DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss', of course.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: An exhausted Buffy and Spike are readying to sleep before the plans for Lindsey the following day…

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Chapter 28: A Crook's Romance

She was in the bathroom far longer than she'd anticipated, reluctant to leave the haven of the pelting shower as it pounded into her shoulders, the rigidity binding her muscles finally relaxing into a soporific ooze that carried with it the promise of a good night's rest. This was one of those moments where she found herself yearning for a blank slate, for someone to come along and magically whisk away all the conflicting elements of her life to allow her to start anew. As if that could really happen, she thought ruefully, but still, it would be nice.

Like Angel. Where only a week earlier, he had seemed like the one bastion in her existence that made sense, now he was the source of unending uncertainties, a confluence of what he seemed to be and what he actually was melding together to blind her in confusion. Could Spike and the others be right? With Mr. Wilkins gone, Angel did inherit the entire family's holdings, but he'd never seemed interested in it before. Yet, deceit wasn't exactly that far from his book, not with his continued sneaking around with Darla that he thought she knew nothing about.

And then there was Wesley. That one gave her a headache. He wasn't supposed to be a cop. Cops in Buffy's book were bad, and he'd always been a right gee. How could she trust him knowing that he'd lied to her?

But she trusted Spike. And he was far more dangerous than anyone else Buffy had ever met. Did that make her a hypocrite? Did that make her…less?

She didn't know. The only answer she had was that she couldn't go on with the deceit any longer. Once the funeral was out of the way, she was giving Angel his ring back and calling the whole thing off, the way she should've done the first time she'd realized just how deeply Spike had wormed his way into her heart. She didn't want to be the type of woman who led men around by their balls, and she owed it to Spike to be honest about his presence in her life. Well, as honest as she could be considering he was still wanted by the police.

Wrapping the towel tightly around her torso, she pushed her damp hair away from her forehead as she pushed open the bathroom door, the steam curling around her body to escape before her into the hallway. The lights in the rest of the apartment were out, and she paused to let her eyes adjust to the lessened illumination, squinting into the darkness as she debated where Spike would be.

"Come to bed," he called out as if he'd been reading her mind.

Buffy smiled. Why didn't his behavior surprise her?

The bedroom, however, did. Though he hadn't turned on the overhead light, Spike had managed to light enough candles around the room to affect an approximate facsimile, lending the small room a golden ambience that warmed her more than the terry did around her body. She hesitated in the entrance, eyes shining as she watched him sitting at the foot of the bed.

"You are a fire hazard waiting to happen, mister," she teased.

"So call me a sucker for a spot of romance," he shot back, his lips twisted into his own smile. His eyes seemed almost amber in the flickering flames, and his chest was eerily pale as he stood. "You…feelin' better?"

She could tell he hated that he even had to ask, and the twinge of guilt that accompanied that realization prompted her to step forward, to close the gap between them. "Much. Thank you."

It was his turn to lessen the distance, long strides inexplicably shortened by his unforeseen reserve. "I shouldn't have said those things, you know. About…him, and that Hoyle bird. It's not my place. Sorry for that."

"Stop apologizing. You didn't do anything wrong. You couldn't have known." Her eyes fell to the floor, unable to keep looking at him. "I should've been upfront with you from the start. None of this---."

His fingers on her mouth cut her off, but they only lingered in that position long enough for her to fall silent. As soon as the room fell into peace around them, he was tracing the outline of her lower lip, making love to it with merely the pad of his thumb. "Think there's been enough words said tonight," Spike murmured. "The only ones that haven't been said that I've got any interest in is…I love you, Buffy."

She looked up then, his admission jolting her from the luxuriant trance his touch created in her head. Green eyes scanned the solemn blue ones that gazed down at her, and she felt her throat begin to constrict. "What?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper.

The corner of his mouth lifted. "You heard me, you silly bint," he teased. His long fingers slid along her jaw to cup the side of her face, threading through the wet strands of her hair that clung there. "Said I love you."

"But…how?" She blinked rapidly as if that would make it make more sense. "It's so soon. How?"

Spike shrugged. "Don't know, don't care. Just know that I do." He didn't seem to be waiting to hear it back, instead letting his hand slide to her hair as his eyes followed the path. "C'mere," he said, dropping to take her hand in his.

She followed him to the edge of the bed, allowing him to push her down to sit on the corner of the mattress, and watched as he picked up her brush from where she'd left her toiletries sitting on the dresser. "What're you going to do?" she asked.

He didn't answer, just crossed back to her side and sat down behind her. His weight made the bed sag, forcing Buffy to tilt her body slightly forward in order to compensate, and when she felt the familiar pull of the brush in her hair, her eyelids drifted shut. One stroke, two, and she could feel his breath, warm and even, against her bare shoulders as he untangled the knots he found with a gentle but firm hand.

"So beautiful," Spike murmured. The rough edges of the brush scraped against the skin on her neck, sending tingles along the knobs of her spine. "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are, pet?"

"Only because you make me so," she replied without even thinking.

The brush was gone then, and his wide hands were grasping her shoulders, pulling her back against his bare chest with a delectable sigh. "No," he said, but now his voice was rough. "You keep sayin' that, and it's nonsense. Stop it. I don't know why it is you won't believe me."

The edge of the towel began to loosen within the circle of his arms, but the protection it was providing no longer seemed necessary to Buffy, not when their bodies were generating enough heat between the pair of them to forgo the terry completely. Arguing with him was going to do no good, she knew, so she opted instead to change the subject. Or rather, revert to an earlier one.

"You know what I do believe?" she said softly. "That no matter what, that whatever happens tomorrow with that shyster, and whatever happens when we get this business fixed about Mr. Wilkins, you and me are going to be on a plane, and we are going to get our keysters out to California, and we're going to be sickeningly happy. I've decided this."

He was chuckling halfway through her speech, but at the last, he laughed out loud. "Oh, you have, have you?" he taunted. "Bossy little chit, aren't you?"

"Damn right I am." She leaned her head back so that it rested in the curve between his shoulder and neck, nuzzling him with her now straightened hair. "You think you're the only one who can throw around words like 'I love you?'" Buffy surprised herself by feeling her voice hitch. "Why would I throw away everything I know to go with you if I didn't feel it, too?"

It hadn't been what she'd been expecting to say, but as the words slipped from her tongue, Buffy knew them to be true, and wondered just why she hadn't thought of it before. She felt him stiffen, his hands still, and then his mouth was just below her ear, hot and firm and oh so tender, sucking at the hollow just beneath it as if that was what he needed to keep his heart beating.

"Wasn't looking for you to say it," he breathed into her skin. "Just needed to make sure you knew how I felt. And I lied. I do know how." Spike's hands tugged at the towel, pulling it away from her so that nothing separated her back from his front. As her nipples pebbled from the sudden contact with the air, his fingertips curved around the dusky pink, making her gasp. "Found the one who makes my world make sense, is all. There's no magic in that. How can I not love you, Buffy Summers?"

She arched against him, a flood of heat rushing to the surface of her skin. Not the time for words now, she knew. There were other things she'd rather be doing with her mouth. And she twisted to face him just to prove it.

Lithe fingers jumped to the hollows of his face, exploring and caressing the gold and black shadows as if it was the first time she'd ever seen him. She let them slide into the mussed bleached curls, twining them around her fingers for a split second before falling to the whorls of his ears. When they continued down, following the veins of his neck, Buffy watched his adam's apple bob as he swallowed, glancing up just in time to see his tongue dart out and lick his lips.

It was too much to resist. Her lips were on his in a flash, sucking and pulling and forcing them open as her tongue swept inside.

Why was it he tasted so good? she wondered as their arms wrapped around the other. Heart pounding against heart, she could practically hear his pulse in her ears, its reverberations deepening the kiss until she felt like the world was spinning out of control around her. And she never wanted it to stop, except when his mouth slid to the side, creating a wake of tiny kisses and nibbles down to the top of her breast, the thought of more and just what else of him could taste so good making her moan out loud.

Spike pushed her back onto the mattress, tugging the towel free from where it had twisted around her waist, and set to nibbling along her collarbone. It didn't seem like his hands would ever stop moving, traveling independently of his mouth to stroke the curve of her waist, dip along the flat of her stomach to coast lower, over the swell of her mound. As she felt him cup his palm around her heat, Buffy bit her lip, her legs spreading automatically, and he chuckled against her breast.

"Someone's a little eager, methinks."

"Spike…" Grabbing his head, she pulled him back up so that their mouths were level, devouring him down in another kiss while she threw her leg over his hip and pinioned him to the mattress at her side. He was still wearing his trousers, though every other part of him was bare, and she dropped her hands to work hurriedly at the waistband, almost pulling the button from its fastening as she yanked just a little too hard.

"Nope, no thinking about it. Eager little beaver, you are." His mirth rolled between them, and Spike broke apart just enough to help her finish the job, only releasing her fingers when she slid them beneath the fabric along the arch of his hip. "Buffy," he groaned as she brushed her palm across the dripping head of his cock, and rolled onto his back, allowing her the freedom to slide the offending garments to the floor.

She was back then, pressed into his side, her mouth at his ear. "I want to taste you," she murmured. A single finger outlined his erection along his pelvis, dipping below to the soft skin beneath his balls before traveling back up the other side. "Please…"

She didn't wait for a response, just slid down his body with her mouth leading the way. When it stopped at his hip, Buffy let her exploration expand to incorporate the rest of her fingers, snaking down each side of his arousal simultaneously in a movement just shy of an actual grip, before encircling him at the base. Holding him steady, she leaned in, her tongue darting out to flick across the tip, and Spike bucked upward at the feather touch.

"Pet," he growled. "You're goin' to be the death of me, you know that, don't you?" Her responding giggle spread her breath in a hot burst along the length of his cock, and that, the sound of her carefree laughter, warmed him higher than any attention she might serve his body. Wait, change that, he thought erratically as he felt her lips wrap around the head, and squeezed his eyes shut at the pleasure wracking along his flesh as she slowly swallowed him down. Maybe that's an even spot of warming…

Truth be told, she had been hungering to taste him ever since that first night, since she'd first felt him spooned up behind her as he held her after their lovemaking. Now, as the salty length pressed onto her tongue, her lips stretching as she sucked him down, Buffy wondered why she'd waited so long, his moans of delight only spurring her on to explore even further.

Around and around with her tongue, up and down with her mouth, rhythms that seemed unrelenting and endless, coaxing her to add her own with the delicate rake of her nails along his inner thigh, the reverberations in her cheeks being absorbed by his cock as she hummed under her breath. And beneath it all, Spike's continuous litany, words broken with the occasional growl, cascading from his lips with the facile grace of a man airborne.

"Buffy…god, luv, just like…fuck…so sweet…love you…yes…love your mouth, pet…like that…so hot…yes…Buffy…love you so much…"

And on and on and on, until there was no more space for breathing in between his words, stringing together faster and faster as she sped up her pace. She could feel him tightening, his muscles setting to release, and prepared herself for its aftermath, only to feel his hands dig into her shoulders, pulling her away with a jerky snatch on one of her sweeps up his cock.

She found herself looking into his eyes, black even within the golden light of the candles. "What's wrong?" she asked, hoarse. "Why'd you make me stop?"

His thumb brushed along her swollen lips. "Because another few seconds of that gorgeous mouth of yours, and I would've come," he murmured.

Buffy smiled. "I thought that was the point."

"Rather come inside you here," he said, and as if to accentuate his point, Spike's hand dipped between their bodies and sank into the moisture of her pussy, two fingers sliding effortlessly inside as the heel of his hand grazed her clit.

Her gasp of pleasure made him smile, and he rolled her onto her back, his weight pressing her down into the mattress. She could feel his cock against her hip, but he did nothing to position himself for entry, instead allowing his fingers to continue their probing search. "Hate to…break it to you," she said in between gasps. "But you…kind of need to…actually be inside me for that to happen."

"Oh, I will," he promised. His teeth nipped at her jawline. "But not until I get my turn at tasting."

The air above her was suddenly cold as he disappeared, and Buffy's breathing froze as she felt his strong hands settle on her thighs, prising them apart. Her lashes fluttered closed, and she felt her heart pounding inside her chest in anticipation of his first caress.

It came as an elusive tickle along the cleft where her thigh met her hip, running along the warm hollow with the dry tenderness she instantly recognized as his fingertips. Then, they were falling, separating her outer lips, exposing her to the warm ventilation of the room, and her tongue darted out to moisten what suddenly seemed dry just as his met the hard button of her clit.

Her gurgled cry was joined by the scratching of her fingers scrabbling for anchorage in the sheets, and her bottom slid further down to the edge as Spike pulled her closer. His licks along her inner lips strengthened, savoring her taste as his arms worked to keep her from squirming away, to finish back where it started, suckling and pulling in syncopation with the fingers that were now sliding inside her moist heat.

Where Spike had been ceaseless in his verbal appreciation of her mouth, Buffy found herself barely able to breathe, air puffing from her lungs as she fought to swallow it down, each swipe of his tongue and each thrust of his hand stoking the fires that ran rampant beneath her skin. Never like this before, she realized, and though it shouldn't have surprised her, considering how she'd always responded to him in their more traditional lovemaking, she found her soul quaked in astonishment that something so intimate could make her feel so free.

The muscles in her stomach rippled, quickening with every stroke. Up and down, back and around again, and the room was spinning around her, her body tensing as she felt her climax near.

Spike felt it, too, and slid up her body to thrust inside her. The force of it slammed his pelvis into her clit, sending her careening over the edge of her orgasm, and she writhed along the waves it undulated throughout her body as he pumped powerfully in and out of her. Buffy's fingers scraped down his back as she struggled to maintain her grasp on her control, prompting him to bury his face in her neck, his blunt teeth nipping at the fragile skin that barely covered her pounding pulse.

He came with a roar, his back bending away him from her, the slickness of the sweat sheening his chest gleaming in the candlelight. Part of him had hoped to make it last longer, but once he'd been sheathed within her heat, feeling her orgasm squeeze and ripple down the length of his cock, Spike had known it was a lost cause, letting his release crest as he drank down the scent of her skin.

Buffy was panting as he collapsed back down onto her, his mouth seeking out hers and making breath even more precious. She didn't care. As her hands came up to tangle in the platinum curls, pulling him even closer, all she could think was that she would follow this man to the ends of the earth if he asked. This was what love was supposed to feel like, this unquenchable hunger to make bright the world of another person. She was a fool to think she'd ever felt anything remotely close to it before.

"Now," Spike said, rolling her to the side so that they lay face to face, "if I tell you that you're beautiful, will you not be a stubborn bint about it and tell me it's only because of me?" The corner of his mouth lifted as he pushed back the still-damp strand of hair that had somehow glued itself to her cheek.

"No, I'll tell you you're being blinded by post-coitus bliss," she teased back with a playful slap to his chest.

"Bloody woman," he grumbled, but the smile on his face belied the huskiness of his tone. "I'm goin' to be spending the rest of my life with you bein' contrary, aren't I?"

Buffy's eyes shone. "Rest of…your life? Is that how you think of us?"

Slowly, Spike lowered his head to rest on his bicep, evening it with hers as he fixed on her gaze. "Hard not to think of forever when I'm around you," he admitted. A single finger skated down the bridge of her nose. "Which probably makes me look like some romantic git, but at this particular moment in time, I don't very much care. Now if I start scribbling out more of that awful poetry, that might be another matter. Could probably have me legally committed at that point."

"You write poetry? I didn't know that."

"Yeah, well, I never said it was any good, now did I?"

"I'll bet it's beautiful."

"You'd lose that bet."

"I'd be willing to take that chance." She sighed, contentment replacing the desire that had coursed through her veins only minutes earlier. She'd never envisaged that being with someone could just be so…well, easy was really the only word for it. Yet here she was, and there he was, and suddenly facing Angel in the morning didn't seem like such a hard thing to do, after all. She had Spike behind her. With that sort of support, how could she ever fail?


To be continued in Chapter 29: Angels in Disguise