DISCLAIMER: Everything but the plot is Joss'. Too bad.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: A spurned lover has tried unsuccessfully to shoot Spike, after having knocked out Willow in the dressing room. Buffy has taken the vampire home to dress his wound, while Gino has taken the young witch to the hospital.

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Chapter 11: Someone to Watch over Me

She looked so tiny in the over-sized hospital bed, the harshness of her make-up a stark contrast to her pale skin, almost making her look like a child too eager to grow up and play with her mother’s things. Against the white of her pillow, her red hair seemed to burn, and Gino felt that all-consuming urge to reach out and stroke it away from her forehead. He wouldn’t, of course. That kind of contact only happened in his dreams.

Lola was long gone, having given the doctors the information they wanted before disappearing to meet up with her new boyfriend. It was up to Gino to give the medical personnel the details of Willow’s attack---as near as he could figure it---and to try and explain his own presence without compromising her reputation. He hadn’t really fooled anyone; both of the nurses on the ward saw his awkward flush when the dark bouncer caught a glimpse of the young woman being stripped for a hospital gown, saw him quickly avert his gaze, only to steal glances out of the corners of his eyes. It had been their suggestion he stay until she woke up, offering her a familiar face as the first thing she saw, perhaps allay any fears she might have upon waking in a strange environment. He’d accepted it with a sheepish smile.

The chair he sat in at her side was too small for his large frame, his long legs spread out clumsily in front of him, hips wedged in between the narrow armrests. He wanted to shift his weight, maybe ease some of the pressure on his powerful thighs, but he was terrified of disturbing her rest and so kept still, uncomfortable in his vigil, ever silent in his watch.

Over an hour passed like this before she finally stirred, a small moan escaping her slender throat as her lids fluttered open. Immediately, Gino straightened.

Although the light was dimmed, it still felt as if the glow was cutting into her eyeballs, slicing into her pounding head, and Willow found herself blinking rapidly as she tried to adjust to it. She didn’t have to ask where she was; the acrid scent of antiseptic was a dead giveaway, and the young woman wondered briefly if the crazy girl from the closet had shot her. Probably, she thought. Knowing my dumb luck.

The large shape to her side caught her attention and as slowly as she could manage, she turned her head, green eyes widening slightly as she saw a solemn Gino wedged into a tiny chair. “Hi,” she said softly and was rewarded with a return smile.

“Hey,” he replied. There was a moment of awkward silence, before the dark bouncer added, “You need anything? I can get the nurse to come in, maybe get you some water or something.”

“Can they get me a new head?” she asked with a small smile. “’Cause I think I’ve broken this one.”

Gino chuckled. Yeah, she was doing better; this was the Willow he knew. “The doc says you’ll be tip-top in no time,” he said. “They’re just keeping you in overnight for…” His voice trailed off as he sought to recall the word they’d used.

“Observation,” Willow offered gently.

Gino’s face creased with relief. “Yeah, that’s it.”

“It’s nice to know I’m not---.” Her green eyes went wide as saucers as the memories of her encounter in the closet came flooding back. “Spike!” she exclaimed. “That girl was going to shoot---.”

“He’s OK,” the dark bouncer interrupted. “Don’t worry. Buffy said he didn’t need a hospital and took him back to their place.”

Relaxing into her pillow, Willow bit her lip in an attempt to stem the questions that threatened to bubble forth. Just go with what people say, Buffy had said. But…living together? And that woman with the gun, she’d been pretty clear about something going on between Spike and his new girlfriend. What exactly had happened to the pair when they’d come through?

“Who’s Oz?”

It was the last thing she expected to hear in her current state, and Willow’s head whipped around to stare at her guest. “What?” she breathed.

“Oz,” Gino repeated, his black eyes downcast as he absently cracked his knuckles. “When you were out of it…you mumbled the name. He a…new boyfriend?”

“Oh. No.” The tension eased from the redhead’s face, only to be replaced by a lingering sorrow. “Old boyfriend, actually.”

“…You miss him.”

“Sometimes.” When Gino’s questioning gaze flickered up to meet hers, Willow colored slightly. “OK, most of the time. But it’s like, I’m still trying to get my head around why he left, and how I could’ve been so blind that he could do…what he did…”

“Lemme guess. He was a musician.”

“Yeah, but that didn’t have anything to do with…” The young witch frowned. “How’d you know that?”

Gino snorted. “Because you dames are always falling for musicians, which I just don’t get ‘cause they’re about as reliable as---.” He shook his head. “Never mind. None of my business.”

“No, say what you mean. After all, we’re…” Oh goddess, she thought, please let me be right about this. “…friends.”

He seemed pleased by this admission on her part, half-smiling, ducking his head as one of his paws of a hand ran through his closely-shorn hair. “Still none of my business,” he said. “Although, I gotta say, this Oz was a real palooka to let a girl like you get away.”

To be honest, Willow wasn’t one hundred percent sure exactly what palooka meant, but from the dark man’s context and inflection, somehow she suspected that her ex wouldn’t be very flattered by it. “What about the girl?” she asked, ready for a change in subject, anything to get away from thoughts of Oz and the pain of his betrayal.

“You mean Pauline?”

“Um, yeah, Pauline. Is she going to go to jail for shooting Spike?”

Gino’s laugh was more of a bark. “You kidding?” he asked incredulous. “Mr. Lombardi will probably just give her the gate. No way does he want the cops crawling around the Sun. They find out he’s got pro skirts on the books, he’ll get closed down faster than they could spit in your eye.” He sobered. “And I’m glad Buffy talked him out of putting you on the roster with the rest of them. You don’t want that kind of mess in your life.”

“You don’t think it’s better than selling cigarettes?” Willow was confused. How could dancing be so bad?

“No.” His reply was firm, almost adamant. “Spike’s definitely got the right idea. Soon as Buffy said yes to getting hitched, he went in and demanded Mr. Lombardi take her off the active list. He said, no way was he going to share his girl with anyone, even if it was her job. Can’t blame him really. I don’t think I’d be able to see straight if I thought my girl was sleeping with half the town.”

Her mouth made a tiny o as the truth of what she’d almost gotten herself into opened up in front of her like a book. Memo to self, she thought. Thank Buffy.

“Is it the money?” Gino was saying. “’Cause, you know, I don’t have much, but if you need a loan or something---.”

“No, no,” Willow assured him. “That’s sweet, but most definitely no. You’ve just made the whole thing crystal clear for me and I promise, I will never ask to get put on the roster again.” And how, she added silently.

He desperately wanted to believe her---God, how he wanted to believe!---but Gino had heard this same promise before and still she’d almost been begging the boss for another shot just earlier tonight. Although she certainly seemed sincere, the dark bouncer couldn’t help but wonder what her true motivation for pulling active duty could be. “I should probably be going,” he said, struggling to pry himself from the chair and rise to his feet. “Buffy wanted me to call her and let her know how you’re doing. Don’t want to leave it too late, or she’ll kill me for waking her up.”

The redhead watched as Gino picked up his coat from a hook by the door and slid it over his broad shoulders, the fabric straining tightly across his back as it clung to him like a second skin. “I’ll let the nurse know you’re up,” he said, not looking back, and Willow found herself wondering what she’d said that had driven him away.

“I’m glad you were here,” she ventured as his hand touched the door knob. “When I woke up? I don’t think you know how badly I needed to see a familiar face.”

Gino paused, then glanced back at her, his dark gaze soft. “Doc said if you were fine, you could go home in the morning,” he offered. “Lola’s supposed to come by, but I think we both know she’s not exactly the reliable-type. If you want, I could…come instead…you know, pick up your stuff and bring it over…take you home if you get the green light.”

She couldn’t help the smile that lit up her face. “Thanks. I’d like that.” Willow watched him grin, his mood suddenly lifted, and sighed as he exited the room. OK, having a really big guy with the disposition of a puppy who seemed to worship the ground you walked on was probably a good thing when you were stuck in a place where you didn’t know what the hell was going on, or how in heck you were going to get home, or even where in the world you lived, and god, how she wished Buffy was here right now…

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Her voice was a golden murmur, floating in from the other room on a cloud of ether, and Spike glanced again at the closed door that separated them. She’d been silent for most of their trip back to the apartment, although it was most definitely a different sort of silence from the previous evening. This time, the vampire knew she’d gone into Slayer mode, dissecting the problem of Tony, Red’s surprise appearance, and this new attack on his own person, with the diligence that had helped her survive so long in her calling. Giles had trained his charge well; assess your opponent before you strike. Too bad his instruction hadn’t included how to deal with your emotions at the same time.

Buffy had been right in telling Lombardi it was only a flesh wound. By the time they’d arrived at the apartment, Spike’s healing capabilities had already started to kick in, and the injury had required only a simple dressing. The Slayer’s touch had been firm, but surprisingly gentle, and the blond vamp had found himself wishing for something just a little bit more. However, after the events at the club, he wasn’t holding his breath. Not when she had other things to think about. So when she’d wished him a quiet good-night and disappeared into her room, he’d taken the hint, retiring to his own bed, the adrenalin from the excitement only then starting to ebb.

Problem was…he wasn’t tired. The pain in his arm was mostly gone, and as he stared up at the ceiling, he found his gaze wandering around the room, catching on the whips on the wall…the chest on the floor…the swing in the corner. His cock was at full attention, throbbing with an incessant rhythm that would’ve driven him mad at any other time, but now, with so many toys at his disposal, filled him an anxious anticipation. No reason he couldn’t get himself off, Spike thought. Certainly got the tools for it.

Ignoring the obvious, the blond vampire instead chose to extract the box of scarves from the nightstand where he’d placed them earlier, having kept his promise to Buffy that he’d remove them from her sight. The sudden image of her golden body spread-eagled against the black satin of his bed flashed across his mind’s eye, and he’d had to force himself to hold back the growl that bubbled to his lips. The phone had rung only moments earlier, so he knew she was just in the other room, speaking to whoever could be calling at such an hour, and the last thing he needed to do was draw attention to what was on his mind.

The rap at the door startled him from his reverie, and he glanced down with irritation at his hard-on. Don’t think Slayer will appreciate me lettin’ her in lookin’ like this, he thought, and grabbed the black robe draped over a nearby chair. “Just a sec,” Spike called out, belting himself closed, then realized that the satin actually did very little to hide his erection. Fuck. As the knob started to turn, the vamp leapt for the seat, settling himself into it just as Buffy stepped into the room.

“Which part of ‘just a sec’ was so hard to understand?” he groused, all the while drinking in her silk-clad shape.

“That was Gino,” Buffy said, ignoring his comment. “He says Willow’s going to be fine. He’s going to go pick her up in the morning.” Her hazel eyes flickered to the box of scarves lying haphazardly on the floor before returning to the one still in Spike’s hand.

“So what’s Rupes’ grand plan?”

Buffy frowned. “What’re you talking about?”

“Well, Red’s here so obviously it must have something to do with gettin’ us back to the hellmouth, right? Figure your Watcher’s got some scheme that needs her on the inside.”

She shook her head. “It was an accident she came through,” she explained. “There’s no great escape in the works. She’s just as stuck as we are.”

Spike was surprised at the glee he felt hearing they weren’t going back just yet. Getting sucked into another dimension with someone who was supposed to be your enemy should’ve been hell, but, so far, this was far from it. Here, he had respect, a little power, and a gorgeous girl living just a few feet away from him. OK, so someone had decided to take a shot at him tonight, but that wasn’t any different to everyday existence in Sunnydale. Shit, in some ways, it was even easier.

“Do I want to know why you have those out?” Buffy asked, nodding toward the scarves.

“Just because you don’t want to use them doesn’t mean I don’t,” Spike said, his lips curling suggestively.

“On your own?” Her hazel eyes widened. “Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?”

He chuckled. “Just a few hours ago, you didn’t even know what their purpose was, Slayer.”

“Well, I do now,” Buffy proclaimed, arms folded across her breasts. She glared down at him defiantly for a moment, before biting her lip. “I think.”

Running the silk over his hands, Spike tilted his head as his blue eyes darkened. “Care to have a lesson?”

“From you? I don’t think so.” But she didn’t move, held her ground, holding her head even higher as she watched him tangle the scarf around his fingers.

Spike felt her pulse accelerate. There was no mistaking her excitement, and for a fleeting moment, he wondered if she had any idea how much it egged him on, expounding his own arousal until just looking at her made her seem outlined in red. God, this is going to be even better than fighting her, he thought.

“It’s not about the actual act, you know,” he said casually. “Doesn’t have to be any penetration at all in fact.”

For a split second, she faltered, frowning, before resuming her resolve face. “You’re just making that up,” she argued.

Spike shook his head. “Don’t expect a Slayer could understand the finer points of foreplay. After all, all you’re concerned with is…makin’ sure the stake gets stuck in, all good and proper-like.”

Her cheeks burned. “And here I always thought a vampire’s idea of foreplay was, you know…grrr…argh…bite.”

The azure of his eyes had darkened, pupils dilated as his excitement mounted. “It’s about trust, Buffy,” he said, his voice a roll of faraway thunder over her skin. “Or…don’t you trust me?”

“About as far as I can throw you, Spike.”

“Well,” he drawled, “seein’ as you’re the Slayer, I’d say that was pretty damn far…wouldn’t you?” The blond vamp couldn’t hide his amusement, his gaze dancing as it swept over her, daring her to come back with something even better, but not giving her the time to do it. “It’s not like I can actually hurt you now, not with this pesky little chip in my head, so don’t see what you’re so scared of.”

“I’m not scared.” Her heart was pounding in her ears, a tympani staccato that echoed throughout her body. She didn’t understand her reaction to him---didn’t want to---but really, there was no denying it. Not this time. “I’m not scared,” she repeated.

“Prove it.”

They squared off, blue eyes locked with hazel, each determined not to be the first to break, both silently daring the other to step up and face the consequences. For a moment, Spike actually thought she was going to run for it, or worse, grab something unexpectedly wooden and put it to the use she knew best. Instead, when her gaze darted rapidly to the bed, he realized…he’d won.

“And there’s no penetration?” she asked, the doubt lingering in her voice.

“I give you my word,” he promised. “Although don’t be surprised if you’re beggin’ for it by the time I’m done.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself, Spike.”

“Don’t need to,” he drawled. “Got a century of firsthand experience that tells me otherwise.” He watched as she stepped tentatively to the edge of the bed, looking down at the black sheets as she bit her lip.

“What am I supposed to do?” she asked, her voice suddenly husky. He could almost feel the anticipation dripping from it.

“Lie down,” he instructed softly. “Then…absolutely nothing…”

By concentrating, Spike had been able to diminish the hardness of his erection, not sending it completely away, but allowing it to relax enough so that he could stand up without poking out the front of his robe. As casually as he could manage, the blond vampire scooped up the other scarves from the floor, doing his best to maintain an aura of nonchalance before the Slayer, deliberately keeping his gaze from where she’d lain back on the bed until he stood at her side.

Buffy watched as Spike made a quick knot around her wrist with one end of the scarf before looping its other around the headboard, drawing it tight, taut, pulling her arm up over her head so that it was comfortably outstretched, tightening the muscles that ran down her side. He repeated the process with her other arm, then both legs, leaving her slightly spread-eagled, all the while humming some aimless tune under his breath, matching the rhythm that was vibrating over her own skin.

The blond vampire seemed so composed about what he was doing, fingers firm but somewhat distant, blue eyes unperturbed by the enormity of what he was doing to her. “Not too tight there,” he commented as he withdrew from the final knot. “You want to, you can get out no problem.” He chuckled. “Must admit though, I much prefer bein’ on this end of the tying up for a change.” His fingers caught the tie of her robe, tugging at it gently, easing it from its bonds until the silk separated, slid to her side, exposing the long pink length of her gown underneath.

Buffy held her breath as Spike prowled around the edge of the bed, blue eyes intent on her shivering form, head slightly cocked as if assessing his next action. “How much do you like the negligee, Slayer?” he queried, stopping at the foot of the mattress.

“There’s six others just like it hanging in the closet,” she replied breathlessly.

“Good.” Crawling onto the black sheets, he knelt between her legs, long fingers gathering the hem of the silk into his hands. His sapphire gaze flickered up to her face, saw the flush growing in her cheeks, and his lips twisted into a smile as he jerked his hands apart, tearing the soft fabric of her nightgown in a single motion, baring the outlines of her curves to the cool bedroom air.

As the silk drifted to her sides, joining the robe that already lay there in disuse, Spike’s mouth went suddenly dry, soaking in the shape of the Slayer lying prostrate before him. She was exquisite. The dreams…the fantasies…even the occasional glimpse of bare skin her skimpy clothing sometimes afforded him…none of it had prepared him for the reality of seeing Buffy’s body in all its golden glory, a plethora of muscular curves making promises of power and passion as they lay taut against the mattress.

She watched his eyes begin to glitter, briefly wondering what the hell she’d gotten herself into before hastening to remind herself that the blond vampire was physically incapable of hurting her, not with that chip in his head. You’re safe, you’re safe, you’re safe, she chanted silently. Stop being such a baby about this.

Her nipples had hardened into tiny buds, but both of them knew it wasn’t the chill of the room that was the cause. Nor could the temperature be blamed for the wetness beginning to seep down her thighs. Spike inhaled deeply, savoring the scent as it tingled his tongue, and he edged backwards, off the bed, bare feet sinking into the carpet as he stood. “You have any idea what that smell does to a vamp?” he murmured, stepping around the edge of the bed to her side.

“What…smell?” Buffy whispered.

Her hazel eyes were riveted as he leaned over, one lean finger dancing along the moist skin of her inner thigh, drawing the digit back to his mouth, his tongue darting out to lap at the Slayer’s musk that clung to his cold flesh. “Not quite the ambrosia of blood,” he elided, “but nectar nonetheless.”

The realization sent shivers through Buffy’s body. All along, every time she’d been excited in his presence…he’d known, could…smell it on her…and for some reason, that thought only aroused her further. “No…penetration…remember…” she whispered, eyes wide as he sauntered over to the dresser, pulling open the top drawers like he was looking for something specific.

“I remember,” he replied. He glanced back over his shoulder. “As long as you do.” When Spike turned back, she saw the small vial in his hands, the clear liquid inside catching the dim light in the room.

“What’s that for?” she asked as smoothly as she could manage.

The vampire just shook his head. “It’s about trust, or the whole thing’s off.”

Buffy bit her lip, holding back the words, helpless against her own desire to do anything but lie there and watch as returned to the foot of the bed, opening the vial and tipping out a few drops of its essence onto his palms. As she watched him slowly…methodically…rub his hands together, spreading the liquid so that it coated every inch of his fingers, the young woman noticed for the first time the vampire’s own arousal, his erection tenting the black satin of his robe, obvious testimony to his deeper involvement in this scenario than she’d originally thought. Outside of seeing me naked---ohmigod please don’t let Giles find out about this---what can Spike possibly be getting from this? she wondered.

Her body jerked, pulling against the scarves, as he lightly grasped her bound foot, icy fingers trailing along its arch, kneading the pad of her heel with his thumb as his fingers splayed among her toes, stretching them…squeezing just enough to send shivers of anticipation along her legs. Buffy’s lids fluttered shut, breath quickening, her chest suddenly tight as the vampire abandoned her left foot for her right, repeating the quick massage in a moment of delicious delight before his hands left her body completely.

She waited…one breath…two…and the desperate thought that he wasn’t going to continue forced her eyes open to stare at him looming at the end of the bed, his blue gaze heavy, tongue running along the edge of his teeth. “That’s not it,” she said raggedly.

“It is if you keep askin’ questions,” Spike murmured. “Do you want me to stop? All you have to do is say so.”

The electricity passed between them, sparks catching in the other’s eyes, setting ablaze the pits each had hungering inside. “No,” Buffy finally breathed. “Don’t stop.”

His weight settled on the mattress between her legs, his icy presence tantalizingly near yet miles away. As the blond vampire resumed his erotic dance over her muscles, alternating his touch between light and heavy, molding her flesh beneath her fingers, the Slayer felt as if her legs had turned to jelly, melting into the bed, as much a part of her as far away. Even when he added her thighs to his repertoire, she noticed how carefully he stayed away from her soaking slit, avoiding direct contact, not even allowing a casual brush against the golden curls. Her clit throbbed from the anticipation of his touch, and Buffy couldn’t help the moan that escaped her throat, her body betraying her as she lifted her hips from the bed, straining to reach his long fingers if he refused to come to her.

Spike chuckled. He hadn’t been lying when he’d said the scarves were about trust, but he’d left out the most important part…to him, at least. Having her like this---bound before him, helpless against his onslaught---was more than an exercise in confidence; it was about power, and right now, the blond vamp had it in spades. All he had to do was…

Her back arched, leaping from the bed, as she felt his thumb flick over her clit, sliding amidst her moisture, tracing the path of her labia down one side…up the other…before finishing its short journey back to its original spot. Buffy hissed as she felt the ice disappear, and practically tore her hands free from the scarves as she shot upwards, fighting to sit before falling back onto the bed. “You said…no penetration?” she rasped.

“And there wasn’t,” Spike answered coolly, his voice suddenly in her ear.

Buffy’s eyes shot open, breasts heaving as she turned to see the vamp at her side, his mouth inches from hers, eyes almost black with desire. Before she could even think, she’d lunged forward, forcing her lips to his, devouring him with her tongue…her teeth…wishing against everything that was good and reasonable that he would just climb on top and fill the aching need in her center…pound her into the satin sheets until she couldn’t stand…join her in the swirl of desire that she knew encompassed him just as strongly as it did her.

As much as he wanted to grab her, Spike kept his hands to himself, returning her kiss with matching fervor, but refusing to allow her the release his touch would give. Bugger that, he thought. What about my release? For a second, the question of who really had the power here flashed across his mind, but he shoved it away, at the same time breaking from her lips, standing back as the young woman collapsed against the mattress.

“I’m beginning…not to like…this game…” Buffy breathed.

“Is that what this is for you?” he demanded. “A game? Because if that’s what the Slayer wants, I can most definitely play…” His hands reached out, grabbed the torn silk of her gown, yanking it away to slide with a sensual burn across her back as he wrenched it free, leaving her completely exposed and bare on the bed…


To be continued in Chapter 12: Doin’ What Comes Naturally