DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Joyce is organizing an escape from Maria’s, while Buffy has finally confessed the depth of her love for Spike…

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

Chapter 43: Our Troubles Will Be Miles Away

In spite of her protestations to the contrary, she’d fallen asleep almost immediately on his chest, her hair tumbling over his shoulder as she breathed out tiny little snores that tickled along his skin. Buffy’s leg was thrown over his pelvis, the heat from her bare thigh just enough to keep him erect, but Spike was mostly oblivious to his arousal.

What had started as a game turned surprisingly serious when the desire to rip the truth out of her, to get everything out in the open once and for all, had stricken Spike into demanding some answers. It wasn’t enough to have her legs wrapped around him so tight he’d gladly put himself back in that sodding wheelchair just to feel her come around his cock. He wanted it all. He wanted her to tell him that he bloody well did matter to her, that this wasn’t a dream she was going to yank away from him and laugh hysterically when his heart shattered into such tiny slivers that he likely dusted from their impact. He wanted to know she loved him.

Then, she’d done it so effectively---so fucking effectively, good on her---bandying about words that were guaranteed to eradicate the last barriers he hid behind. Like family. Like not alone.

Like love.

Even if she never asked it of him, Spike knew there was nothing the Slayer could request that he wouldn’t willingly grant. It wasn’t quite the same as before, though. Though he could likely be termed love’s bitch yet again, this time, he wasn’t lost in it. Buffy wouldn’t tolerate a partner who wasn’t at least as strong as she was; it was just one of the many reasons why she and the college boy had failed. Spike had little doubt that she respected the way he’d stood up for himself, demanding equal opportunities in the space of the their newfound relationship. It was a status quo he was intent on keeping.

His fingers fell to caress the side of her breast, the swell pushed awkwardly outward from the pressure of lying against his body. He smiled when the goosebumps erupted, and shifted to allow room to reach the hardening nipple. So finely tuned, this one. It was going to be a pleasure learning exactly how best to strum her flesh, to create those glorious sounds of her orgasms again and again.

Better yet, learning how to get Buffy to be more comfortable with saying the words. Spike had had a hint of how good it could be. Now, he wanted more.

Easing her off to lay her on her back, Spike’s mouth descended to start kissing the soft arch of Buffy’s collarbone. She tasted sweet and salty, like honey-roasted peanuts warmed on the fire, and his veins began pulsating with the desire to devour her again. When she stirred beneath his touch, he lifted his head to watch the flames’ shadows flicker over her face. God, she was beautiful.

“You stopped.” She didn’t open her eyes when she spoke, the two words barely intelligible in her state of half-sleep. “Why’d you stop?”

“Should get up to bed,” he replied. He wasn’t about to admit to staring at her like some lovesick ponce. She had enough ammunition to taunt him with for years to come. “Was just debating if it was worth wakin’ you for.”

Buffy’s eyes fluttered open. “Short debate, I guess,” she said. “Since I’m already awake.”

“You weren’t.”

“Close enough.”

Gently, Spike ran a fingertip across her swollen lips. “Say it again,” he murmured.

“Close enough.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” She burrowed back into his body, ducking her eyes. “Aren’t you tired of hearing it?”

“Never.” He paused. “You’re not fussing already ‘bout---.”

Her head shot up, narrowly missing connecting with his chin in her haste. “Don’t even think it,” she warned, suddenly wide awake. “As hard as it was for me to say, don’t you dare start thinking that I didn’t mean it. That’s not my style, Spike. I thought you knew that.”

“I do.” Capturing her mouth in a quick kiss, Spike shoved aside the doubts that her slight reluctance had roused. “Just…part of it still doesn’t feel real.”

“It’ll be real enough when we’re having to explain it to my friends. And my mom. She didn’t like Angel being my boyfriend, either, remember. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to have a few choice words to say about this relationship, too.”

“Like, ‘It’s about time you picked a decent vamp to shag, Buffy.’”

She slapped at his chest, curling back down into his side. “For your information, she’d never use the word, ‘shag.’ After she saw Austin Powers, she said it once when we were at the mall, and I teased her so much about it, right in front of this really cute guy at Cinnabon, that she never said it again. Behold, the true powers of mother/daughter bonding.”

Spike chuckled. Hearing Buffy sound so unSlayer-like, and knowing she was relaxed enough in his presence to allow herself that luxury, was music to his ears. “Still,” he said, “not too bothered about your mum. She knows a good thing when she sees it.”

“And I suppose you’re that good thing.”

“Bloody right, I am. Who else would put up with your mood swings like I do---.” He laughed when she shoved him away, rolling on to his side to watch her sit up and fold her arms across her bare breasts. “I rest my case, Sybil.”

“You piss me off on purpose, don’t you, Spike?”

“Well, yeah. Gotta get my jollies somewhere.”

He could tell she wasn’t really mad. Though she pressed her lips into a thin line, the muscles in her cheeks betrayed her desire to smile.

“Besides…” Slowly, Spike’s hand slithered forward, gliding along the length of her half-exposed leg until it could dip into the moist cleft between her thighs. “…something tells me you haven’t discovered the joys of angry sex yet, luv. When all you want to do is pound the other person into the ground. Feel them twist around you while you both try to be the one to come out on top…”

Her eyes had closed halfway through his words, her mouth falling slack. “When we have angry sex,” Buffy breathed, “it’ll be over a real fight. Like when we get back to Sunnydale and I throw out all your hair gel.”

“Hey!”

She grinned, but didn’t open her eyes. “Be grateful I’m cutting you some leeway with the bleach. But no way are you going back to helmet hair. I like the curls too much. Plus, nicer to touch.”

With a growl, Spike grabbed Buffy’s hips and yanked her back to him, ignoring her protesting squeal to pull her back against him. “You’re just lucky I love you,” he said, biting playfully at her neck. “Don’t know why I pick such bossy bitches to fall for.”

“First off, I’m not being bossy about your hair. I just have better style sense than you do and I am not about to let you lose out on the benefit of my brilliance. And secondly…” Taking his hand in hers, she pulled it down so that it cupped her bottom. “…you just gave me a sliver, you jerk. How are you planning on making that up to me?”

The illumination from the fireplace did nothing to hide the glimmer of desire that darkened Buffy’s eyes. Without looking away, Spike tugged her forward, moving back and out of her way just enough so that she could lie flat on her stomach, and then began rubbing soft circles around the swell of her ass. “You know, Harmony used to keep a stake under our bed,” he commented.

Buffy wrinkled her nose. “And we’re talking about skanky exes because…?”

He leaned forward and pressed his mouth to her shoulder. “Dru used to have a thing for wood, too,” he said, ignoring her previous words.

“You are not comparing me to those two.”

“No comparison.” His tongue was on her back now, dipping into the curve of her spine to follow the path downward. “Just thought it was interestin’, is all.”

“Interesting is not going to get you---ohhhh…”

Her words were lost in a breathy sigh when Spike’s teeth found the softest part of her ass and bit down, just enough for her to squirm her pelvis against the floor. He smiled. “Guess you’re lucky my heart’s not in my mouth, then,” he murmured. “No chance of me gettin’ staked if I do this.”

The fresh scent of her juices drifted to his nose, but Spike was too intent on soothing the rough patch of skin sliding across the floor had created on Buffy’s bottom. He could feel the sharp tip of the splinter against his tongue, catching it every time he licked at the spot, but only when he heard her whimper at his localized attention did he slip his fingers between her legs and past her outer lips.

Buffy exhaled with a muffled cry. As she began thrusting back against his seeking fingers, Spike let his demon emerge, his fangs elongating to nick at the tender skin around the sliver. Carefully, he caught it between his teeth and pulled it out, but not before a few droplets of her blood landed on his tongue. His growl was instinctive. Before he could think otherwise, he slid up her body, sheathing his cock deep inside her pussy as he did so.

She bucked back against him. Her eyes were open, and he knew she saw him in his gameface before she looked away, but the way she thrust down along his rigid length told him she didn’t care.

He knew he could probably bite her without setting off the chip. The way she responded to his insistent pounding, pushing back and trembling as he held her firm, only half-letting her hold herself up as he fucked her from behind, betrayed her desire for him---for this---just as surely as if she’d said the words. And he had to admit, he was more than tempted. Every slam forward bared her neck to him even more, exposing the sinew of her Slayer muscles working in concord to ride him blind.

But he wouldn’t. Couldn’t. They’d already proven that biting could be a seductive part of their lovemaking. Spike wasn’t about to abuse that trust he’d gained with her by taking without her explicit consent.

She came quickly, shuddering, a mold beneath his fingers to ply. When Spike curled his arm around her waist in order to drive deeper, Buffy helped his arousal by turning her head and sinking her teeth into his bicep. It loosed the dam within, and his body went rigid as his cock slammed one final time, the fire igniting his flesh a product of the flames and her.

God, her. Buffy. His.

The room dipped around him as he rode out the last of his orgasm. Didn’t feel completely real, he’d said to her. And how could it? Slayers weren’t supposed to love vampires---not the ones without souls, at least---and vampires weren’t supposed to want to protect the very person so bent on their destruction.

And yet here they were, and as he sat up, taking her with him to cradle her in his lap, Spike felt a rush of completion surge through him. Buffy might think that things would be hard for them once they got back to Sunnydale, and while she might be right, Spike was of the opinion that the hardest bit was now already past.

She made him feel like he could do anything.

“Should move this to where little ones with big eyes might not necessarily see us,” he murmured into her hair.

She turned and wrapped her arms around his neck. “But then there’s no more chances for me to get splinters,” she said, pretending to pout. “And I’ve got to say, that was way better than Mom with the tweezers any day.”

“I can think of other ways to keep you entertained.” Rising to his feet, he walked with Buffy over to the ladder, setting her on one of the rungs before stepping back. “Now get yourself up there while I seal up the fortress. I don’t want any more walkabouts interrupting our games.”

She kissed him quickly before climbing to the loft, and Spike hurriedly began moving the furniture around to block the door. He didn’t think Holly would be sleepwalking tonight, but there was no way for them to predict what might set off her dreamworld. Better to be safe than sorry.

Besides, she was one of his girls now. And Spike knew how to take care of his girls.

Both of them.

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

In the end, it was much simpler than she’d first thought it would be

Paul surprised both of them by volunteering to act as a diversion. “If something goes wrong,” he’d said, his young face so earnest that Joyce felt like pinching his cheeks, “I’m the one most likely to escape Maria’s wrath. She won’t suspect me. Of the three of us, I’m the only one never to give her cause to doubt my loyalty.”

Joyce thought it was incredibly brave and told him so with a warm smile.

“It’s foolhardy,” Giles retorted. But at the stern look she’d shot him, he’d added, albeit reluctantly, “And correct.”

He left them then, to seek out Silas and Maria, keeping them busy with a faux discovery regarding Holly’s location until Giles and Joyce could get to the car. It was agreed that they would come back to the gates for him, but they would only wait for as long as they thought it safe. They couldn’t risk detection if they wanted to get beyond the reach of Maria’s magic.

They waited for five minutes before leaving Paul’s room. In that time period, Giles never said another word to Joyce, though she knew he was more than a little annoyed with her gung-ho attitude. Frankly, she didn’t care. He might be Buffy’s Watcher, but she was her mother, and there was no way Joyce could sit back and allow that Maria bitch to continue on with her plans. Without Giles or Paul to help fathom out Holly’s location, Maria would fail. Right now, Joyce wanted nothing more than to see the woman fall flat on her face from it.

“Stay close to me,” Giles instructed when they finally reached the stairs. “I know this house a little better than you do. I believe I can get us to the front door without alerting anyone.”

She nodded. Now was not the time to be arguing with him.

The house was silent as they crept down the stairs, and Joyce cringed when her foot found a squeaky spot on one of the risers. They froze, listening for a response, but when none came, resumed their stealthy pace.

The front door was unlocked, and slipping into the darkness on the other side eased one of the knots in Joyce’s stomach. Pulling the jacket she’d borrowed from Paul closer around her, she rushed past Giles and off the porch, leading him away from the path that cut through the front yard and into the trees that lined the perimeter of the estate.

“What are you doing?” he hissed, coming up behind her. His breath was a white plume in the air, but even that was difficult to see once they’d reached the cover of the foliage.

“You may know the inside,” she said, “but I know the out. There’s a wall that runs around the property. If we go down the drive, we’ll be seen. This is the best way for us to get out undetected.”

“You didn’t mention a wall to Paul.”

“Because he already knows.” She led Giles past a twisted oak, noting the break just a few yards ahead. “If you’d been paying attention instead of sulking about this being suicide, you would’ve heard him remind me of it.”

They came to a stop before the stone wall. Joyce’s hands were already shivering from the cold, but she knew this was no time to take a break to warm them. Using the carved rocks as holds, she wedged her toe into one of the crevices and grabbed one over her head to start climbing over. As she started to move to a higher rock, warm hands were suddenly on her bottom, pushing her up to the top and allowing her to swing her leg over with little more difficulty.

She only had to wait a moment before Giles appeared, carefully hopping the few feet to the ground as he slid over the wall’s top. “Which way to the car?” he asked, squinting against the darkness.

Joyce looked up down and the dirt road they now stood alongside. “That way,” she said, pointing to her left. She began trudging along the packed snow to prove her certainty, and was quickly joined by Giles. “It’s not that far.”

It was silent as they walked. “I owe you an apology,” he said, finally shattering the quiet.

“For feeling me up when you helped me over the wall?” she teased.

“For not believing we could do it. I’m sorry.”

She shrugged, though it was barely noticeable beneath her jacket. “It’s your job to be skeptical. You wouldn’t be you if you weren’t.”

More silence. And then…

“Joyce…have you been working out?”

She smiled into the darkness.

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

She didn’t even look up when Silas came scuttling back into her study. “So, was I right?” Maria asked.

“They’re gone,” Silas replied. “And I saw Paul slipping out the front door as I was coming back downstairs.”

She merely nodded. “Your worries about him weren’t unfounded, it would seem.”

“But…” His plump cheeks were flushed, his eyes darting from his hostess to the door behind him. “Why would you let them go? We’ll never find your daughter without Rupert or Paul’s aid.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. They are now our best means for locating Holly.” Glancing at the watch on her slim wrist, she rose to her feet. “Mrs. Summers made it more than clear that she knows more than she is telling. You and I are going to find out exactly what that is.”

He shook his head. “I don’t understand. How can you know this? What do you possibly believe we might gain in following them?”

“This is why I’m the one who leads and you’re the one who follows, my dear Silas.” She stopped in front of him and patted him condescendingly on the arm. “You’ve trusted me this far. You really must trust me just a tad further.”

When he nodded, Maria smiled and brushed past him to the doorway. Young Paul’s odd behavior had been the only telltale signs she needed to have the surveillance tapes on his room pulled. She only bothered with them when the need arose, and hadn’t really given a second thought to her Watchers’ duplicity since Giles’ phone call to Sunnydale.

At least it was now going to pay off. Joyce Summers knew where Holly was, and now she was going to lead Maria straight to her.

 

To be continued in Chapter 44: Don’t You Tell a Single Soul