lesser vamp?”
“Just don’t tell me about it,” she surprised him by saying tiredly. “Just find one so we can get there and find out what’s going on.”
“Alright, pet. Why don’t you get some sleep while I go see if some really unlucky demon wants to bet his ride that he can beat an inside straight?” He pulled his coat back on and gave her a gentle push towards her bedroom. “Go on, Slayer. There’s nothing we can do now. You may as well get your rest while you can.”
Leaving Buffy in the hallway, he left the house, carefully closing the door behind him and waiting for the sound of the lock clicking into place before jumping from the small porch to the ground in one bound. He began walking towards the demon section of town, checking his pocket to be sure he had his note as he strode down the street.
Buffy walked through her nightly rituals, trying to ignore the small piece of paper in her back pocket as she brushed her teeth and washed her face. When she had changed into her warm, flannel pajamas and fuzzy socks, she slipped into her bed and unfolded the note again. She studied the words written there in what was very clearly her own handwriting.
All it said was: ”Give him a chance. He’s more than worth it.”’ She had no doubt who the note referred to and she frowned at it.
(Is she saying that even without his soul, he’s worth loving? Do I want to love him? What about Angel. Why doesn’t she say anything about Angel? Why doesn’t she love him anymore? How did she fall in love with Spike?)
With a sigh, she put the note under her pillow and turned out the light, snuggling under the heavy blankets and closing her eyes. She tried to picture Angel’s face, but all she could see behind her eyelids were soft blue eyes and knife-like cheekbones over a sinfully full mouth and a wicked smile.
It didn’t take Spike long to find a card game, but word had spread about his skills at poker, and he couldn’t find anyone willing to bet anything more substantial than a litter of kittens. He played just long enough to win some spending money, even losing a few hands so that he’d be welcome to come back, then said his ‘good-night’ and went back out into the night. His hand went to his back pocket and he pulled out the folded paper there, going into vamp face in order to read it in the dim light.
“Take your time. Don’t be a bloody git about the poof. She’s worth the wait.”
“Speakin’ of bloody gits,” he grumbled. “How stupid does he think I am? Already know she’s worth it, don’t I? Question is, does she think I’m worth it?”
He wondered idly what Dawn had seen between Buffy and himself, and what she might have told their older selves about it. Which reminded him that Buffy had received a note of her own and he tried to imagine what the older Buffy might have said about him. He had no doubt that it was about him – the heightened color on Buffy’s face had made that clear. With a shrug, he shoved the paper back into his pocket and headed for the club Buffy had mentioned.
It wasn’t that far from the demon section of Winterset, which brought Spike’s eyebrows up a bit; then he recognized the logic in putting a hot club close to a good source of employees. There was nothing like have a couple of seven-foot tall Yeti demons as bouncers to keep things peaceful and sedate.
Spike leaned against a wall across the street and smoked while he observed the patrons going in and out. He narrowed his eyes at the doorman, finally recognizing him as one of Clem’s buddies who sometimes joined their weekly card games. Quickly, he racked his brain to remember if he’d ever cheated that particular player and concluded that he hadn’t. He might even have lost a hand or two to the very human-looking demon with the power to decide who did and did not get into the club.
Spike snorted at the idea that there were enough people willing to go out after dark in this town for the club to be in a position to turn prospective customers away, but acknowledged that the chance that they might not get in seemed to be a draw, if the length of the line of hopefuls could be used as a ruler. He finished his cigarette and tossed it away before strolling across the street to catch the eye of the doorman.
The other demon cocked his head at the door and raised a questioning eyebrow, but Spike shook his head and waited for a break in the line before saying, “No – thanks, mate. Not tonight. Gonna be back one night soon with a lady, though, and I’d appreciate it if we didn’t have to stand in line.”
“No problem,” the other said with a nod. “Just come up to the front and find me.”
Nodding his thanks, Spike walked away, winking at two young women in the line who were clearly trying to catch his eye.
“ ’nother time, pet,” he purred as he walked past them, smiling to himself at how much he’d changed since meeting Buffy in that Sunnydale alley. Less than two years ago, he would have quickly taken the two girls up on their open invitation and left them both drained and dead. But maybe with smiles on their faces, he thought with a chuckle as he ran his eyes over their nubile bodies. Ah, how the mighty have fallen...
He almost considered it a sign from the Powers when he came upon two vampires that had just pulled a man from his large, black luxury car and were taking turns drinking from him. Spike sauntered up to them, dusting the one holding the man before turning to the other with a toothy grin.
“Guess you haven’t heard that there’s a Slayer in town, then?” he said conversationally, catching the victim and lowering him to the ground more or less gently.
“You’re no fuckin’ slayer,” the other vamp snarled, eyeing the stake in Spike’s hand even as he prepared to lunge.
“It’s all in your perspective, mate.” Spike waited for the lunge, sidestepped and plunged his stake into the other vamp’s back as he went by.
He put the stake back in his pocket and leaned down to help the intended victim climb back into the driver’s seat.
“Are you gonna be alright?”
“Yes...I...I think so.” The man grabbed a sweater off the seat and held it to his bleeding neck.” I don’t know how to thank you! You saved my life! If there’s ever anything that I can do---“
Spike eyed the big car with the dealer plates on it and smiled.
“Well, now that you mention it...”
An hour later, he pulled into the small driveway running beside the house in a nondescript, but very functional sedan with dealer tags and a full tank of gas. He smiled all the way into the house; more than pleased with his night’s work. His smile vanished as he walked through the living room and saw the now-dark television set. The memory of what they’d seen there, and the effect it had had on his demon was enough to destroy his good mood. He knew that he hadn’t come as far as he thought he had when his fangs began to itch thinking about the mayhem and bloodshed he’d witnessed earlier.
With an angry snarl, he threw his coat on the chair and continued through the room to the kitchen, reaching for bag of cold blood and drinking it straight from the container to the accompaniment of low growls.
You’d think if I was gonna lose it, it would have been while that wanker was sittin’ there bleedin’ – not over some long-distance rippin’ and tearin’ from a bunch of distant relatives.
“Spike? Is that you?”
Buffy’s voice startled him out of his thoughts and he raised his head, blood still coating his lips, and fangs still exposed. She recoiled, then caught herself and came into the kitchen, head up and shoulders back. She walked right up him, grabbing a towel as she went by the sink and using it to wipe the corners of his mouth.
“Didn’t you mother ever teach you to use a napkin?” she teased gently, as she continued to wipe the blood off his lips. Without conscious effort on his part, his human face came back the instant she touched him and he almost dropped his blood as realization jolted through him.
Bloody hell, I love this girl. This one – not the one I Ieft behind, but this brave, beautiful, deadly almost-a-woman. I love the way she accepts me as I am, and....
“Spike?” As he stared at her, his eyes barely focused and his mind obviously somewhere else, she slowed her motions and started to drop her hand. He startled back into awareness and grabbed her hand, bringing it back to his lips and kissing her fingers before releasing it.
“Sorry, love,” he said, smiling at her softly. “My brain went somewhere else for a second there. Thanks for the clean-up.”
Her fingers felt warm where he’s pressed them to his lips so briefly and she tried to tell herself it was impossible.
He’s drinking cold blood and he’s only room temperature himself. There’s no way his lips could feel warm. And what was that all about, anyway? He doesn’t kiss me. We’re just slaying partners; roommates – that’s all. He’s like my big brother.
“Why aren’t you asleep, Slayer?” he asked gruffly. “I told you to go to bed.”
“I couldn’t sleep,” she admitted. “I kept seeing those people and—“
“We’re going to get them, love,” he said, grazing his knuckles over her cheek. “I promise you. Even got the car already,” he added with a smile. When she raised a suspicious eyebrow he quickly explained about the would-be victim and the gratitude he’d shown. “It’s not like he gave it to us,” Spike explained, “But he said I could keep as long as we needed it.
“When can we go? Tomorrow? The next night?” The Slayer was fully in hunting mode and the demon in him had to admire the bloodthirsty look in her eye, even as he shook his head.
“Promised you a night out and we’re gonna do that first. You don’t want to go chargin’ in there right after a public massacre like that. For all we know, that whole thing was staged jus’ to get you into their town.”
“Well it’s gonna work,” she growled. “If they wanted a pissed off slayer, they’re going to get one.”
“Right there with you, love, but I think it can wait a day or so – give them time to wonder if you heard about it and if you’re Slayer enough to come after them.”
Buffy sighed, dropping her angry Slayer persona and yawning. “Okay. If you say so...” She yawned again and wrapped her arms around herself, unable to hide a shiver.
“You cold, Slayer?”
His eyes went over her heavy pajamas and the fuzzy socks on her feet and he had to smother a smile. She nodded, unaware that her outfit made her look even younger than she was.
“Yeah, I am. I think it’s time to break out the down comforter that I paid most of a paycheck for last winter.“ She glanced up at Spike anxiously. “Are you going to be warm enough? I mean, I know the cold can’t hurt you, but—“
“I’ll be fine, pet. Yeah, it’s a bit on the chilly side down there,” he nodded towards the basement door, “but I’ll be alright.”
“Why don’t you sleep up here?” she asked, not meeting his eyes. “It’s not exactly toasty, but it’s got to be warmer than that basement...” She looked up quickly. “You could sleep on the couch and I can give you my extra blanket. I won’t need it when I get the quilt out.”
He thought about the likelihood of his getting any sleep with Buffy’s warm breath more than audible from the bedroom and smiled gratefully.
“That’s alright, Slayer. I ‘preciate the thought, but I’ll be fine. Jus’ give me that extra blanket and I’ll let you get back to sleep. Got to get your beauty sleep so you do me proud tomorrow night, yeah?”
She frowned at him dubiously, but his warm smile convinced her that he was really all right with sleeping in the very cold basement that he had made his own. She nodded and went to the extra bedroom, opening a big cardboard box and pulling out a large down-filled quilt. She carried into her room, setting it on the floor while she pulled the top blanket off the bed and handed it to the vampire.
“Okay, if you’re sure,” she said with a small frown that he decided was adorable. He took the blanket from her, just barely resisting the urge to bury his nose in it while she was watching.
“Thank you, love. I’ll see you tomorrow. Good night, Buffy.”
“Good night, Spike,” she responded softly. Before she could think about it and talk herself out of it, she stood on her toes and kissed him on the cheek, blushing furiously as she immediately jumped into bed and pulled the covers over her head.
One hand on his cheek where he was sure the imprint of her lips was going to remain warm all night, he stared at the mound in the middle of the bed, then shook his head and left the room, sighing to himself.
Bloody hell. If she has any idea what she’s doin’ to me...
He checked the doors and windows, then headed for the basement and his cold narrow bed. He carefully put the blanket down and shed his clothes, slipping into the bed and giving in to the urge to inhale the familiar scent that was all over the blanket she’d given him. As Buffy’s scent surrounded him, his cock had its usual reaction and it wasn’t long before he was stroking himself vigorously, doing his best to imagine that his cool, rough hand was much smaller and warmer.
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