“Does she know that Angel is here?” Doyle asked. He had glanced up from the newspaper that he was browsing through to stare at Cordelia.
The brunette flipped her hair out of her face and replied, “Duh? No. You and Angel BOTH said not to tell her he was here because she might not come.”
Doyle nodded. “Good. Is she bringing anyone with her?”
“I don’t know. She didn’t say. She just said she’d be here as soon as possible.” Cordy paced a few steps and then flopped in a tattered leather chair across from Doyle’s desk. “And I’m not going to be the one she’s pissed at because he’s here. I’m totally telling her that you guys made me.”
“Look, hot lips.” Doyle threw his paper down and stood up. “She’s the slayer. It’s her duty to help save the world and I don’t really give a rat’s ass if she gets mad or if she gets upset. We can’t handle this stuff alone. This is bigger than anything we’ve faced.”
Cordy’s eyebrow shot up in disbelief. “Bigger than that vampire mafia at Venice Beach?”
Cordelia thought for a second and then asked, “Bigger than that pack of…whatever it was that we fought by the waterfront?”
Again, Doyle nodded.
“Bigger than that demon who sucked the beauty and life out of people and not to mention tried to rip me off and sell me a Vera Wang knock off? It’s impossible to find a good dress in this city. Especially in MY price range. Angel’s a stingy boss.”
When it became apparent that Cordy was trying to think of what was worse than paying almost full price for a designer impostor, he leaned forward and stared into her eyes. “Let me put it into perspective, toots. If we don’t get the slayer out here and get her to help us, the fact that you can’t find a dress is going to be the least of your worries. The world…”
“Will be sucked into hell?” The brunette yawned. “At least I won’t have to worry about this fund raiser that I still have no dress for.”
Before Doyle could reply, Angel walked into the room and said, “Is she here yet?”
“Not unless she has a jet.” Cordy stood up and walked past him, toward the back of the agency where their home was. “In a way, I hope she does assault me for not letting her know you’re here. At least then I can sue someone and buy a dress. I work for free practically. And look at the clock, Angel. I’m here after eight pm. I got here at 8 am and no, I don’t expect you to increase my SALARY. I hate being on a salary. I’d rather make hourly pay. Don’t think I don’t know that you save money this way.”
Angel rolled his eyes as she shut the door. “She hasn’t changed one bit in the past year.”
“You afraid Buffy has?” asked Doyle, putting his finger right on the pulse of the situation as usual.
“People change. You and I know that better than anyone. Time can…” Angel trailed off, lost in thought.
“Time can run out.” Answered the other man, in a thick Irish accent. “And if you don’t keep yourself focused and let her do her job then it will.”
Buffy shoved the last of her luggage into Spike’s trunk. Giles had agreed that since he wasn’t able to get off work, and the others had classes, that she and Spike could go help Cordelia now and the rest of the gang could come, if needed, at the weekend. It was already Wednesday and Buffy wasn’t worried at all since her classes were going well. So Cordy had seen demons. A lot of demons and felt like Buffy should investigate the situation in Los Angeles. Didn’t seem too hard.
“Cor, Slayer. Are you sure you brought enough?” Spike took one look at the over stuffed trunk and slammed it, tossing his lone duffel bag into the backseat.
“Just because packing to you means tossing your only other jeans into a wrinkled sack it doesn’t mean I have to pack that way.” She started around the car and paused, staring at him over the top. “Want me to drive?”
“Not just no, pet. But HELL NO.” He grinned devilishly and got into the driver’s seat.
Buffy sighed and plopped down in the passenger’s seat. “Fine. But don’t blame me if YOU get another ticket.”
“Do I have to remind you that I got the last ticket because of your incessant whining that you were going to be late for that trashy thing you called a play?”
“It was NOT trashy and I enjoyed it. It was a *good* play.”
“Well, if you call naked people traipsing all over the stage throwing handfuls of paint at each other a good play then I suppose you would enjoy it.” Spike shrugged and started the engine.
“Spike.” Buffy shook her head and glared at him. “I realize that to you…culture is Billy Idol and his artistic lip curve while singing the same line repeatedly, but to SOME people culture is expressed in so many other ways. That play was a worldly experience.”
“Well, I’ll buy a can of paint and toss it at you the next time you’re whining about being stuck in Sunnydale. That should give you a culture shock and a piece of the world.”
Buffy flipped the radio on. “I don’t know why I bother with you.”
“Bother with me? You’re stuck with me. I’m stuck with you.” Spike smiled innocently and patted her leg. “Besides, it’s not all bad.”
“For who?” She grinned back, even though she could tell that she had walked into his trap.
“For you of course. You get to work with me.” He hummed along to the radio and winked at her.
Buffy was still smiling as they pulled away from the curb in front of her house and waved at Joyce and Giles. No, working with Spike wasn’t that bad at all. As a matter of fact, it had been her salvation. After Angel had left her she started a slow downward spiral that had almost cost her life one night. Spike had arrived just in the nick of time, saved her and then for the next few weeks, proceeded to shake some sense into her.
It wasn’t romantic between them. But every single time Spike touched her when they were slaying, or brushed her hair out of her face when she cried or just got near enough for her to see the dark blue of his eyes completely, she wanted it to be romantic. She wanted it with all her heart and soul. Listening to the music on the radio she lost herself.
~you're toast and jam
and you're cotton candy
you're double rainbows
beside a setting sun
you're wood burnin' outside
there's a fire growin'
you're sweet as green apples
you must be the one~
He was her friend. He probably wouldn’t even be willing to call it that but she did. She cared about him a great deal and so did her mom. The rest of the gang had come around slowly, Willow of course, accepting him just because Buffy did, but Giles and Xander weren’t as trusting. Spike had proven himself though and he was accepted for almost a year now.
No one really knew why he had shown back up in town. No one wanted to even begin to figure out what would possess an evil and respected vampire to suddenly ally himself with the enemy… but no one was sorry he did.
“Anyway,” Spike was saying, pulling Buffy from her thoughts. “I said, ‘Bloody hell, Willy, do you think I’m that stupid?’ and the git had the balls to say ‘yeah.’ Can you believe that?”
Buffy had completely missed the whole first part of the story so she simply said, “And what did you do?”
“Have you seen him recently?” The blond wiggled his brows and glanced at the Slayer.
“YOU KILLED WILLY?” Buffy screeched. “Spike, he’s like…he’s…”
“No, I didn’t kill the wanker.” Spike growled. “I just showed him that stupid people can come up with brilliant ideas.”
“You locked him in his wine cellar and left him there for a few days?” Buffy asked knowingly.
Spike growled again and stared at the road. “Someone told you?”
“No, stupid. But you have a fetish with locking people up.”
“I’m going to yank your three hundred bags out of the trunk and lock you in there if you keep on.”
“Promises, promises.” Buffy yawned and stretched. “I’m tired.”
The vampire opened his arm and motioned for Buffy to lean against him. She did, settling her body against his side and pulling her feet into the seat so she was comfortable. She probably could have been more comfortable in the backseat but she wasn’t going to say so. Right where she was made her happier than she’d been all week. Make that all year.
“You make a nice pillow.” She snuggled further against him, inhaling the scent that she knew so well. Smoke and just a hint of some masculine cologne that Buffy had never smelled on anyone else. It was a wonderful scent.
He chuckled and squeezed her affectionately, careful to keep a tight reign on his emotions. “Let’s see now. You’ve told me I have a nice shoulder to cry on, nice hands for massaging and make a nice prop when you get a rock in your shoe. Now I’m a nice pillow? You are just too kind to me.”
“That’s what I think too.” She said through another yawn.
“Did you remember to pack your medication?” Spike asked casually, before she could drift off. Her medication was even more necessary than his bagged blood.
“Of course. My mom chased me around the house with it and made she it was firmly in my purse.” She closed her eyes and didn’t feel anything except a degree of comfort she never knew existed. And didn’t exist outside his arms.
~you bring me to the heart of a golden man
you bring me to the natural truth
you take me to a solid hollow
and keep me sailing this ocean of youth~
He smiled when he heard her breathing deepen and felt her sag further against him. He really did like her. More than like. He was infatuated with every last detail of her. At first, he hadn’t been thrilled because she was so different and had none of the fire he had recalled but more and more he found himself grateful every day that he had found her when he did. Not just for her sake, but because he would have died without her.
Something he had never bothered telling any of them was the fact that he had come to Sunnydale to kill Angel and then himself. But that night he arrived and found the broken Slayer inside the mansion, crying like her entire world had been torn out from under her and about to be murdered by a vampire…he helped her. Because it made his life mean something again. Sure, it meant that he was helping his sworn enemy but he didn't have anyone else to help and he wanted to do something. He made it his mission to pull her, and himself, out of the bowels of the hell they were in. It was a long, slow and incredibly painful process for the both of them but in the end, they had developed a co-dependency on one another that made the both of them better off.
Now he lived for the moments like this. Being with her, near her without anything but who they were to stop them from admitting what he knew they both felt. He would never tell her that he wanted nothing more than to kiss her and make love to her and be with her forever. It was because of who he was and what he was. It was because of what she had already been through with a vampire lover.
He cared far too much to do that to her again.
So this was just fine with him. Stolen moments that seemed so innocent to the casual observer, yet meant the world to a lonely vampire who only saw the sunrise in a tiny Slayer’s hazel eyes.
And Los Angeles, her home town, loomed ahead of them with the promise of adventure and hope.
~lead me to the holy water
introduce me to the place you are from
wherever you go you know I will follow
so take me there and I will come
be my island
in crowds of faces
Cordy threw her hands up in the air when Doyle asked her to go to the deli down the road and bring them all some dinner. Thatcher, the owner of the deli, knew about Angel’s special requirements and always saved blood from the roast beef. Grumbling, Cordy dug through the petty cash box. “Why can’t I use money from this to buy a dress for the fund raiser?”
“If you stayed out of that we wouldn’t need a fund raiser.” Doyle shrugged.
“Angel has more money than he lets on.” Cordy argued, shoving a twenty into her empty wallet.
Angel ran a hand over his head and exhaled loudly, even though he didn’t need too. “For the millionth time, Cordelia. After I pay rent on this huge building, where we work and live by the way, and buy supplies and advertise and do what I can to feed hungry children in Somalia I don’t have anything left over.”
“Somalia?” Cordy chirped. “You’ll feed strangers but you’ll let me starve and live in a creaky old warehouse with the two of YOU?”
“You don’t look like you’re starving.” Doyle stated, indifferently.
“I LOOK FAT!?” The girl rushed to the floor length mirror and turned from side to side. “Oh God. I do look fat. I can’t eat dinner. I can’t go to this fund raiser. I can’t even breathe!”
Angel cast Doyle a now-look-what-you-did-look before he stood up and pushed Cordelia out the door. “And make sure that Thatcher knows I’ll need enough for tomorrow too. I doubt I’ll have time to stop once this all starts.”
“Be glad I need the exercise or I wouldn’t walk that far.” Cordy snapped.
Angel contemplated locking the door and not letting her back in but instead he shut it and walked toward his desk in the corner. “It’s going to be a long night.”
“Maybe not.” Doyle shrugged. “If this Slayer is as good as you say then she might want to handle it herself and leave before morning.”
“She is not handling it herself, Doyle.” Angel rifled through a few papers and then crumpled them up, throwing them into a wastebasket furiously. “I don’t want to do this. I can’t do this. I can’t see her and act like it’s just another day at the office. I love her. I always will.”
“Then help her. Just don’t fuck it up. This is huge, Angel. Huge.”
Angel didn't need to be told. In all his years on earth, while good or evil, this was something he feared and knew that it was within reach at the moment. Nothing had prepared him for unearthing what was to come without Buffy's help. He still couldn't believe it. Giles should have known, would have known, if the council hadn't fired him. He was willingly putting Buffy in danger and that's how huge it was..
And he knew that he was in danger too. Danger of pulling her into his arms, losing himself in her love and letting his feelings lead his actions.
No, he didn't need to be told how huge it was. It was out of his hands.
And that wasn't okay.
Cordelia stumbled under the load of two sandwiches and several bags of blood. It wasn’t heavy but it was heavy enough to make her feel used. How had Cordelia Chase, Queen C of Sunnydale High School, become an office worker who usually wore jeans to work and catered to two demons non-stop? Why was she living in the same building as them and devoting so much time to helping others? “Because you’re poor and pathetic and so much like Xander Harris.” She answered herself aloud.
Buffy saw her old friend walking down the street and leaned out the window of Spike’s car. “Cordy! Hey!”
Cordy smiled, really smiled, glad to see a familiar face after such a long time of being alone. “BUFFY!”
Spike stopped the car and Buffy shot out of it. Cordy quickly sat her bag on the hood and hugged the Slayer. “Oh my God, it’s so good to see you.”
Buffy hugged her just as tightly and then pulled back. “You look great.”
Cordy shook her head in disbelief. “No, you look great, Buffy. Your hair is so long and look at your tan! Is that a Vera Wang dress?”
“Yeah, it is.”
“Great.” Cordy narrowed her eyes and glanced at the detective agency behind her. “You, a college student, can afford a Vera Wang but I work my ass off and can’t.”
“It was a gift.” Buffy smiled and used her thumb to point behind her at Spike, who had gotten out of the car and was smiling at their reunion.
“Hello.” Cordelia nudged Buffy and nodded with approval. “He’s fine as hell.”
“We’re just friends.” The blond girl whispered.
Cordy was looking at Spike again, this time intently. “Don’t I know him?”
Doyle poked his head out the door and said, “Delia, I’m starving in here!”
“Shit.” Turning quickly, Cordy motioned for Buffy to follow her and grabbed the bags of food. “I hate my life.”
Spike came around the car and grabbed Buffy before she could follow Cordelia. “I’ll let you two catch up, luv. I’m going to see about a hotel.”
“Jacuzzi?” Buffy almost drooled. “I’m going to make the most of this trip.”
“One jacuzzi coming up.” Spike winked and quickly walked down the street.
Buffy grinned and followed the girl into the old warehouse. She was surprised to find that it didn’t look half bad on the inside. A little dark for her tastes but definitely not as bad as the outside. There were three desks in the open area. One sat right in the middle of the room and the two others were in opposite corners facing each other. The room was quite large, with framed paintings hung around the bricked walls and several tall green plants. Buffy imagined Cordelia was responsible for that. The furniture was worn and the carpet had seen better days but it wasn’t an unpleasant room. Buffy wasn’t uncomfortable.
“So, you’re the Slayer.” Doyle looked her up and down. “You sure are small.”
Buffy looked at Cordelia in shock. “You told him I was the Slayer?”
“No.” Cordelia visibly shrunk against her desk.
“Then who did?” Snapped the angry Slayer.
“I did.” Came a soft reply from behind her.
Buffy turned and gasped. “Angel.”
Angel stepped out of the shadows and looked her up and down. She was thin. Far too thin but she was even more beautiful than he had allowed himself to remember. Her hair had almost doubled in length. It fell in soft blond waves almost to her waist and her skin was tanned and shining. Her small frame was encased in a pale blue sleeveless mini dress with matching sandals. She was breathtaking. “Hello, Buffy.”
“What’s going on?” Buffy looked from Angel back to Cordy. “What are you trying to do, Cordy?”
“She’s trying to save the world.” Doyle answered while Cordy looked upset and even sorry for Buffy.
“Who the hell are you?” she snapped, glaring at the man. “What is this all about?”
“There’s something happening here, lassie.” Replied Doyle, hoping his Irish luck would keep her from ripping into him. “I don’t think we’re equipped to handle it and such and you are.”
“Well, I’m not the Slayer anymore.” Buffy replied tartly. “I quit. I don’t work for the council and they don’t bother me. I don’t have any obligation here.”
She turned and headed for the door but Angel caught her arm and pulled her to face him. “Buffy, we wouldn’t have asked if it was a matter of life and death. The council isn’t asking. If we don’t work together and stop this then…”
“Let me go.” Buffy tugged her arm but Angel held on. It felt as though the room was beginning to close in on her and her heart was pounding so hard she felt it in her ears. An overwhelming fear was engulfing her and she didn't know how to stop it.
“Please, listen to me.” Angel begged, clinging to both of her arms now. “I know this is…”
“ What do you know?” Buffy shouted, then started to cry and throw limp arms punches at his face. She shouted at him, telling him to leave her alone and to let her leave all the while trying to get a grip on the panic that was seizing her.
Spike heard her and dropped the ice cream he had been licking as he headed back to the agency. He yanked the door open and morphed the second he saw Angel gripping Buffy and her sobbing, trying to break free. “Let her go, Angel.” He shouted.
“Spike?” Angel’s eyes narrowed as his face morphed as well..
“Spike!” Buffy yanked loose and flung herself at the blond vampire, clinging to him. She only felt safe with him. Only him.
Spike wrapped his arms around her protectively and glared at Angel over the top of her head. “What the hell are you doing?”
Cordy thought for several seconds and tossed in her two cents. “SPIKE! I knew I recognized you. From Halloween! I just thought you were some guy dressed as Billy Idol but you’re SPIKE!” Cordy pulled her heel off and threw it at the man, who batted it away but kept his grip on Buffy. “My life went down hill because of you, Mister. I got impaled AND Willow made out with my boyfriend.”
“I don’t give a fuck.” Spike told the girl and pointed at Buffy. “Look at what you’ve done to her!”
“I want to leave.” Buffy sobbed, her face still buried in the front of Spike’s red shirt. “Please, Spike?”
“Yeah, baby. We’re leaving.” He glared around the room, as if daring anyone to object.
They all did. Angel began speaking but Doyle interrupted. “Hello William.”
Spike squinted and finally recognized the man. “Doyle?”
“If you take her and leave then you’ll be the cause of a greater hell than you can imagine right here on earth. We do what we can here to save people from themselves and we have been known to slay a few demons that got in the way but this isn’t something we can attempt to set straight. It’s going to take a Slayer and only a Slayer will do.” The man walked around his desk and paused, looking at the shaking girl in Spike’s arms. “I apologize, Buffy, for the pretense in which you were brought here, but all your loved ones and you yourself are in danger. Please help us?”
Spike didn’t trust many things in his unlife but he trusted Doyle. He had learned the hard way about human nature and demon nature and he knew that the man was telling the truth. Doyle was a special demon, one who wanted to spend their life making amends. Not one that was forced to, like Angel, but one who did it because they were strong willed enough inside to defeat the demonic urges without the aid of a pesky soul. “Buffy, maybe we should listen to them.” Spike urged.
Buffy pulled away and glared at him with disbelief. “You too?”
“I don’t agree with how they got you here, baby, but they may have had their reasons. It can’t hurt to hear them out, can it?” He moved to take her hand to reassure her but she yanked away. “Slayer, for the love of…”
“I’m leaving.” Buffy announced, unable to control the wave of anxiety that threatened to drown her. With a loud sob, she turned and pushed through the door. Doyle picked up his sandwich and threw it against the wall and Cordy sat at her desk, dabbing at her eyes with a napkin.
“I’ll go after her.” Angel said softly.
“Like hell you will. I’LL go after her and you can loom in the corners.” Spike spun on his heel and rushed out onto the sidewalk. Looking up and down both ways for her. “Buffy?”
“What?” she replied from her slouching position in his car, where she was digging through her purse nervously.
Relieved, he opened the door since he couldn’t see through the blackened windows and knelt beside her. “Oh, I thought you had run off.”
“I can’t find it!” She cried, tossing her purse into the floorboard and clutching her chest. Her breathing was coming in short ragged gasps and Spike could feel the panic attack coming on. He’d witnessed several, just none on the past few months.
“Your medicine?” He asked, moving past her to get her purse.
Buffy nodded, unable to speak now. He shook his head sadly, wondering if Angel knew what he had done to her to begin with, and dug through her purse himself. He found the bottle, hidden underneath a stack of tissue and handed it to her. Swearing silently, he took it back from her when he realized her hands were shaking too badly too open it and she didn’t have anything to wash it down with anyway.
He lifted her, able to tell that by now the pain in her chest was unbearable and she’d begin to hyperventilate any moment. He could also hear the pounding of her heart and was afraid she was going to have a heart attack. It was the hardest thing he’d ever done to carry her back into the detective agency in her current state but she needed some water and to stretch out if there was any help at all for her this time. It was bad and Spike was very concerned.
Angel met him halfway, staring down at Buffy. Spike pushed past him and put her on a decrepit couch in the corner. “Get me some water.”
Cordy rushed to comply and Spike looked around quickly, grabbing a paper bag off the table and dumping the containers of blood out. He held it in his hand, listening to Buffy’s breathing and when the time came, he held it up to her face for her. “That’s it, love. Just breathe.” She struggled to move the bag but he held it firm. “Stop it, Buffy.”
And to everyone’s shock, she did.
Finally, her breathing was semi-normal and Spike pulled a prescription bottle from his duster, took the water from Cordelia and gave her a pill. Buffy swallowed it, drank several gulps from the glass and handed it back to Spike. He smiled gently as he sat it on the floor. “That was a rough one, huh baby?”
Not saying anything, Buffy nodded slowly and closed her eyes. Spike moved beside her on the sofa and put an arm around her, massaging her back, knowing instinctively that she would have a backache from the tension. “I think it would probably be better to discuss this tomorrow.”
“No.” Buffy’s voice was raspy as she spoke and her hands were shaking but she spoke with conviction. “We’re here. Let’s find out why.”
Doyle looked at Angel. He had never seen the man look more shaken. The woman he was madly in love with was apparently not well and was sitting in the arms of a man Angel couldn’t stand. He didn’t know if anything could get worse.
“Fine.” Cordy shrugged. “I’ll explain.”
That was worse. Doyle shook his head and said, “No. I’ll do it.”
Angel nodded at the man and he continued. “Well, there are some vampires in town. They know stuff. Stuff that most vampires don’t know. We can’t be sure but we put the place under surveillance and Angel’s pretty sure that one of the vampires is someone from the council.”
“Wesley.” Cordy said, in a sad voice, then stifled a sob. “It was Wesley. I saw him too. He’s a vampire and we could have been…”
“Anyway,” Doyle flashed her an evil look. “from what we can deduce he had several volumes of books with him at the time that he was vamped.”
Angel interrupted. “We think he was turned on his way to the airport, after he was released from the hospital.”
Buffy nodded and looked back at Doyle. “They know stuff? What stuff?”
“Rituals. Spells. These books, they have information about you, about other Slayers and most of all…”
“What, mate? Bloody hell, this isn’t a soap opera. Stop pausing.” Spike growled.
“We have an informant. Sort of like Willy.” Angel stated. “He told us that Wesley was in there bragging that they are about to ‘create’ a new master vampire.”
“Create?” Buffy asked, forcing herself to get it back together. “And how does one create a master? I thought they just WERE.”
“They’re hunting for a strong vampire.”
“To dub with a magic sword?” Buffy said sarcastically.
“No. To kill and mix the dust with the dust of several other strong vampires.” Doyle said.
“Oh, of course.” The slayer shrugged. “I JUST studied that in my current affairs class.”
“This is serious, Buffy.” Cordy said. “You remember that other master guy. He killed you.”
Shrugging, Buffy stood on shaky legs. “Where is Wesley?”
“Surely you can’t mean to look tonight, Slayer.” Spike stood beside her, watching her closely.
“Well, what the hell else am I here for?” She snapped.
Grinning, Spike declared. “A hotel with a jacuzzi. And I found one.”
“You can stay here.” Angel said quickly, not liking the look on Spike’s face or what he was implying. “There’s plenty of room.”
“What!?” Yelled Cordy. “Yeah, Angel. There’s so much extra room here with the three of us already living together and working together. As a matter of fact why don’t I just go outside and hold up a sign that says ‘space for rent’. Notice I didn’t say ROOM. We lack room.”
Spike was ecstatic that Angel had to work and live with this girl. “The hotel is fine.”
“But…” Angel looked at Buffy again. “Buffy, what are you doing with Spike?”
Buffy grinned then. “Sitting in a jacuzzi until I prune hopefully.”
Spike nodded emphatically. “For starters.”
Buffy didn’t say anything to contradict him. She didn’t let on that they were just friends. She followed his lead. “No, we’ll save the jacuzzi for last.”
“This time.” Spike grinned, still relishing the look on Angel’s face.
“So tomorrow then?” Doyle asked, anxious to get rid of them so Angel could calm down, the Slayer could calm down and he could make the necessary arrangements for the weapons they would need.
“What time?” Buffy asked.
“Noon?” Cordy smiled, thinking that maybe they could have lunch and talk about stuff. Xander stuff.
“Not noon.” Spike shook his head, staring toward his sire. “She’ll be here when I can come with her.”
“Yet another reason you should stay here.” Angel said, wanting to get a chance with Buffy alone so he could ask her what the hell she was thinking. “This entire building is sunproofed.”
“We’ll be fine.” Sneered the blond vampire.
Cordelia shook her head as the couple walked past her out the door and said, “My God. I hope his soul is permanent.”
Angel’s eyes widened, realizing the implications and rushed to the phone. “I’m calling Giles!”
“Poor man.” Sighed Doyle, knowing full well that a game of twenty questions was about to start and when Angel got started he could go on and on.
Spike looked at Buffy who had curled into the passenger seat with concern. His gut was wound tight and he was terrified that she was about to pull into herself the way she had done a year earlier. Of course, he knew that if she did, he would stay and pull her back again but there was no part of him that longed to do that. They had reached where they were together and if she left him now…
“Buffy, the room I got is huge. It’s a suite and you’re going to love it.” Spike forced himself to smile, even though he wanted to let his face change, stop the car and tear his sire apart.
Buffy nodded at him but didn’t say a word. Her gaze was fixed to the dashboard and her fingers danced dumbly over the hem of her skirt, bunching and twisting it. Agonizing thoughts were playing through her head over and over. She was trying to figure out why the fates always threw a curve ball when the bases were already loaded and she was only prepared to bunt.
“Are you hungry?” He asked, staring at the road. He moved his hand to take hers and squeezed it, bringing it to his lips.
When his lips brushed her hand, she was pulled from her revelry and looked at him. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry! For what?” He exclaimed.
Tears welled up in her big, sad eyes and she shuddered as she spoke. “For freaking out back there. For being a basket case. For making you do so much for me.”
He parked in front of the hotel and shook his head. “You are not a basket case. I like when you freak out because you’re so damn cute and you don’t MAKE me do anything. I do it because I want to.”
“What?” Buffy snorted through her tears. “You want to help someone who’s so…”
“Perfect, Slayer.” He finished before she could, not liking the direction of this conversation. Convincing her why he wanted to help her would lead to over sharing, which would lead to admissions which would lead to guilt later which would make him cranky and he didn’t, no-couldn’t, be cranky with her now. “We’re here.”
She looked out the window and gasped. The hotel that was spread before them was so tall she couldn’t see the top from her position in the vehicle. Several young men stood ready to take their luggage with racks and a valet was moving to take Spike’s keys. “This is so beautiful, Spike. But you didn’ t have to get something so expensive.”
“I have this motto.” He grinned as he took her hand and pulled her out of his side of the car.
“What motto?” She had to grin back because he was still holding her hand even as they headed into the large foyer.
“Make Buffy happy, you’ll live longer.” He chuckled and she popped him on the arm. Things were going to be okay.
Giles sighed as Angel asked the same question for the hundredth time. “Why is she with Spike though?”
“As I said earlier, Angel, Spike came back to Sunnydale, saved her life and then stayed when it was apparent that Buffy needed help.” The man sipped his coffee, glanced at the clock, and wondered how much caffeine he would need to make it through the next day.
“Why would Buffy need help?” Angel had already asked that too.
“I really feel that you should discuss this with Buffy.” Giles suggested. Buffy’s private life was her own and he wasn’t ready to face her wraith if he said too much.
The vampire couldn’t hide the bite in his voice. “I would have asked her, Giles, but she was too busy breathing into a paper bag and shoving pills down her throat to offer me much explanation.”
“She had a panic attack?!” Giles stood so he could at least pace off his own anxiety. “Was Spike with her?”
“Yes, he was with her. Of course he was with her. Why is he with her?” Angel shook his head and looked at Doyle. “And it was a panic attack?”
“Yes. She began having them right after you left and had to be put on medication.” Giles hoped that Buffy wouldn’t mind that he had shared that. At this point, he felt that any morsel he offered would be enough to get Angel off the phone.
“It’s my fault?” Angel asked it as a question but said it as an admission of guilt.
Sighing, Giles sat back on his sofa and flopped back against the cushions. “No offense, Angel, but I really don’t have the time to discuss this. I have an early morning and I’m tired.”
“I’m sorry.” The other man said sadly. “I’m just worried about her.”
“Well, if Spike is with her, I’m not worried.”
Angel shook his head again. “I just can’t comprehend why you would allow her to be with him.”
“I don’t allow her to be with him. She is an adult and the only purpose I serve to her now is as a mentor and sometime confidante when she gives me the honor.” Giles thought for several seconds and added. “But if she wasn’t with him willingly I would nudge her a great deal in his direction because I trust him and the way he handles her.”
“She doesn’t need to be handled!” Angel shouted, causing Cordy to rush back into the office wearing fuzzy slippers and Doyle to stand up. “He better not lay a hand on her because…”
“I must go now.” Giles was getting angry and when he got angry he didn’t like the thoughts that went through his mind.
“Please, Giles…” Angel began again.
“No. Really, I must go. I have to ask that you just believe me when I say that she’s with the best person for what she needs right now and I trust him. That should be enough for you to get past your reservations.”
“Don’t you want to know why we called her here?” Angel realized that he hadn’t bothered to let the man know what was happening.
Giles looked back at the clock, resigning himself to the fact that the sun would rise and set again before he slept, and made himself comfortable. “Go ahead then.”
Angel launched into the story of his time in Los Angeles and soon, sleep was the last thing on Giles’s mind.
“Ready?” Spike had his hand over Buffy’s eyes as he opened the door. He had left very specific orders with the receptionist as to how he wanted things when they came in.
“So ready.” Buffy nodded. She gasped when Spike moved his hand away and stared around the room. “Oh, it’s beautiful!”
And it was. The main area had two plush leather sofas that faced one another. A large glass table sat between them with a large bouquet of fresh flowers in the middle. To the right, tucked neatly into a corner, was a bar with upside down glasses hanging from an overhead wooden holder. All the woodwork in the room was a dark, glossy mahogany. Two doors opened on either side and as Buffy padded across the thick beige carpet toward the one on the right, she noticed a large kitchen off to the side.
Spike followed her into a large bedroom with a four poster bed. Grinning he watched as she pulled the sheer netting that hung from the posts back and admired the flowery linens. He looked past her, at the double doors the opened onto the balcony and walked around her. He felt her behind him and stepped aside so she could see the hot tub where it sat bubbling, sending a warm steam into the cool night. “Look inviting?”
“Oh yeah.” Buffy nodded happily and took Spike’s hand, squeezing it. “Thank you. Not just for this, but for everything. For the last year.”
“No.” He faced her, pushing a long lock of hair away from her face. “Thank you.”
For the briefest moment, she felt like he was going to kiss her. As they stood facing one another, nothing between them but the mist of the jacuzzi and the sounds of the city below them, the Slayer braced herself. Heat flooded through her body, desire coursed through her veins and a longing that she never knew raced through the core of her body.
Spike sensed the increase of her heartbeat. He could tell by how flushed she was that she was wanting more than a hot tub and a good nights sleep. Her eyes were on his lips, as if willing him to taste hers and he doubted she even realized that her thumb was trailing along the back of his hand slowly and sensuously. All his nerve endings seem to wind up there, causing the slightest movement to intensify. He had to do something. “Don’t you want to see the rest of the suite?”
She put a mask over the disappointment that question caused. She smiled brightly and nodded. “I’d love to. Can’t go bumping my shins in the middle of the night so I better get used to it.”
Still holding her hand, he led her back through and they explored their temporary surroundings. Buffy was impressed with how much attention had been paid to minor details and they both decided that the room was perfect. After they spent some time making sure it was sun-proof, Spike glanced at the clock. “It’s late. Do you want to sleep or…”
“Hot tub!” Buffy looked at him as though it were the strangest thing he’d ever asked. “What have I talked about all day?”
Spike had hoped she would decide to go to bed because the thought of her sitting on the deck, warm water soaking her skin and wetting the ends of her hair drove him mad with desire. And to top it off, he didn’t know how to suggest that he not get in with her and not hurt her feelings.
“You go ahead and I’ll be there as soon as I find my bathing suit.” Buffy walked toward her luggage.
“I don’t have a suit. Maybe I should..”
“Wear your boxers.” She shrugged.
“Right.” Rolling his eyes, he bit back the urge to tell her that women who knew everything were annoying.
A few minutes later, he found himself stepping into the bubbling water and leaning against one of the pillows. He had to admit, it felt remarkable and as high up as they were, none of the city lights interfered with seeing the stars. He was searching for the little dipper when he heard soft music start playing and saw Buffy step through the sliding glass doors.
~ Just when I believed I couldn't ever want for more
This ever changing world pushes me through another door
I saw you smile and my mind could not erase
The beauty of your face
Just for a while,
Won't you let me shelter you~
Buffy didn’t say a word. She couldn’t have said a word if she had to. Spike sat waiting for her with water droplets running down his smooth muscular chest. Both arms were draped over the sides of the tub and his steely gaze was fixed to her with interest. Her hands shook as she removed her robe and kicked her sandals off.
~Hold on to the night
Hold on to the memory
I wish that I could give you something more,
That I could be yours~
He was reminded then of how lucky he was not to have to breathe. His throat constricted when he saw her two piece bikini that left nothing to his imagination. It was black, or possibly it was midnight blue, but all he could see was the swell of her breasts, barely covered by the fabric. His eyes roamed lower as she folded her robe and bent over, putting it into a chair. Spike licked his lips and shifted uncomfortably, thankful he wasn’t wearing his tight jeans, as she stepped into the tub. He wanted to get out and jump off the balcony and not care until he hit the ground that he had been on the eleventh floor with a fully functioning dick and a girl he wanted to make love to slowly all night long.
~How do we explain something that took us by surprise
Promises in vain
Love that is real, but in disguise
What happens now
Do we break another rule, let our lovers play the fool?
I don't know how to stop feeling this way~
Buffy wasn’t going to make it. He was beautiful. She sighed, not just from the warm water lapping at her skin but because he had made her so content. And now so completely on edge because the urge to move into his arms and press her lips to his was almost palpable.
~Hold on to the night
Hold on the memory
If only I could give you more...~
He closed his eyes and leaned his head back. He had too. If he looked at her for one more second he would admit every single thought that he had entertained during the last year and he would be forced to confess what he felt. He couldn’t possibly do that. She deserved better than what he had to offer. Buffy deserved someone who was so different than Angel that there was no comparison, ever. Only a mortal could be that person. It wasn’t fair to her and it wasn’t fair to him. But he wanted it.
~ Well, I think that I've been true to everybody else but me
And the way I feel about you makes my heart long to be free
Every time I look into your eyes I'm helplessly aware
That the someone I've been searching for is right there~
With his eyes closed, Buffy thought he looked almost boyish, but she realized that the firm masculinity of his chest contradicted that completely. The water bubbled, lapping across his nipples and she found her eyes drawn there, imagining herself spraying hot kisses along his collarbone and stopping there. She closed her own eyes but realized that in her mind’s eye the image was even more appealing. When she looked again, he was looking at her and she smiled.
“This is nice.” Spike mumbled, needing to break the silence.
~Hold on to the night
Hold on to the memory
I wish that I could give you more....~
“Very nice.” Buffy nodded. Then she silently added, ‘If being tortured is nice.’ Her brows knitted as she realized that SOME people found torture very nice and sexual and hmmm…
Spike watched her face go from one of contentment to one of concentration and glee. “What?”
“Huh?” She jumped a little and her eyes widened, afraid that he had read her mind and knew what she was thinking about doing to him.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Don’t even think about it. I’ll drown you if you do.”
She scooped a handful of water and tossed it into his face. “Drown me.”
He was on his knees at once and she joined him, both trying to dunk the other. He got the upper hand and soaked her, holding her down for several seconds before he pulled her back up. “Now apologize.”
“No.” She sputtered, wrestling with him through her giggles.
This time he let her get the upper hand and she pinned him under the water. When she pulled him back out she found herself straddling his waist and his hands on her hips. She laid her hands on his arms and quietly said, “We…we should get some sleep, right? The sun…”
Spike stared off at the horizon, not realizing how much time had gone by. The first eager shades of orange were creeping up over the city. He nodded and pulled his hands away. She stood, pausing briefly, leaving her pelvic area at his face level, then stepped from the tub. “Aren’t you coming?” she asked.
He couldn’t have answered if he had to. The sight of the small triangle of cloth between her legs a few mere inches from his face removed all his speaking skills. A nod was all he could muster and he stood, shaking with desire he followed her through the bedroom.
He sat on the sofa while he waited for her to change so he could say goodnight. After ten minutes, he knocked lightly on the door and pushed it open. She was sprawled back on the bed, wearing a RugRats nightgown and big fluffy socks. Spike walked to the edge of the bed, looking down at her. Her hair had almost dried and she looked so peaceful. Gently, careful not to wake her, he lifted her so he could pull back the cover and then tucked her in the bed. Satisfied she wouldn’t get cold, he ran his hand over her cheek and kissed her temple, lingering long enough to inhale her scent.
Distance. He needed to put distance between them. It wasn’t like she hadn’t slept at his house before. They had done this a million times. He moved quickly, willing his feet back across the living room and into the other bedroom. He yanked off his wet boxers and tossed them on the floor and burrowed himself in the cover, trying to get away from everything he wanted. Which was only Buffy.
Was wanting and having one thing so bad? He wondered. Yes, he decided that it definitely was so bad. He begged his erection to go away, tried to visualize gross things and nasty hookers. Nothing helped. Finally, he thought about how angry he was at Angel and it went away almost instantly..
The sun was bright by the time he dozed.
Buffy awoke with a start and said, “Spike?”
He wasn’t there, wasn’t in the room and she felt a rush of fear. She leaped from the bed and headed toward the other room. As she opened his door and saw the lump beneath the cover, she relaxed, and stepped inside. Trying not to wake him, she slid in next to him and pressed herself against his cool skin.
Spike rolled to face her and opened his eyes, still groggy. “Are you okay?”
When he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to his chest she answered. “I am now.”
The vampire was very, very glad that someone was okay. He certainly wasn’t. He rattled every cuss word he could think of through his head as his arousal grew and grew. And this time, even thoughts of killing Angel didn’t make it go away.
** Disclaimer: I don't own the lyrics used. Chantal Kreviazuk and Richard Marx are the respective owners.