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I Know You II by slaymesoftly
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Chapter Seventeen

Buffy ran out of the restaurant as soon as her shift was over the following evening, running all the way home without even bothering to check the alley behind the mall. Despite her anger and despair over the massacre she’d witnessed the night before, she had reluctantly realized that both Spike and Dawn were right about the importance of knowing as much as possible about the Master and his clan before charging in blindly. In spite of herself, she remembered how easily the old vampire had enthralled her the first time she faced him and the thought of facing him again made her shiver slightly.

I did it once, I can do it again. And I’ve got good backup this time. Spike wouldn’t let some stupid prophecy keep him from helping me like Angel did.

She stopped so abruptly that she stumbled and almost fell, horrified at the disloyal thought that she’d just had about the vampire she was sure she was in love with.

Why DID Angel not try to help me? If he really loved me, how he could stand back and just say “Oh, it’s a prophecy. Too bad.” Spike would never do that if somebody he loved was in trouble.

During their quiet evenings of ice cream and television, Spike had told Buffy a lot about his former existence, including the fact that he’d killed two slayers. The fallout from that little confession had lasted for several days until the night that Buffy had to stake two vampires that couldn’t have been more than eight or nine when they were turned. The child-vamps were not fledglings and Spike had to admire the way they worked together to get Buffy to follow them into the nearby alley where they intended to make her their next meal. He watched from the entrance as Buffy waited until they changed to their true faces before staking them. She stared at the dust in front of her, then raised her head to meet his eyes.

“I had to do that. They were vampires. They kill people.”

He nodded, waiting, but she didn’t say anything else until they were half-way down the block towards the diner. He almost didn’t hear her when she whispered, “Slayers kill vampires.”

“They do,” he replied, equally quietly.

“So, if a vampire kills a slayer, it’s almost like...self-defense?” There was an undercurrent of hope in her voice that almost unmanned him. It would be so easy to let her think that he had killed her sister slayers while defending his own life...

“In a way, I suppose it is, Buffy. But that’s not why I went lookin’ for them. You know that it isn’t true, an’ I can’t let you think that it is.”

“Yes, you could,” she muttered petulantly. “I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, Spike.”

He stopped and waited for her to turn around. Oblivious to the few people passing by and her own wide-eyed surprise, he put his hands on her shoulders and placed their foreheads together so that she couldn’t look away from his intent gaze.

“An’ I appreciate that you’re willin’ to do that, love. I can’t tell you how much. But it wouldn’t be fair to you an’ it wouldn’t be honest of me to even pretend that it’s true. I sought those girls out for the joy of the fight and the glory of killin’ a slayer. Not gonna tell you I’m sorry I did it – they were two of the best fights of my life, and I gave them a warrior’s death – but it’s nothing to do with you an’ how I feel about you.”

“How you feel about me?” Buffy’s voice was much squeakier than she wanted it to be. Somehow, his last words completely destroyed the firm scolding tone she had planned to take when he began insisting that she acknowledge the vampire that he used to be.


He was so obviously terror-stricken that she had to laugh, even as she reminded herself firmly, He doesn’t mean me, me; he means that other me – the one he made love to. Smothering her laugh with a cough, she said kindly, “It’s okay, Spike. I know you didn’t mean that the way it sounded. I know you don’t want to kill me...most of the time...” The twinkle in her eye that accompanied his own reluctant nod and shamefaced grin was sufficient reminder that they were still capable of having very loud and occasionally physical disagreements about his behavior.

Their mutual relief at having survived another of the tense moments that seemed to be part and parcel of a Slayer and a vampire attempting to share a house, allowed them both to relax and move on to enjoy their usual post-slaying meal. However, the knowledge of how hard it had been to get past those tense days and nights was never far from Spike’s mind, and the next time he shared events from his life he talked about Drusilla and the way he’d felt about her for over a hundred years.

As he talked about his “dark princess” and the way he had cared for and protected her for so many years; about meeting the other Buffy and learning about his future, souled self and the things he had done for her, Buffy was able to put together a pretty good picture of a man who loved completely and totally. A man vampire! who would stop at nothing to protect and be worthy of the woman he loved. Whether it was to become one of the fiercest fighters in the world, or someone who would turn his entire life around for the love of girl who wouldn’t love him back until it was too late, it was more than clear that Spike could no more let someone he cared about walk out to meet certain death by herself than he could become a vegetarian. It just wasn’t in his nature not to fight tooth and nail at her side, if needed, or to protect her if that was what was required.

Buffy’s steps slowed as she tried to reconcile what she knew about Spike’s past behaviors and the few times that Angel had tried to help her out. Aside from killing Darla –which, thanks to Spike’s evening ramblings, Buffy now knew, had been a pretty big deal – his contributions to keeping her alive seemed to be mostly cryptic warnings. She tried to smother a disloyal comparison of him and Spike in which he came out as the lesser vampire, soul or no; but she came into the house and looked at the curious blond with newly wise eyes.

“Buffy?” Spike’s question jolted her out of her speculative reverie, and she quickly put her attention on the clothes that he was obviously waiting for her to notice. Instead of his usual jeans and tee shirt, he was wearing a pair of wool dress pants and a white sweater that brought out his blue eyes and bright hair.


“I’ll take that to mean you approve, Slayer. Now get your luscious little bum in there and get yourself dressed. We’ve got a club to visit.”

It took Buffy only a few minutes to get into her all-new clothing and shoes; it took her twenty minutes to put on her make-up and get her hair to hang in soft waves that spilled over her shoulders and down her back. When she appeared, somewhat shyly, in the living room, Spike raised his eyes from the television set that he’d been watching as he waited for her, and gaped at her speechlessly.

A pretty girl had walked into the bedroom; the young woman who had emerged took his unneeded breath away. Since Spike’s arrival, Buffy had been coaxed into better eating habits and that, plus the companionship the vampire offered had softened the hard, thin look she’d had when he arrived. The dress clung to new curves and swirled gently around her knees; the soft green shade brought out the color in her eyes. The high-heeled sandals she’d bought to go with it set off her nylon-clad legs and made them appear even longer and more shapely than they already were.

“Spike?” The uncertainty in her voice broke into his open-mouthed absorption in the beautiful woman standing in front of him. “This is the part where you tell me I Iook pretty...although, I’m willing to settle for ‘okay’ if---“

Shutting his mouth with a snap, he was off the couch and in front of her before she was even aware that he’d moved. He walked around her slowly, not with his normal predatory prowl but with the awed admiration of a man who had never seen her in anything but pajamas or slaying clothes. He circled her twice before stopping in front and whispering, “You look drop-dead gorgeous, Buffy. I’m sorry I didn’t say it right away – was too gobsmacked to think straight.”

She giggled with embarrassment at the open admiration in his eyes, asking, “Is ‘gobsmacked’ a good thing?”

“It’s a good thing, pet. Means you were such a beautiful vision that I couldn’t think or talk.”

“Oh,” she colored lightly. “Well, that’s good then. So, you think they’ll let me in?”

He just shook his head at her naivety and picked up his duster. He put it on, then quickly took Buffy’s coat out of her hands and held it open for her.

“Allow me, milady.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The ride to the club on the other side of the small town took only a few minutes in their newly-acquired car and Spike was soon skillfully backing into a parking space less than a block from the club. Side-by-side, they walked towards the entrance; bypassing the long line outside to Buffy’s surprise and going directly to the door. The doorman blinked once, then recognized Spike and nodded them in, holding up the rope and giving Buffy an appreciative look.

“Thanks, mate,” Spike said with a flash of amber eyes that told the doorman that his blonde companion was more than off limits.

“Just appreciating,” the half-demon said with a smile in Buffy’s direction. “It’s not often we get something this gorgeous in here.”

Buffy colored at his open ogling, but couldn’t prevent a happy smile from breaking out on her face, and Spike laughed as he nudged her inside the club.

“You see, pet? I told you. You’ll be fightin’ ‘em off all night.”

“Where are you going to be while I’m doing all this fighting?” she asked as he took her coat and handed it to the attendant at the cloakroom.

He put the check stub in his pocket and steered her towards a booth along a back wall; one that allowed him to sit in relative obscurity and see almost the entire club, as well as the door.

“I’m gonna be sittin’ here drinking my beer and watching the prettiest girl in the room while she dances.”

“What if nobody wants to dance with me?” Her anxiety was so ridiculous that he couldn’t resist teasing her.

“Then I’ll stop watchin’ that other bint and make somebody dance with you, Slayer,” he said, only the twinkle in his eye giving away his teasing. He ordered a beer for himself and soft drink for Buffy, then settled back and waved her out on to the floor. “Go on, pet,” he encouraged. “Doesn’t look like havin’ a partner is important in this world. Jus’ go and enjoy yourself.”

Buffy watched dubiously for a few songs, finally agreeing that most of the young people dancing in the open space in the middle of the club did not seem to be partnered up with anyone in particular. Girls danced wherever they wanted, and the men moved closer to dance near them for a while, then moved away when someone else wanted to get close enough to talk. Buffy stood up and took a few timid steps towards the floor, her body already unconsciously moving to the music. She heard her own name, and with a relieved smile she saw the young man who worked at mall’s bank branch waving her onto the floor. She quickly joined him, nodding and smiling as he shouted introductions to the group of people dancing in his vicinity.

For the next half hour she was able to put the Master, his minions and her enforced immigration to this world out of her mind as she bounced and twirled and allowed the music and the friendly company to take her away for a while. When the band took a break, her new friends headed for a large table on the edge of the floor inviting her to join them. Buffy looked back and forth between Spike and the crowd of laughing young people, her face a study in dismay and confusion.

Rising gracefully to his feet, the vampire picked Buffy’s drink up and walked towards her, neither of them aware of the way the other women in the club were watching the way the good-looking blond man moved. He handed Buffy her drink and gave her a little shove in the direction of the table.

“Go on, pet. ‘s what you’re here for, innit? Meet some people your age, have a good time...You’ll know were to find me when you’re ready to leave.”

“But...but...” Torn between her desire to join the group that appeared to be having such a good time and abandoning the man who had brought her, she hesitated until he turned her around and gave her a firmer push.

“Go. Have fun. I’m fine.”

With a final glance back over her shoulder, she obediently walked over to the chair that was being held for her and sat down. In the relative quiet that marked the band’s short break, she quickly asked for reintroductions, now that she could actually hear the names of her new acquaintances. The boy from the bank was apparently ‘Mark’ and he shocked her by announcing, “Buffy is the Slayer. Did you guys know that?”

Her discomfort at having her status announced like that quickly faded as a girl who’d been introduced as ‘Suzie’ nodded and said, “Yeah, working at the mall has been a lot safer since Buffy came to work there. I don’t mind taking out the empty boxes anymore – now that I know that there aren’t any vamps lurking in the alley.” She explained to a puzzled Buffy that she worked in one of the dress shops that Buffy had determined was too expensive for her to bother with, and she encouraged the slayer to come in the next time she was looking for something special to wear. “I get a discount, and we’re about the same size, so you could pick something out and I could get it for you. When we have sales I get some really nice things for cheap and you could too.”

Buffy stammered her thanks, asking, “Won’t you get in trouble for that?”

“Are you kidding? Why do you think the owner always made me be the one to take the boxes outside? She’d be happy to see you in the store and as long as you’re paying something for the clothes, that’ll be good enough for her.”

Buffy quickly discovered that most of the girls in the group worked at the mall either full or part time. A couple of the girls and several of the boys also attended the local junior college and they were soon discussing up coming parties and the mid-winter exams they would be having soon. While the talk drifted into areas that Buffy couldn’t contribute to, she let her gaze wander over to the corner where Spike was working on his second beer.

When the fourth young woman had taken the long way to the ladies’ room so as to walk past his booth and smile at the grinning vampire, Buffy found that she had to pry her fingernails out of the chair in which she was sitting. Her grip had tightened with every new stroller and when one especially bold girl slid into the seat opposite Spike, she felt a piece of the chair break off in her hand. She surreptitiously dropped the broken piece of wood onto the floor under the table as Suzie asked innocently, “Do you think your boyfriend wants to come over here with you?”

“My wha-? Oh, Spike! Spike’s not my boyfriend –he’s...”

“Is he your brother?” a girl whose name Buffy hadn’t caught asked eagerly, almost licking her lips as she watched Spike flirting with the dark-haired girl who had sat down with him.

“No,” Buffy said tersely. “He’s not my brother. But he kinda acts like one sometimes.”

“Well, what is he?” Suzie refused to give up the subject. “I know he picks you up some nights, and he brought you here tonight. If he’s not your boyfriend and not your brother, why is he around all the time?”

“I...he’s...we...he comes from the same place I did, and since neither one of us knew anybody here, we just sorta...”

“You just stuck together because you knew each other,” Mark came to her rescue with a kind smile.

“Yes!” Buffy agreed with relief. “We’ve stuck together because we already knew each other. And he needed a place to stay, so I let him live in my basement.”

“In the basement?” The astonishment with which everyone looked at her told Buffy that she’d made another statement that didn’t fit someone who had been born and raised in this world.

“Um...yeah...he...he likes it there,” she finished lamely. “It’s all dark, and...stuff.”

Suzie’s eyes widened suddenly. “Is he a vampire, Buffy?”

Buffy was wearing her deer-in-the-headlights expression when one of the other girls came to her rescue.

“Well, of course he is, you dummy. Who else would live in the basement?” She turned to Buffy. “So, he’s not a dangerous one, then?”

“Guess that depends on who you are and how mad you make him,” Buffy said grudgingly. “But, no, mostly he’s a pussycat.”

“He doesn’t look like a pussycat...” The girl who had been so anxious to know if Spike was Buffy’s brother eyed him speculatively, slowly licking her lips as she did so.

The look Buffy gave her was such pure Slayer that everyone at the table unconsciously flinched back from her for a second. “Pussycat’s have teeth and claws,” she ground out. “Don’t forget that.”

Disregarding the warning in Buffy’s voice, the girl got up and made her own hip-swinging walk to the ladies’ room, pausing at Spike’s booth to offer her hand and introduce herself as “a friend of Buffy’s”. She exchanged glares with the woman already sitting with the vampire and then, after suggesting that Spike might want to join them at the “fun table”, she continued on her way to the rest room.

Mark leaned towards Buffy and whispered, “Do I need to remind her that he’s your vampire?”

Buffy shook her head. “He’s not mine – not in that way.” She glanced up with a wicked gleam in her eye. “You might want to remind her, though, that slayers have super strength and a violent streak.”

He laughed, along with those sitting close enough to have heard the exchange and the tension at the table relaxed just in time for the band to come back. Buffy was soon up and dancing, temporarily forgetting that Spike was attracting as much attention from the women in the club as she was from the men. Now that her introductions to other patrons had broken the ice, she danced with abandon – moving from one man to another as she worked her way around the floor. Periodically, her new acquaintances would work themselves back into the center and reform the original group of dancers – of which Buffy was now a member.

Spike sat and nursed his latest beer while he watched Buffy dancing, laughing and seemingly having a wonderful time. If he’d noticed her glares when the other girls were so obviously trying to get his attention, he didn’t allow it to affect his behavior. He flirted and charmed everyone who came by, even as he shook his head and denied having any interest in dancing. When the brunette who had sat with him for quite a while finally realized that he wasn’t going to give her any more or less attention than any one of the other girls vying for his time, she left and went back to her original table on the other side of the room.

Stupid bints. If they can’t see that I came with the most beautiful woman in the place...

Eventually, the band went into its last songs of the night and the tempo slowed. Buffy found herself surrounded by young men, all wanting to be the one that she chose to share the last dance with. She was trying to decide what to do when she saw the determined brunette walking purposefully towards Spike and she rose to her feet quickly. “I’m sorry, guys,” she said as she moved away. “This dance is already taken.”

She got to the booth at almost the same moment as Spike’s determined admirer and they exchanged glares. The other woman had not seen them come in, and didn’t realize that Buffy had arrived on Spike’s arm.

“Get lost, blondie,” she said dismissively. “I’ve got this one.”

“I don’t think so,” Buffy said, doing her best imitation of Cordelia Chase speaking to an underling. “Go away.” She held out her hand to Spike and waited calmly.

“What’s this about, pet?” he asked quietly, waving the other girl away without even looking at her.

“I want to dance with the guy who brought me,” she said equally quietly. “Please?” she added when he still hadn’t moved.

Shaking his head gently and telling himself what a really bad idea this was, he rose to his feet and took her hand, leading her onto the floor and pulling her into his arms. For the first few seconds they were stiff and uncomfortable with each other – keeping a chaste distance between their bodies and stumbling as they tried to decide who was going to lead. Eventually, Buffy gave a soft sigh and rested her head on his chest. Immediately, he gave a matching sigh and pulled her in so that their bodies were touching and he could begin to guide their steps.

Somehow she was not surprised to find that the vampire who had claimed not to have danced ‘since the waltz was considered daring’ was actually quite a good dancer. They moved gracefully around the floor, their bright heads catching the lights occasionally as they slowly circled the room. As the song ended and the band went right into another one, their steps slowed until they were standing together and barely moving. Buffy’s arms were around Spike’s neck and his arms were now around her waist as they swayed in time to the music. None of the patrons still in the club had any illusions left about who either one of the good-looking blonds was going home with, and they quickly began searching for alternate choices.

Even as Buffy relaxed into Spike’s body and allowed him to move her around the floor while she rested her head on his shoulder, her conscience was trying to tell her that she was perilously close to cheating on Angel. I’m enjoying this too much. It feels so...right. He feels right. He fits me perfectly. Is it cheating to think that I’d rather dance with Spike than with my boyfriend? With a sudden flash of total honesty, she admitted that she hadn’t seen her so-called boyfriend in almost a year and a half, and that their relationship hadn’t amounted to much more than a few kisses at the end of an evening’s patrol.

I’ve been mooning over a man I barely know and haven’t seen in forever. No wonder the other Buffy thought she needed to tell me to give Spike a chance. I haven’t. All I’ve done is worry about cheating on a man-- vampire that has probably forgotten all about me.

As the song came to an end and the lights began to come up, she raised her head and stood on her toes, kissing Spike chastely on his lips.

“Thank you,” she whispered as she dropped back to her feet.

“Not that I’m complain’, love,” he said, resisting the urge to dip his head and show her a real kiss, “but, what was that for?”

“For giving me the best night out of my life.”

“The best, huh?”

“The very best.”

She nodded firmly, sliding her hands down his arms as she let go of his neck. Taking the hint, he reluctantly released her and turned to follow her to the coat check where he picked up their coats and held hers for her. They smiled their good-night’s at the doorman, who invited Buffy to come back “anytime you want to – you don’t need to have him with you” to the accompaniment of Spike’s throaty growls. Laughing and poking the vampire in his side, she thanked the man/demon and promised to come back soon.

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