Of course that isn’t all that remains; he’s passed off to various bureaucratic types who issue him with all the documentation he needs to be admitted to the Council’s highest security levels, as well as to travel as a British citizen, and others who handle the myriad details of his pay and extras. He’s given an office—a former back bedroom with a ceiling rose and a plaster fireplace—that he hopes never to sit in, and introduced to a secretary he’s fairly certain he’ll never need. There’s to be a car—with necro-tempered glass—and he will have his pick of flats—someone will take him around to see some as soon as he’d like. He’s issued with a mobile that’s also an organizer—which he suspects isn’t going to help the communication cause much at all—and told, very politely, that there’s a tailor’s representative who comes in once a month and will be pleased to measure him for suits and shirts if he’d like, the day after tomorrow. He has a sit-down with a nervous but bright young researcher who wants to begin an ambitious project to interview him on his own experience and everything he knows—about vampire methodologies, demon languages, and who did what to whom and where and when and why.
All this takes some hours, and is bemusing. He suspects it won’t feel real until he sees some action. Right now it’s a bit like hanging around at Wolfram & Hart, except for the being treated with respect part.
It’s the middle of the afternoon when he’s back in the chauffeured car. He assumes he’ll be returned to the Savoy, but when the driver opens the door, he’s back at Buffy’s mews. It’s raining lightly as he gets out, so instead of running up to her door, he gives in to a faint desire to reorient himself … to the night of his death. The Addams house, where the party was … he walks, finding that without thinking of it, he’s hastening as he did that night … it must be just around this way. There was a small street that once held shops … the street is still there, but the shops are gone, perhaps bombed in the war, and replaced by other, more recent buildings. He turns the next corner. Miss Addams’ house—every house in the row, opposite a small fenced square—is right where he left it. In the grey drizzle, the street is substantially unchanged from what he remembers, except for the parked cars. The houses are dark, the windows curtained, the inhabitants out at their jobs. He strolls along slowly beside the iron area railings, and stops in front of Cecily’s door. It’s not her he thinks about. For a moment Drusilla flits through his mind, but he has no fondness left there, and can barely fix on what it was about her that fascinated him so. Her Spike is long gone.
It’s Clio who lingers, smouldering. He thinks of how little she knew him. She’d never seen him at his worst, never had to forgive him anything. Her love overcame no obstacles to come to him. She had no hooks to keep him on, nothing bigger than herself to hold him to, like Buffy has.
Clio was a demon, but it’s Buffy who’s fierce.
He hopes that eventually the shame that’s pinned to her now will fade, that he’ll be able to enjoy the memory of what was, from Clio’s perspective, a nearly blameless time. He doesn’t think, despite her vehemence, that Buffy would want him to go on being ashamed of having loved Clio. He thinks she’s acquired more compassion since he parted from her last.
Retracing his steps, he lets himself in at number 2 with the key. The downstairs of the flat is dark. He doesn’t switch on a light, doesn’t need to. There are two attractive rooms, the back one with a view into a flourishing garden he’s sure Buffy has nothing to do with, and a neat eat-in kitchen. He’d wondered last night if Dawn lived here too, but he can tell now by the atmosphere of the rooms that she’s only an infrequent visitor. He can tell also that Buffy is upstairs.
The second floor is one room, large and low-ceilinged. The blinds are drawn on both sides. She’s asleep in the big bed, the sheet pulled up over her chest, one arm doubled under her cheek. Her clothes are laid neatly over a chair. The radio is playing very low, and a scented candle flickers on the bedside table. Spike stands in the doorway and looks at her. It may eventually be possible for him to look at Buffy and see her only as she is in the present moment, but now he sees all the Buffys. The whole history of her, playing out in the darkness, around the woman breathing quietly in bed.
She opens her eyes, focuses on him, smiles. “I was waiting for you and I got so sleepy. I didn’t sleep last night at all.”
“You were waiting for me here?” He goes to her, sits beside her.
“Giles said he’d send you home as soon as they were done with you on Gower Street. I knew you’d just let yourself in.” She yawns, still smiling, and twists around a little on the pillow to see him better. “So are you an official watcher guy now? All stamped and signed and notarized? But not folded spindled or mutilated.”
“Guess I am.”
“It’s funny … Xander told me that he had a dream, years ago, after the Adam thing, that Giles was training you to be a watcher.”
“That so? I once dreamed that the House of Commons had turned into a giant cream cake.”
“Is it all right? I mean, I hope you don’t feel like we railroaded you.”
“Feel like I’ve been brought in out of the cold cold rain.”
She reaches up to touch his hair. “You are moist.”
“S’drizzlin’ out. Settin’ up for a nasty night.”
“You could take your clothes off and join me. Bed’s nice and warm.”
After their two broken-off encounters, the propulsive physical hunger that would’ve escalated quickly to torn clothes, broken furniture and bruises, he didn’t think it would be like this, so quiet and matter-of-fact, or that he’d want it to be. She watches him undress, and when he’s naked, she holds the sheet up for him to slide in beside her. The bed is warm, so warm, so fragrant of her. He inhales deep, and sighs.
Buffy is still smiling. They regard each other, not making contact yet.
“I’m so happy you’re here. I’ve imagined this moment for a long time. Wished for it.” She drops into a whisper. “I was afraid to plan for it.”
That she would want him—and be so unsure of being wanted in return—is something that still unhinges him; it feels like part of his fantasy—a fantasy he’d long ago set aside—not something that’s really happening.
But she’s still whispering. “I’m really excited about making love to you. I have some ideas about it. I hope I’ll be able to remember them though, because I think as soon as you touch me, I’m going to forget my name.”
The little house is silent inside, insulated from the city by the patter of rain on the windows. It’s still only late afternoon; London is going about its business in the next street, but right here it’s as if time has slowed down, and all there is is her face, her warmth, her voice.
“I’ll remind you. I’ll say your name.”
“I might not be able to hear you. I’ll be so immersed.”
He regards her in wonder. “When did this happen, Buffy?”
“What? When did what happen?”
“When did you turn into this? This sweet thing? Who’s sweet to me, I mean.” He lays his fingertip on her arm, just lightly, and she shivers, her eyes falling shut, lips parting.
“You changed me. Spike, you changed me. You think it was all the other way, but it wasn’t.”
She’s so beautiful he doesn’t think he can stand much more of this before he gathers her into his arms. But first he wants to hear her speak.
“And then you were gone, and I … I tried to do what I believed you’d want, I lived my life. I thought it was going pretty okay. And then six months ago I saw you, and … nothing was the same, then. Nothing. I couldn’t just do what I was doing anymore, knowing you were in the world.” She shakes her head. “But I wish it hadn’t gone that way, with me slaying your girlfriend. That part of it … that part of it is bad.”
It is bad, he thinks, but there’s a lot of ways in which it could’ve been much much worse. At least Clio didn’t suffer. She was slain without warning, so she would’ve felt no fear, no pain. She didn’t have to see him encounter Buffy again … didn’t have to feel the incursion of a rival, watch him struggle with himself. She didn’t have to be left, or not left—except to wonder if he was staying with her because he felt obliged to, because she was in so many ways his creature, like a child he was responsible for.
He gropes for the right words. He doesn’t want to say that it was time for him to move on from Clio and what she represented. That would sound calculating, as if she was a phase. She wasn’t a phase, but she was a demon. It was a relief, quite apart from having found Buffy again, to reconnect with a bigger purpose than keeping one little vampire girl from tasting human blood.
“… don’t dwell on that, pet. You couldn’t have known, an’ if you start worryin’ whether every vamp might be some prodigy of innocence … you’ll just get yourself hurt.”
She nods. “You forgive me, though, don’t you? Not just about Clio, but for everything?”
“For all the ways I was cruel to you, and careless, and mean … Spike, I’m different now. Do you see that?”
“You don’t have to ask.”
“But I do. I do have to. It’s not a contest, who hurt who more. Just because of what you did, doesn’t let me off. And I need you to know I know it, and I want your forgiveness.”
“You have it. You always did.” He’ll never be easy with this question of forgiveness, because he’ll never feel he merits forgiveness himself. He’s not going to let that feeling keep him from partaking of the good things he’s being offered now, but it’ll always be there in his mind, keeping him thoughtful, keeping him in check.
She nods, satisfied. “Because I need it.”
“Do you, love?”
“That’s what Giles taught me. That we forgive people because they need it, not because they deserve it.”
Some people, he reflects, may need not to be forgiven, or at least, not too thoroughly.
He wonders if she’s going to ask him now if he’s forgiven Giles, but instead of opening that conversational worm-can, she snuggles closer and kisses him, and that effectively changes the subject.
At every one of the messy, incoherent, unforgettable sexual encounters that composed his brief affair with Buffy Summers, Spike held tight to the idea that whatever she was doing, he was making love. Buffy actively fought the very notion with every fiber of herself, even as she flung herself wildly into each extravagant fuck. She refuted his love by the things she said, and wouldn’t say, by the softer caresses she reacted to with impatient violence, by the way she refused to let him hold her afterwards, even if she did sometimes fall asleep for a few minutes at his side. When he dared to actually refer to their exertions as lovemaking, she spat ridicule in his face.
So it’s only now that he finds out what Buffy’s like when she’s making love.
The strength he remembers, the confident insistence and the sheer lust, are all still there. But he never knew this yielding, melting, coaxing woman before. She wants him to make himself heavy on her; she wants him to go slow. She likes it when he pins her hands above her head. When he kisses her breasts, she begins to cry. It’s all very simple, the things they do; the bed barely rocks, let alone collapses. Her first climax comes quickly, before he’s even gotten started, just from his belly brushing across her clit, and this makes her laugh a silvery laugh he’s never heard before.
He’s so excited he has to pause a few times, to hold himself back, because this should last, he should acquit himself well, but she licks his ear, and whispers, “Let go,” and he dissolves in a helpless gush.
She holds on tight; her body is dewy with sweat, and that, along with the fluids of their spending, fuses them together. “You’ve drenched me,” she whispers, stirring her hips. He’s still hard, but for the moment he’s collapsed. It doesn’t matter, because his pleasure is still resonating, and she’s not pulling away—the opposite. She wants full contact, stretches beneath him, winding her legs round his, tracing his back and arms and flanks with her hands.
“Your skin is amazing,” she whispers. As compliments go, he’s heard more elaborate ones, but coming from her, this is stirring. “You have a fantastic body. And it fits with mine, like, perfectly.” He meets her eyes, and she blushes. “Okay, I suck at this stuff.”
“Saying nice things to a man in bed.”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
She frowns, hesitates. “Actually … no. No, I’m trying to tell you … to tell you … what I can’t say. What’s boiling in my head.”
“I think I get it.”
“No, you don’t. I mean, it’s enormous.”
“Yes. That. It’s impossible to really talk about though, isn’t it?”
“Is it?” That she feels this delights him.
She gives him a look that’s sly at first, then suddenly shy. “Do you remember the things you used to tell me? When we … when we were naked together?”
“So do I. I’d lie here at night, trying to go to sleep, remembering what you said, and I’d make myself come and pretend it was you.”
He kisses her. “Pet …”
“I’m not talking about the dirty things. I mean, I remember those too—you got me so hot, saying that stuff. But I’m talking about … what you’d say that I didn’t want to listen to. That I tried to stop you saying. I heard it all.”
“Did you?” All at once he’s plunged back into the desperation, the frustration, the wild unrooted joy of those short weeks. Possessing the slayer and knowing with each encounter that he’d never possess her, that she’d never care.
“I fucked myself a lot the last few months. Thinking about you. Telling myself it would have to be all right, that of course you’d come here, come to me. I was so afraid. And for some reason that made me really horny.”
She’d never have told him anything remotely this intimate before. He imagines her pleasuring herself, and he’s painfully hard again. He’s still inside her; she squeezes with her inner muscles until she wrings a cry from him.
“Just because I remember all that stuff you said, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t repeat it,” Buffy says.
He nods, but at the moment, he’s speechless.
Little by little she rolls him over, takes charge. She handles his prick and balls like an idol she’s worshipping. She almost overwhelms him with sensation; everything she does seems to be at half-speed—her deliberation is exquisite. She may be inarticulate with words, but not this way. This way she gets her message across.
The sight of her astride him, taking her time, working through the ideas she mentioned at the beginning, suffuses him with dizzy awe. He holds her by the hips as she rides him with slow tender squeezes, and she holds his gaze with hers, her expression at once witchy and warm. Taking his hand, she caresses herself with his fingertips, then sucks them delicately into her warm mouth, before bringing them back to her pearly clit. He loses track of how many times she comes. When he finally spends, she’s right there with him, urging him, taking it—that’s new too, because in the past she used to drop away somehow when he’d shoot—he never could figure out how or why or where she’d go—but now she’s here. When his control spools out and he drags her in tight, jerking into her, groaning, she’s saying his name, she’s moving with him, and he doesn’t lose her for a second, even when everything goes blurry.
When he’s back, she’s crouched over him, smiling that clear sweet smile. “You are so pretty.”
“That should be my line.”
“Nah.” She leans in to kiss him, then collapses slowly, stretching out against him, curling one leg over his. “We do this together so well,” she says. “We’re artists.”
“Lost you at ‘we’. Hearin’ you say ‘we’, meanin’ you an’ me, is the big thrill.”
“I feel so lucky. The people I love always get taken away from me. They don’t get returned. But here you are.”
“Here I am. Tell me something.”
“When did you fall for me? Really?” As soon as the words are out he wants to reel them back. Before I tried to rape you, or after? Good as this is shaping up to be, there’ll always be ways in which they’re not ordinary lovers. Can’t ask the ordinary questions … can’t compare notes.
But she doesn’t seem put out. She considers. “There’s a lot of answers I could give you. But the point where I really admitted to myself that I couldn’t bear to lose you from my life … was when you took me to that house where you’d buried all those people The First made you turn.”
“Oh Christ.” He doesn’t want to hear this. Doesn’t want to be reminded. Doesn’t want her dwelling on that time, either.
“After I killed all those vamps, and you were crumpled there in the corner wanting me to kill you too … look, it’s not romantic. I mean, I could give you a romantic answer. There is one, and it wouldn’t be a lie, and I’ll tell it to you whenever you want. But that was the time when I knew that I was on your side, and that I wasn’t wrong to be. And not just on your side … that … that you were special to me.”
His throat’s in a knot, so he doesn’t speak. Buffy presses a kiss against his jaw. “I didn’t mean to make you sad. That was a long time ago, and it wasn’t your fault at all.”
She can read him now. Follow his train of thought. She never used to be so sensitive, but she loves him now, and that gives her flashes of omniscience.
“Y’know, I don’t want there to be things we skip over. That we never refer to. Our history is what it is, right? Anyway, it’s a great story.”
“Suppose it is, at that. Do you tell it?”
“I told it to Willow, and Xander, and my sister. I told it to Giles. It was important to stop being evasive with them. Of course when I did, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be happy or disappointed. But whatever you decided, I wanted them to know what the truth about us was. I hid that for too long from everybody. Including myself. Including you.”
He breathes her in, licks the salt from her neck. “I’ll do everythin’ I can to see you’re happy, slayer.”
“I want you to be happy too. I’m going to be so good to you, you’ll see. Spike … do you still want me to call you Spike?”
“Or should I call you William now? Is that even your real name?”
“S’my name, yeah.”
“But you don’t want me to use it.”
“What’s brought this up all of a sudden?”
She laughs. “I don’t know!”
“Guess because things’re changed between us. But I’m still Spike. Hope I always will be.”
“So do I,” she says, snuggling closer, though she’s already as close as she can be. “I just thought—”
“You can call me anything you want,” she says. Whispering again.
He knows instantly what she’s referring to. Her memory for all that passed between them is apparently as prodigious as his own. “Shall I call you sweetheart?”
“If you want to. If that’s what I am.”
“If! ‘Course you are.”
“I’m not good at the honey and darling thing. But I … I think of you like that.”
“That a fact?” This is better, he thinks, than a blow-job.
“It is now. Now you’re here.”
Later she brings a tray up to bed, with sandwiches and a pot of tea, and blood for him in one of those insulated travel mugs with a lid that keeps the warmth—and the smell—inside.
“An’ what a little domestic goddess you turn out to be,” he says, sloshing cream into his teacup.
He thinks this compliment will please her, but Buffy goes still with the sandwich raised halfway to her mouth. “Oh.”
“Oh—what? What’d I say?”
“This … this is too frilly and boring and old marrieds for you, isn’t it?”
“I mean, you’re a vampire. You’ve never wanted me to forget it, anymore than I could forget it. You always wanted us to be wild, and here I am expecting you to just slot yourself right into my neat little—”
“What, you think I’m humorin’ you right now?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you hate this whole set-up. Maybe you don’t want this at all.”
“You’re forgettin’ I was always the vamp with the feathered crypt.” He doesn’t mention the flat he shared with Clio; she saw it, but maybe she didn’t really take it in. “I like to be clean an’ comfortable, an’ have nice things to eat put into my hand by the woman I adore.”
“Wouldn’t have come here, wouldn’t be sittin’ here right now, if I wasn’t in for the whole package. I know you, slayer, I know what sort of housekeepin’ you go in for. I also know you’ve got a tigress in you you’ll show me soon again.”
She blushes. That’s one of the things he always found arousing, the combination of unrestrained kink she’d exhibit when they were in the throes, and the prudishness she never overcame when he’d mention it.
“We’re gonna see plenty of danger an’ chaos—don’t we always? Needn’t have it at home.”
A little smile blooms on her lips. “At home?”
“You said I’m home here. Aren’t I?”
They eat the sandwiches and drink the tea.
Later the rain picks up; it drives hard against the windows, rattles on the roof. The candle burning down on the nightstand still provides the only light in the room; by its flickering glow, Buffy grunts, rippling and pushing back at him. Their shadows on the wall are huge. She’s on her knees and elbows; he’s fucking her ass. It’s something they’ve never done, though he can tell by how she takes it that it’s not her first time. He doesn’t much care about that, because he’s pretty certain Angel never had her this way either.
She’s immensely excited, clenching and stirring, vocalizing, strumming her clit with one hand. His view of her from this vantage—her twisting, twitching back, heaving shoulders, the profile as she turns her head, swimmerlike, to breathe, arouse him even more than the sight of his prick going in and out of her. He fixes on the nape of her neck, showing white and smooth through her dark hair. Even as he’s taken up with the incredible sensations of driving into her slick tightness, part of his mind imagines what that nape would feel like against his lips, how it would yield to his fangs.
He grabs her shoulders, hauls her upright against his chest and belly. The change of angle makes her cry out, makes the pressure on his prick almost more than he can stand. He’s got her breasts in his hands now, thumbing the nipples, holding her by them; he’s mouthing her neck. The idea of fanging out, tasting her, wings its way through his heated mind; he wonders what she’d do. Buffy squirms and moans; she throws one arm up to hang from his neck, and goes on caressing herself with the other hand; she’s flexing around him in a rhythm he can’t withstand for very long. With a convulsive jerk, he spills; they tip over sideways and collapse. For a few moments he lies inert, listening to her panting breaths and the rain. She grabs his hand and brings it to her cunt; she needs more. Her flesh palpitates. He buries his fingers inside her, strokes her twitchy clit with his thumb. She groans, stretching her thighs wider; her hands cover his. She fucks his hand, her head thrown back, emitting small, demanding, grunting cries.
“Come, sweetness. Come, pet. That’s a good Buffy. Come on.” He knows he’s got his fingers pressed on the right spot inside, because Buffy’s vocalizing is ratcheting up; she’s drawing in huge breaths, and her whole body is beginning to shake. It’s incredible, watching her climb towards her release; as awe-inspiring as it is to watch her cutting down foes. That she trusts him with this, demands pleasure from him without any hint of self-consciousness, stirs him up with the old feelings he used to try to put down in poems. The huge mystery of the universe, of women and love.
As she reaches it, hips snapping up, Buffy bites hard into his arm.
When she’s done, they see she’s left a red oozing half-moon on his biceps.
She glances at it uneasily. “I’m sorry.”
“You know I like that kind of thing.” He licks the blood off, and grins at her.
“I just … I should be more careful. Because I wouldn’t want you to bite me.”
For one panicky second he thinks she must know what passed through his mind a little while ago—did he say something? Did he fang out without realizing it?
Then Buffy says, in a tone he can’t quite parse, “You probably did that all the time with her.”
She gives him a look that says, Yeah, right.
“Not kidding, Slayer. I wouldn’t have it. An’ I won’t so much as show fang when we’re together like this, ‘less you ask me to. Serious, now.”
“I trust you, Spike.”
“I know you do. As for you biting me, last thing I want you to be when we’re fucking is careful.”
She nods, thoughtful. “Aren’t we getting to know each other? Listen to all this negotiating we’re doing tonight.”
“Always wanted to work things out with you. You never used to talk to me.”
“No, I never did.” She sighs and works her head into a comfortable spot on his shoulder. “That would’ve been letting you in.”
“Whereas the fucking—”
“No one teaches you really, that there are ways and ways with fucking. Ways of doing it that let nothing slip, and other ways … where it’s all out there.”
“You know that now.” Indeed, she’s just shown him. He’d like to ask how many men she’s been with since him, since the affair with The Immortal, but he doesn’t want to sound like he’s jealous. He isn’t jealous, and it doesn’t matter, but he’d like to know what she’s been through, what she thought and felt and enjoyed, what she learned. He’ll have to wait for her to tell him. He suspects she will, bits of it anyway, over time.
A low rattling noise awakens him; he’s plunged in light. Spike scrambles up; a nude and tousled Buffy is blithely drawing up the blinds on either side of the bedroom; bright sun inundates the warm still air.
“Bloody hell, I’ll be flambéd!”
She pushes him back down on the bed. “Relax, you won’t. It’s special glass.”
Tawny and smiling in the brightness, she clambers across him. “I had it installed a couple of months ago.”
“You were so sure I’d be here, then?”
“Well, I thought if you refused, I’d have to recruit some other vampire to service me, so I’d need the glass in any case. I put it in all over the house. My car too. The Council paid.”
“Some other vamp to service you? So now the truth really does come out.”
“Yup,” she says, shaking her head as if agreeing that its a damn shame. Straddling him, she’s glorious and queenly in all this clean light. “I’m a bad, dirty, corrupt vampire slayer whose insatiable sexual needs can only be satisfied by slim but well-muscled bleach-blond undead guys with amazing cocks that I’m so gonna suck off in a little while, and London accents that, the longer I live here, the more I understand are totally made up and as fake as their hair color. It’s not something I’m proud of, but facts are facts.” As she blithely talks, she’s creeping up his body towards his face. He’s got a good view of her sex in the brightness, can smell the perfume of her arousal. Hooking her thighs in his hands, he drags her the last little way to his mouth. Crouched over his face, she gasps and giggles as he licks her clit, presses herself against his busy mouth.
“S’like eatin’ an oyster.”
“Shut up and service me,” she says, her tone low and fond. Her hands grip his hair.
A little later she makes good on her promise to go down on him. She does it better than she used to. Part of this change Spike ascribes to affection—he’d assumed, the first time around, that she found it humiliating, in her ambivalence, to suck his cock, though the few times it happened she’d always been the initiator—and part to a vaster experience. Someone has given her some pointers, especially on what to do with the balls, and she’s using them all to give him a lingering good time. But it’s apparent to Spike—fills him with pride—that she’s enjoying this too, as much as she enjoys all the other things.
When he’s finished, she kisses his mouth. “Next time I’ll tie you down, you’ll like that even better.”
“You know what I like.”
“I love you. You won’t forget?”
“I’ll try not to.”
“I’ll remind you from time to time.” She lies beside him, looking up at the ceiling. Her body, and the whole room, reeks of lovemaking; the aroma heightened by the sunshine warming the air. The scented candle has burned down and gone out. Spike breathes her in. Buffy’s stomach growls.
“You stay here, I’ll bring you your breakfast.”
“No, I want to get up.” She swings herself to the side of the bed, gathering her disordered hair back.
He reaches for her, twists it around his hand. “Why’d you change color?”
“Tired of the dumb jokes. It’s easier to be dumb when you’re a brunette.”
“You’re not dumb. And no one makes jokes about you.”
She shrugs. “I just wanted a change. Don’t you like it?”
“It’s fine. Would you put it back the way it was if I said I liked that more?”
She turns and regards him seriously. “… I would. To please you. This once, anyhow.”
She means it, and it’s at once immensely important, and of no importance at all—what does it matter what color her hair is? But that she cares what he prefers …. He kisses the coil of hair and lets it go.
They drive to Gower Street.
Buffy goes off to train, and he finds himself closeted with the researcher, who after listening to him talk for just a few minutes, calls in half a dozen other young watchers. Spike wishes they were doing this with beer, but he likes telling his story—he always has—and these listeners are a good audience—not too naive, but still shockable. They’re careful not to appear to pass judgment; he can see that they’ve schooled themselves in this, but he finds his own past exploits sickening enough now, without having them point it out.
Later he spars with half a dozen slayers who’ve just been brought in for the first time—girls of thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, who don’t yet know the extent of their powers, who’ve never seen a vampire before. It reminds him of taking the Potentials out in the graveyards of Sunnydale, except that here they’ve got plenty of space, all state of the art, and these children aren’t potential anythings, they’re full slayers.
Xander sidles in, observes for a little while, then says, “Don’t go easy on them. Don’t break them, but don’t go easy. You’re the only real vamp they can test themselves against who won’t kill them.”
Half the girls look deeply unhappy when they hear this; the others get determined, even excited, expressions on their faces. Spike fangs out and begins to enjoy himself.
Until one girl stakes him.
The stake is plastic, but she drives it right through—the shock, the immediate intense pain, shakes him out, turns everything red and blindish—the air seems to rush around his head. He grabs her by the hair—a long swinging braid—gets a hand around her jaw, and is about to twist when Xander’s shout makes him let go.
“Take it easy, Spike.”
“Take it easy!” The whole world spins before his eyes. Had Xander not been there, he’d have snapped her neck. The other girls, shocked into immobility, wouldn’t have been in time to stop him. His whole body prickles, with physical rage, with the old deep potent lust for destruction. The demon bays and roars through the blood that leaks from the gaping, sucking wound. It feels like his life-force is leaking out with it.
While he’s in the grip of existential crisis, Xander is teaching.
“What’s the lesson here, girls?” Xander looks around at them, gathered uneasily in a half circle around Spike’s splayed form.
One girl holds up her practice stake. “Use real wood?”
“The lesson here is aim. You wound a vampire by missing the heart, you find yourself in the same situation as if you were facing a wounded rhino. Your danger doubles. More.”
“But if this was a real stake, he’d be dust, and he wouldn’t have been able to grab me.”
“So maybe,” another girl says, her voice shaking, “the lesson is that we shouldn’t make Mr Spike mad.”
Pain throbbing through him, Spike manages to wave a hand. “Wounded rhino could use a little help here, you pillock.”
Xander and the girl who stabbed him haul him to his feet. Spike clutches his chest; it feels like his insides are going to tumble out. Upright now, he bleeds more. Even knowing he’ll be healed up in a couple of hours doesn’t take away from the disorienting wrong of having a hole punched out of your heart. “You,” he gasps, “what’s your name?”
“Rosie.” She has an Antipodean accent—New Zealand, or some such.
These dainty girls with their girly names and their unerring strength. “You’ve killed me, Rosie.”
She stares at him, full of apprehension, as if there’s some angle to this that she doesn’t understand. She’s fourteen at most.
“An’ you’ve torn my shirt.”
Her eyes are saucers. “… I … I’m sorry.”
He reaches for her; she starts to shy, then forces herself to stand fast. Gently, Spike fingers the long braid. “Might want to think ’bout pinning this up before you go into action. Xander’s right—you’d have made a clean kill just now, if that was wood—an’ good on you for it—but you see what almost happened. I don’t mean you any harm, but I’ve got a demon in me, same as all the other demons. Another second an’ I’d have had you starin’ into eternity.”
Her breath hitches, she looks at him like she can’t quite understand, or believe, what he’s saying. Then Rosie is sobbing. Without thinking, Spike pulls her against him; she lashes her arms around his waist, trembling all over, but holding on hard. He could cry too—at the idea that he could’ve so easily broken this slender reed, who is real to him now, suddenly precious. He wonders if it’s such a good idea, training like this—his self-control obviously isn’t perfect, at least when he’s wounded. He still contains all the fury and instincts of the demon, it’s all there waiting to be unleashed.
Rosie lifts her head from his chest; her cheek is streaked with his blood, strands of her hair sticking to it. She gazes intently into his face. “You … even you. Who’re supposed to be good, to be helping us, but you almost …. Yeah, I get it now.” She turns to look at the others. “Guys, this is serious. Vampires … are feckin’ dangerous.” She backs away from him, scrubbing tomboyishly at her face with her shirt-sleeve. “Thank you, Mr Spike. I will always remember this. Always.”
It’s grotesque to him, that she would be grateful for this. But he says nothing.
When they’re gone, Xander, who’s found him a bandage and a cup of warm blood, shakes his head and smiles one of his ironical smiles. “You just made your first slayer, Spike. A little girl walked into that training room, and a slayer walked out.”
“Yeah. But she made herself.” He fingers the torn cloth of his shirt. “That’s what they do. All on ’em.”
Later there’s a briefing. It’s evening; the humans in the room are looking variously hungry and tired. Spike is introduced to the administrative side of the Council—there’s piles of files for him to go through. Giles wants him to be familiar with the slayers—who they are, where they are, who their watchers are, and the general situation worldwide, in terms of demonic activity. He’s about to shove them back and say that paperwork’s not his department, when something gives him pause. Okay, he’ll look through the pages. Giles won’t give him a quiz on the contents, and maybe some of the info will stick. Maybe some of it will be handy when he goes into action with Buffy. And besides, these people—the ones sitting around this conference table, and the ones whose names and pictures and details are in the files before him—are his comrades now. He’s back in the world—and they’re the world he’s in. He’d better get to know them. They’ll have his back as well as him having theirs.
So after listening to Xander fill them in on a situation that may be brewing near Darfur, where the civil war is going to make it almost impossible to send in slayers in the usual way, he retreats to his office—ha bloody ha—puts his boots up on the desk, and starts in.
He’s still reading an hour later when a knock startles him. He expects to see Buffy, but it’s Rosie standing in the doorway.
“Don’t call me Mister. Yeah, what is it?”
“I’m sorry about your shirt. I got carried away. I went out before the shops shut and got you a new one.” She approaches and puts a shopping bag on the desk beside his crossed ankles. “Does it still hurt?”
“‘M all right. An’ you didn’t need to buy me a new bloody shirt. Here, take it back. Keep your money.”
“An’ stop apologizing. Ever heard that phrase—’never apologize, never explain’? Goes double for slayers.”
“I just … sorry, I just … oh. Don’t you at least want to look at the shirt?”
“Why? Does it match my eyes? Don’t you go gettin’ a crush on me, little miss, just because I had my arms round you for a minute.”
She colors up, stammers, and turns to flee, but Buffy’s there, blocking her exit.
“Rosie, don’t run off. Spike’s bark is much worse than his—I mean, he doesn’t mean it. Spike, can’t you be nice? It’s only your first day.”
He notices right away that Buffy’s blonde again. Rosie looks miserable. He pulls his feet down from the desk and stands up. “Here now, she’s right. I don’t mean it … much.”
Rosie pulls herself up, glances at Buffy, then makes a defiant gesture at him. “I was only sorry about your shirt—I’m not sorry I staked you!”
Buffy bursts out laughing. When she’s had her laugh out, she pats the girl’s arm. “Okay, kiddo, you certainly won this round. Go to bed now, it’s late.”
When he’s sure they’re alone, the door shut, Spike grumbles, “She won the earlier round too, little baggage.”
“Oh, she’s got your number, all right!” Buffy’s still giggling. She gives him a look, up through her lashes, that raises the temperature in the room. “I heard you had quite an interesting training session.”
“I’m in one piece.” He fingers the bandage on his chest. It still smarts a bit. He bears Rosie no resentment, despite his growling. It’s all right, that he be the girls’ punching bag, that he be reminded how easy—and how difficult—he is to extinguish.
She spills the shirt out on the desk. “Huh, it does match your eyes.”
“‘Spect they’ll all fall in love with me. Can’t help it, can they, little slayers confronted by a vamp with so much raw sex appeal.”
With a snort, Buffy puts the shirt back in the bag, shoves it in a drawer. “I’m glad you’re in one piece. I like you in one piece.”
“As do I. An’ you’re blonde.”
“You like me blonde. Right?” She comes close to him, gazes up into his face with a coquettish smile. “It makes you happy. I really wanted you to be happy, thoroughly, unreservedly, stupidly happy, when you look at me.” She leans into him. “Because that’s what I am, looking at you. Talking to you. Touching you.”
She takes his answer in kisses. In another minute she’s sprawled beneath him on the desk, the file folders shoved over the side. She isn’t wearing any panties beneath her dress. She whispers suggestions about where she’d like him to put his cock, and how, and how quickly, while her hands burrow insistently into his clothes. Then when she’d got it in her hot little hand, and he can barely think of anything that isn’t getting right up inside her, she says, “Willow’s waiting to send us to Darfur. She’s going to magic us in, so we can take care of this situation before it gets out of hand.”
“Teleportation. We leave in half an hour. Just you, me, Xander, and herself.”
“You thought she was powerful before. You should see her now.”
“Fuck me. Talk after.”
“I’ve had my fill of bein’ magicked places.”
“It’s really all right, Spike, we do it all the time. It’s a practical way to travel. C’mon. I want you now, before we have to start.”
He wants her too, and of course he’ll go. She puts him inside her, and they get a nice rolling rhythm established; he’s face to face with her, and she holds his eyes the whole time, smiling an encouraging, a pleasured, smile. It’s good, it’s very good, it’s all there is, until he glances up.
Spike sees her reflection in the black window beside them, skirt hiked up, legs spread wide, head thrown back. He’s lying on her, buried in her to his cods, but in the reflection she’s still alone. The world tilts, and he’s thrown into a whirling confusion—what is he doing? How dare he make love to the Slayer, how dare he work for the Council, how dare he stand up alongside real human beings, who are natural, who are born and then die properly, cleanly—irrevocably. He’s never going to be what they are, and he’s robbing Buffy of her life, her naturalness, her time to be a woman in the world, by taking her this way.
She’s alive, and he isn’t. How dare he? He’s trembling; he stops. He’d be in a guilty sweat, if his body worked that way.
Gently, Buffy tugs his head around. “Ah ah ah. I’m here, boy-o. With you. This is what’s real, not the reflection. I’m your girl, right?”
Her voice, affectionate, calm, implies that she knows—that she’s privy to his whole involved, desperate train of thought—and that understanding it, she can make it go ppphhht like a newly risen vampire impaled before he’s even climbed out of the grave.
She’s magnificent. Always has been. Always will be.
“My girl. My good girl.”
“That’s me. I don’t want you to worry about us. You are my best,” she whispers, her breath tickling his ear, as her hips rock up. “You’re the one who loves me and who I love back and even though I love you you still love me. That never happens. It’s crazy …. God I’m not making any sense. When you move that way, my brain blinks—” She hisses, tenses, ripples. Holds him tight.
It does make sense, it makes perfect sense. It’s a relief, even as he knows that the dread, the misgivings, will recur. But not now. He kisses her, and makes her come again, before he spends.
Almost as soon as he’s done, an irreverent fist pounds the door, and Willow calls out, “Some people who don’t have anyone to screw at the office, want to get down to business!”
“All right, all right,” Buffy calls, laughing, sitting up. “Hold your horses, Will!” Then to him, in a whisper, she says, “It’s going to be bad there, in Darfur. Had to do this, before … in case ….”
“Nothin’s gonna happen to you, or me, or Red, or Harris,” Spike says, forceful, insistent, putting his clothes straight. “We’re expert, we are. Right?”
She nods, business-like. “Right.” Buffy pulls herself together quickly; donning panties she’s pulled from her bag, running a comb through her hair, she’s ready for anything and everything.
Spike says, “Gonna fuck you on this desk again soon’s we get back.”
“That’s a date, then,” she says, bestowing a completing kiss before she flings open the door. Willow and Xander are there, with a big duffle that clanks when Xander hefts it; there’s only just time to see his smirk, and Willow’s eye-roll, before she chants something, and they’re all four gone, into the chaos.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/60775.html