DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy’s first encounter with Holly is less than stellar, when the child and Spike interrupt her bath, but she is determined to make the most of it…

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Chapter 19: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

She tried.

Honest. Swear on a stack of dead demons---because a stack of dead vampires would just be a big ol’ pile of dust if she used that analogy, and how effective would that be?---and cross her heart, Buffy gave it her Chosen best.

It just didn’t…turn out like she’d hoped.

Freshly dressed and ready to be the best darn babysitter Holly had ever had, Buffy had reached her first stumbling block when a recon of the tiny cabin had uncovered exactly zero games as she had promised, leaving her scrambling to come up with another idea that would both amuse the child and get Buffy back into her good graces all at the same time. So, when the idea of jewelry making had popped into her brain, Buffy’d thought it was an excellent idea. After all, what little girl didn’t like to play dress-up? She had the macaroni and thread left over from making the Christmas ornaments, and it wasn’t like making necklaces was really all that difficult. No more difficult than anything else had been since she’d arrived at the cabin, at least.

She just forgot to mention that the uncooked macaroni was for playing, not for eating. An easy mistake, though not necessarily a safe one. But, to make it even worse, when Buffy had moved to use the Heimlich to dislodge the dried pasta from a choking Holly’s throat, Spike had yanked her away with a growl, saying, “She’s just a babe, Slayer. Do that, and you’ll break her ribs.”

Afterward, a wide-eyed Holly sat perched on the vampire’s lap sipping at a glass of water, leaving Buffy to watch in growing dismay when her every attempt to approach the little girl was met with a flinch, distrust gleaming in her gaze. Spike didn’t look that happy, either, but Buffy didn’t know if it was disapproval at not knowing how to take care of a kid or anger at being saddled with the bulk of the responsibility that aroused his surly attitude. Either way, she still ended up being the odd Slayer out.

Reading seemed perfectly innocuous after the macaroni incident. There was even that book of fairy tales that Spike had thrown at her the other day; it looked to be the perfect entertainment for a three-soon-to-be-four year old.

In hindsight, she just should’ve picked a different story than “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” How could Buffy have predicted that Holly would draw upon the parallels to their own situation and start asking questions about when the bears were going to come back to the snowbound cabin, and would they be angry to find Buffy and Spike sleeping in their beds when they did, and didn’t bears like to eat little girls?

It took them ten minutes to talk her out of the bathroom she’d gone running to when Buffy tried explaining that the bears wouldn’t be able to open the doors of the cabin anyway because of their clawed paws, and were much more likely to smash through the windows instead, and besides, Spike was way scarier than any ol’ bear.

Mary Poppins, she wasn’t.

When Holly’s head tipped forward into the half-eaten plate of mashed potatoes, Spike was the one who scooped her up to carry her into the bedroom, tiny white clumps of food clinging to the ends of her hair. Buffy couldn’t even bring herself to step forward and say anything about cleaning the little girl up before putting her to bed; with the way her day had been going, she’d probably end up getting soap in the kid’s eye or drowning her with a washcloth.

Twenty minutes later when Spike finally emerged from the bedroom, he found the Slayer sitting cross-legged in front of the fire, throwing ragged bits of twig into the flames and watching the fire sporadically jump from the fresh fodder. “I suck,” Buffy muttered without turning around.

“You’re just tryin’ too hard,” he said. The couch squeaked as he collapsed into its corner, and she heard the slide of his boots across the floor as he began to take them off. “Though if you want to make the sucking a tad more literal, I wouldn’t be one to argue with you.”

She didn’t have the energy to rise to his bait. “You know all my worries that we’re going to kill each other before we get out of this place?” she asked. “I was wrong. I’m going to kill Holly. I’m the worst babysitter in the world.”

“Not the worst, I’d wager. Think Dru could give you a race for that particular title. As much as she loved to dress ‘em up, she just didn’t have the attention span to see it through. Most of the time, it was up to me to finish ‘em off before someone cottoned on to what Dru was doin’.”

The obvious affection in his tone drove Buffy to flash him a dirty look over her shoulder. “Feeling so much better now, Spike,” she said dryly. “Thanks for the pep talk.”

He shrugged. “I’m just sayin’---.”

“I heard what you were saying. And you can stop saying it, any minute now.” Turning back to the fire, she inched further, her knees nearing the swelter until her cheeks began to tingle from the exposure. It wasn’t often she felt like such a complete failure, but finding anything good that had occurred with her interactions with Holly was impossible. She was a menace to children everywhere. I am Buffy. See me slay the helpless little girl with my own stupidity.

She jerked when strong hands settled on her shoulders.

“Relax,” Spike said, forcing her to still with merely a firm application against her arms.

He’d moved from the couch and now crouched directly behind Buffy, his scent merging with the sulphur from the fire to tickle her nose with anticipation. Though her body was tense, she didn’t flee from his touch, and they posed there before the flames for a long moment before one of them finally spoke.

“What’re you doing?” Buffy asked softly. There had been no opportunities during the day to address the topic of the previous night, a fact she wasn’t sure left her relieved or disappointed. The way things had been left…it was anyone’s guess what the next move was going to be.

“Makin’ sure you don’t explode,” he replied.

Supple fingers began to slowly knead the knots of her shoulders, smoothing the tension they found with an infinite pressure that transformed her muscles to molasses. Buffy’s head fell forward of its own accord, the groan that escaped her throat a testament to both the pain and pleasure his massage was soliciting, and she felt his hands pause before he pressed lightly into her back.

“Tell me to stop,” Spike murmured in her ear.

Was it a dare? A request? Buffy didn’t know. All she knew was that it felt magnificent, better than any of Giles’ or Xander’s attempts at a post-battle rubdown, strong and firm in ways they couldn’t emulate.

And she wanted more.

Easing back away from the flame, Buffy pushed at Spike’s bent knees, prodding them apart so that she could slide between them, and nestled herself in the vee they created. When she stretched her legs out in front of her, it took only a moment for Spike to mimic the motion, his thighs ghosting along hers, his chest just a breath from her back. She could feel the hesitation that caged his hands, but rather than coax him with words she knew would fail her, Buffy simply reached up to pull her hair over one shoulder, exposing the slim line of her neck before it disappeared beneath her top.

He needed no further encouragement. Resuming his massage, Spike worked over each muscle until its supplication was inevitable, yielding to his firm grip with an ache that left Buffy quivering for more. Sighs of pleasure dragged her from the malaise that had held her hostage before his touch, and with each release, she felt herself sinking into a velvety cocoon where the only things that mattered were Spike’s hands.

“Holly likes you,” she murmured in the midst of his manipulation. “Why is that?”

“Dunno,” came his equally hushed reply. “Not like I encouraged her or anything.”

“And you’re so good with her.” This was probably the worst of what ate at Buffy. It wasn’t so much that she sucked at looking after the little girl; it was that Spike was so much better. “You always seem to know what’s going to shut her up, or what’s going to make her feel better. How weird is that?”

“Not that weird. Did you forget I looked after Dru for a hundred years? It’s not that different, if you think about it.”

She tensed beneath his hands. “Can we not bring up any of our exes tonight?” Buffy asked.

“There something else you’d rather be bringin’ up?”

It was impossible not to smile at the not-so-subtle predictability of his response, and Buffy was glad she faced away from him so that he couldn’t see her do it. “I mean it,” she said. “Every time you start talking about Vampirella Interrupted, it makes me want to…”

Finishing that sentence was going to lead to badness, though Buffy wasn’t even sure why she’d started it in the first place. But Spike didn’t call her on it, instead offering, “Yeah. Hearing ‘bout you and Angel makes me want to, too.”

His hands slid down to her biceps, continuing his massage along her arms. Each stroke brushed his fingertips along the sides of her breasts, and Buffy felt her body responding to the erotic feathering with a tight tingle that began nowhere near her torso. Could it be deliberate on his part? she wondered. She had no idea because not once did his hands stray from their task, rubbing and kneading with a deliberate leisure just as if she’d asked him for this. Better to just enjoy the massage for what it was, she decided.

Buffy’s breath caught when she felt the faintest pressure at her nape, accompanied by a tiny nip where her shoulder curved into her neck. “Been wanting to do this all day,” she heard Spike murmur into her skin. His hands slid down the length of her arms, molding around her limbs as his fingers laced through hers, guiding them down until her palms rested atop his denim-clad thighs.

“What…what’re you doing?” It was probably the stupidest question ever asked, but anything more coherent escaped Buffy’s means as she felt his muscles trembling through the fabric.

“Thought we could discuss that little compromise you suggested,” Spike said. The tip of his tongue was tracing the outer curve of her ear, and Buffy’s eyes fluttered closed as goosebumps erupted along her arms.

“This doesn’t…feel like…talking,” she managed.

“You want me to stop?” Their entwined left hands were dragged backward, her arm bowing as he slid it between their bodies, down…down…down, to settle between their pelvises. She jumped as the length of his erection straining through his jeans pressed into her palm, but instinctively curled her fingers as best she could around it, forcing a groan from Spike’s chest that rumbled through her torso when his forehead dropped to her shoulder. “Don’t make me stop,” he whispered, and the entreaty that coated his words wrapped around Buffy like a desperate hug, drawing her back, and twisting around in his embrace until they were facing each other.

His eyes were black, his skin appearing almost alive as the fire reflected from it, but it was the naked confusion in his gaze that reached into her chest and squeezed, forcing her forward so that her legs were wrapped around his waist, his cock pressing into her barely protected heat. “What do you want?” she asked quietly. It was taking all her control not to throw her arms around him and kiss him until there was no tomorrow, but Buffy held back, knowing with her head if not her heart that if they didn’t get the rules out there first, the least of their worries would be going to bed frustrated.

Spike’s head tilted as he regarded her, first her face, and then dropping to see the quickening rise and fall of her chest. A single tremulous finger lifted to draw the line between her breasts, but she dismissed the shaking she witnessed as a trick of the fire.

“You drive me crazy, you know that?” Spike said when he finally spoke. “I get so bloody furious with you, and I think that…nothin’ would be better than to tear you apart with my bare hands and be rid of you, once and for all. And then…I watch you, the way you keep tryin’ even when you’re so barefaced about not wanting to…the way you don’t even know how bewitching you are, all power and polish in this tight little Slayer package…and I start to think that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad havin’ you ‘round after all.”

The tip of his tongue darted out to moisten his dry lips, and Buffy found herself riveted by the shiny pink point as it slid slowly across his flesh. “That still doesn’t tell me what you want,” she said.

“Maybe ‘cause I don’t rightly know.”

“You knew enough to turn me down last night.”

His mouth pursed at that, his finger withdrew, and the distance between them lengthened as Spike leaned back onto his hands to gaze at her more directly. “You wanted me to be your dirty little secret,” he accused. “You think you would’ve given it a go if I’d demanded the same from you?”

“But what does it matter? I’ve never heard you say one nice thing about any of us---.”

“It’s not about you lot. It’s about me. Sooner you get that, the sooner we can get past this and on to what really matters.”

“So, you’re saying you want me to hold a press conference when we get back to Sunnydale? Is that it?”

“I’m sayin’, give me a soddin’ choice. You talk partners, but you’re so bloody set in bein’ the lone gun, you don’t know what that means. You barely listen to your Watcher, you boss your friends about---.”

“What? I do not!”

“---and I just don’t want to get buried in the rubble again, is all.” When she began to scramble off his lap, Spike’s hands shot out and grabbed her arms, pulling her to topple onto his chest as he laid back on the floor. “Stop runnin’,” he growled. “I’m not letting you go until we get this hashed.”

It was harder being stretched along his length, the erection that had abated slightly with his arguments returning to poke into her hips. “There’s nowhere for me to run to, remember?” Buffy said irritably, though she did nothing to remove herself from his grasp.

“You’ll still find a way. You always do.”

“So?”

“So maybe I don’t want you to go anywhere.”

The admission stunned both of them, and Buffy could only stare at him, her mind a tug-of-war on what she should or shouldn’t do. “You have to tell me what it’s going to take to…you know,” she finally said. “I can’t say yes or no if I don’t know what it is.”

His hands loosened, his thumbs stroking the soft skin of her inner arm, as he contemplated her question. “Don’t think it’s so much,” Spike said quietly. “Just…maybe…I’d like you not to treat me like…I’m beneath you.” The last three words came out in a rush, as if he found it just as impossible to believe he was uttering them, too, while a flicker of what looked like disappointed anguish appeared and vanished just as quickly in his aspect. His lowered lashes blinked once…twice, and then closed, as he added, “Think we could be bloody marvelous together if you’d just give us half a shot, Buffy.”

Even without being able to see his eyes, she knew she’d never seen him look more vulnerable than he did at that exact moment. It was tearing him up admitting to such a need---the twitching muscles in his cheeks were testimony to that, as was his inability to meet her gaze when he never had a problem facing her---and the fact that he’d crossed that line when she’d been so reluctant deepened the guilt that Buffy had been cultivating ever since he’d saved her.

Sunnydale, and her friends, and uncomfortable explanations were days away; her life was proof that anything could happen in that time period. Was she worrying too much about how everyone would react if they found out she’d let Spike get closer than fist contact to her? He was a vampire, after all; odds were he’d pull a Parker and treat her like less than nobody again once he got what he wanted.

Except she knew that wasn’t really true, or Spike would’ve just taken her deal in the first place. And he had a point about wanting to be treated with a little bit of respect. He’d earned at least that much with how far he’d gone and how much he’d done in the past few days.

“Would that mean,” Buffy asked, “that I wouldn’t ever get to be on top?”

She was rewarded by his eyes shooting open, her tease taking him by surprise, but before he could speak, Buffy bent her head and pressed her lips to his, drinking down the cool tang of his mouth in a swift kiss. Immediately, Spike’s arms wrapped around her waist, rolling both of them to their sides so that they would each have room to explore, and she tangled her fingers into the hair that curled at the nape of his neck in order to pull him closer.

It lasted not nearly long enough, and left her panting when she finally broke away from the caress. “This doesn’t mean I love you or anything,” Buffy said, already moving back in to resume the kiss.

“’Course not.” He met her halfway, tugging at her bottom lip with his teeth so that she squeaked in protest. “Don’t love you, either.”

And then their mouths were fused again, a hot tangle of tongues as the last barrier they’d been hiding behind came crashing down. Each slide of his hands over her body, the way he couldn’t seem to stay still or find roost in any curve, as if he’d go up in flames if he didn’t touch her everywhere all at the same time, capsized the last ounce of control Buffy had, leaving her sinking and floundering for an iota of mastery in the whirlwind of her flesh. Everywhere his hands rested, for that infinitesimal second before disappearing to another inch of her skin, scorched in a throbbing heat that made her yearn to shed the clothes that separated them, the desire to rid him of everything that kept his hard sinew separated from hers rising faster than his erection had.

Without realizing she’d done so, Buffy threw her leg over his hip, drawing him closer so that the hard bulge of his cock pressed into her soaking sex. Spike slid away from her mouth, his tongue tasting the sheen of sweat that had risen to her outermost layer, and she arched away as he traveled down the taut line of her throat.

“Spike…” she hissed. His t-shirt knotted in her hands as they clawed to hold onto him, and she realized she was gulping at the air in a desperate bid to breathe properly. When had her lungs stopped working? Oh, yeah, right about the time he’d done---.

“Yesssss.” The sibilance of her pleasure merged with the sizzle of the hearth, and Buffy fell back onto the floor, Spike’s mouth where it had latched onto her nipple through her top never breaking from its hold as he followed after her. In spite of the multiple layers of cotton separating her breast from his tongue, she could still feel his teeth as he bit into the hardened bud, crying out from the explosion of bliss that flooded throughout her body.

“Spike?”

They both froze at the muffled sound, necks twisting to stare at the closed bedroom door. Buffy was the first to move when she heard the footsteps scraping over the floorboards, and by the time the door creaked open to reveal a foggy-eyed Holly outlined in the darkness, she had pushed herself up to a sitting position between Spike’s legs.

“What’s up, pidge?” Buffy hated that his voice was so even when she didn’t think she could speak if there were a twelve-foot serpent demon in front of her threatening her life if she didn’t. But the tremulous caress of his fingertips at the small of her back betrayed enough of his still-raging desire to counter that indignation.

“I thought I heard something scary.” Holly’s eyes were wide, her doll clutched tightly in her arms, and she was rocking back and forth on her heels in an effort to calm herself.

“Only scary thing out here is me,” Spike teased.

“Hey!” Buffy protested with a smile. “I can be scary, too. Look.” Curling her hands into claws, she did the worst impression of a monster that she could muster, so bad that it even drew a reluctant giggle from Holly. Buffy relaxed, pleased with her small measure of success with the child. It was the first right thing that had happened all day.

Spike’s finger slipped beneath the waistband of her pants, stroking her skin with a velvet touch that made Buffy shiver.

OK. Second right thing.

“Toddle off back to bed,” Spike was saying. At Holly’s stricken look, he quickly added, “I’ll be there to tuck you in, in two licks.”

“Promise?”

“I promise, moptop.”

“Cross your heart and hope to die?”

Buffy expected a snarky comment about how he was already dead, and was surprised when he simply said, “Cross my heart. Now shoo.”

After a long moment, Holly nodded her head and backed back into the darkness of the bedroom. Before Buffy could turn to face Spike, however, his mouth was at her ear, whispering dark promises that sent a frisson of anticipation searing down her spine.

“Don’t be thinkin’ this is over, pet. You and me are just gettin’ started here.” His tongue darted out for the quickest of licks. “I might suggest you use this little timeout wisely, though. Maybe start practicing how not to scream. Trust me. You’re goin’ to want to.”

And before she could reply, he had disappeared from the room.

 

To be continued in Chapter 20: Silver and Gold