DISCLAIMER: The characters are
Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet CXVII.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Graham has escaped from Giles’ house, Joyce has agreed to let Havi stay with her and has also offered Spike the same arrangement…
In her mother’s house, Buffy realized she would always feel fifteen. She’d complied with the request to hear Havi out without question, even though she was dying to know what her mom was saying to Spike. She’d listened to Havi’s story with minimal interruption, half-listening for shouts of “Bloody hell!” from the kitchen. She’d not even dropped the conversation to find out from Xander just why he’d suddenly developed the need to be Sunnydale’s welcome wagon, remembering her mother’s warning about concentrating on hearing Havi’s story to the end.
But just because she did what her mother asked, didn’t mean Buffy could process it as blithely as was probably expected. Her head was splitting. She had questions upon questions that couldn’t be answered. It felt like she hadn’t slept in over a year.
So, as soon as Havi was done, and as soon as Spike appeared in the living room entrance, lounging against the jamb as he watched her sitting on the couch, Buffy did the only thing she could.
To her credit---so she thought---she did manage to toss her mom a cursory good-bye, using the excuse of an early class to escape further confrontation. Brushing past Spike, she headed straight for the front door, not bothering to look back until she realized he wasn’t right behind her.
Their eyes met when she glanced over her shoulder. Locking with the dark blue was all it took for him to straighten and come to her side.
On the way out to the car, Buffy wondered silently just when she’d come to depend on Spike being there for her.
“Where to, luv?” he asked, holding open the passenger door for her.
In spite of the chaos of her thoughts, the corner of Buffy’s mouth lifted at the very obvious reminder of William’s genteel manner. Had Spike held doors open for Drusilla? Part of her wanted to think yes, because then that would mean William had been there all along, as she suspected.
Another, more selfish, part wanted to think no. Because then that would mean William really was all Buffy’s.
“Anywhere but here,” she answered. She glanced up when the door didn’t close right away, seeing Spike’s outline against the star-studded sky. “Is there a problem with that?”
He shrugged. “Just that there’s a whole lotta world that’s not here,” he said casually.
Her gaze flickered to the house behind him, catching her mother’s shadow cross along the living room curtain and then disappearing again. “Your place?”
Something dark passed behind his eyes, but after a moment, Spike nodded and shut her door. Burrowing deep into the seat, Buffy shifted her body so that she was facing his by the time he joined her inside. “Just for a few hours,” she clarified. “Just long enough for me to get my head together. I still don’t have any clothes at the hotel, and repeating Slutty Buffy by getting dropped off at the dorm in the morning doesn’t sound like my idea of fun.”
Nodding, Spike pulled away from the curb in silence, guiding the car with an indolent hand at the top of the wheel. “Take it your little confab with Harris’ chit didn’t sit so well,” he commented.
Buffy sighed. “I don’t know if it’s that, exactly,” she said. “More of a lot of information to try and process all at once. My brain feels like it’s going to explode.”
Switching hands on the wheel, Spike reached across the seat, curling his fingers around her good wrist to guide her into the space beneath his arm. Her cheek pressed against the leather of his duster, and Buffy closed her eyes as the gentle weight of his hold curled around her shoulders. This was better. This always seemed to banish some of the confusion for her.
“What did you and Mom talk about?” she asked.
He shifted beneath her, and for a moment, she thought he was going to pull away. “She asked me ‘bout my side of the story with Rose,” he said instead. Buffy glanced up to see Spike staring out the windshield, his features hard. “Guess she wanted to see if it gelled with what the bitch had to say.”
“And did it?”
“Joyce seemed to think so.”
“But you don’t?”
There was a pause. “Doesn’t matter what I think, now does it? She’s staying there, regardless.”
Buffy lapsed back into silence, closing her eyes to focus on the sounds of the road around them, the feel of Spike beneath her touch. He wasn’t OK with Havi, in any shape or form. When Buffy had come onto his attack at the top of the stairs, it had taken her breath momentarily away to see Spike so enraged. She hadn’t seen that since his days with Dru, and though she recognized that it wasn’t directed at her, it was still a little frightening. It only served to remind her of the demon that lived within him.
“Havi said some things,” Buffy started slowly, and felt him tense at the mention of the name.
“Don’t tell me you believe her, too.”
“I’m not sure what to believe, to be honest.” Pulling back, Buffy sat up so that she could meet his eyes. “She knew things, Spike. Things nobody but Rose could’ve known. She made it sound very convincing.”
His mouth opened to rebut her opinion, but then what she said sank in. “She made what sound convincing?” he asked carefully.
Buffy swallowed. This was the part that was giving her the biggest headache. “Why she’s here.”
His nostrils flared, and she saw his knuckles tighten around the steering wheel. “Something tells me I’m not goin’ to like this,” he muttered.
“Well, there’s two reasons, really.”
“Which is the one that’s goin’ to piss me off?”
“The one where Rose told Havi she needed to come here and protect me. Havi isn’t sure if it’s because of the baby or…because of you.”
“What the fuck?”
The wheel jerked in his agitation, and the swerving of the car made Buffy slide across the seat, jolting harshly against the arm rest. “Watch it!” she complained, and shot him an annoyed glare as she held on, waiting for him to regain control. When it looked like he was going to do a u-turn in the middle of the road, her hand shot out to stop him.
“You’re not going back there,” Buffy warned.
Gold flecks danced in his eyes. “Tell me why the fuck not.”
“Because you’re not picking another fight with her in my mother’s house, that’s why. Do you want to make it even harder for Mom to accept that you’re a part of my life now? This is hard enough as it is. Why do you want to make it worse?”
“Because I’m not havin’ that bitch thinkin’ I’m here to hurt you.”
“By getting into a fight with her. Oh, yeah. That makes perfect sense.”
His jaw locked at the sarcasm in her tone. “Don’t do this, Buffy,” he growled.
“Do what? It seems to me I’m the one making sure you don’t mess this up for us.”
She heard the audible click of his teeth slamming together, and caught his glance in his mirror before he changed lanes to make an unexpected turn. The force of it broke Buffy’s hold from his hand, and she looked at him, surprised that he was reacting so violently.
“What’s your damage?” she demanded. How had things soured so quickly? she thought, and then stopped, recognizing one of the street signs as it went whizzing past. “Wait a minute. Scratch that. Where are you going?”
“Campus,” Spike replied through gritted teeth. “I’m droppin’ you off at your dorm.”
Her anger faltered. “Why?”
“’Cause I’m not about to drop you off in the middle of nowhere and make you walk back, much as the notion of that appeals right now.”
Buffy’s temper rose again. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on?” she asked. “Because I’ve got no clue here.”
“Yeah,” Spike muttered. “That’s the bloody problem.”
A red light forced them to slow down, though Buffy could see Spike’s foot twitch to gun his way through it. He didn’t, though. He just slammed to a stop and glared up at the scarlet spot.
“Told you I’d do anything for you,” he said. His voice was barely more than a rumble. “And I meant it. Knew it would mean some…sacrifices, but I just…it never occurred to me that you’d want to hold me back completely. You’re cuttin’ me off at the knees here, Buffy. I can’t patrol for you. I can’t defend myself. I can’t even have an opinion without you thinkin’ I’m tryin’ to sabotage what’s goin’ on. Knew I was love’s bitch and all, but didn’t think it came with its own soddin’ muzzle.”
“That’s not what I’m doing!”
“Oh, really? So, you’ll let me take your patrols ‘til that wrist of yours is better?” He watched her with a cocked brow, but when her silence betrayed just what she thought of that idea, Spike snorted. “Right. That’s what I figured.”
“There’s a way to get things done around here, Spike, and you going off half-cocked isn’t it.”
“Nope,” he said, and then floored it when the light turned green, squealing the tires through the intersection. “There’s Buffy’s way, or the highway. I’m startin’ to see that now.”
“What happened to us being partners?”
“You tell me. You let old William take more risks than you let me, pet. Maybe he’s the one you really want around. Ol’ Spike’s just a nice reminder of a pleasant summer holiday, and a convenient shag for when the fancy takes you.”
That was it. Ignoring her injured wrist, Buffy leapt for the wheel, forcing him to swerve over to the curb, the car bouncing up on the concrete before he could yank it back onto the street. Her foot slid between his legs, hitting the brake, and the vehicle jerked to a halt.
“I don’t know what it is about this car that makes you go around the bend,” she said, “but I for one am getting pretty damn tired of having fights while you’re driving.”
She was practically shouting at him, her fury at his blindness and his erratic mood making her vibrate from the intensity. Half of her body was draped over him in her desperation to get him to stop the car, her breasts pressed into his side as her inner thigh rubbed along his leg, and Buffy became all too aware of the power beneath the denim, the barely restrained violence that hummed beneath his skin.
Spike’s eyes glittered as they met hers. “Don’t think because you could wind William ‘round that pretty little finger of yours with just a smile and a flash of leg,” he said, his voice low and dangerous, “that the same tricks will work on me. You’ve got a whole new beast here to tame, Buffy. I love you, yeah. And so help me, I’d set this whole world on fire if it meant keepin’ you and the little one safe. That doesn’t mean I’m goin’ to just bend over and let you bugger me into bein’ some memory for you.”
“Very easily, luv. Very easily.” Slowly, his face shifted before hers, bones rearranging, fangs elongating. “Know you love the poet, but the thing is…do you even like the demon? You don’t trust him, that’s for sure.” His face changed back until those hard blue eyes were boring into hers again. “You keep sayin’ you see William in me, but you’re forgetting that I’m Spike, too. You can’t just sweep the last century under the rug. It happened. To me. Been scrapping far longer than I breathed on this rock, and that just doesn’t go away because you don’t want to have to deal with it.” Again, his features merged until it was the vampire meeting her eye to eye. “Been a pisser of a night. Too much mistrust goin’ around for my taste, especially since I thought we were startin’ to get past that, and I just want to beat something to a bloody pulp right about now. You goin’ to stop me from doin’ that, too?”
She didn’t know why she did it. Maybe it was hearing him call her on the carpet so blatantly for refusing to give him the slack he needed. Maybe it was the unspoken dare he’d tossed before her. Or maybe it was the hard muscle rubbing so close to her sex.
Buffy kissed Spike. Hard. Her lip sliced on his fang almost at the first contact, the blood flooding her tongue with warm copper, and Spike reacted immediately, growling as he pulled her roughly the rest of the way onto his lap, his tongue pushing past hers to plunder and taste the swelter of her mouth. His fingers dug painfully into her hips, and she twisted her leg in order to wedge it down his other side, straddling him as best as the front seat and steering wheel allowed.
She kissed him until the spots were starting to dance behind her eyes, lights of scarlet and yellow reminding her with their flitting of her need to breathe. When she tried to break away, however, Spike growled again, lifting a hand to tangle in her hair and yank her back to his mouth, while his other slid between their bodies. She gasped at the cool feel of his fingertips across her stomach, and squirmed against the hard creases of the denim, desperate to increase the friction.
“Spike…” she murmured. Mimicking his hold, her fingers found the loose curls at his nape, her nails raking across the skin.
She felt him shiver, break away. When her eyes opened, Buffy found herself staring into the stormy blue again, his vampire visage gone. She hadn’t even realized she couldn’t feel his fangs any more against her tongue.
“Won’t work,” he said, but his hands didn’t move away, the one at her waist deliberately undoing the button of her pants. “This doesn’t make the fight go away, Buffy.”
“I didn’t think it would.” She gasped when his long fingers slid into her underwear, pushing past her outer folds to trace her inner lips.
“God, you’re so wet.” He said it with more than a touch of amazement, his tongue darting out to lick his lips. Never breaking her gaze, Spike probed further, driving three fingers into her so deeply that she arched back against the steering wheel.
“You’re a jerk, you know that?” she hissed as he began to fuck her. Her hands clawing into his unyielding flesh, she began to ride up and down on his fingers. “I didn’t…oh god…this isn’t about…” Her attempts to explain were suffocated by the waves of pleasure washing through her, and Buffy gave it up, slamming her mouth back to his as he continued to stroke in and out of her wet depths.
The kisses were no longer marathons, but rather, each was a sprint, a burst of power halted when she thrashed away, or when Spike threw his head back against the rest when Buffy reached between them to grab his cock through his jeans. Her skin thrummed with each drive, hummed and breathed and came to life as only happened when this man---this vampire---touched her. She came screaming his name, her sweat-slicked brow sliding against his as she sought his mouth yet again, and when the return of his fangs cut her tongue, she let him suck on it, let him swallow down the droplets of blood that rose to the tender surface.
“I do trust you,” Buffy rasped when they finally broke away. “I know who you are, Spike. You’re not a substitute.”
His fingers were still buried inside her pussy, though now they were just as still as the rest of him as he pulled back to look at her. His tongue licked a stray spot of blood from his lip, but the hardness was already returning to his eyes.
She froze at the ultimatum. “How do you mean?”
“Your mum didn’t just want to talk about that Havi. She offered me a place to stay.”
It wasn’t what she expected to hear. “What?”
“You heard me.”
“What did you say?”
“Told her I’d think about it.” His fingers began stroking her inner walls, his thumb brushing over her clit. “That I needed to talk to you first.”
It was hard to concentrate when he was taking command of her body so efficiently, and Buffy pulled away, sliding down to the leather seat beside him, forcing his hands to come free of her flesh.
Spike seemed to be expecting her response. With a shake of his head, his vampire mask disappeared and he averted his eyes from hers to stare out the window.
“Guess that’s my answer then,” he said softly.
The fury had dissipated, vanished just as quickly as it had come. His voice gave away his pain, his disappointment building the wall she now felt between them. Carefully, Buffy reached out, wincing when he flinched at her touch.
“I didn’t give you an answer,” she said.
“Lettin’ me get you off and then running away when I ask one thing from you? Felt like an answer to me, pet.”
“That wasn’t---.” She exhaled loudly, clearing her head. “I moved off because I can’t think straight when you touch me, Spike. If you want this to be a serious conversation, you doing…what you were doing isn’t the way to have it.”
He didn’t say a word, just continued staring at the night. The reflection of the moonlight through the glass made his hair look like spun silver, cast his face in shadows of black and white. It effectively hid his eyes from her and Buffy realized that she hated that.
“Look at me,” she demanded. When he didn’t react quickly enough, she slid back onto his lap, feeling his erection pressing into her ass. “Do you want to?” Buffy asked.
His lashes lifted, blue meeting green. “Do I want to what?”
“Take Mom up on her offer.”
Spike shrugged. “Tell the truth, I’m not sure what I want. Coulda knocked me over with a feather when she suggested it. But don’t you fuss. I won’t---.”
It was his turn to ask. “What?”
“Do it,” Buffy repeated. “If that’s what you want, I say go for it.”
“You want me livin’ in the same house as your mum.” Thick brows drew together in disbelief, his tone skeptical. “Is that what you’re tellin’ me?”
“No, I’m saying that if it’s a solution you think you can live with, you should take it before she changes her mind. She’s been known to do that, you know.”
Her stab at humor fell on deaf ears. “Even knowin’ that bitch is goin’ to be livin’ with her?” he pressed. “You trust me around her?”
She knew what he was driving at, and though her heart started to skid at some of the bloodier possibilities of Spike and Havi alone in the same house together, Buffy gritted her teeth and nodded. He needed this. And the fact of the matter was, she did trust him. It was just letting that trust be manifest that scared the living daylights out of her.
A tremulous hand reached up and brushed a lock of hair off her cheek. “You have to mean it, Buffy,” Spike whispered. “Don’t give me this and then change your mind tomorrow. You’ve got no bloody idea how much I want this.”
“I think I do.” Leaning forward, Buffy pressed her lips to his, the kiss simple and chaste. “I trust you with the life of my child. Our child. If that doesn’t that tell you that I mean what I’m saying, I don’t know what else to do.”
This time, the reaction was his. The force of his mouth to hers shoved her painfully against the steering wheel until Spike twisted her sideways, pressing her down into the seat and covering her body with his own. Hands clawed at her clothing, her top tearing, her pants scraping against tender skin when he shoved them down her hips. Buffy tried to help, reaching down to free his hard shaft from his jeans, but the moment Spike realized what she’d done, he positioned his erection at her entrance and shoved inside.
Just in time, Buffy reached above her hand to brace herself against the door, slamming back against his hips to match his pounding rhythm. There was no attempt at foreplay, no pretense of tenderness. Nails and teeth and ravenous mouths were again their weapons of choice, carving their need from the other in marked flesh. The emotions that had been simmering below their skins erupted in flame, engulfing them as Spike drove into her with every last ounce of feeling he had left.
He came with a shout, not bothering to see to her climax first in his need. But as he pumped those last few times inside her, Buffy climaxed again, shivering and rippling around his cock as he buried his face in her neck. Through the clouds of their orgasms, she could’ve sworn she felt something wet on her face, but when Spike finally pulled back, his eyes were clear, his love for her burning behind the blue.
“I love you,” he said, his voice rough. “So much, sometimes I think it’s goin’ to kill me.”
“Well, that’s not good,” she said with a smile. “I can’t say I’m all that thrilled about you dying on me any time soon.”
Spike shook his head, the corner of his mouth lifting in amusement. “This doesn’t make it all better, you know.” Carefully, he pulled back, sitting up and adjusting himself as Buffy did the same. “There’s still sortin’ to be done between us.”
“Yeah, but you gotta admit, it makes things a little better, right?”
His smile grew wider, softening his features. “Maybe a little,” Spike conceded. “Still want to beat the hell out of something, though.”
“Go to Willy’s,” Buffy said. “I haven’t had a chance to get over and clear things out for awhile. It’ll spread the word that you’re back in town, too.” She grinned. “Can you see their faces when they realize what’s going on? William the Bloody and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, tag team extraordinaire.”
She was rewarded with another brilliant smile, and settled back into her seat as he eased the car back onto the road. It was a small step, and he was right about there being more work to be done. She’d never realized the extent of his feelings about the way she regarded him. Even asking to call him William occasionally must’ve driven that doubt even deeper into him.
Then something else popped into her head, forgotten during their fight, and Buffy turned to Spike as she spoke.
“I told Havi she was wrong about you,” she said. “Just like Rose was. Whatever reason Rose sent her here, it’s got nothing to do with you being a danger to anyone, especially me or the baby. And for good measure, I told her if she laid a finger on my boyfriend, I’d lay more than that on her. So, see? No problems with Havi.”
He reached to take her hand in his, lifting it to his mouth to press a kiss into the palm. “Still got a problem with the bitch,” Spike said. “But thank you for that. ‘Course, you could’ve saved us both a lot of headache if you’d just told me that in the first place.”
She punched his arm at that, smiling along with his teasing laugh. Steps forward, even small ones, were always of the good. Buffy was grateful that she’d managed to keep them on that particular path. She had a feeling she was going to need all the friends and allies as she could gather for the months ahead. It was good to have Spike as both.
Robin’s first report was encouraging. Maggie had decided that the route she’d chosen for Riley to get close to the Slayer had been flawed, encouraging him to develop feelings for Ms. Summers which could prove detrimental to the Initiative in the long run. His death had pre-empted that from occurring, but Maggie suspected that it would have been a very possible outcome. Thankfully, Robin’s added age made the option of using him as a romantic interest less appealing. Threatening the Slayer’s scholastic future seemed the best way to drive the pair closer together, encouraging Buffy to find an ally in unexpected places. Maggie was convinced this was going to work much better.
There were other issues at hand, though, not the least of which was Graham’s continued disappearance. Her usual resources were failing her, and she was about to resort to more unorthodox measures when there was a loud thump outside her office door.
Maggie frowned. Initiative staff would knock. Something was wrong.
She opened the door to see a flurry of guards rushing down the hall, but it was the crumpled body on the form that drew the wealth of her attention. There, in the middle of the floor, was the object of her worry.
He was unconscious, his clothes torn as if he’d been running and fallen. There were no obvious injuries except for on his face. Deep purple shadowed beneath Graham’s eyes, livid and stark against the white of the Initiative hallway. She recognized the signs, and while she was certain the guards would think the unconscious soldier had been in some sort of a fight, Maggie knew differently. This was the result of Graham’s body fighting against the magic that kept each of her men bound from revealing the true extent of their responsibilities. Somebody had attempted to pry him of his secrets.
Hopefully, somebody had failed.
“Get him into isolation,” Maggie ordered, before the guards could raise the question. “We don’t know where he’s been. As soon as he’s been looked over, I’ll be there to question him.”
They obeyed without hesitation, scooping him up and marching away from her office. Maggie wasn’t sure she was happy to see Graham. If it was discovered he’d revealed Initiative secrets, she would have no recourse but to have him eliminated. She really didn’t want to do that. She hoped for Graham’s sake, the magic had worked.
It would be worth it if Esme got her magic back. That was Baltozar’s mantra as he watched the redheaded girl moving back and forth in front of her window, oblivious to the fact that she was being watched. If the old bat got her powers back, she could do something suitably nasty to Havi’s little boytoy before guaranteeing that Havi would never leave Baltozar again. He was thinking something involving spiders. Lots of them. Small ones that crawled into the tiniest of orifices before starting their painful damage.
This one, though…he still wasn’t sure what the big deal about killing this particular girl was. She was just a college student. Esme had warned him that she had quite powerful magical powers, which meant that he would not only have to take her by surprise but that he would have to make it quick so that she wouldn’t have time for retaliation. But it still didn’t give him a why, and Esme had been tightlipped about her reasoning.
Not that he really cared. A job was a job. Esme had paid him too handsomely over the years not to give her satisfaction on this one, too.
When the black Thunderbird came roaring up to the curb, it was impossible not to avert his attention momentarily. Baltozar’s lips quirked into a smile as his eyes swept over the sleek lines. Nice car, even if it needed a new paint job.
His smile faded when the two blonds emerged, the guy’s head almost glowing white under the streetlights as he stepped around the front to meet the girl. Though he couldn’t hear the words they exchanged, he could see the passion in the kiss they shared, the way she clung to him even after their mouths had separated. Something inside Baltozar burned in jealousy, remembering too many times when that had been him and Havi, her hard muscles pressing against him as her lips did a wicked dance over his.
But now he suspected what Esme’s game was. Especially when the girl headed toward the same dorm he’d been watching the redhead in for the past two hours.
Spike was in town. The same Spike Esme had been adamant not find Rose until it was too late.
Baltozar saw the second figure join the redhead. So, Spike’s girlfriend was roommates with the young witch. At least he could see the connection now, even if he didn’t know what exactly the purpose of the kill would be.
The only good thing he could see in Havi’s temporary absence was that this time, he didn’t have to figure out how to do the job behind her back. Havi had found out too late about his killing of Rose, and while she had been furious at his betrayal, she’d loved him too much to argue when he explained it was all for the greater good.
Baltozar dropped his cigarillo to the ground and crushed it beneath his boot as he watched Spike speed off. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day.
To be continued in Chapter 31: The Painful Warrior Famoused for Fight…