DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss', of course. And the chapter titles are courtesy of Robert Burns.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy and Spike chased the kelpie out on the mountain, wounding it before she twisted her ankle and had to be carried back to Dall Rath, to face the vampire's questions regarding the near-kiss they had shared while they were out…

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

Chapter 15: I Do Confess Thou Art So Fair

They had both been wrong. Even as Spike was sliding himself under the blanket, his back to Buffy, he'd firmly believed that there was no way he was going to get to sleep, not with her so close, not after confessing what he had to her, and certainly not after what had almost happened out on the mountain. The radiant heat of her body beneath the comforter was enough to sear the inside of his eyelids as he closed them against the flickering light, but it did nothing to block out the images of the Slayer staring back at him as he'd leaned in to taste the salt of her cheek. The wide hazel eyes almost completely overwhelmed by black…the rise and fall of her chest as her breathing quickened…the quiver of her bottom lip as his mouth had danced over her skin…Though his arousal was immediate, deafening within the confines of his flesh, the quiet metronome of her even exhalations behind him soon defied his body's intentions, and lulled him to sleep.

It was even swifter for Buffy. Exhaustion mingled with pain, with a dash of confused hormones for flavor, and she was out of it before Spike had even emerged from washing up behind the screen, her lashes dark against her pale cheeks. She didn't consciously feel his weight settle behind her as he climbed into bed, or sense the slight tilting of her torso as it leaned toward him, her shoulder resting lightly against his, the curve of her hip nestling into him in spite of the denim and cotton that separated them. The only movement of her body was the minute undulations over her eyes as they darted around behind their shutters.

And so they slept…

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

As she finished the last of her stretches, Buffy felt the sizzle within her legs as the muscles warmed, ready for the next challenge the teacher at the front of the room would present. She was surrounded by half a dozen other girls, none of whom she recognized, while on the opposite wall, the same number of men mingled, waiting as she did for their next instruction. Everyone was dressed similarly---the women in tights and leotards, the men in tight trousers and matching t-shirts---and she knew without knowing why where she was. A dance studio.

"I know you hate doing them," the teacher was saying. "But these technical exercises are the foundation for becoming a graceful, accomplished dancer. Think of them like practicing your scales. Boring and repetitive, but essential." Her gaze swept over the group, and she smiled. "Dancing is about the magic of the moment, and while knowing the basic steps gives you the tools to create the magic, they are not the magic themselves. Which brings us to why most of you are here, of course."

Buffy could feel the anticipation begin to course through her system, unconsciously bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet in her excitement. The teacher was right; this was why she was here. And for some reason, it felt like it was going to be the best time of her life.

"Contrary to what you may believe," the teacher said, beginning to walk down the middle of the room between the two groups, "this is much more than any one dancer's virtuosity. No matter how good you may be individually, the most important thing you can learn is how to dance with a partner, because otherwise, what's the point? Why bother coming here at all? Just stay locked away in your little room at home and practice your exercises until you've got them cold. But, if you do that, you'll never be a real dancer."

As she reached the wall, the teacher turned to face them again. "I'd like to start with a demonstration first." She turned her gaze toward the women. "Buffy, could you come here, please?"

The blonde blushed as she stepped through the girls and crossed the room under their jealous stares, finishing at the instructor's side. They all thought she was the teacher's pet, and it was discomforting, even if it was mostly true.

"Now, she's going to need a partner---."

"I'll do it."

Buffy smiled as she saw Riley eagerly step forward, wondering why she hadn't noticed him earlier, only to have it dim as she caught the teacher shaking her head out of the corner of her eye.

"Oh, Mr. Finn, I am sorry, you really are more than…able, but I'd rather Buffy had a partner that, well...matched her capabilities. You do understand, don't you?"

"Oh…sure," Riley mumbled, his shoulders slumping in good-natured disappointment as he returned to his place in the line.

The instructor turned to the young girl at her side. "Why don't you pick someone, Buffy?" she asked. "You've seen them dance. Who do you think would be able to match you?"

Hazel eyes swept over the remaining men, coolly assessing one before flitting to the next. It was the last, though, standing slightly apart from the others, arms folded across his chest, that captured her, causing invisible butterflies to begin to beat their wings against her spine.

"Spike," she said softly, and watched as the corner of his mouth lifted, the twinkle in his eye unmistakable.

"Excellent choice," the teacher murmured, just loud enough for Buffy to hear, as the blond sauntered to join them at the wall. Louder, she told the pair, "Take your positions, please." She turned to face the rest of the class. "Watch and learn, people."

Everything else seemed to fall away as Spike stopped in front of her, his eyes uncharacteristically dark as they met with hers. His black uniform left little to the imagination, outlining every muscle in his arms, his chest, hugging his slim hips in ebony fire as he held up his left hand. "You sure you're ready for this, pet?" he asked, and it was as if someone had soaked each word in molten lava…dark, daring, and most definitely dangerous.

"Sure," Buffy breathed, and took his hand in hers, keeping her shoulders straight as his right slid around to fold over her shoulder blade. The Latin music seemed to start from nowhere, the percussive beats tattooing through him, into her, counting out their start as the couple locked gazes, waiting…anticipating…and then moving in startling syncopation, their feet gliding in unison across the tiled floor.

It was as if they'd done it a thousand times. For each step he would take, she would counter, allowing him to guide her through the revolutions, his grip firm but light, matching his feline grace with her own elegant lines until even the remaining women were sighing from the beauty of the display before them. Buffy felt her muscles sing, an exhilarating aria that begged to be a duet, and found herself deliberately executing moves that would brush her body against his…the curve of her calf around his tight thigh as he pulled her against him for a winged dip…the press of her palm against his chest as she danced around him, her breasts lightly brushing across his back as she circled, returning to her stance within his arms. Following the rhythm was instinctual…intoxicating…and so very, very right.

The music ended with his arm around her back, holding her firmly in place as she stared up at him. She could feel the beads of sweat dripping from her jaw, down her neck, and watched as his eyes finally slid from hers to follow their paths downward. When his head lowered, the shock of his tongue lapping at the tangy salt forced the air from her lungs, and Buffy's fingers curled tighter around his.

"Everyone else partner up," the teacher called out. "We're going to do this again." She walked over to the young couple who had just been the center of attention. "If you two would rather sit this one out," she told them, "that's all right. That was more…intense than I expected."

Spike straightened, pulling back from his partner's torso as he gazed down at her. "Well, pet?" he queried softly. "Do you want to stop?"

There was no doubt, no hesitation. "No," Buffy replied, and stepped back into the circle of his arms…

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

The moan escaped her throat as she rolled over in her sleep, the blankets shifting slightly as Buffy pressed herself against Spike's back. Both still slept, her accelerating breathing the only sound within the dimly lit room, but the flickering behind her eyelids had stopped, as if within the world of her dream, her gaze was fixed on the one thing directly in front of her.

For several minutes, the only movement within the room came from the wax slowly dripping down the candles, scorching wet sliding down the hard pale columns in agonizing lethargy. Then…a soft sigh from the bed, followed almost immediately by Buffy's arm stealing around the curve of her roommate's chest, her breasts flattening against his shoulder blades as she pulled him ever closer. The inarticulate moans coming from her throat were almost continuous now, and she lifted her leg to drape it over his thigh, her slim foot sliding down over his knee in a raspy caress before entwining around his calf.

They held this position, each locked away in the realm of slumber, as even more time drifted away, every passing moment leading them closer to dawn. When the spell was eventually broken, it was Buffy who shattered it, burrowing her face into Spike's shoulder as her grip tightened, her lips quietly parting to kiss the pale join of his neck…

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

He had been dreaming, of that he was sure, but its elements escaped him, scattering like dust as a heat yanked him back to consciousness, sudden and wet in its intensity as his mind sharpened to his surroundings. It took only a moment for him to realize that Buffy had adopted a position similar to that first morning in Dall Rath, her hand moving infinitesimally across his bare chest while her leg powered his lower half to hers. It was almost expected, considering the narrow confines of the bed, and Spike's recently acquired knowledge of how well the Slayer slept when in contact with another body. In fact, if he'd woken up and found out that she hadn't turned around in her sleep, he probably would've been disappointed. No, it wasn't the singe of feeling her flesh pressed against his, even through the cotton of her t-shirt, that had woken him up.

It was the unmistakable feel of her mouth on his neck. Kissing him. His eyes shot open. Correction. Sucking him.

Must be a helluva dream, Spike thought, realizing for the first time since waking that his own arousal was pulling his jeans uncomfortably across his hips. And as much I'd love to play centerstage to it, I'm not so daft to think that it's me she really wants. The memory of her murmuring Soldier Boy's name that first morning still rankled---the last thing he ever wanted to be was second-best---and so he reached up, ready to extract himself from her embrace, his hand closing over the fine lines of hers.

When she curled her fingers into his, interlacing them in some weird reverse handhold, the vampire froze, tilting his head enough to look down at the outlines of their arms. If he didn't know better, he'd've sworn she didn't want him to go…but that was ridiculous. She was dreaming. About Finn. It was Finn she was holding onto, not him.

The movement of his head was enough to break the seal of her mouth on Spike's neck, and Buffy automatically snuggled deeper into him, her lips skating across the arc of his shoulder in an absent caress. As her breath fanned in alternating blasts across his skin, he felt her mouth open, heard her preparing to speak.

"Spiiike…" she sighed, almost groaning, the slightest bit of a whine coloring it as she held him tighter. "Wanna…dance…"

His brows shot up, and it would've been followed by his body leaping from the bed if the Slayer's embrace hadn't been a vise around his lean form. She'd said his name. His name. Not Finn's. Bloody bird was dreaming about him.

Carefully untangling his hand from hers, Spike began turning his body into her, feeling her instinctively shift to allow him clearance, only to return to cover him as soon as his back hit the mattress. It was the first time he could see her face, and though part of him fervently wished that she was awake---OK, make that most of him---he wasn't surprised to see the closed eyelids as she buried her face in the hollow of his neck, her mouth returning to its feather exploration over his skin.

Lowering his shoulder let him slip his arm beneath her body, reaching around to gently cup the curve of her buttock, and the vampire closed his eyes, momentarily debating the wisdom of getting caught up in her dream. He supposed he really should do the right thing and wake her. She wasn't aware of what she was doing, and though he could smell the scent of her arousal, had heard her murmur his name, was at this very moment being peppered with tiny Slayer kisses…

Sod it. He was bloody well going to enjoy this while it lasted.

The small hand that had been pressed to his chest now slid down his side, nails raking slightly as her fingers tucked themselves beneath the waistband of his jeans. The added thickness caused them to tighten even further, and Spike gritted his teeth at the strain of the denim against his bare cock, the rough seams that normally afforded such pleasure when he got hard, now cutting into the velvet skin with a harsh grate. With no thoughts but to alleviate the pressure, the vamp had reached down with his free hand, popping the button and easing down the zipper in audible liberation.

The relief was instantaneous and he sighed in pleasure as the chilly air met the moist head of his erection, his arm falling back to his side. This was better. He just had to remember to do himself up before the Slayer woke---.

It seemed to be the only invitation she'd needed, the sudden freedom to move allowing Buffy's hand to roam free across his pelvis. As he turned his head to brush his lips across the top of her hair, Spike felt her smooth arm dance across the tip of his cock as she pulled her arm toward her, and growled as his arousal jumped, his own muscles twitching in kind. His grip tightened on her ass, his lips lowering to her temple, tasting the savory zest of her skin before continuing downward. Just one kiss. Couldn't hurt. She wasn't even awake. And somehow, he didn't think sleeping Buffy would mind…

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

The music had changed, slowing until they were barely moving, the other dancers in the class disappearing until it was just her and Spike, alone on the floor, no longer truly dancing as much as swaying in rhythm. He had tried stopping at one point, pulling away as the second song had stopped, but Buffy had grabbed him back, melding her hips to his as she gave up the pretense and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Wanna dance," she'd whispered, and began exploring the clean line of his collarbone with her tongue, oblivious to the cotton that separated her from the satin of his skin. He'd hardened almost immediately against her, and her body had responded in kind, the tingling in her clit beating in time to the almost non-existent music that still swirled faintly around them. Her arms had lowered then, gliding down his back before slipping between them, fingers inching even further to outline his cock through his trousers.

Spike had jerked then, his eyes blazing, then lowered his head to hers, lips meeting hers in the lightest of contacts, parting them with a firmness that belied their gentility, exploring her depths with a ravenous need that demanded he savor every second…

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

She moaned into the kiss, and Spike tightened his hold, forgetting that the Slayer still slept, lost in the disbelief that clouded his inner eye as his mouth grew more insistent, tasting and devouring and lingering much longer than he'd originally intended but oh, just one more moment wouldn't hurt…

He knew the instant she woke up. Before her eyes opened to see his face just inches from her. Before the slither of her hand stopped mid-caress. Even before she froze within their kiss. Spike could tell Buffy was awake the moment her heartrate began to accelerate. He knew the music of her pulse better than his own body.

She was lost between the vividness of her dream and the reality of his azure gaze staring back at her, and realized almost immediately what she had been---still was---doing. Kissing…and touching…and stroking…and, oh god, where was her hand?...and he had felt so good…tasted…like nothing else she'd ever…and was that his hand on her…but she wouldn't…she'd resolved, damn it…this was Spike…mortal enemy…and he felt of silk beneath her skin…

As her mouth pulled away, the lack of contact with his was almost painful, and Buffy's breath began to come in short, sharp bursts, her mind racing as she tried to grasp onto some kind of plan…anything to make this…stop?...no…and she was still holding his erection within the circle of her fingers, the wetness of its tip instantly recognizable…

"Buffy…" Spike murmured, a husky rumble that ached with want.

The sound of his voice startled her, reflexively constricting her grip, and heard him groan in response.

"For God's sake," he growled, and she saw the glint of gold within the depths of his eyes, "either kiss me or kill me, but make up your bloody mind, 'cause this holding pattern just isn't cutting it anymore."

And there it was, the choice---her choice---the one she'd been avoiding since the possibility had initially arisen. Waiting these few days hadn't made it any easier; he was still a vampire and she was still the Slayer, with a life back in Sunnydale that didn't include him, not really. And, yes, she wanted him, no point in lying to herself about it, not when every silent protestation was met with a spark of electricity that caused her skin to vibrate in tune with the memory of velvet lips and mouth-watering leather. But it wouldn't work…couldn't work…they didn't have anything in…

But that was wrong, and she knew it before it even finished, brushing it away with an imaginary hand to face the truth that stood just behind. It was easy. The choice had already been made, irrevocably, incomprehensibly, and---she had a funny feeling---inevitably.

She didn't close her eyes as she brushed her lips across his, holding his gaze locked with hers so that he would understand she knew what she was committing herself to. Ever so slightly, Spike's eyes narrowed, the line between the heavy brows deepening, questioning as she pulled back, searching for something---doubt? distrust?---before letting his face soften, the corner of his mouth beginning to lift in a hopeful smile.

"Buff---."

She drowned him out with the force of her lips back on his, demanding a response this time, continuing the caress that had greeted her upon waking, while matching it with a very determined slide of her hand down the length of his arousal. This was what she wanted, had known it even if she hadn't been able to admit it to herself before now, and held the question of his earlier declarations for after. There would be time enough for talking later, she thought, and slowly pumped her arm back up, her thumb brushing tantalizingly across the head.

That was all it took for the vampire. With a growl, he let his other arm encircle her, pulling her across his bare chest, trying his best not to allow the sudden spasming in his pelvis to distract him from the glory of her willing mouth on his. No longer a dream. Real. And glorious. And her.

He came all too quickly, the combination of the kissing and the heat of her flesh burning into him and the slick sliding of her hand along his cock eddying to a climax that bucked his body beneath hers, ripping his mouth away as the veins in his neck bulged.

Beside him, she lay rigid, watching as the convulsions slowly relaxed his body, his blond head turning to see her smiling wryly into his blue eyes. "Either I'm really good," she said, "or all those stories about vampire stamina are just myth."

With a crooked grin, Spike used his body to slide her back onto the mattress, propping himself up on either side of her so that he could look down at her swollen mouth. "Not a myth," he murmured, leaning to nip at the point of her chin, then going higher, his lips hovering while he nudged the tip of his nose gently against hers. "Goooood."

Buffy surprised herself by giggling, a light, airy sound that floated in the air above them, dancing on satisfied wings. All of a sudden, she seemed too aware of her own skin, shimmering in waves of fire as Spike's mouth began its own study of her neck, his hand sliding down her stomach to tuck inside the waistband of her sweats. "What're you doing?" she breathed with widened eyes, squealing as his lean fingers lightly pulled at the coarse curls it found. Part of her wanted to slap his hand away, to tell him to play nice, but a bigger part---much bigger---was eagerly anticipating his wintry touch between her thighs, and she parted them, allowing the vampire easier access to her wetness.

Spike chuckled. "I figure turnabout is fair play," he replied.

She gasped as his hand parted the outer lips, outlining the inner even as his thumb flicked across her clit. Out of nowhere, he seemed to have sprouted extra fingers…the one that continued to circle the hard nub of her arousal…the ones that managed to separate her folds to allow the rest to expertly penetrate her slick channel…all as his mouth and tongue returned to nibble and lick and worship at the sinew of her shoulder.

Restraint was not his strong suit, especially since the reality of Buffy's body tremoring beneath his touch far outstripped any dreams he'd ever had about her. However, as he sucked at the delicate flesh of her neck, he deliberately bridled his own returning arousal to concentrate his efforts on pleasing her. He'd had his; now it was her turn.

"Spike…" she whimpered, letting her hands come up to tangle in his hair. "God…please…"

He didn't actually need the encouragement, but hearing her ask, knowing she wanted him, lit the vampire from within, and he redoubled his touch, sliding his hand in and out of her even as he felt her muscles clench to keep him inside.

It was building, and she could feel it, and though his mouth felt wonderful on her neck, she wanted to taste him further…And so she tugged at his shoulder, sliding herself just far enough away so that she could press her lips to his, all the while riding the crest of his pumping…until it washed over her, arching her back even as she cried out into his mouth, her hands clutching at him in desperation, his one free arm cradling her to him as if afraid to let go.

As her orgasm ebbed, Buffy sank back into the mattress, hazel eyes staring solemnly at the blond lingering above her. It almost didn't feel real, yet the weight of his body pressing into hers spoke otherwise, as did the soft aspect of his gaze as it flicked over the contours of her face. Her breath caught as he extracted his arm from behind her, his hand brushing the hair away from her forehead, a single finger wiping at the faint sweat that gleamed along her brow.

"So beautiful…" Spike murmured, and brushed his lips over her temple before rolling himself over onto his back, pulling her with him so that she lay across his bare chest.

Nestled in the crook his shoulder, Buffy tugged absently at the blankets that had slipped to the side, grateful when Spike grabbed the hems to help her return them over their bodies, and smiled contentedly as her eyelids began to droop. "What do we do now?" she asked quietly, her voice almost completely lost within the contour of his skin.

There was more than one way to answer that question, and he suspected she wished for some metaphorical response, something that would satisfy her expected confusion regarding their…unconventional relationship. But, as he felt her chest slowly rise and then fall with the returning vestiges of exhaustion, he softly smiled, rubbing his cheek against the top of her hair as his embrace tightened around her. "Sleep, luv," he murmured. There would be time enough for talking later.

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

The moon was almost gone now, leaving the mountain in near darkness as he stared down at the creature on the ground. Its breathing was audibly labored, the blood running freely from its wound, and the man sighed.

"It didn't have to be this way, my friend," he said, and knelt down, one hand reaching out to grasp the dagger that was still embedded in the kelpie's neck. With one vicious twist, the blade sliced through the flesh, permanently silencing the beast's efforts, sliding from the bleeding wound to gleam dully in the moonlight. A cursory glance at the weapon confirmed what he already knew; it was from the weapons cache, which could only mean that the Slayer had done this. Why she hadn't finished the job herself, though, he had absolutely no idea.

Tossing the knife aside, his lips lifted into a small smile as what little moonlight remained jumped to the strand of bells that hung from the demon's inert neck. The greed burbled in the man's throat as his hand reached to grasp it, breaking the clasp with a firm yank so that it came free to dangle with a clarion call to the emptiness surrounding him. It would've been better without the unnecessary death, but he would take it any way he could. It was most definitely worth it…


To be continued in Chapter 16: The Day Returns