All Slayers have a little bit of demon in them. Since last winter, I have a little bit more than most. It’s funny—if Giles had never tried to get me a salary, he never would have discovered all that stuff Quentin Travers was hiding about Slayer heritage. If I hadn’t already known that Slayers were part demon, I’d have totally freaked out when I went all grr in Pylea. If I hadn’t had the Pylean first-hand skinny on inner demon-ness, I would never have thought to Kobiyashi Maru the Shadow Men. None of the steps on the road from A to Kumquat look weird when you’re taking them. It’s only when you look back that you realize how very, very far you are from where you started.
By the time we stumbled out of the elevator (see previous note re: incompatibility of kissage and luggage transport) and I slipped the keycard into the door of suite 1823, Spike had made it down to my shoulders and my bra was headed for parts unknown. “Oh, wow,” I breathed, and meant every word. Flatsceeen TV. Elegant furniture in dark walnut and indigo satin. A huge bouquet of white roses on the table filled the room with dizzying sweetness. A canopied bed so large that you’d need GPS to find the other side. Ice bucket, holding a bottle of Chateau Le Unpronounceable and a silver bowl heaped with chocolate-covered strawberries. I poked a toe at the inch-thick, cream-colored carpet, afraid it would bruise if I stepped on it. Yum, squishy! I kicked off my pumps, leaped into the middle of the room, flung out my arms and twirled. “Wow!”
“It’ll do,” Spike said after a moment of judicious study. With a wolfish grin he lunged forward, swept me right off my feet, carried me through the bedroom door and plunked me in the middle of the Ponderosa-sized down comforter. Through the enormous picture window the lights of Las Vegas spread out below us, a web of stars spun by a very orderly spider. I made a mental note to close the drapes before we got down to serious business; dawn wasn’t that far off and Spike’s little run-in with the Mohra blood last winter failed to resolve his flammability issues.
Spike’s expression was still satisfactorily predatory. Never taking his eyes off me, he leaned over the end of the bed, the sleeves of his t-shirt straining over his triceps as his arms took his weight, and–
“¿Qué estan haciendo aquí? ¡No deberian estar aquí — nadie debe estar aquí! Éste lugar le pertencece a ella. Deben irse rápidamente!”
We did the whip-around-in unison-thing again. Sadly, not as impressive when you’re flat on your back. A small plumpish woman in a maid’s uniform was standing in the bathroom door, arms piled high with towels. (Big, fluffy white towels for the sunken whirlpool bath!) I yipped and grabbed for the covers (when Spike looks at me that way, I feel naked, OK?) Spike turned on her with an exasperated snarl that stopped just short of showing fang. “No nos vamos a ningún parte. Yo no se quién es esta ‘ella’, pero le aseguro que soy más peligroso.”
The maid paled, dropping the towels and clutching the little gold cross around her neck. “¡Demonio!”
“¿Muy lista, que no? Váyase, cabrona–estamos ocupados. Ah–y ¡deje toallas extra!”
“Hey! Wait! Habla English?” I scrambled off the bed, but by the time I plowed through the lush quicksand of carpet (This deep. I swear. Small African nations could be lost in there) to the door she was gone. “Did I just miss an important plot twist?”
Spike shrugged, raking fingers through his hair. “Bint didn’t get the memo about the change of occupants, sounds like.” He prowled over to the bathroom with a suspicious frown and poked his head inside. “Like to know who ‘her’ is, though.”
William The Bloody Annoying had to pick right this minute to be Mr. Responsibility. I’ve taught him far too well. Unless Gozer the Gozarian was camping out in the shower stall, the only death I was interested in tonight was the little one. Think fast, Buffy. A Slayer always has to reach for her weapon, but that just makes us inventive.
When Spike got out of the bathroom, I was curled up in the middle of the bed wearing my wedding ring and nothing else, sucking the chocolate off a strawberry.
Spike stopped dead on the threshold. I could hear the breath hiss in his throat as I bit into tart red flesh and licked the juice from my lips. Head lowered, nostrils flared—he took a step, then another, fluid as quicksilver, silent as shadow. Circling the bed. Circling me. T-shirt gone now, just like a magic trick. Light and shadow played tag across rippling muscle as he stalked me. Eyes blue-hot as matchflame drew my nipples up tight and aching, and his rumbly growl was a sweet-hot vibration in that spot only Spike can reach. I plucked another strawberry from the bowl and trailed it up between my breasts. “Mmmmmmmm. Yummy. These are so…ripe.”
“Luscious.” Spike was at the edge of the bed in a finger-snap. He sounded raw. Husky. He wasn’t staring at the fruit. Always nice to know you can induce drooling.
I arched my back a little and deep-throated the strawberry. When I popped it out and nipped the very tip off, Spike shuddered all the way down to the soles of his feet. I raised a leg (since I started skating again, serious muscle tone. And by the way? Sooo glad I waxed this morning!) and stretched my bare foot out, tracing a line down his torso—through the chiseled valley between his pecs, over the flat hard plain of his stomach, into the dip of his navel. Buffy Summers, putting the femme in fatale since, oh, last year some time. I stopped at the waistband of his jeans, toes hooked in his low-slung belt buckle. I pouted. Spike cannot resist The Lip. “These are in the way.” I slid my foot down, kneading his crotch through the denim with my toes. “Someone’s a growing boy.”
And those jeans were gone. Yay blurry vampire speed! Spike pounced, the bed jounced, and strawberries bounced everywhere. I was pinned top to toes by a pythony length of vampire, not a position I was unfond of. Spike snatched up the nearest strawberry and dangled it just out of reach. “Seems to me,” he purred, “I’ve married a bit of a tease. Gonna have to torture her till she likes me again.”
I kissed the tip of his nose and reached down to stroke the extra-big, extra-bad instrument of torture nudging my belly. “You betcha.”
One time Kennedy accused me of having a vampire fetish. I blew her off, because, well, she was really annoying, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already obsessed over in the dead of night. How many Slayers fall for one vampire, let alone two? Still: Joe Random Vampire goes fangy? Ew. Spike goes fangy? Guh. Be still my ovaries. Spike puts on those cute wire-rims and reads poetry? Guh squared.
Possibly? I just have a Spike fetish.
I woke up smelling like sex and crushed strawberries, sore and sticky and champagne-headachy and oh, so very smug. Outside the sun was up, but the curtains kept the room dim and caverny. Beside me Spike was doing his usual post-sex boa constrictor impersonation—Spike does not so much sleep with you as wrestle you to the ground. Snuggled up tight against his cool firm chest I could feel the slow sure beat of his heart, one thump to every six or seven of mine. Every five minutes or so he’d snore a little.
Sleeping Spike means one thing: I get to play with his hair. He’d trimmed the last of the bleached ends off last month and was half-way between the buzz cut (which I hate) and the exuberant curls (which he hates.) He looks younger when he sleeps, all long dark lashes and a little-boy stranglehold on his pillow. Irony R Us, because mortal now. Honestly? Still not sure how I feel about that. I told Spike once that if he woke up with a pulse, we’d deal, and we did. We both made choices last winter. Spike got a dozen new ways to die, and I got…well, that’s the question, isn’t it?
My reflection floated in the mirror over the bed, looking down. Up there in mirrorland was only a Spike-shaped indentation in the bed. Poor Mirror-Buffy. I blew her a kiss.
My fingers did the walking in other, darker curls, and Spike made a sleepy purry noise and stirred to life, throbbing in my hand. (New, the throbbing. Goes with the pulse. Kinda fun.) Spike’s a handful even when he’s completely soft, and he never stays completely soft for long. A kiss, a lick, a stroke, and he was straining eagerly towards the ceiling. I straddled his hips and rocked against him, getting the juices flowing. Spike’s big enough that if we don’t ease into it, things can get ouchy. Sometimes I like it ouchy. Big cool hands caught my hips, steadied me, and the purr revved up, raspy, savage, demanding. Oh, yeah. That feels nice.
(Oh, and? Spike says to tell you he doesn’t purr, he growls. Manly, terrifying growls. Whatever.)
One stroke, two, and way-too-much became juuuust right. Ninety-five percent of Spike is muscle and snark. (Scientific fact. Look it up.) Finding the softness is a treasure hunt: lush lower lip, tender white throat, comfy little hint of tummy. And when you find the treasure, you eat it right up, ’cause vampire treats? Always low-cal. Spike groaned beneath me, head flung back to expose that gorgeous muscle-y throat, and above me Mirror-Buffy let go and rode, hair flying, breasts bouncing, breath hitching. I squeezed my eyes shut. Closer, closer, closerclosercloserohgodSOclose…
The whole room went icebox city—I was one giant goosebump, and even Spike felt warm between my bare thighs. My eyes snapped open. In the mirror overhead, Spike had a reflection. It wasn’t his. And mine wasn’t me.
The man in the mirror was taller and heavier-set than Spike, with a dark thatch of chest hair. The woman was raven-haired (no, seriously, raven-haired) and boobalicious, wearing a wedding dress—acres of beaded silk and Irish lace that frothed out across the bed, wrapping the man like a funeral shroud. Definitely not off the rack. Her eyes were empty hollows and her shriveled lips curled back over white teeth in black gums. Between her gotta-be-implants breasts was a gaping exit wound with shattered fragments of ivory bone poking out. The front of her dress was a sticky crimson mess. She raised one skeletal, mirrored hand, clutching a bouquet of withered white roses, and pointed up (or down) at me. “Give it back!” she wailed.
“Fuck me!” Spike gasped, and got, if possible, even harder. Which, on the one hand, ooh. Though on the other–
“That had better be for the blood, not the breasts,” I hissed between clenched teeth.
Wisely realizing that anything he might say could be used against him, Spike flipped me over and proceeded to demonstrate that he’d been speaking literally. I guess he figured that if we had to fight a ghost, he’d rather not do it with a raging hard-on. He closed his fangs on (but not in) my shoulder in the not-quite bite that sends me over the edge every time and drove into me fast and hard. Miss Havisham swirled out of the mirror a blizzard of lace, with a screech that should have shattered the glass. The sleetstorm of her veil lashed Spike across the shoulders. He was half-way to human in the throes of coming, and the pain sent him yellow-eyed again. He pulled out and rolled off, spitting curses, and I grabbed the empty champagne bottle and swung it at the ghost’s head. It swooshed right through. Well, duh, ghost. That would make sense.
The Phantom of Coverlet hovered over the bed, her fleshless fingers raking the air. “Mine! Give it back!” she howled.
Ghosts, ghosts, what did I know about ghosts? I did a frantic brain Google. Cordy roomed with one for awhile. (Proof positive that crushing on Angel leads to massive frustration and naked loofah baths with other dead guys. He’s a gateway vampire.) And there were those freaks at the high school who took me and Angel over for their undead psychodrama. Ghosts were echoes, Giles had said, trapped in a repeating cycle, until someone outside the cycle broke it. Except when they were actual people like Dennis and his mom. Failing to find the common thread here. I took a fresh grip on my totally useless bottle and glanced across the bed at Spike, who’d dropped to a half-crouch, holding… a pillow. He gave me the look that meant that if I so much as giggled, the rest of the honeymoon would definitely suffer.
“OK, it can hit us and we can’t hit it,” I whispered. “Can we, like, exorcise it or something?”
“You got any exorcisms memorized?” Spike whispered back. Why were we whispering? “The maid said this was her room. Something of hers in it still, maybe? We smash it, she goes to meet her maker?”
It was a super-nice hotel room, but it was a hotel room. Not exactly personalized. I raised my voice–so the free-floating full-torso vaporous apparition could hear better, I guess. “What do you want? Did you lose something? If you can tell us—”
Dead And Loving It came at me like the Cannonball Special, Kitty Pryding in and out on me. Lace coiled around my arms and legs like barb-wire and cold bony fingers pawed me. Her jaws flopped wide and her breath was cold and stinking. (New Year’s Resolution: never complain about Spike having blood-breath again.) I was turning blue, and blue? Not my color.
Spike leaped across the bed with a roar, and his fangs snapped on thin air as the ghost vanished. Both of us fell to the floor in a shivering tangle of arms and legs and yellowed, disintegrating lace. “Oh, no,” I said, feeling frantically round through the plushy carpet. “Oh, no!”
“What is it, love?” Spike was feeling me all over for damage, but barring possible frostbite, I was fine.
I held up my left hand, as naked as the rest of me. Ghost-Chick was gone. And so was my ring.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/57276.html