Title: Learning to Breathe
Summary: Set in season 6 post Dead Things where things turn out a little better for Spike.
Author’s note: Honestly day one caught me a little on the hop and it was a race to get this finished. Luckily April is a goddess and she turned the proofing around in a day. Big thanks got to her of course and also to the wonderful itmustbetuesday who makes all this possible.
Chapter 4 – Ringing Bells
“Oh my God.” Dawn’s like a poster child for Californian girl glee when she rolls in almost an hour past curfew with Spike lingering just behind, an indulgent expression on his face. “Buffy, it was so cool. Carrie totally hit on Spike—she’s such a slut—and he told her in front of everyone that, and I quote. ‘Not interested, Barbie. Came with the prettiest girl here; gonna leave with her, too. Now piss off, you vacuous cow.’ You should have seen her face. Even Jason, who is totally up her ass all the time, was laughing at her.”
“That’s great. And in all the excitement your watch broke and you had no way of knowing it was gone midnight?” She raises an eyebrow at her sister’s chaperone, but there’s no real recrimination in her eyes.
“She’s not a bloody pumpkin, is she, slayer?”
“I guess not. But bed now and you can tell us all about it in the morning, ‘kay? I want to hear all the gossip.” The light that illuminates Dawn’s already-glowing face rivals the sun, and that slowly warming place in the slayer’s heart jolts with a sudden surge of love.
“Goodnight.” Dawn hugs her and she holds on tight for a long moment. “Thanks, Spike.” It’s obvious she wants to hug him, too, but she restrains her excitement and just gives him a little wave before disappearing up the stairs.
“She had a good time then?” the slayer asks rhetorically, still smiling slightly in the aftermath of Dawn’s contagious pleasure.
“Seems like,” he answers distractedly as he watches the space her sister just vacated.
“Thank you.” His eyes widen in startled disbelief and she’s a little shamed to know that her gratitude is so rare that even a simple thank you shocks him. “I think Dawn really needed that.”
“Yeah.” He forces the fondness off his face and pantomimes irritation. “But next time I’ll face the hell god and you can take on the teenagers, ok?”
She laughs, and that ease of being with him she hasn’t felt since she first kissed him and everything started going wrong wraps around her, soft and familiar like a favourite sweater.
“Slayer.” It’s something of the predator in him, sensing her softening, demanding he close in and push his advantage. He takes a step towards her and her eyes widen in response to the sudden intensity of him. “How about you and me…”
He stops when he catches sight of the witch over the slayer’s shoulder, her arms crossed, expression stern. She holds his eyes and gives a slow shake of her head before she speaks. “I’m gonna go then, Buffy. Sorry about dozing off.”
“That’s ok. Thanks for coming round.”
And as she brushes past him on her way to the back door, she whispers one word so softly only his vampire hearing could pick it up, and he knows of course that she’s right. “Patience.”
“Should make a move myself, I reckon.” He shoves his hands in the pockets of his suit trousers and looks down. “Sorry about getting her home late.”
“It’s ok, I budgeted for it. I’m not so very old I don’t remember that it’s social death to leave before the lights come up.”
He smiles and his eyes are warmer than she’s seen them recently, like he might still be her friend, but his voice is intimate as a lover’s as he turns to the door. “Night, Buffy.”
“Spike.” She curses her errant voice when he turns questioning eyes on hers. “I’ll see you at the wedding?”
He shrugs. “Not been invited.”
“Oh. I thought…” She knows she’s blushing furiously and she’s sure he can hear the frantic pounding of her heart. “If you wanna come, I have a plus one.”
“You asking me to be your date, slayer?” He’s giving her an incredulous look but it’s teasing, too, and underneath she can see the rising hope he’s trying to contain.
The automatic rejoinder doesn’t make it to her lips and she just gives him a fey smile and lifts one shoulder in a delicate shrug. “I guess.”
“Right.” Her response seems to put him on the back foot. Obviously he was ready for the verbal sparring to begin, and actually the half-pleased, half-perplexed look on his face is kinda attractive.
“Right.” Spike reduced to one word answers? Score one for the slayer. She raises her eyebrows at him and he shakes himself visibly. “Night.”
She smiles at the door for a moment after it closes behind him. Then the reality of what she’s just done hits her. “Ooops.”
He’s wearing the same suit he wore for Dawn’s dance, but maybe in concession to the fact this is almost a real date, he’s wearing a tie. Black of course, like the suit, but contrasted this time against the deep burgundy of his silk shirt. She watches him dodging sunlight as he enters the hall, and her first unguarded thought is, “Whoa, Nelly, so hot.” Her second is, “Oh God, I hope he doesn’t tell anyone he’s my plus one.”
“Hello, pet.” His cocky smirk tells her how obvious her lusty perusal actually was, and she thinks he’s the only man on the planet who can manage to look both insufferably smug and heartbreakingly insecure at the same time.
“Hey, Spike.” She smiles as she openly looks him up and down. “You look good.” She nods for emphasis and gives him another once over before shaking herself out of it. “Spike, about—”
“Don’t worry, Slayer.” He reads her with wounded ease and it makes her sorry. “Won’t be blabbing to your little Scoobies.”
“It’s not…” She bites down on the unwelcome regret. “It’s just, this is Xander and Anya’s day and I don’t want to ruin it for them.”
“It’s all right, Slayer.” He waves her off with studied offhandedness and glances around before bringing his gaze back to study her. “Nice dress,” he says with a smirk, and she narrows her eyes at him.
“Thanks.” Her clipped sarcastic tone makes him grin and she softens. “I think Anya really hates us.”
“Looks like. Although,” he admits, looking awkward and shy, “you pull it off. Bloody gorgeous, even in that monstrosity.”
And if she preens a little, well, she’s still only a girl and what girl can really resist a compliment like that? “Thanks. Ugh. I have to go be bridesmaidy or Anya’ll kick my ass. See you at the reception then.”
“Bloody whelp,” Spike gripes as they walk side by side through the cemetery two nights later. “Just plain sodding selfish is what it is.”
“I know.” She pauses to negligently stake a fledgling half out of its grave. “I feel so awful for Anya.”
“Bugger Anya.” His vexed exclamation makes her blink in surprise and he covers with his usual lack of aplomb. “I mean yeah, poor cow deserves better.”
At her raised eyebrow he shrugs and gives her a winning smile, coy and a little sheepish. “Not likely to get another chance to be your bloody date, am I?” he grumbles without meeting her eyes. “Was hoping you’d save me a dance.”
She studies him for long seconds until he has to search his pockets for cigarettes just to keep himself from squirming. “Who says I didn’t?” she says eventually, and his brow creases in confusion.
“Maybe I saved you a dance,” she confirms softly, and holds out one hand in invitation.
His face is a picture of disbelieving adoration, and he moves like she’s some timid wild thing that’ll startle and bolt at any second. Maybe she is, or at least she has been. His hand falls into hers, cool and strong as he pulls her to his chest with a rumbling sigh of contentment.
They sway for a few moments, arms around one another, feet barely moving. “I can’t tell them,” she says finally, and hates the way his body stiffens. “I’m sorry, but I can’t. They wouldn’t understand. God, I don’t understand.”
“It’s ok, pet.” Although the sad tenor of his voice tells her otherwise.
“Said it’s ok, didn’t I?” He surprises her by twirling her away and back to his chest, and she lets out a tiny gust of a laugh. “Take what I can get. You know that.”
“I know.” She lays her head on his shoulder and sighs a soft summer breeze against his neck.
His contented hum makes her stop and look at him quizzically. “Did you just ‘hmmmm’?”
“Er, no.” He pulls back a little but she keeps him prisoner in the circle of her arms.
“You did. I heard you,” she accuses, then leans in and blows a stream of warm air across his collar bone.
“Buffy.” His voice is half warning, half plea, and he tries to pull away gently.
“Ticklish much?” She grins wickedly at him and leans in again.
“Slayer.” He squirms out of her arms and tries to take a step back, but she pounces, jumping up his body so her legs are around his waist and she can attack his neck.
“Bloody hell, woman.” His voice falls somewhere between delighted and annoyed, and it’s about the sexiest thing she could imagine. Especially when she has his lean hips squeezed between her thighs and she can feel the muscles of his stomach jumping as he tries to escape her.
She doesn’t torture him for long. She turns her head to find his mouth and lets him kiss the air out of her lungs. “Spike,” she whispers when they come apart, foreheads touching and he’s panting so hard that she’s breathing in the unchanged air that he breaths out and she realises it’s not a trick. He breathes because she does, because being with her makes him feel just enough like a man that he forgets he doesn’t need it.
And there’s something in that revelation that makes her want him so very badly. “Your place…” she asks in a sultry purr. “Or mine?” And then she’s kissing him again and she doubts they’ll make it to either.
A/N I hope everyone enjoyed this fluff. I wanted to write something a little meatier for seasonal spuffy but the posting date took me a little by surprise and in the end all I have is the start of three angsty peices sitting unfinished on my harddrive.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/66261.html