DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet CLI.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Willow returned to the scene and set the dead vigilante on fire when the magic overwhelmed her, Spike and Giles captured Oz, and Buffy has decided to take Graham hostage in order to learn what he knows, against Havi’s and Spike’s better judgment…

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

Chapter 19: For Whose Dear Love I Rise and Fall

It wasn’t the best scenario but nobody could think of anything better. Well, Spike had come up with alternate ideas, but first Giles and then Buffy nixed them all as not being humane enough. In the end, they just chained Graham up in the bathtub with the intent of letting him stew until morning. Then, they could interrogate him a little more thoroughly.

“Still think you’re makin’ a mistake,” Spike said to her when they walked back out to Giles’ living room. “Bloke like that isn’t goin’ to talk. He’s got more testosterone than brains, which means whoever he works for has him by the balls.”

“We won’t know that until we try,” Giles said.

“And what do you do with him when he doesn’t give you what you want?” Spike shot back. He whirled away from Buffy to stand nose to nose with the Watcher, not angry but determined to make his point. He pointed off to the bathroom. “You let him go and he’s goin’ to run back to whoever it is who’s after Oz and spill everything he’s found out about Buffy and your little operation. That what you want? Think about it for a second, Rupert. Remember what it took for you to crack when Angelus was all about his damn rock? Are you prepared to take it that far? Because, mark my words, you’ll have to.”

“We won’t know,” Giles repeated. His eyes flashed at the memories Spike was stirring up, and Buffy stepped forward to grab the vampire’s arm before things started getting even uglier.

“Let’s go,” she said, and started dragging him toward the door. “I’ve had enough of these fights for one day.”

“What are your plans?” Wesley said.

“Sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.” She felt Spike’s curious gaze upon her, but for the moment, Buffy ignored it. Nothing had been discussed about how things were going to work between them; she knew he was dying to know where he stood. She just wished she could tell him exactly.

“I’ll be back in the morning,” she added. “I’ll skip my---.”

“No, you won’t.”

Spike’s intervention surprised her. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. You’re not skipping out on your classes to watch that wanker in the tub sit in stone silence.” His eyes were steady on hers. “The Watchers can hold their own on quizzing him until after your schedule’s freed up.”

“It won’t hurt if I just skip the one class,” Buffy countered.

“Yeah, it will. It’s bad enough you’re goin’ to miss out on next term because of the baby. Don’t be messing up what you’ve got on this one.”

Behind them, Giles cleared his throat. “As much as it pains me to do so,” he said, “I have to agree with Spike on this, Buffy. There’s no reason for you to miss any class time. Wesley and I are more than capable of extracting what information we can. In fact, it’s probably better if we keep you out of the loop as much as possible. Since this Graham hasn’t actually regained consciousness enough to see your direct involvement, if we can keep that a secret from him, so much the better.”

Spike had started nodding halfway through Giles’ speech. “Right,” he said. “Who’s to say they might not decide to change their menu a bit and add Slayer as a main course? Best to stay out of it for as long as you can, luv. It’s safer that way.”

She got it then. That didn’t mean she liked it.

Grabbing his arm, Buffy pulled Spike out the door, calling out a good night to the Watchers as she shut it behind them. Then, she let him go and folded her arms over her chest.

“We need to talk,” she said. He watched her, blue eyes so intent, without saying a word while she fumbled for her next. “You can’t be doing this all the time, Spike,” she finally managed.

“Doin’ what?”

“Trying to protect me from…from…everything. I’m not a china doll that’s going to break just because I’m pregnant.”

“I know that. But things have changed, Buffy, whether you want to ‘fess to it or not. This isn’t just about you any more.”

“You think this is about us?”

Spike shook his head and took a step closer. His eyes fell to her stomach, and he carefully began ghosting his hand over the fabric of her top. “This is about the little one,” he said. “You’re so used to tilting at windmills without so much as a thought of the risk to you. Sure, you do what you can to protect your friends, and that’s all well and good, but what about this one?” He pressed his palm to the flat of her belly, and lifted his eyes to hers so that she could see the sincerity shining in the blue. Fear, too. Beneath it all, Spike was afraid. “For the next few months, you’re takin’ this one with you every time you step into battle. And I’m not sayin’ you can’t do it, ‘cause I know you can. I’m just sayin’ you have to be smarter about it. Rules are all different for you now. You really want to risk losing what we made because you’re too proud to accept a little help?”

His words cut, not from any cruelty on his part, but from the truth they contained. Turning away before he could see the shame in her face, Buffy started heading out to the street. “Let’s get you home, Spike.”

“It’s not like I need a chaperone, luv,” he said, falling into step beside her. Thank god he wasn’t pressing the issue. “Let me walk you to campus, and.”

“No. I…” She swallowed, embarrassed at how nervous she felt in regards to what she was about to ask. “It’s just that…last night was the first good night’s sleep I’ve had in awhile, and…there’s still so much for us to talk about, but I don’t want to bother Willow.”

His hand slipped into hers, cutting her off. And though the flesh was cooler, and the skin a bit more calloused, the familiarity of the feel of it against hers was all Buffy needed to feel some of the fluttering in her stomach settle down.

“My place, it is,” Spike said softly.

She sighed in relief.

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

“Do step away from the window, Wesley,” Giles said crossly. “If Buffy were to see you---.”

“They’ve just left.” Letting the corner of the curtain fall back into place, Wes was thoughtful as he moved to the couch. “Perhaps we were too hasty to dismiss Lydia’s assumptions,” he mused out loud. “After tonight---.”

“Dear Lord,” Giles muttered. The glass from his whiskey decanter clinked as he shoved the stopper back into place. “Not you, too.”

“You have to admit, William’s aid was quite instrumental in locating Oz. If it weren’t for him---.”

“Will you stop calling him that?” Wesley stiffened at the harsh tone of the other Watcher’s voice. “His name is Spike. The moment we forget that will be the moment he takes advantage and kills us all in our sleep.”

He could see Giles didn’t actually believe what he was saying. That was why he was being so abrupt. Spike was slowly tearing down everything Rupert believed about him, although perhaps, it had begun far before the vampire’s arrival in Sunnydale. Personally, Wesley believed it had begun the moment Giles had met the human William. Lydia had confessed the extent of her correspondences with her fellow Watcher while she’d been traveling with Spike; it made perfect sense for him to be so blustery regarding his desperation to cling to his last shreds of so-called tenets.

Still, it didn’t mean he had to deliberately antagonize the man. Better to keep relations civil until some of the recent changes in his life were less…explosive.

“What time do you wish for me to arrive in the morning, then?” Wesley asked, gathering together his belongings. “I’d imagine you’d like an early start.”

“I have something else I’d like for you to do instead,” Giles said.

“Oh?”

“After tonight’s events, it’s crucial that we pay even closer to teaching Willow how to control the magic. I’d like for you to consult with Esme tomorrow and outline a program that we can implement straight away.”

Wesley nodded. “Yes, that’s probably best. I’ll ring you when we’ve finished.” Stepping to the door, he paused in the entrance when another thought struck him. “When are you planning on meeting that Miss Aronowicz again? Didn’t she say she’d call tomorrow as well?”

“Yes,” Giles said, distractedly. “It would appear that my schedule tomorrow will be quite full.” With a heavy sigh, he downed the tumbler of whiskey he held in his hand.

Bidding his good night, Wesley slipped from the flat as quickly and unobtrusively as he could. It wasn’t that he was eager to get to his responsibilities with Esme, but with Rupert in his current mood, it was better to be quit of him until it improved. There was much to absorb, not the least of it, Willow’s unexpected response to her newfound powers. He felt quite sorry for the young girl, though the creativity she exhibited with the magic was quite---.

He shook the thought away. No, the magic was detrimental to Willow, and it was wrong to be fascinated by how it could be harnessed. Better to get her into a place where she could happily co-exist with it, without it gaining the upper hand. She deserved that. He just had to ensure that Esme remained under their control during the process.

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

He hated this town with all the ferocity of a thousand fiery suns. Outside of killing any number of the demons that populated the Hellmouth---and how in hell did so many stupid demons survive with a Slayer so near?---Baltozar couldn’t find anything of worth to keep him occupied. The only organized gambling he’d been able to find was run by a wrinkled demon with a kitten fetish, and he didn’t really like the idea of consorting with the creatures he killed in his free time. The old witch and Havi were the only people he knew, and while he would’ve loved being able to take his girl out, she couldn’t seem to stick around long enough for him to do so.

That left Esme. And Baltozar wasn’t quite so desperate yet to drop unannounced on the bitch at her hotel, just so he’d have someone to talk to.

So, when he heard the door creak open, and the soft thud of Havi’s shoes to the floor as she slipped them off her feet, he leapt from the bed to bolt for the front room, both eager for her company and angry that she left him hanging so.

“Where the fuck have you been?” he said, glaring at her from the entrance to the hall.

Havi jumped from where she’d been about to creep into the kitchen. “You’re awake,” she said, her eyes wide.

Determined, he strode forward and yanked her arm, forcing her to show him her palms. There were no new marks, no new scratches or bruises on her bare skin, yet she wore the clothes she normally chose when she worked.

But she didn’t have a job any more. The seer was dead. What the fuck was she doing here on the Hellmouth?

With a frown, Havi pulled her hand away from him, taking a step backward so that he’d have to reach in order to do it again. “”What’s wrong?” she asked. “Did something happen while I was out?”

He could see the genuine fear in her eyes, hear the concern for him in her voice. Guilt lanced through Baltozar. He detested deceiving her in this fashion. She didn’t realize the extent of what he knew about her, how Esme was convinced that Havi knew the location of the Slayer artifacts; as far as she was aware, he only wanted to come to the Hellmouth to scavenge for secrets the seer had alluded to her in her belongings.

“Nothing happened,” he assured quietly. When he reached forward this time, it was to cup his hand around her hip. He didn’t pull her to him, though. Instead, he stepped forward, and nuzzled his face in her neck, smelling the earthy tones of her sweat and dirt mingling on her skin. “I don’t get to see you any more,” he complained in a mild tone. “Do you have any idea how boring this town is?”

He felt rather than saw her smile, and her strong hands slid beneath his shirt to rake nails along his back. His cock jumped at the contact, and his mouth opened automatically, his teeth latching onto the sinew of her shoulder through her shirt.

“I’m sorry,” he heard her whisper, and then her mouth was busy doing other things, other more delightful things like biting at his ear and kissing along his neck.

“Make it up to me, then,” Baltozar growled.

He was half-kidding, but she slid down his body with a determination that made him wonder if he was the only one feeling guilty. When her teeth nipped at his abdomen, though, and her fingers flew to undo his belt in record time, he tossed the questions away. He wasn’t a fool. He fucking loved her blow jobs.

Her mouth slid over his throbbing cock with a hunger that made his thighs quake. Dropping his hands to her head, Baltozar guided her motions, tilting his gaze down to watch her slide up and down his length, taking more and more in with every swallow until he could feel the tip inching into her throat. Her blunt nails scratched at the back of his legs, and for a moment, he feared they would buckle. But her strength added to his, holding him up, and he was left panting as she swallowed him down.

“Havi…” he breathed. This was probably one of the few times he wished she’d grow her hair out like he kept asking her to; there was nothing he loved more than being able to knot his hands in long, curly hair.

Except then it wouldn’t be her. And frankly, he wouldn’t have her any other way.

All of a sudden, it wasn’t enough. As hot and succulent her mouth was, Baltozar wanted to feel her wrapped around his entire body, to remember what it was he had to look forward to when he finally got her away from the Hellmouth.

When she slid down, her tongue swirling around the head of his cock, he pushed at her shoulders to get her off, crouching to push her back to the floor. For a moment, he thought she was going to fight him, but when their eyes met, understanding flared in hers, and the corner of her mouth lifted. She still slithered away from his touch, though, and instead got to her knees.

“Wait,” she instructed, her voice rough with desire.

So, he waited. And he watched as she peeled off her shirt, her full breasts springing free. Her nipples were hard, and with their gazes locked, she deliberately cupped them in her hands, running her thumbs over the tips.

“Fuck waiting.”

And the fight began.

They grappled and tore at the remainder of their clothing, catching skin, catching hair, leaving bruises as each fought to gain the upper hand. Havi was the one to finally press Baltozar into the floor, though he smiled up at her when she did so, and with a desperate dive, sank onto the length of his cock.

The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them.

“Let’s get out of this place.”

Havi froze with him still embedded deep inside. “What?” she panted.

Sitting up, Baltozar wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her flush against his chest. “I hate this town. Let’s leave. Now. Fuck what we thought we’d find.”

He meant it. In that second, he’d never wanted anything more.

Slowly, she began to fall and rise on his cock, her eyes clouding. “I thought…we had a purpose.”

“You’re my purpose.”

Her mouth met his at that, and there were no more words as they kissed, their bodies continuing the rhythm, driving the thoughts of departure from his mind. When she came, squeezing around his cock and crying out his name, Baltozar had already forgotten the suggestion he’d made. There was no reason to leave. He could have it all, with Havi at his side.

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

Buffy surprised him by remaining mute the entire walk to the hotel, seemingly content to just hold his hand. It wasn’t until Spike was standing in front of his room, searching his duster pockets for the card key, before she spoke again.

“I’ve missed this, too,” she murmured.

“What? Spending the night at a no-tell motel with a handsome bloke?” he teased.

He was rewarded with a smile. “Our walks.” Turning, Buffy looked back at the way they’d come in, her eyes distant. “It’s nice being able to…forget, even if it’s just for a few minutes.”

Pushing the door open, Spike stepped aside so that Buffy could enter first, his head tilted toward the darkness of the interior as he watched the moonlight glisten in her hair. “It’s not just that, is it?” he couldn’t help but ask.

Maybe he’d let his voice betray too much emotion, because she stiffened and looked back. “Not just what?”

“An escape.” He couldn’t hold her eyes, and if she wasn’t going to go inside, he wouldn’t stand around and wait like a fool. Except his feet refused to move. “Bein’ with me…asking to come back…it’s not so you can pretend you’re back in the dreams, is it? That you want all this to be a fantasy you can turn on and off at your will?”

“No.” She said it with no hesitation. “The dreams were great and all, like mini-vacations without having to worry about jet lag. But reality’s better.” She stepped into the room, flicking on the light to bathe the interior in gold. “Reality doesn’t go away when you need it the most.”

He followed her in, watching her carefully as he shrugged out of his coat. “I’m just goin’ to clean up a bit,” he said. He swiped at the blood that had dried on his face. “Must look a fright to you.”

“OK.”

But she wasn’t really paying much attention to him anyway, lost in her thoughts as she crawled onto the bed and reached for the remote control. Spike knew she had a lot to process from tonight, but the casualness of her attitude stung slightly. If it had been back in the day, he thought as he stepped into the bathroom, she would’ve been all over William with the TLC.

He kept the door just slightly ajar, enough to be able to see her if he leaned forward a bit, but not enough so that he’d feel self-conscious with her watching him. It was enough that she was here, wasn’t it? Already, it was so much more than what he’d expected in coming to Sunnydale, but still, somewhere in the dark recesses of his heart, he wanted more. He wanted the same attention she’d showered on William---no, me, she showered it on me---but he knew that was a pipe dream. Here, she had other distractions, she had other responsibilities, and now there was a baby on the way. Did he really want her to deprive their child of the attention it needed because he was a selfish bastard?

A very tiny part of him said yes.

His head was bowed, his eyes unfocused on the water in the sink before him, when the door was nudged open a little further to bump painlessly into his side.

“How do you fix up your face when you can’t see your own reflection?” Buffy asked, her head tilted so that she could better see him.

“Used to have Dru do the bad ones for me,” he said. “But live with a face for a century and you stop needing to see it any more.”

She took a step closer and picked up the washcloth from the counter. “Let me.”

He didn’t move, just stood there and closed his eyes as the rough terry scraped over his cheek. She was being gentle, but the pain he was feeling wasn’t any fault of Buffy’s.

I am a selfish bastard.

“We’re going to have to get you a decent first aid kit,” she was saying. The cloth disappeared from his face and he heard the soft splashing as she rinsed it out in the water. “Have you thought about where you’re going to live? You can’t really stay here. It’ll probably get really expensive.”

His lashes parted as he turned to look at her in amazement. Spike’s mind raced as he replayed all their conversations of the day. Had he said anything to her about his plans?

“Some,” he admitted carefully. “Not too much, ‘cause, well, been a bit distracted with Red and her wolf and all.”

“Wesley and I were talking while you and Giles were bringing Oz back.”

That couldn’t be good. His brow quirked as he waited.

“He’s going to be sticking around Sunnydale for awhile this time. He was wondering what I thought about the two of you being roommates.”

He couldn’t help it. He laughed.

Buffy pulled away with a frown. “What’s so funny? I thought it was a great idea.”

“Big Bad splitting flat fare with a Watcher?” he said, still chuckling. “You don’t find that the least bit ironic, pet?”

“Not any more than the Big Bad being in love with the Slayer,” she replied, her voice firm.

His laughter faded, though his smile didn’t. She was a smart one, his girl.

“It’s just something to think about,” she continued. “I don’t know how much money you have to spend. It sounded like a good way to save some.”

Now, he was convinced he must’ve said something without realizing; these were some of the same thoughts he’d been having prior to Harris’ surprise arrival at Buffy’s dorm.

“Sounds like you’re tryin’ to nine-to-five me,” he said, his tone neutral.

“No, it’s just…” She was rinsing out the cloth again, only this time there had been nothing on it. “My mind’s been all the way to Timbuktu and back today. I can’t seem to turn it off, and when I start thinking about the future, and the baby, and what am I thinking I can do this.”

She stopped talking when his fingers curled around hers in the sink, prising them apart to release the terry she held hostage. “Need to stop with that for tonight, I think,” Spike said. “It’s been a long day, and you’ve got to be knackered.”

“Yeah.” Buffy sighed, hesitating a moment before closing the space between them to rest her cheek against his chest. “You know how I said earlier we needed to talk?”

Spike froze. Damn. He’d thought they were past that.

“Maybe…I could just talk?” Her fingers were toying with the hem of his shirt. “I just need to…vent. Get all this out so it doesn’t drive me crazy.”

Her words smoothed over the knots in his stomach. “Course, luv,” he said. He smiled when her arms went around his waist. Some things might change, but the stuff that mattered…it all stayed the same.

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

They ended up on the bed, Buffy lying on her back staring up at the textured ceiling, Spike on his side next to her as he listened to her talk for what felt like hours. For the first time since she’d returned to Sunnydale, Buffy didn’t put a filter on her words, letting them spill forth with growing speed, reveling in merely being able to free them from the confines of her worried heart.

She spoke of her fear for Willow, and her guilt at not recognizing the problem sooner. She spoke of wondering how she was going to juggle school and being pregnant, and mused on how soon she would be able to go back. She even spoke of fear about what would happen after, where she would live, how her slaying would fit in to the grand scheme, how she could possibly be expected to choose between a sick baby and the next apocalypse.

And Spike listened, as he had listened during the dreams when she’d been so wrapped up in Angel’s departure and thought it was all due to her inadequacies, and though he occasionally offered a phrase or three that guided her thoughts into new directions, he mostly remained silent. He just let her be.

At some point, Spike’s hand found its way to her stomach, slipping beneath her top and waistband to rest against her skin, his thumb absently stroking every now and again as he listened. When Buffy finally stopped speaking, her head surprisingly clear, she reached down and settled her hand over his.

“You keep doing this,” she mused, her voice low.

She felt him tense beneath her touch, and his fingers froze. “Sorry,” he said. “Just…hard for me to believe it happened. Touching you makes it real for me.”

“And you were the one worrying about me using this as an escape,” she teased. When he started to pull away, she turned and caught the darkening of his eyes before he had the chance to hide it. “I was kidding. Sometimes, Buffy does make a funny, you know.”

“Buffy does more than that,” Spike murmured.

He seemed lost, as if her words had found a new home inside his head and chosen to weigh down his spirits instead. It wasn’t the effect she’d wanted, and a flash of self-reproach killed the smile that had been playing on her lips. “What are you thinking about?” she prompted.

It took a moment for him to respond. “Us,” he finally confessed, and this time, he didn’t stop as he rolled onto his back. “It’s not so easy as just showing up on your doorstep and sayin’, ‘Use me,’ now is it? There’s all this shit I’ve never given a toss for, but if I don’t…”

His voice faltered.

“If you don’t…what?” Buffy prompted.

“I lose you.” She saw his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed, and she would’ve sworn his eyes were shiny before he closed them. “I lose what little I’ve got because you aren’t goin’ to stand for me mucking things up.”

She didn’t have to ask what he meant. He worried about incidents like the one with the vigilantes he’d killed the night before, and his suggestion to kill Graham as well. “Just the fact that you’re worried about those kind of things,” she said softly, “shows how far you’ve already come, Spike. You think I don’t see that?”

“But there’s goin’ to be more,” he pressed. “You’re right about the flat idea, but that’s not goin’ to be all. What about dosh to get things for the little one? And a car. I’m not hoofing it around town like some twopenny vamp, and you’re goin’ to need something reliable for doctor’s appointments and the like. That means wheels, which means more dosh---.”

“Which means, we’ll figure it out when we have to.”

He looked at her then, his eyes stormy and hopeful. “We?”

Buffy smiled. “I thought I made it clear, I need you around, Spike. Sounds like a we to me.”

Slowly, deliberately, his gaze lowered to fix on her mouth. Buffy’s breathing hitched, and her body began to warm from more than the lack of air conditioning in the hotel room. Together, they moved closer, closer, closer still until their lips brushed across the other’s, a whisper that could’ve been stolen from never-forgotten dreams in London.

“Don’t go home tonight,” Spike murmured without pulling away.

“Wasn’t going to,” she replied.

She felt him smile before kissing her again, this time deeper though just as slow. It tickled in a spot deep inside her belly, a spot that hadn’t been reached since the early days of Angel---and those thoughts got shoved so quick to the world of not-going-there that she ended up breaking the caress, stuttering across his mouth to roll on top of him before either of them could change their mind.

As Spike wrapped his arms around her narrow back, holding her firmly against him as he resumed the kisses, she wondered if this was how she’d envisioned this night turning out all along. Did she really think she’d come back to his hotel and they wouldn’t end up entwined in each other? Stuck fast, beating heart to unbeating heart, with the third, tiny heart pulsing away inside her. There was everything so right about this, like there had been when she’d laid with William in a bed unfamiliar but theirs, and yet, she couldn’t bring herself to relinquish the question of just how right. If she did that, did that mean she had to tell Spike she loved him? Did she?

It wasn’t the time for that. He’d been back in town for less than two days; there was plenty of time stretching ahead of them for Buffy to come to that decision. All she had to do right now was enjoy the peace that being with him gave her.

And the pleasure. Because, oh man, was there ever pleasure.

With his hands stroking her back, hers were free to explore the sharp planes of his body, to etch again the way his waist tapered into slim hips, that same dip in his pelvis that had been William’s as well. The buttons of his jeans defied her fingers, however, refusing to give until she was convinced she’d have to rip them off in order to get to the hardness beneath.

He stopped stroking her spine long enough to slide a hand between their torsos, brushing hers away to nimbly free himself from the denim’s confines. Not once did his mouth leave hers. It was as if Spike was frightened that breaking the seal of their lips would be all that was required to shatter the spell between them. Not now, she wanted to assure him. But that would’ve required speaking. And Buffy was done talking for the night.

He pushed at her clothes, while she pulled at his, and it wasn’t soon enough before bare flesh was pressed to bare flesh, each heating in its own way, his borrowed, hers rampant from within. When he suddenly reversed their positions, Buffy sank into the pillows as her legs spread to accommodate the insistent press of his cock against her folds. Only then did Spike stop devouring her lips long enough to pull away.

“Whatever it takes,” he whispered. Though his eyes were black with desire, a faint glow seemed to circle the pupils, and Buffy wasn’t sure if it was a reflection from the lamp or something else entirely.

“Whatever what takes?” she whispered back. Speaking louder would’ve just been wrong.

“To make this work.” She couldn’t breathe from the desperate truth in his tone. “I’ll do it. I’d bloody well shack up with Harris if I thought that was the only way to prove it to you.”

“You don’t have to prove anything to me, Spike.”

“Do. You and the little one.”

She smiled. She couldn’t help it. Something about the way he kept calling it the ‘little one’ was just too warming not to respond to.

“You know Xander’s living in his parents’ basement now.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Figures. That boy seriously needs to get shagged. Give him a bite of what the real world is like.”

Wrapping her legs around his hips, Buffy captured his mouth in a quick kiss before murmuring, “Can we stop talking about Xander now? It’s a little bit of a mood-killer.”

He growled when she ground her slick slit against his probing cock. “Not the kind of killin’ I prefer,” he said, and then sheathed himself in a single stroke.

Buffy gasped as he held there, her clit pressing deliciously against his coarse hair, his balls hanging heavy against the crack of her ass. Then, his mouth dipped to nibble at the spot below her ear, all delicate and attentive in a manner that was both William and Spike. One and the same, part of her wanted to say. But not.

And she could spend a lifetime trying to sort out the things that were the same, and the things that were different, but then she knew that would be a waste of effort she could expend elsewhere.

They began moving almost at the same time, and Buffy realized on the first stroke that he was deliberately holding back on her. “Don’t be afraid,” she whispered as his tongue traced nonsense along her neck. She tightened her grip around him, both in and out, and was rewarded with a groan.

“Don’t want to hurt you,” he answered. Or the baby went unsaid, but they both knew it was out there.

“You won’t.”

Tangling her fingers in the curls at his nape, she tugged his mouth back to hers. There was no more need for speaking; this was a conversation their bodies could recite with only the softest of prompts, and the last thing Buffy wanted was to interrupt it.

When she felt the quivering, she thought for a second that it was her, but then Spike pushed himself up, not missing the rhythm of sliding in and out of her heat, and held his weight propped on his hands as he seemed to fight for control. Her hands came up to press to his chest, and there it was again, the quivering, muscles spasming, not from over-exertion but from something else she was scared to put a finger on.

Their eyes met. He didn’t say the words, but she could see them there anyway, half-formed on kiss-swollen lips, waiting for permission to fall. And in spite of her assurances otherwise, he had only slightly increased the force of his thrusts. Spike was doing it for her, and the responsibility was both crushing and uplifting all at the same time.

Her orgasm came unexpectedly. It wasn’t earth-shattering, and the ripples as her pussy clenched and unclenched around his cock dissipated just seconds later, but Buffy cried out from the pleasure of it anyway, the name spilling from her mouth caught in half-gasp so that even she was unsure that she’d actually said out loud.

Spike hesitated, a shadow crossing his features. “He’s not here, Buffy,” he said slowly. “This is me, makin’ love to you. You’re the one who said it, remember.” He paused, and she knew it was eating him to have to say the next. “I’m not William.”

Regret sliced through her. “I was wrong,” she whispered, and pressed her heated palm over the trembling muscles of his chest. “He’s here. Where it counts.”

It took the longest moment for it to sink in, but when it did, the joy that lit up his face erased all traces of the pain. Slowly, Spike lowered his upper body back down to hers, resuming the sure piston of his hips as his mouth swooped to taste hers, and Buffy sighed into the kiss as the liquid heat between her legs started to escalate. The next orgasm was hers again, but her pang of guilt was short-lived as his followed quickly after, and she held him close as he murmured words she couldn’t make out into her skin.

He recovered from the swell of poetry with rapid ease. “Don’t think this means I’m goin’ to let you sleep through your class in the morning,” he teased as he extracted himself from between her lithe legs. Rolling onto his back, he pulled her close against his chest, using his other hand to tug the blanket up to cover her.

“Darn,” Buffy said. “And here I thought I could use my feminine wiles to keep you too distracted to notice.” She stifled the yawn that seemed to come from nowhere.

Spike chuckled. “Tempting, but rather not lose more points with your mum and the others than I already have.” His lips brushed against her temple, his ever-moving hand already lulling her muscles into acquiescence. “Get some rest, pet. Morning will be here before you realize it.”

Letting her eyes drift shut, Buffy made a small sound of protest deep in her throat, but the possessive curve of her arm around his waist told both of them it was merely lipservice. As long and wiggy as the day had been, and as long and wiggy as the next few would likely be, falling asleep on Spike’s chest made it seem manageable. He was right. She’d sort everything out in the morning.

 

To be continued in Chapter 20: I Have Looked on Truth Askance