DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss', of course.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Spike and Xander have arrived at Heaven, the club most often frequented by the Mayor and his son, where Spike has learned that the mysterious Anne he met is really Buffy Summers, Angel's fiancée
He watched the rest of her set in a daze that shifted from scarlet to gold to black, and back to scarlet again, in an eddy that left his flesh running hot and cold, tiny fingers of disquiet licking their way up and down his spine. More than once, Spike swiveled his head to stare at the table to which Angel had returned, scrutinizing the son of his intended victim with a mixture of malice and distrust as the other man beamed with exaggerated pride at his fiancée on the stage, but his gaze would inexorably slide back to her, watching Buffy glow beneath the soft lights, momentarily making him forget what Spike considered to be a very cruel twist of fate.
So much for meant to be, he thought wryly. Not when she's scheduled to get hitched to the poofter. No room for an ex-trouble boy on the bill when she's already got one as a starring act.
It was the niggle that chewed at him, though, starting midway through her show, and turned Spike's thoughts away from the job at hand to the events of the previous night. If she's so devoted to the Great Forehead, the niggle asked, why was she at Willy's, looking for what she freely admitted to needing while she lay in your arms? One night. Just one night. Wanting to feel beautiful. Wouldn't a woman in love already feel beautiful? What had driven her to seek it out in the embrace of a stranger?
His mind was made up before she reached the final song. Casually, he leaned forward in his chair, catching Xander's attention. "Change of plans," he murmured so as not to disturb the other audience members.
"What's that?" Xander asked, his voice low but his gaze continually darting back to the stage.
"Since it looks like we're only to be graced with Junior's presence tonight,
I want you to go make nice-nice with him as soon as Bu---the torcher finishes
her act. Keep him occupied. I don't want him wandering away until I get back."
"Back?" The single word captured the brunette's full concentration. "Where're you going?"
Spike nodded toward the door almost hidden away at the side of the stage. "I'm plannin' on gettin' the dope on little miss nightingale there." He grinned, hoping for rakishness, though the truth was much more ambiguous. "My charms usually work better one-on-one, so I'm hoping you can keep our guy talkin' while I try to get through to her."
Xander leaned in even further, confusion darkening his eyes. "I thought that's why we had Willow on the payroll here," he said. "Wouldn't she be better off being the one to talk to her? You know, especially since they're both girls, they both work here. It would probably seem more natural coming from her."
"Oh, I plan on Red giving Miss Summers the third, but she can't rightly do that while she's out front checkin' coats, now can she?" Spike shook his head. "This dame's a factor we didn't know about. Not that I think it'll affect the job much, but I'm not takin' the chance." His eyes were serious. "You onboard or not?"
"Oh, yeah, of course I'm onboard," Xander assured, and then smiled. "I knew you'd like her. Can I pick 'em or what?"
Spike's eyes trailed back to the stage, fixing on Buffy's slim hands where they curled around the microphone. As memories of her touch flamed his skin, he reached for his drink, forcibly controlling the nerves that threatened to rage out of control. "Yeah, mate," he murmured, sipping at the amber liquid, feeling its languorous beckoning soothe away the unrest of his thoughts. "We can both pick 'em."
Note to self, Willow thought with a grimace. Tomorrow night, wear flat shoes.
As assignments went, it wasn't the worst she'd ever had. That honor was held by the time Spike and Giles made her go out on a date with the creepy frog collector so that they could break into his house for a necklace his ex-wife wanted back. Her frog fear jumped into overdrive after dinner when he insisted on showing her his greenhouse, and it had taken all her resolve not to run screaming from the place.
Nope. This one wasn't nearly as bad. No frogs already made it a hundred times better.
As long as she remembered to wear lower heels tomorrow night.
Very few patrons had arrived after Spike, with the notable exception of Angel Wilkins, half the reason they were there in the first place. Willow had been disappointed when he'd walked right past her, not even acknowledging her presence with as much as a nod, and frowned as she leaned against the counter. Not that she was begrudging her friends, but sometimes she wished she could get as much in the action as Spike and Xander. Even Giles got to have more fun with the jobs than she did. Of course, she did get a kick out of doing the research, and being the one to spring the surprises on the group when an answer suddenly came to light was certainly a boost to her ego. It just didn't seem like the same kind of rush, though, that she witnessed every time Spike was forced to put his life on the line. She didn't want to die; that would be silly. She just wanted to live a little.
The soft whisper of the club's front door bolted her straight, and she affected her welcoming smile for whoever the new arrival was. Almost right away, her eyes went wide.
He was tall, long limbs accentuated by the tailored cut of his suit and coat. Spectacles did nothing to discourage the vivid blue of his eyes, and the long lines of his face bore the history of a man comfortable with himself. Hubba hubba, Willow thought, and felt her smile warm as he caught her eye.
"Good evening," she said brightly. "Can I take your coat?"
"Well, I say," he said, his own smile creasing his face as he stepped over to her. "You're just a tad more chipper than the last girl I saw behind that counter."
Ooo, English, she thought. What is it with me finding all the English guys? Out loud, she said, "Um, thank you?"
He chuckled. "No, thank you. It's certainly better for me if I come in and find a smiling face. The last coat check girl left a little to be desired, I'm afraid. As if being pleasant would somehow hurt her face."
Charming, too, Willow decided as she laughed along with him. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to remove his coat; he just stood on the other side of her counter, hands thrust into his pockets, watching her with those brilliant blue eyes. All of a sudden, the urge to flirt with him swelled inside her, and she held his gaze while she leaned forward conspiratorially, coaxing him to follow her lead.
"I've got a theory," she said in a slightly lower voice.
"Oh? And what's that?"
"More smiles means more tips. And in this job, I need all the tips I can get." She was teasing, but felt her good mood wilt slightly as he pulled away, his smile fading.
"Is there a problem with your wages?" he asked. "Are they not satisfactory?"
"Oh, they're just jake," she was quick to defend. "Just not what I'm used to." She grinned widely, trying to ease some of the discomfort that seemed to have settled in his demeanor with a small joke. "Although I wouldn't be surprised if it's why the last girl took a powder."
His gaze went thoughtful. "Perhaps it's an issue you need to discuss with the management," he said, his tone a trifle more crisp. He stuck out his hand in greeting. "I'm Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, the manager here at Heaven. And you must be Willow Rosenberg."
She felt her stomach plummet, all the air sucking from her lungs as she gaped at him in horror. One night on the job and she'd already managed to step in it with her boss. Spike was so going to kill her if she got fired, not to mention all the "I'm so disappointed" looks she'd get from Giles when he found out. They'd be making her feel so guilty, she'd be dreaming of those Sunday dinners at Nanny Rosenberg's as a summer vacation. Need to fix this, she thought hurriedly.
"I'm so sorry," she rushed, eyes wide in apology. "I'm really not like this. I'm really very responsible, and not of the Moaning Minnie variety, either---."
"Moaning Minnie?" He seemed slightly taken aback by her choice of words, and some of the tension eased from his body as he lowered his hand and looked at her in curiosity. "That's an English term. Angel scolds me unmercifully when I use it. But you're not English."
"No." Ooo, common ground, she thought. I can use this. Her smile was nervous at best. "But my two best friends are. I guess I've picked up some phrases from them. I really am sorry, Mr. Wyndam Mr. Pryce Mr " Willow stopped, fluster uncharacteristically depriving her of words.
"Wesley. Everyone calls me Wesley."
"Wesley. I really am sorry." The strain between them seemed to have scattered, and she allowed herself a more genuine response to his proximity, letting her relief shine in her eyes. "I'm not normally so flirty with the customers. It's just that you were so cute, and funny, and " Her voice faded, dismay that she'd said too much again driving the smile from her lips, her head falling forward to shake back and forth at her own stupidity. "Hello, foot," she murmured. "This is my mouth. Nice to meet you."
His chuckle surprised her, and Willow's gaze jerked up to see him looking at her, a bemused twinkle in his eyes. "I suppose I'm partially to blame," he said. "If I'd been here when you arrived this evening, we wouldn't have had this little misunderstanding. Let's try this again, shall we?" He threw his shoulders back, straightening his glasses before offering her his hand again. "I'm Wesley. I keep things running around here."
"I'm Willow," she replied, and felt her hand get swallowed up by his. "I keep coats organized around here."
Their mutual laughter eased the feelings of dread that had settled in her skin, and inwardly Willow sighed. Apocalypse averted, she thought. Not losing my job, and I've met someone who has regular contact with the Mayor's son. Not too shabby for the first's night work.
On the off-chance Angel would attempt to follow Buffy after her set, Xander had left their table before the end of the last song, approaching the club owner with an aplomb that Spike had always admired and easing himself into the seat opposite as if the pair had been friends for ages. Whatever he'd found to talk about seemed to be working because, as the blonde onstage stepped behind the velvet curtains, Angel barely even noticed, his clapping perfunctory as he listened to whatever it was Harris was saying.
Too bad the son's not the mark, Spike thought grimly as he slipped through the backstage door. That would make this job much more pleasant.
Musicians were milling about, and Spike stopped to look around the cluttered space, eyes trailing over the metal stairs that led to the lighting grid above, various backdrops leaning like velvet shadows against the walls. There was no sign of the chanteuse---he was sure she would have been a beacon amidst the gloom and dim lighting---but he could smell the lingering traces of her perfume in the air, and wondered distractedly when he'd gotten so attuned to her scent.
He grabbed the arm of the first guy who passed him, a small brunette with his eyes glued to a stack of papers on the clipboard in his hand. "Buffy Summers' dressing room," he asked, keeping both his face and voice as devoid of emotion as possible.
The little guy jumped at the physical contact, blue eyes widening into saucers as he pointed at the stairs. "Up there," he squeaked. "Second door on your left."
"Thanks." Letting the man go, Spike strode toward the stairs, noticing the short row of doors that lined the landing midway up. He wasn't sure exactly what he was going to say to her; his first instinct had been merely to find her. Now that she was close, though, his thoughts darted in every which direction, scrambling for something coherent to start a conversation with. "Nice rock" reeked of the slimy fiancé, even if it did directly address her engagement. On the other hand, "Nice rack," while undoubtedly true, would certainly reward him with a slap in the face. He'd just have to play it by ear when he saw her, see how she reacted to his presence. Maybe she would make it easy for him.
He didn't even bother knocking; no reason to give her an excuse to give him the gate before he even got in, he reasoned. Instead, he turned the knob as silently as possible, grateful the door didn't creak. A quick peek told him she was on the far side of the room, her back to the entrance, and carefully, Spike wedged himself inside, closing the door shut behind him.
She was pulling the pins out of her hair, bare arms raised so that the bows of her shoulder blades were accentuated as she set about her task. With a sudden rush, the taste of her skin under his tongue as he'd nipped at that flesh made Spike's mouth water, and he felt himself harden within his trousers, his desire for her circumventing any rational thought, driving his feet forward so that he stood directly behind her.
She heard him approach, and her exasperated sigh was loud in the small room. "Angel, how many times have I told you not to come up here after the show?" she said in annoyance, not even bothering to turn her head. "Why don't you ever respect what I want?"
The hollow of her spine called out for his touch, and Spike reached out to her bare back, tracing the line with a single finger. "I'm not Angel," he said in a low voice.
She whirled as soon as he spoke, cheeks flushing when she realized how close he was standing to her. "How'd you " Buffy started, and then swallowed, struggling to regain control of her voice. "Who let you up here?"
His head tilted in the direction of the door. "Little guy with a clipboard," Spike replied with a smirk. "My new best friend, I think."
"I'm going to kill Jonathan," she murmured.
Her eyes were locked to his, her body rigid, but she had yet to move away from him, their bodies only inches apart. He was mesmerized by the pounding of her pulse, visible through the delicate skin of her neck, and wondered if she could see the corresponding throbbing in his own skin. She's nervous but not scared, Spike thought. Nice to know some parts of last night rang true.
The flutter of her hands as she lifted them back up, resolutely returning to removing her hairpins, caught his eye, and he noticed with a gentle twist around his heart that her fingers were bare. A quick slide to the dressing room table nearby acknowledged the ring's presence there, scattered carelessly amid the make-up, and Spike returned his gaze to her face, the corner of his mouth lifting.
"Don't know rightly what to call you," he said nonchalantly. "Anne, or Buffy, or maybe even Frankie if the mood suits."
There was the slightest of hesitations in her movements before she replied. "I don't remember asking you to call me anything," she said, her tone business-like, and tossed a handful of pins onto the table. "Is that how you found me? You beat up the hotel clerk for information?"
Spike shrugged. "Didn't have to. He seemed very open to my methods of persuasion. Least I can thank you for not bein' a skipout, though I would've been more than happy to foot the bill for as much fun as I had last night. To answer your question, though, no. You covered your tracks there pretty well. I'd almost think you were a pro at that sort of thing, or something."
"How then ?" Her lips thinned as the other possibility dawned on her. "Remind me to add Willy to my list of dead men," she said.
Slowly, Spike shook his head. "No, can't be laying the blame at his feet either," he said. "He wasn't around when I went around there to shake your real name out of him." He couldn't resist any longer, and lifted his hand to skim over her clavicle, inwardly rejoicing when he saw the goosebumps erupt along her arms. "Found you completely by accident," he murmured. "Trust me. You were the last person I expected to see up on that stage tonight."
She swallowed, and when she lowered her arms, dropping the remaining hairpins to the table at her side, her hair fell in waves about her shoulders. "There's no such thing as accidents," Buffy said, and for a moment, he thought he heard a tinge of bitterness in her words. "People just call them that to cover up the truth."
"And an hour ago, I would've agreed with you, pet," Spike replied. "Then you walked out on that stage, and I thought meant to be. 'Course, that was before your fiancé decided to put you and your finger on display. But still, makes a bloke start waxing philosophical when one absolutely amazing night turns itself into two."
She jerked away at that, finally lengthening the distance between them to stride over to her dressing chair. "There is no two, Spike," she said firmly. "I told you that last night."
He watched as she fumbled with her make-up, pushing aside various bottles before picking up a small washcloth and looking into the mirror. "Right," he drawled, and crossed behind her, watching her in her reflection as she began swiping at the color on her cheeks, tingeing her cloth in rouge. "Because you're all engaged-like now. Kind of puts a crimp in the dating thing, I'd imagine."
"Yes, I am engaged." She was diligently avoiding looking at him, concentrating instead on divesting herself of her make-up. "And Angel is a very powerful man. Do you have any idea who his father is?"
She seemed genuinely surprised that he could answer her question. Buffy's eyes darted up to meet his resolute ones, searching them briefly before returning to her task, but Spike couldn't help but notice the faintest hint of a smile playing on her lips. "So you're as smart as I think you are," she said. "That means you'll turn yourself around, go back out front, and not come here again."
His gaze was engrossed with her mouth, bare of the lipstick that had stained it onstage, lips slightly swollen from the scrubbing she gave it as she wiped it clean. "Speaking of smart," he said, ignoring her order, "I could've sworn I had you pegged for havin' a brain in that pretty little head of yours. But a bird with a brain would know better than to get herself mixed up with the likes of Angel Wilkins."
"You don't know anything about me, Spike---." Her words were choked when his hands came to rest on her shoulders, long fingers sliding beneath the straps of her gown to stroke the skin underneath in rhythmic caresses that quickened her breathing. Mesmerized, she sat motionless as he lowered his head to run his lips along the curve of her neck, unconsciously tilting her head to allow him better access.
"Know more than you want to believe, Buffy," he rumbled against her flesh. His hands pushed aside the straps so they fell lifelessly down her arms, their weight pulling the bodice of her dress down with them, and slid his touch to her exposed breasts, cupping them gently as his thumbs grazed over their hardened tips.
Buffy gasped, her back arching to strengthen the contact, one arm reaching up and behind to tangle in the hair at the nape of his neck. It was all the encouragement he needed. With a muffled groan, Spike circled his arm around her waist, lifting her from her chair, thankful for her gown falling of its own accord to the floor. He went to push the seat out of his way but she beat him to it, knocking it sideways as she twisted in his embrace, just as she had the previous night.
When her mouth met his, though, all vestiges of the gentleness from their first encounter were discarded, to be replaced with a forceful want as Buffy's hands clawed at his shoulders, her tongue plunging into the hot chasm of his mouth, sweeping and swirling as she gave in to the arousal that had been seeping through her limbs ever since she'd spotted him in the audience. Rational thought disappeared as she felt him lift her onto the dressing table, sending her make-up scattering to the floor. All she was aware of was the silken glide of his hands across her breasts, his fingers working expertly to create those familiar shudders down her spine, the taste of his whiskey-soaked tongue as it battled with hers for dominance.
This wasn't what he'd been planning when he'd decided to seek her out, but now, in the throes of feeling her beneath his palms, it seemed like the most natural resolution of their meeting, drawn to her as inexplicably as he'd been before, everything outside of the few square feet that housed them disappearing in a whirlpool. So much heat, and he could feel the sweat dripping down his back where he was sure she was leaving scratches. When she pushed at his jacket, Spike helped her by shrugging himself out of it, not even aware when she whipped it across the room. More, and more, and all he wanted was to drown in her kisses, her supple form undulating beneath his touch, urging him for more.
Buffy was the one who freed his erection from his trousers, small hand squeezing around its base as her thumb stroked its length. Spike groaned, pulling away from her mouth for the first time since initiating the kiss, and buried himself in her neck, sliding his hands down her back and underneath her silken panties to grasp her ass.
"I love how you make me feel," she whispered into his shirt.
He was certain she hadn't meant for him to hear it. Her voice was strangled, like the words hurt to come out, and he closed his eyes against the memory of her face as Angel had put his arm around her. Not goin' to think about that, Spike thought. Just goin' to think of her as mine. The rest of the world can sod off. Focusing his efforts on getting rid of the flimsy scrap of fabric that separated her from him instead, he felt it tear in his grasp, his haste making him clumsy, before tossing it aside to join the other clothes on the floor.
She didn't wait for him. Lifting her legs to hook around his hips, Buffy guided the tip of his cock to her wet opening, holding it there for just a moment as she looked up into his desire-darkened eyes. Her mouth opened as if she was going to say something, and Spike realized he was holding his breath, waiting for the words to come tumbling out of her mouth.
They didn't come. Instead, she released her hold on him and slid down his length, impaling herself on his throbbing cock as she clung desperately to his shoulders.
His growl was unexpected as he felt her inner walls squeeze around his erection, the sudden tremors shooting up his spine driving his mouth back to hers in a bruising savagery that took both of them by surprise. Spike's fingers dug into her hips as he began pumping in and out, holding her steady even as she rooted herself with her own arms tight around his neck.
Where the previous night had been about need, this was about want, animal hunger driving both of them to a deafening crescendo as everything around them was stripped away, leaving behind only their striated nerves, hungry for more, panting and gasping and keeping and demanding as she came to a shuddering climax against his chest, her pussy spasming around him as if to coax his own orgasm to life.
When he came, Spike tore himself from her lips to press his forehead into her shoulder, his eyes closed, his lashes tickling her sweat-damp skin. He felt her hand come up to his hair, soothing down the curls that always seem to spring to life in these circumstances, and swallowed, trying to force down the lump that had formed in his throat.
He was lost. He should've known that when he'd gone back to St. Christopher's that morning to seek out the information on her identity. That wasn't his usual style; not since Dru had a woman gotten to him as badly as Buffy Summers had. And not because she was a pretty face, either. No, what got to him was the strength inside her that she tried so desperately to protect, to shield from outside interference. It was the uncanny way she had of seeing right through him, as if all his thoughts and all his beliefs could be read on his face like some Dick and Jane book.
And it was the certainty he felt when he was with her that if he just looked in the right direction, everything would be all right.
She was the one to pull away first, releasing her grip to slide herself off him, off the dressing table, to reach for the robe that hung nearby. "You should probably get out of here," she said quietly, not looking him in the eye. "Angel has a habit of coming up after my shows." A quick glance at the door was accompanied by a frown. "I'm kind of surprised he hasn't shown up already."
His gaze was contemplative as he carefully tucked himself away, rearranging his clothing. "Maybe it's better if I'm here when he shows," Spike said. "That way, we can get all this out in the open right here, right now."
Buffy's eyes flew wide. "Nothing's getting out in the open," she said. "This was a mistake. A very nice mistake, but still a mistake. I'm not breaking off my engagement with Angel just because I happen to find you attractive---."
He was in front of her before she could blink, hands tight around her upper arms, eyes blazing in sapphire as he glared down at her. "You're right," he bit out, anger replacing his euphoria as he fought the impulse to try and shake some sense into her. "You shouldn't go callin' off the wedding on my account. You should do it because you don't love the wanker."
His eyebrow lifted. "That why you went out looking for someone to make you feel beautiful, pet?" he queried. "'Cause seems to me, a woman in love should already have that if the bloke's worth his salt at all."
Pause. "Angel says I'm beautiful all the time." Her voice was firm, her gaze firmer, and she met his eyes with an assurance he was certain she didn't feel.
"Hearing it and believing it are two entirely separate things," Spike replied. He shook his head, the first wave of his anger already starting to dissipate. "Stick with him, and you're goin to get hurt. I can promise you that."
Deliberately, Buffy pulled herself from his grasp and opened the door behind her, holding it wide so that anyone who paid attention could see and hear what was happening inside. "You can promise me nothing, Spike," she said, ice dripping from her words. "Now I suggest you get out of my dressing room before I have Jonathan call the cops. My business with you is over."
The muscles twitched in his cheek as he clenched his jaw, and he stared at her for a full minute, not moving, daring her to turn away first. "It's far from over, pet," he finally said, reaching for his jacket on the floor. Sliding his arms into the dark fabric, he paused in the doorway to gaze down at her, his eyes flashing. "New York's not that big of a city that you won't see me again. And I've got plans to be around for awhile."
And with that, he was gone.
She was shaking as she closed the door behind him, and leaned her head back against the wood, lids fluttering shut as she fought to stave off the swell of emotion rising in her gut. What the hell am I doing? Buffy wondered. One night. It was just supposed to be one night. A last-minute fling before Angel made the engagement final and sneaking around was going to be impossible. And she had to find the one guy in the whole of New York who she actually seemed to connect to, who made the crazy world around her make sense, and who was determined to fuck this up for her, no matter what.
A deep breath, and some of the tremors seemed to soften, allowing her to at least open her eyes and view the mess she had made of her dressing room, the make-up haphazard across the floor, her engagement ring twinkling back at her from where it was lodged underneath the chair. Part of her wasn't surprised that it had happened. Something deep inside her had been switched on the moment she saw him in the audience, and she'd spent the entire set reliving the touch of his body against hers. Sex with Angel was good, but sex with Spike was well, not just sex. She hadn't been lying when she'd told him he made her feel beautiful. She didn't know how he did it, but right now, the one thing she couldn't afford was the luxury of trying to find out.
Forget about him, Buffy willed herself as she began cleaning up the disarray. He's not your concern. If he doesn't listen to you, it's his own fault if he gets hurt.
Because she knew he would. If Spike insisted on pushing this, someone was going to end up dead.
And she really didn't want it to be him.
To be continued in Chapter 5: At the Hour of Three