DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course. And the chapter titles are courtesy of Miles Davis.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Willow has helped Spike escape, and he’s gone to Clara for assistance in finding Buffy and the gang, while the rest of the Scoobies have figured out that Halfrek had something to do with the chip being missing…

*************

Chapter 36: Baby, Won't You Please Come Home

“Really, I thought we’d grown past demon-napping each other, Anyanka.”

“Well, you don’t write, you don’t call…what’s a gal supposed to do?”

“I thought I’d told you everything you wanted to know.”

“Maybe if you’d kept your big nose out of Spike’s head, that might’ve been true, Halfrek.”

“Not that I know what you’re referring to, but that’s a gruesome image, even for you.”

“Stop playing dumb. We know you’re the one who took Spike’s chip out. Did D’Hoffryn put you up to it?”

“Spike? I don’t believe I’m familiar with that name. Is he your dog? Oh, please don’t tell you’re indulging in human whimsies regarding pets, now.”

“It’s pointless trying to pretend, you know. I’m the one who let you into the room, remember?”

The last was from Tara, and with her now joining in on the confrontation of the vengeance demon, Buffy sighed, leaning as casually as she could against the arm of the couch, arms folded across her chest as she waited for something to do. Halfrek was contained in whatever magical thingamabob that was binding her to the room, which meant the Slayer couldn’t touch her. And as for questioning her, well, when it came to nagging as an interrogation method, she had to admit Anya was her better. And Tara was there to play good cop, so the equation was already balanced. Everyone else was pretty much superfluous.

Of course, everyone else consisted of only her and Xander at the moment.  Giles was still hard at work in the bedroom, trying to get Freddie to relax.  He’d emerged at one point, as the girls were setting the spell up, but promptly disappeared into the kitchen, giving them only a perfunctory nod when he came back out with two steaming cups of what she assumed was tea.  The decaffeinated kind, she hoped.

So she and Xander waited, their earlier chat returning the comfort to their proximity.  He’d taken it better than she’d expected, and though she wasn’t proud of herself for hitting him---I really have to start learning how to control those instincts around my friends, she thought---it had been just the thing to snap her out of her anger, to finish talking to him like a rational adult.  It was probably still weird to him, but given time, Buffy was sure he’d adjust.  He’d gotten used to Spike living in his basement, hadn’t he?  And this wasn’t nearly as close.

Of course, that required Spike to actually be there, which meant rescuing him and Willow as promptly as possible.  Hopefully, Giles was making some headway in that area.

Because Anya’s ex-friend was driving her batty with her bitchy prattling.  If something didn’t break on that front soon, Buffy was going to have to do some breaking herself.  Preferably on Halfrek’s smug face.

*************

His frown deepened as the car rolled to a stop.  The shadows drowned the front yard in inky waves, but he could still see the faint lights glimmering from beneath drawn curtains in the cottage, indicating occupants.  Buffy’s scent was still strong in the air, so though Spike knew that Clara’s directions to Green Dolphin Street had been accurate, why the Slayer would choose to return here when there were countless hotels available in the Big Easy, he had no idea.

“For someone who was so itching to get to his Slayer,” the seer said, swivelling to look back at him from the front passenger seat, “you’re certainly taking your merry time getting out of the car.”

“Yeah.”  Glints of gold sparked across Spike’s eyes as his nostrils flared, inhaling deeply the early morning aromas.  Unmistakably Buffy, as well as the others, but mixed in with it, echoing of something magical, was definitely something non-human.  Demon.  Only one, but since none of the gang ranked among his kind, its presence could not bode well.

“Wait here,” he ordered, when he saw Peter’s hand go for the door handle.

“Something wrong?” Clara asked.

“She’s got company.  No reason to be draggin’ you lot into this if there’s goin’ to be a fight.”  Besides, after having been caged in by Sandrine for so long, a fight was exactly what he was in the mood for.  No way was he going to share in that.

“I think you’d be surprised at how good Peter is when it comes to steppin’ up to help.”  He shot the seer a frown.  She wasn’t letting this go.  “Might not be such a bad idea if you took him with you.  It never hurts to have a back-up.”

“Then he can back me up parked out here,” Spike countered.  “That way you two have the front covered if something goes wrong.”  Not that he thought anything would, but it seemed like as good an excuse as any for him not to tag along.

Her measured gaze told him she wasn’t buying it, but after a moment, Clara shrugged.  “She’s your Slayer,” she said, her surreptitious glance at the large black man at her side not going unnoticed by the vampire.  “You do as you see fit.”

Damn straight she’s my Slayer, he thought as he slid silently from the vehicle.  Of course, if Buffy actually heard that thought, he was sure she might have a different opinion.  Something about him being her vamp. 

A warm flush slithered down his bare abdomen, disappearing beneath the silk pyjamas to heat his groin as he padded lightly across the grass toward the back of the cottage. 

On second thought, he rather liked that version better.

*************

“Even if I did what you’re so rudely accusing me of, what difference does it make?  What’s done is done.”

“It’s not the difference we want to talk about, Hallie.  It’s the why.  And the potential of you going back to D’Hoffryn and offering him a deal for us.”

When the vengeance demon laughed at the suggestion, Buffy bolted to her feet in irritation, pacing along the far length of the room.  This was getting them nowhere.  Halfrek seemed determined to be as close-mouthed as she possibly could, barely even admitting that she’d had anything to do with Spike in the first place, in spite of Tara’s firm reminder that she had actually seen her there.  They were only just getting around to the whole wanting to speak with D’Hoffryn angle, and Giles still hadn’t emerged from the bedroom with anything useful.

She needed to hit something.

Now.

Because if she didn’t, she was going to explode in frustration.

She was making a third pass by the lanai doors, watching the festivities on the other side of the room out of the corner of her eye, when the first sensation tingled along her skin.  It wasn’t enough to make her stop, but Buffy’s step faltered slightly as she continued to pace, glancing back at the closed exit with the faintest of frowns worrying her brow.

When she approached on the fourth go, the one tingle turned into a plural, electrifying her nerves so that the hair stood up on the back of the Slayer’s neck.  This time, she halted, grey-green eyes staring intently through the glass, seeing instead of the darkened garden, her own reflection gazing hazily back at her.

Only Xander noticed her distraction, darting glances between her and the others before rising to his feet and crossing to her side.  “What’s up, Buff?” he asked, sotto voce.

“Vamps,” she replied in equally low tones.  Her lips thinned, a gleam overtaking her irises as her hands curled into anticipatory fists at her sides.  Looks like my prayers just got answered, she thought.

Xander’s eyes widened.  “You think Iris found us already?” he rushed.  He didn’t bother lowering his tone this time, and the sharpness in it caused all other talking in the room to cease behind him.

“Iris is here?” Anya asked, looking at them with alarm.

Someone’s here,” Buffy clarified.  She was trying for soothing, but judging from the way the ex-demon grabbed the nearest weapon, she had a sneaking suspicion she was failing miserably.  “Someone of the vampire persuasion.”  With definitive strides, she marched to the open weapons bag near the kitchen.  “Everyone stay in here,” she instructed as she tucked a stake into her waistband.

“Don’t you want us to b-b-back you up?” Tara asked.

The Slayer shook her head.  As jittery as she was, these trespassers were hers and hers alone.  She needed the slays to iron out her nerves.  “You guys just make sure nobody else gets in.  Get ready to run if I say the word.”

“And what’s the word going to be?” Anya asked as the Slayer’s hand hovered on the door knob.

“Probably me yelling ‘run’ if I come running back inside,” the blonde replied, and slipped out into the night.

*************

The air hummed from the various songs of the nocturnal insects that thrived in the sultry atmosphere, joining with the tingling in the Slayer’s skin to create a quivering rhythm that made her flesh resonate.  Her steps were silent as she crept toward the hedge that marked the edge of the garden, mouth set as her gaze swept along its length.  Within the proximity of the approaching threat, she could tell it was actually just one, accompanied by a near-undetectable swish of what sounded like something silken. 

Has to be one of Iris’ minions scoping out the back entrance, she thought as she stopped before the wall.  Who else would insist on her employees dressing like some out-of-date glam rock star?

Whoever it was, was nearing, and Buffy’s body went into automatic mode, grateful to at last have the opportunity to vent some of the energy that had been building up inside her, in spite of the earlier fracas at the hotel.  With a coiled spring, she leapt the height of the hedge, aiming for the approach, to gracefully collide with the familiar cold form on the other side, sending them both in a heap to the ground, hers landing beneath what was unmistakably a him.

Her elbow lashed out instinctively at the body trapping hers, but was met with a firm grip that twisted her arm to pin it behind her back.  The sharp jerk of her head backwards was reflexive against the pain radiating through her shoulder, but it wasn’t until she heard the muttered British curse accompanied by the sudden rush of air along her legs when her captor rose, that she made the connection.

“Spike?” Buffy said, rolling onto her back and onto her feet.  Her eyes widened at the pale echo of his flesh against the dawn-blushed sky, shoulders carved out of the darkness as he rubbed painfully at his nose.  Without another moment of hesitation, she vaulted herself at him, arms outstretched, throwing both of them into the hedge.

Her heart was thumping inside her chest, her rational thoughts scattering to the winds as relief suffused her system.  He was back.  He was safe.  Oh god, he’d managed to escape and he was standing right there and he was…

“Why do you look like you’ve just escaped from some male harem?” she asked, sliding down the length of his body to look again at the pyjamas that graced his lower half.  The silk left very little to the imagination, clinging and shimmering as it captured the scattered light.  Even the outline of his growing erection was unmistakeable in the dim illumination, and she couldn’t resist the urge to reach out and trace the line of his cock through the fabric.

Spike hissed in pleasure at her feather touch.  “This would be Sandrine’s idea of play wear,” he commented.  When Buffy’s brows shot up, he chuckled.  “’Course, she didn’t really fancy it when I asked her to cease and desist.”

Slowly, she relaxed.  “You know, for as much as I hate to say it, I’m going to have to agree with her on this one.”  Her mouth curled into a hungry grin as she slipped her fingers inside the edge of the waistband.  “We get to keep these when this is all over, right?”

The growl rumbled from the back of his throat as his fingers dug into her hips.  “You get me my duster back, pet, and I’ll even wear Harris’ castoffs.”

Buffy’s jaw dropped.  “She’s got your coat?” she exclaimed in mock indignation.  “Well, that just won’t do.  I say, let’s string her up.  Off with her head.”  She smiled.  “Figuratively speaking, of course, because technically, it’s still Willow’s head and cutting it off might defeat the purpose of getting her back and…”  She threw her arms around him again, squeezing him tightly.  “…I’m sooo glad you’re back.”

“Me, too, luv.”  His voice was muffled as Spike buried his lips in her hair.  “Me, too.”

She could feel his excitement pressed against her stomach, but in spite of the initial exhilaration that had surged through her veins at the potential fight, it was eclipsed by the joy and relief at seeing him in one piece that now flooded her body.  Having him gone had been excruciating, but it was only having him back that made her realize just how deeply that had cut.  How much of her had felt like it was missing.  God, how could it hurt even more now that he was back?

Her fingers knotted in the stray curls at the base of his neck, pulling far enough away so that she could slide her lips to his.  Hungry, and desperate, her tongue swiped across the lower swell before plunging through the gap as his mouth parted, fighting and tasting and devouring him down as she pressed her body into his.

Spike’s response was immediate, hands tightening in his need.  The arousal that had been semi-present at the fight urged itself to the fore with a vengeance, demanding for release as the silk barrier that prevented its escape tortured him along his length, sliding up and down as Buffy ground her hips into his.  All thoughts of the threat that had initially brought him to the rear of the cottage vanished from his mind, replaced instead by dancing green eyes and nimble fingers that promised both pleasure and pain, drawing him to the edge of forgetting the world around him as he met her tongue, stroke for ravenous stroke.

Buffy let one hand slide between their torsos, sliding inside the trousers to snake along the tip of his dripping head.  Giving it a firm squeeze, she chuckled against his groan, and then squealed in delight when he cupped the globes of her ass, tucking and pulling her tighter against him.  The tips of his fingers settled beneath her shorts, into the moist arch where her thighs met her now-soaking cleft, and her squeal turned into a corresponding moan as she itched herself lower, desperately trying to force his touch deeper.

“Don’t…you…dare…scare me…like that…again,” she panted as he broke apart from the kiss, raining a parade of blunt nibbles along her jaw to the sinewy arc of her neck.

“Oh?” Spike murmured.  “Would you rather be scared like this?”

His teeth sank into the muscle of her shoulder, the explosion of sensations it wreaked down her spine forcing her head back, her nails to rake down the arcs of his blades as the cry was torn from her throat.  The line of fire that had just been created between his mouth and her clit pitched higher, glossing her skin to a fine sheen as she felt the tip of his cock brush against her wetness, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that there was even more moisture soaking her slit.

“Bastard,” she rasped, the smallest of laughs coloring her cadences, and with a graceful flip, she twisted him around to the ground, now straddling his lean hips as her hands braced herself on either side of his platinum head.

Two sets of eyes glittered as their adrenaline raced, both nearly black with desire as they seemed to hang there in the moment, watching, and waiting, Buffy’s breath the only audible sound to either of their ears.  The same realization crashed to both of their attention as they lay there.  The fact that Spike’s chip was now gone meant more than questioning his attitude toward killing again.  It meant that he and the Slayer were back to being equals, matched in form as well as in hearts, neither able to claim superiority no matter what the circumstance.

It created a swell of satisfaction in Spike’s gut.  Equals.  Never had that before.  Not as a human.  Not even with Dru, not with the whole sire thing, and then her being completely nutters.  Leave it to Buffy to surprise him yet again.

The corresponding sense of right that rose in the Slayer’s breast was surprising, though.  She’d missed this.  Fighting with Spike had been a vicarious tango that had crisped her moves, forced her to push mind and body to their limits until she was better than when she started.  Knowing that he could now return her to that precipice was thrilling, to say the least.

Unfortunately, it also reminded her of just why she’d come outside in the first place.

He seemed to sense her shift in mood, and his lips curled into a smirk.  “Don’t get used to this position,” he warned.  “Not when I can fight back now.”

The tone of his voice was teasing, but there was no mistaking the hint of worry that fluttered behind his eyes.  It was then that Buffy realized…though she had supported him back at the hotel, he knew they had yet to really talk about what the ramifications of his returned state would mean, and she reached forward to feather her fingertips across the line of his brow in what she hoped was a soothing manner.  “I told everyone,” she said softly.  “Giles…Anya…Xander.  Surprisingly enough, their heads didn’t combust.”

Spike’s hand reached up to catch hers and he turned his head to press a kiss into her palm.  “Never asked you to lie for me, pet.  I don’t want you to think you have to.”

“I know.  I didn’t do it for you.  I did it for us.”  Slowly, she peeled herself away from his hips, rising to her feet and pulling him up with her.  “It’s not like you weren’t going to tell me.  You kept trying.  I can see that now.  We just kept getting interrupted.”

“And you’re not…fussed ‘bout that?”

The bend of his body was still wary, and Buffy shook her head as she pulled him against her again.  “Just don’t turn it into a habit,” she said.  “That’s a bad one.  The…keeping stuff away from each other part of it, I mean.  If you have something to say, don’t hold it back.  I’ve had enough of guys trying to tell me what they think I need to hear.  No more whitewashing for this gal.  Just like I swear not to hold back with you.”  She laughed.  “And that’s enough Oprah for this hour, methinks.  Time to get back to some good old-fashioned apocalypse averting.”

“Please tell me you managed to nick my clothes when you went scampering off from the hotel,” Spike said as followed her over the hedge.  “Not that I’ve got a problem showin’ the wares to Rupes and the boy, but I think it might make Tara just a mite uncomfortable.”

“She’s a lesbian…remember?” she joked back.  “But, yeah, we’ve got all your stuff.  We’ll just have to sneak into the bedroom to get it.”  She stopped when she noticed he’d halted behind her, turning to see him staring intently at the patio doors, nostrils flaring.  “What’s up?” she asked.

“Tell me you know there’s a demon in there,” he said, his voice gruff.  Stupid of him to forget that’s why he’d come out alone in the first place.

“Oh, yeah,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand.  “That’s just Halfrek.  One of Anya’s ex vengeance buddies.  Turns out she’s the one who took the chip out of your head.  Tara and Anya figured it out.”

“And you’ve got her in there because…?”

“…we thought we could use her to get to D’Hoffryn.”

He nodded as if he could’ve really expected nothing less.  “Something tells me we’re goin’ to have some blanks to be fillin’ in for each other here, luv.”

His question reminded her of her earlier doubts.  “Yeah,” she agreed.  “Like…how in hell did you ever figure out I was back here?”

Spike smirked as he ambled to her side.  “Those two particular blanks happen to be parked out front.”

“So…Iris and Sandrine aren’t nipping at your heels?”

A shake of his head.  “And there’s no imminent danger inside?” he queried, his gaze dropping to her mouth.

Her turn to say no.  “And you know…”  Somewhere along the line of their questioning, Buffy’s voice had grown husky, her desire for him returning to burn even higher.  “…those pants don’t so much show your wares, as they do put out a full page ad.  We should probably…wait before going in.”

“Or do something about it,” Spike muttered.  The last of his words was silenced by the crushing of his mouth to hers, his arms scooping her about the waist and carrying her to the shadows of a nearby willow tree.

“Off, off,” Buffy gasped as she pushed at her shorts.  The bark of the tree scraped against her back from the force he was pinning her there, and she found herself holding her breath as dexterous fingers pulled the article of clothing away, baring her skin to the pre-dawn air for only a fraction of a second before being covered again by his insistent hips, his lips once again attacking hers.

He had freed himself at the same time, and it only took a small shift of the Slayer’s hips to feel his hard length nudging along her cleft, each sweep brushing against her screaming clit.  Once, and twice, and three times, and oh god was he ever going to enter her?, and there it was again, the gentle but firm pressure on the nerves that threatened to explode already.

She gulped for air as his mouth left hers, travelling along her cheek to capture her lobe between his teeth, biting and nipping as a sympathetic rumble vibrated from his chest into hers.  Buffy’s fingers clawed at his back, and though somewhere in the back of her head, she knew that was she was doing was going to leave marks, marks that the others would undoubtedly see when they finally went inside, she didn’t care.  All that mattered was him.  And getting him inside her.  Now, now, now, her inner voice chanted like a greedy child.  Want him now.

He seemed to be reading her thoughts.  Without breaking his tempo at her ear, Spike pulled his hips just far enough away to direct the tip of his dripping cock to her entrance, holding her still for the moments---long, excruciating, wonderful moments, she decided---it took to impale her on his length.

Inch, by inch, stretching and filling and engulfing her until she felt him buried completely to the hilt, his coarse hair tickling at her clit as he held himself there…and waited.

She was the one to begin the rhythm, lifting her body just enough to encourage him to start pumping in and out of her, each stroke driving her harder into the trunk, her skin aflame as the world tilted around her.  “God…Spike…” she murmured into his neck, tasting the cool satin of his flesh as it prickled against her tongue.  Everything seemed so much easier when he was there, like the answers that insisted on vanishing with the advancing light suddenly decided to stick around, provide her grounding upon which to stand.  “Love you…so much…”

Though his thrusts became harder, his mouth softened, leaving the hollow of her neck where he had been sucking to lick across the tender spot just below her ear.  “Love you, too, Buffy,” he replied, his voice a whisper across her soul.  “Always.”

It was all she needed to drive herself over the edge, muffling her cry by burying her mouth against his skin, her skin and limbs and insides and outsides detonating in syncopation with the ripples that shuddered her muscles.  Spike came almost immediately after, as if he’d been waiting for her release before allowing his own, and he held her tight against him, forehead pressed to hers, lashes dark against his pale skin.

“It’s good to be home,” he said softly as their bodies quietened.

She could only nod in silent agreement.

*************

Her foot was tapping impatiently within the confines of her bindings, her carefully manicured nails drumming silently along her upper arms, as Halfrek waited with the others for the Slayer to return.  Not that she was worried about what might happen; the Slayer had said it was only vampires outside.  As a fellow demon, she really had nothing to worry about, since it was most likely the humans they were after.

But when the doors opened, and she saw the familiar platinum head walk in at Buffy’s side, his fingers entwined with hers, the conspicuous scent of sex clinging to their exposed skin, all motion in her body came to a stop, her hope in the situation plummeting.  Nothing showed on Halfrek’s face, though, not even when Spike turned his head to look at her, and she lifted her chin higher when she saw his eyes narrow in speculation.

Geez, Spike,” exclaimed Xander as everyone else exhaled in relief.  Though it was obvious the humans noticed the new closeness between the two blonds, it was just as apparent to Hallie that they had no clue about the more intimate aspect of their relations that had just occurred.  “Way to go for wigging us out here.  Care to share why you didn’t bother, oh, I don’t know…using the front door and knocking?”

“Sensed you lot weren’t alone in here,” he said vaguely, and released Buffy’s hand to step toward the confines in which they held the vengeance demon.  When he came to a stop before her, she could’ve sworn time slowed down as he tilted his head, his sapphire gaze glittering as it languorously swept up and down her body.

His lips pursed in his examination.  “So….” Spike drawled.  “I hear tell you’re the one I’m s’posed to be thanking for my little chipendectomy.”

She didn’t say a word, only watched as Buffy came up to stand beside him.

“So this is our Cecily wannabe?” she asked unnecessarily.

Spike nodded.  “No wonder she was able to pull off the masquerade so well,” he commented.  “She’s got bitch written all over her.” 

Buffy giggled at the joke, and turned away, no longer interested in his evaluation of his so-called savior, issuing instructions to the others that for some unknown reason included retrieving a pair of mysterious persons from a car out in the front. 

I told D’Hoffryn this wasn’t going to work, she thought.  His plan had rested on the premise that Buffy would want to kill Spike.  He hadn’t accounted for the fact that she was going to fall in love with him.  What choice did Hallie have now but to try and do what the stupid Slayer wanted?

The room was quieted when Anya held up her hands.  “Not to be the voice of doom and gloom here,” she said.  “But I’ve got a funny question to ask.  Not that I’m not glad we don’t have to go on some suicide search and rescue for Spike, but…if Sandrine got as angry as she did when you guys got me and Freddie away from her, how pissed do you think she’s going to get when she finds out that you’ve done it to her…again?”

*************

If Willow could’ve paced, she would’ve.  But, hello.  No control over her feet.  She’d wasted what little bit of control she’d actually had to get Sandrine roused enough to allow Spike to escape.  And even that had been a close one.

So when the other presence woke from the slumber that had kept her to the bed the remainder of the night, Willow was practically giddy from nervousness, waiting---and really, really hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as last time---to see what the mambo’s reaction was going to be.

For a long minute, Sandrine stared at the empty wall opposite her before allowing her gaze to trail to the just as empty entrance.  “Huh,” she finally said out loud, only the mildest of surprises in her voice.  “That sure happened a heck of a lot sooner than I thought it would.”  Her lower lip jutted out in a pout.  “And that bitch Slayer didn’t even bother to stick around here long enough for me to pretend to put up a fight.”

Relief that she hadn’t been found out, that Sandrine automatically assumed Buffy was the responsible party for the rescue, surged through Willow’s consciousness, bathing her nerves with temporary succour.  OK.  Everything’s A-OK.  Spike got away, Sandrine thinks Buffy is the one who got him out, which means she doesn’t know I’m here, and

Just as quickly, her distress returned.

Wait.

Did she say pretend to put up a fight?

Holy moley, what did I miss?

She watched in growing horror as Sandrine picked up the duster that was tucked underneath the bed, slim fingers gliding lovingly over the softened lapels.  “Hello, baby,” she crooned.  “You’re going to take me right to them…aren’t you?”

 

To be continued in Chapter 37: Now’s the Time