Hope you enjoy.
Please feel free to comment, as usual. Would love to hear from you.
The rest of the evening passed without incident… thanks largely to several rounds of beer that helped ease the tension between Spike and Xander. While happy to enjoy the beer, all four did, however, graciously refuse the complimentary Yak Urine cocktails offered by the management.
Eventually, the desire to play poker wore thin and Xander and Willow were escorted home. Continuing on towards Revello Drive, no words were spoken between Slayer and Vampire.
Arriving at the porch steps, Buffy sat down, beckoning Spike to sit beside her. “Well that was interesting,” she said softly, staring straight ahead into the yard.
Awkward around the Slayer for the first time in years, Spike was torn between wanting to light up and wanting to pull her closer to him. The little act he’d put on in Crazy Eights had confused him as much as it’d angered the whelp. He ran a hand through his hair, releasing a few curls from their gelled restraint.
“Look, Buffy,” he began. “M’sorry if I made things difficult for you with your chums, earlier. I thought it would be better if I could make staff and demonfolk alike believe the Slayer was my woman. Make you less of a target for the more opportunistic blokes.”
“It was fine, honest. I had no problems being yours for the evening.” She smiled wickedly. “For a scrawny old vampire, you have a very comfy lap.”
Thrown by the compliment, he joked, “You need to work on respectin’ your elders.”
Buffy yawned. “Can I be Miss Mannersy tomorrow, Spike? I’m too tired to care at the moment,” she said, sidling over to the vampire and resting her head on his shoulder.
Finally finding something to do with his arm, he encircled Buffy’s slight shoulders, relishing the feel of her body heat against him. They sat quietly side-by-side, listening to the crickets chirp and relaxing into each other in a rare moment of peace.
Their contemplative mood was broken moments later, by the internationally-recognized warning sign for daughters who missed curfew – the flashing porch-light.
“Oh she has so got to be kidding.” Buffy mumbled into Spike’s leather duster. “What am I – twelve?”
“S’alright, luv.” He stood, offering his hand to help her rise from the step. “Let’s go inside and make your Mum happy.”
With a quick roll of her eyes, Buffy acquiesced and allowed herself to be pulled to standing.
Joyce’s eyes sparkled with suppressed mirth as she puttered around the kitchen, studiously ignoring her scowling daughter as she settled into a stool at the counter.
“Don’t be angry, Sweetie. I couldn’t resist a little teasing,” Joyce laughed. “It’s not often I see you with a boy, much less have the honor of playing Chaperone!Mom. You have to allow me some leeway here.”
Buffy’s scowl turned into a pout, then a small wistful smile. “I get it, Mom, really. It’s not very normal for either of us.” She sighed, “What with me and slaying, and you worrying, and then me and vampires and NOT slaying but bringing them home… okay then, I can deal with the porch light. Just not too often.”
Vampire stealth working to his advantage, Spike crept up behind the petite blonde’s chair and gently jabbed his fingers into her sides, just under her ribs.
“Oi, pet. I better not hear of you bringing any other vampires home with you. S’not a good habit to get into.”
Giggling, Buffy said, “No worries, Spike, you’re the last little Pound Puppy Vamp I’m inviting in. It takes too much time and trouble to housebreak a new one.”
With a definite growl coming from the vampire, the chase was on. Out of the kitchen, through the dining room and living room, up the stairs and down. Buffy letting out a high shriek each time Spike got close enough for another poke or pinch. They ended up on the couch in front of the television. Spike sprawled against the back cushions, legs splayed wide; Buffy sat next to him, legs folded underneath her, head resting against his shoulder once more.
Spike rifled through the channels, not pausing more than five seconds on any channel and, within fifteen minutes, both had fallen fast asleep.
On her way up to bed, Joyce paused by the couch long enough to drape an afghan over the sleeping figures.
“Only my daughter,” she muttered. “One vampire to pine and mope after, and another vampire to play tag with and sleep next to. Fat grandchildren just don’t seem to be in my future.”
As she climbed the stairs to her bedroom, a slight smile played over her lips. At least, she thought, Buffy’s managed to find someone to share a few moments happiness with, she thought, Someone to share her burden and watch out for her. That was decent compensation for the loss of future grandchildren.
Buffy awoke in a blind panic to the sound of chirping birds. Daylight! She relaxed almost immediately when she realized her mother had pulled the draperies closed to protect the sleeping-vampire-pillow beneath her.
Gotta thank the all-purpose Mom; she of the blanket-gathering, vampire-protecting variety, she thought, as she poked the aforementioned pillow in the ribs. Or not, she added mentally, as he startled awake and managed to unseat her from the couch in a flurry of flailing limbs.
“Not wise to poke a sleeping vamp, luv,” he mumbled.
“Some vampire you are,” she snickered. “If you were back in your crypt, you’d be fair pickings for any demon wanting to take you out. Or a Slayer.”
“Luv, if I were in my crypt, I wouldn’t have had such a lovely warm body to cuddle up with and I’d never have allowed myself the luxury of falling so deeply asleep. Vicious natural predator here with excellent survival skills.”
Watching him as he arched his back in a full body stretch, eyes closed, platinum blond hair in tufts and soft ringlets framing his face, he looked more like a sleepy little boy than a man-eating beast.
The sound of the garbage truck broke her out of her viewing pleasure, and a quick glance at the cable box told Buffy she was already late for class.
“Damn, not even time for breakfast,” she grumped. “I’ve barely got time to take a quick birdbath and grab a snack on the way to class. There’s blood in the fridge and if you go out, just leave me a note on the desk.”
With a quick ruffle to the blond tufts of hair sticking out from the afghan Spike had burrowed under, Buffy was gone for the day.
Several hours later, Spike unfurled his limbs from his knitted cocoon and rose from the couch. He was not a morning person by habit, but he knew there were things that needed his attention during daylight hours.
As he ambled up the stairs to take advantage of a leisurely hot shower, he let loose with a chortle. Buffy had mentioned something about a birdbath, and he was struck with the image of the girl sitting naked in a marble pedestal bath, splashing herself with a large pair of white wings.
“Bloody hell, someone needs to get laid, mate,” he said aloud, as he stepped into the shower. A perfunctory lathering of his hair and body took care of the personal hygiene issue, and a few quick strokes of a soapy hand took the edge off another issue. He dried himself quickly, dressed and went downstairs to heat some blood for breakfast.
Sitting at the table, sipping his blood from the black and red “Kiss the Vampire” mug Joyce had picked up for him, Spike mapped out a course of action.
He had a general idea of what he wanted to accomplish – hit the sewer tunnels to see if he could intimidate any of the local demons into coughing up some new information on the club, and scare up anything about beaten or missing demons. There was no way he’d been the only demon singled out for the club’s smash and bash special. Then, on to the Magic Box, in the desperate hope the Watcher had found out something useful. Anything to relieve him of the need to retain the chip and visit The Crazy Eights again.
The longer he had that chip in his hand, the more nervous he got and was more than ready to rip the sodding thing out with his own fangs. Shaking his hand as if the movement alone would be sufficient to dislodge the chip, he could swear he felt it sending out little charges of electricity skittering up and down his arm, creeping ever closer to his head.
“Grow a pair, you stupid berk,” he growled. “Just one more night and that chip is gone, even if I have to lose the hand.”
Leaving Buffy a note on the desk as she’d asked, he headed for the door, lifted the duster over his head and made the mad dash to the manhole in broad daylight.
He stalked the tunneled infrastructure beneath the streets of Sunnydale, every now and then coming across pockets of vampires or other demons, and grilling them about The Crazy Eights.
Some were outwardly hostile - his preference for working with the Slayer did not sit well with everyone. They called him traitor and coward to his face... and those who survived, were threatened with nightly raids by said Slayer. There were definitely some advantages to having a friend – all sixty two deliciously powerful inches of her - in high places; and Spike wasn’t afraid to flaunt the fact.
Spike stretched his metaphoric wings as he went about his business. He might have chosen to stop hunting for his meals and he had deliberately partnered himself to the Slayer, but – it didn’t make him any less of a bad ass amongst his own kind.
Vamps weren’t known for loyalties outside of their own clans, and the Big Bad had no problem terrorizing any demon he came across. Just a little indulgence he allowed himself. It felt good to be feared, even if regaining Mastery of Sunnydale no longer held any appeal for him.
With reports of fewer than a handful of missing demons – all quite possibly attributable to the Slayer’s nightly patrols and no further leads, Spike thought he might as well see what old Rupes has to say for himself.
He soon found himself directly under the Magic Box, grateful that the Mayor had the forethought to build Sunnyhell such an intricate tunnel system. Another nod to the friends in high places bit.
Climbing up the ladder to the Magic Box’s basement and then to the upper level of the store proper, Spike announced himself in his typically singular fashion, “Oi, Rupes! Need to have a talk ‘bout what’s going on. Where the bloody hell are you, you git?”
Had he needed to breathe, he’d have been sore pressed for oxygen in the next moment. Caught unawares, he found himself slammed up against one of the shop’s bookcases.
“Vampire,” hissed the irate shopowner, one hand clamped around Spike’s neck, the other clenching a fistful of tee shirt. “Talking to you is the last thing I want to do.” Banging Spike’s head against the bookcase for emphasis, he continued, “How dare you molest Buffy in a public place and threaten to bite her?”
Comprehension dawned. Easily breaking the Watcher’s hold, Spike flipped them around and held Giles’ hands over his head. Gameface sliding into place and fangs lengthening, Spike stood nose to nose with his adversary.
“So, you’ve had a visit from the little boy, have you? And you believe that I would endanger Buffy’s life in the middle of a demon club. Threatening to spill her blood amongst all manner of beasties who would try to take her from me? Are you off your nut, Rupert?
He tightened his grip ever so slightly. “If you want to know what happened, all you have to do is ask me.”
The little bell over the door announced her arrival.
“Spike, would you mind telling me why you’re all fangy and grrr? And why you’re all pressed up against my Watcher?”
Relaxing fractionally, he shed his gameface as he looked into the eyes of a mildly
“Let him go, Spike. I’m sure we can all sit down and straighten out this mess.”
With a final growl, the vampire released Giles and snapped, “Your stupid git of a mate’s been telling tall tales.”
Giles bristled. “Whule he might exaggerate on occasion, I’ve never known Xander to out-and-out lie. I certainly trust his word over yours and I know for a fact that he’s quite protective of Buffy.”
“Little shit’s just sorry she won’t drop her knickers for him,” Spike scoffed. “He’s jealous of anyone within sniffing distance.
“Truth here is real simple. Slayer and I acted the part of Vampire and Consort. I knew it would offer her almost as much protection as a claiming bite.
“She sat on my lap, pretty as you please, and we nuzzled necks and noses, which made privacy easier in a room full of vampires. That’s the full story.”
When Giles merely grimaced in response, Spike added, “You know, you can take your opinion and stuff it. Go believe the whelp and I’ll find someone else to research this chip for me.”
Buffy sighed. “Giles, this would be so much easier if you’d just listen once in awhile. If Spike had done something I wasn’t comfortable with, I would have defended myself. Slayer here, vampire there. He was a perfect gentleman, and asked me if I’d be comfortable following his lead before he acted.
Folding her arms, she continued, “And, personally, I think we should be concentrating on the chips the club uses, rather than the status of my virtue. There must be chips implanted in demons and humans all over Sunnydale, not to mention all those out-of-town players. We need to know what they do, how they’re activated, and what the club uses them for. Because there’s no way they’re simply members-only passes.”
Turning to the still agitated Spike, she said, “I’ve been thinking about this all day. As much as it makes me uncomfortable, I think we need to go back to the club once more before you try and deactivate that chip. I’m sure we’ll be able to mingle a little better if it’s just you and me.”
“We can go this evening, Slayer. Been thinking the same, myself. In the meantime, if Watcher-boy can keep his knickers from twisting, I’d like to see if there’s anything that can be stolen from a human or demon through a conduit. As much as I’m concerned about the one I’ve been tagged with, I’m a little more worried about what the club wants with all this information from the masses. S’not kosher.”
“All right,” Giles sighed. “You’ve both raised valid points. Let’s see what we can find.”