DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss', of course. And the chapter titles are courtesy of Miles Davis.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy and Spike have moved to a hotel, where he has seen the gris gris and heard the full story about the woman in the French Quarter for the first time…

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Chapter 18: I Don't Wanna Be Kissed By Anyone But You

In an effort to keep his head as clear as possible, he hadn't even bothered with the hot water.

Ice streamed in fluid sheets down his back as Spike leaned against the wall, his hands braced against the white tile, bleached head bent against the onslaught as if in supplication. His eyes were closed, and though the spattering of the water echoed hollowly within the confines of the hotel bathroom, he was deaf to it, lost in the voices of yesteryear as they clamored in shrieks and whispers inside his skull.

"I see what you want. Something glowing and glistening…"

"Why? Why won't you push her away?..."

"I have to find my pleasure, Spike. You taste like ashes."

"You're all covered in her…"

His own words combined with Dru's, every threat he'd ever made about Buffy, every declaration of enmity and distrust, but it was her voice that cut through, reminding him over and over again how she had seen it first, how the image of Buffy had always been there between them.

It wasn't the idea of him and Buffy that was wracking his emotions with splinters driven into their underbelly. He had already accepted that something incredible was developing between the pair of them. What gnawed at his gut was the notion that all of this was beyond his control, that his current incarnation as reluctant Scooby was somehow unavoidable, leaving Spike to twist in the gallows of a cruel fate determined to make his existence a mockery by stealing his freedom of choice.

Choice. The word left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth, and he shook his head as his hand dropped to slowly turn off the water. He had no choice, in anything it would seem. Not in going to Sunnydale in the first place; that had been necessary to save Dru. He'd needed Angel, and so arriving in the Hellmouth had been inevitable. No choice in when he left, either. Angelus and his whole Acathla obsession, the wheelchair…he'd left with Dru as soon as he absolutely could.

And now it was looking like the choice to go back to Sunnydale hadn't been his, either. That someone, somewhere, with a twisted sense of humor, had decided that he and the Slayer were a good idea, and driven him back.

So where did that leave him? Without even thinking, Spike punched at the wall, watching as a tile cracked and crumbled in white flakes against his skin. Slayer's goin' to insist we pay for that, he thought irrationally as he stared at the damage. And look…another choice I'm not goin' to have another say in the matter. Bugger.

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

She sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the bathroom door, listening to the water on the other side, and felt the confusion begin to curdle inside her stomach. This hot and cold thing Spike seemed to be cultivating was getting old, really fast, and she was getting just a little tired of being jerked around. She was trying to make this work, to not be the Bitchy Buffy that seemed to set him off, but every time she thought that she was getting somewhere, he'd do an about-face and change the rules on her. Didn't he want this? Half the time, he certainly acted like it.

Or was it just a game to him? Was he doing all this just to mess with her head? Because if that was his plan, it sure as hell was working.

He'd seemed so serious about it, though. Insisting on the chat before anything really physical had happened. Forcing her to rest when she would've been just as happy with sex until sunrise. Tending to her wounds. Making her feel like….

What did he make her feel like?

The answer was swift.

That she could have it all. That she could be the Slayer, and a woman, and a friend, all with the same person.

And now that person was hiding from her again.

It was only then that she realized the shower had stopped, and unconsciously straightened, waiting expectantly for him to emerge. When minutes passed and nothing happened, she frowned, rising from her seat to press her ear against the door. The silence was almost deafening. Could he have fallen? she wondered, and then heard the dull thud of something hitting the wall.

The door was open, her body inside, before she could think. "Spike?" she called out, her voice shaded in concern. "Are you OK?" She'd only taken a single step when she stopped, the blurred outline of his body through the translucent shower curtain confirming for her that he was still there.

The sound of her voice jerked him upright, and though she saw his head turn toward her, gazing at her through the vinyl, he didn't move the curtain aside to clear the view. "Knocking really is a lost art for you, isn't it, Slayer," Spike said, annoyed.

"I thought you were taking a shower?" she asked. "Showers usually require water."

When she took a step toward the bath, her hand outstretched to move aside the curtain, his body stiffened. "What're you doin'?" he barked. "Are you in that much of a hurry that I can't have a few moments peace?"

Buffy hesitated. "I…I just…" She backed up, feeling the porcelain of the toilet cold against the back of her legs, and sat down on its edge. "I want to know what's wrong."

"I told you. Nothin'."

"And you're lying to me."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am---." He cut himself off, suddenly all too aware of the similarity between this argument and the one he'd had with her in his dream. That had been about avoiding a topic of conversation he hadn't wanted to address as well.

"It's just a stupid, superstitious charm, Spike," she said quietly. "It doesn't mean anything---."

"What if I told you Dru said the same thing to me about you?" He was back in his bowed position, eyes downcast, the timbre of his voice rough. "That a year ago, I was in Brazil with ghostly Buffy's floating about me and laughing. You wouldn't be spooked?"

"Wha…" OK, not what she was expecting him to say. "That's not possible."

"Possible, probable, been there, done that, lost my bloody heart in the process." He sighed, and the ache of vulnerability in his shoulders tugged at her, even through the curtain. "Thought it was bad before, gettin' muzzled, leashed into bein' the mutt in your little Scooby gang. Guess I was wrong about not bein' your lapdog. I've been one all along. Just didn't know it. The rest of the fuckin' world knew it, but me, I was too busy bein' all self-important and speechifying to realize I was bein' played for a sap."

There was no denying the defeatist tone of his words, and a shock of disbelief shot through Buffy's system. This didn't even sound like the cocky, swaggering Spike she knew. What the hell was going through his head? "OK, first of all, enough with the puppy analogies," she said. "You're not a lapdog, Spike. You never have been."

His snort of derision was accompanied by a shake of his head. "That's all I've ever been, pet. Fought it, of course. Fought against Angelus. Fought against the Slayers. None of it made a damn bit of difference 'cause apparently I've been your bitch all along."

"I thought you were love's bitch," she joked, but it fell flat on deaf ears.

"So, yeah, it's not nothin'," Spike continued as if she'd never spoken. "It's me feelin' just a tad bit like a puppet on a string here." She almost didn't catch the next, his voice dropped so low. "Just wanted to be my own man."

The words sliced into her, and abruptly, Buffy rose to her feet. "Turn on the water," she said, kicking off her sandals as her hands fell to the hem of her top.

His head turned. "Why's that?"

"Because having this conversation with you on that side of the plastic is just a little too Laura Palmer for me, so I'm coming in."

There was a moment of hesitation inside the bath. She didn't let it stop her, pulling her top over her head in a clean jerk, only to immediately drop her hands to her shorts, but before she had the button at the waistband undone, Spike had leaned forward, playing with the taps, and the sounds of the water striking the tiles once again filled the space, the first hints of steam beginning to sizzle from behind the curtain.

Once she was naked, Buffy pulled the far edge of the vinyl aside, stepping gingerly into the tub, noting the alabaster curve of Spike's buttocks as she closed it off behind her. Her fingers itched to touch him, but the sight of the wrecked tile, the plaster dust settled along the rim of the bath, caught her eye, turning her head automatically to his hands and the blood that dripped from his left.

"If I'd known you were going to be wrecking the place," she said, taking his injured hand in hers, "I would've insisted we stay at one of those no-tell motels instead."

He didn't respond, just leaned back against the wall and watched her as she held the bloodied appendage under the waterstream, rinsing away the scarlet to run in pink rivers down the drain. Even in his current state of mind, it was hard not to notice the golden contours of her flesh, her nipples hardened into tiny buds, and felt his cock begin to twitch. Fuck, just what I need, he thought. Like I don't have enough messin' with my head right now.

"Willow's normally the one who goes all Tony Robbins," Buffy was saying. "And as for insight, well, that's usually your department." She paused. His body was tense, wound as if she were about to start a fight, and she noticed with a quirk of her eyebrow the growing hardness between his legs. Well, at least I know what's wrong isn't about me, she thought, but shoved it aside, hoping that what she was going to say next wasn't going to further piss him off. "But I think you're really, really wrong about what all this is about," she finished.

His bark of laughter rang between the tiled walls. "Like you know so much about it, luv," Spike said.

"I know more than you think," she replied. "Just…hear me out here. You don't have to agree with me---hell, you never seem to agree with me, so I don't see how this is going to be any different---but…just hear what I have to say, all right?"

She had surprised Spike by climbing in behind him. Fuck, she'd surprised him by coming into the bloody bathroom. He'd seen how she'd been with Soldier Boy---well, as much as his stomach would allow. All quips and love talk, but nothing of any substance. Every time he'd heard anything of consequence get brought up, usually by Finn, Buffy had skittered away, hiding behind the mantle of her jokes or using her slaying as an excuse to avoid the issue.

Yet, she'd sought Spike out when he'd tried to run, refused to let him lie about it, and now there she was, all soft and succulent flesh, within his reach if he only let himself touch…

"I'm listening," he said, his voice husky as he fought to quell his rising desire.

"Did I tell you why Riley left me?" she asked softly.

The question took him off-guard. "Something about…you not committing to the relationship," he replied, his words slow and selective.

"That was part of it. The biggest part. He thought…he said I didn't see him. I couldn't see him. Because…he wasn't you." Without letting go of his injured hand, she raised her other one, her fingertips stroking like feathers over the topography of his chest, and felt him shiver beneath her touch. "Everything kept coming back to you, and I didn't know why. And it made me furious because I was like, this is Spike. Mortal enemy. The bane of my existence."

"I'm waiting for this to start havin' a point, pet."

"And I'm getting there, keep your pants on."

Spike chuckled. "Too late for that."

She smiled. "When that woman was talking about seeing you around me, it made me think for the first time that maybe Riley was right. Because everything between us was so…different. And yet…not. And I liked it."

He knew she was waiting for some type of response, but he didn't know what to say. She still had yet to offer a different slant on the coordination of Dru's and the stranger's words, and while the tidbits she was offering ignited the hope within him so that he was beginning to think that maybe it didn't matter, Spike held his tongue, concentrating instead on the pleasure her touch was spreading throughout his system.

"Don't ask me why because I don't know," Buffy continued, "but we work. You and me. We shouldn't, you know. The amount of baggage we're bringing into this makes Romeo and Juliet look like a walk in the park. Maybe it's the yin and yang of it all. Or maybe it's that the strength and power you have inside you feels… like home. I don't know. I do know that there's no way you're not in control of your life like you think, Spike. Look at all the choices you've made---."

There was that word again, and he grimaced as soon as she said it, head slamming back to strike against the tile as if that would clear it from his memory. "Apparently, I've never had a choice. Not in you. Not in Sunnydale. And certainly not since your government boys stuck this chip in my head," he said, but when his dark gaze looked down at hers, there was no malice in it. It was resignation. And that frightened Buffy more than the anger.

"You've had every choice," she argued, and yanked him toward her so that he was standing directly in front of her. "There were a hundred and one ways for you to get around not being able to kill us. Believe me, I know. Giles and I sat down and tried figuring them all out just in case you decided to actually do it." Her voice softened. "But you didn't. Even when you tried…with Adam, it didn't work. You could've left Sunnydale. But you didn't. They were all choices." She paused, scrambling for something specific to use as an example.

"Pablo," she finally said. "There's another one. You could've killed him. You didn't. You chose not to. You were the one who decided to do the right thing there, Spike. Not me. Not some creepy shop lady. Not some psycho ex-girlfriend." The fingers that had been stroking his chest pulled away, and she poked at his sternum. "You."

She had a point. As he stared down at her, all of a sudden, his doubts seemed frivolous. Just words. That's all they were. Just ephemera to disappear with the morning dawn. It didn't matter how or why he found himself in his current position, standing before the beautiful angel who seemed determined to command his heart, to see past the façade he'd erected. It only mattered that he was there.

"Does it really matter what Dru said?" Buffy said. "Or what that woman told me? I mean, yeah, in the world of the freaky and the deaky, it definitely rates an honorable mention, but…what matters is what we do with it, right? We choose. Like I'm choosing…to be here with you."

Reaching up, she brushed her lips over his in the faintest of kisses, and felt him shudder at the contact. "Nothing for you to be spooked over, Spike," she breathed against his mouth.

His lips quirked. "Sometimes, you bloody amaze me, Summers," he said, eyes searching the contours of her face.

"So…are we good now? Is everything…better?"

"Everything's right as rain." And it was. She wanted this---them---to work. She kept proving that to him over and over again. She was hitting the occasional pothole; hell, just that morning, she'd slammed right into the Grand Canyon of potholes with that dismissal of his help, but it didn't keep her from plugging along. And then the admission earlier, about the possibility of this being more than just the fling either had suspected it might be in the beginning…

Maybe the coincidence of the same words just meant they were meant to be, should they decide to take the chance. That certainly seemed to be how the Slayer was taking them.

Yeah. Right as rain.

Buffy smiled. "You know," she said, lifting her arms so that her wrists rested on his shoulders, her fingers playing with his wet curls at the back of his neck, "I think that's the first time I've averted an apocalypse without having to beat something up. Or die first. I think I'm kind of proud of myself."

She was sliding against him then, wetting her skin with the expanse of his, feeling his arousal brushing against her pelvis. Though the water was warm before she got in, the heat of that was nothing compared to the fire that raged beneath her skin. He could smell her growing desire even through the sweat and antiseptic, and Spike's fingers dug into her hips, urging her closer. When the moan escaped her lips, he leaned down to catch it with his mouth, swallowing it down as she offered her tongue, allowed his entrance.

Her muscles sang from the pressure of his touch against her, responding with an ardent hunger that begged for release. Her hand dropped, sliding between them, and she felt the growl within his chest reverberate through her skin as her fingers wrapped around the length of his cock.

"I think our would-be interrupter is currently stuck in a piano somewhere," Buffy said against his cheek, her hand pumping at his arousal in rhythm to her words. "What do you think of finishing those lessons?" Tiny teeth nipped at his neck. "I can be a very good student."

"Thought you'd never ask," Spike replied. The blue of his irises had been devoured by black, his lids half-drooping as he bent in for another kiss.

A nibble really, she thought, as his teeth caught her bottom lip and tugged, sucking at the full flesh as his arm snaked around her waist. Her feet left the bottom of the bath, and Buffy instinctively wrapped her legs around his hips, pressing her dripping pussy against his erection, feeling it glide between her swollen outer lips as she slid in minuscule sweeps up and down his length. Each time the tip brushed against her clit, she gasped, the breath catching in her lungs to sear her chest with tiny flaming darts, and her nails dug into the smooth skin of his back, anchoring herself to him, fearful that letting go would…

"…not goin' to drop you," Spike murmured, and tightened his grip, lapping at the salt of her skin as the steam drew the water from her flesh. "Never lettin' you go."

The quivering within her threatened to overpower Buffy's control and she pulled just enough away to look into his eyes. Need, and desire, and something she couldn't quite put her finger on, looked back at her, and for a moment, the only rational thought she seemed to be able to command was that she'd never wanted anything more before in her life.

Her hips had stilled, his cock nestled between their bodies. "Should we start with the scales then?" she asked breathlessly. A hint of confusion worried his brow. "You know, the basics," she added with a small smile.

She didn't wait for a response. Without losing the suction that the water was creating between their torsos, Buffy angled her hips just enough so that his erection was poised at her entrance, and with one swift movement, lowered herself back down again, burying him inside her.

They both gasped, he from the tight muscles now pulling him home, she from the fullness that now permeated her flesh. Neither moved, each unwilling to break the spell the single motion had woven around them, and instead Spike's right hand swept over the swell of her lower lip. "You didn't have to, pet," he said softly.

"No," she agreed. "I chose to." With a lethargic grace, Buffy slid up the length of his cock, her eyes never leaving his. "Up the scale," she said, then lowered herself back into her original position, feeling her clit hit the tight curls around his cock. "And back down again."

He couldn't help but smile as she repeated the actions, each stroke a deliberate caress. "My kind of music," he drawled as his hips began to join with hers.
She pretended to pout. "Not music. Scales. Music comes later. That's what you said."

"This is music, too," he whispered against her cheek. "Just simpler." His hand dropped between them, catching her clit with the ball of his thumb. "What comes later is the whole bloody concerto."

There were no more words as their lips met, their bodies arching in rhythm that failed to surprise either of them. Each had known how this was going to be. It had begun with their fights, instincts responding to instincts, blow matching for blow. It made sense to both of them that it would continue in their sex, need being drawn to need, cadence rivaling cadence. All doubt about the rightness of it was driven from their minds; any question about choices was squelched in the face of their desire.

All either of them could think about was how alive it made both of them feel.

With each drive upward, Buffy felt a spasm ricochet throughout her body as the tip of his cock grazed across that tenderest of spots, quickening her pace as she tried to recreate it with every thrust. Spike felt her orgasm come first, the unconscious tensing of her inner walls around his cock, the tremulous grasp of her thighs around his hips tightening, and spurred it onward by dropping his mouth to the top of her breast, sliding down to catch her nipple in his teeth as her body arched away from him.

Slick, and hot, and pulsing with life, she crashed over the precipice of her orgasm, coming with a force that was coupled in fire, nails raking at his arms as she ground herself against him.

Her heart went wild then, her pulse drumming into his cock as he slammed himself into her, and Spike came with a roar that beat against their eardrums, yanking her upward to press her against him, driving his mouth to hers to try and stave away the shudders that threatened to buckle his knees.

More, more, more, he heard a little voice chanting inside his head, and he tightened his grip around her waist, holding her closer, suddenly frightened that she would disappear like any one of the dream Buffy's he'd known prior to coming to New Orleans, desperate to hold onto the magic of it---of her---for as long as possible.

When she broke from the kiss, she rubbed her cheek along his, a tiny sigh of contentment tickling across his ear. "Gotta love those scales," she said with a small laugh.

"You know what they say," Spike replied, and pulled back so that she could see the wicked glint in his eye, the smirk twisting his lips. "Practice makes perfect."

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

"You're going with me?" Stella stared at the blonde vampire in surprise, careful not to move and jar the cracked ribs that still sang in pain from her arrival.

Iris rolled her eyes. "Have you not been paying any attention to what I've been telling you?" she said. She was lounging on the couch in her sitting room at Midnight, the black singer seated in a chair opposite. "Spike and his little Slayer found out about Sira Sommeil. You need me for protection if you want your little vodou shindig to go off without a hitch."

She didn't like it, but in her weakened state, Stella knew that she didn't really have much choice in the matter. Iris was too powerful, with too much knowledge about her powers for her to spring any kind of trick on her. Though she might not like the idea, perhaps the vampire had a point. Her presence could prevent these other two she kept talking about from interfering, allowing the awakening to occur without fault. Once it was over, it wouldn't make a difference what Iris wanted from the bargain.

Willow would be too powerful for her to stop.


To be continued in Chapter 19: Stella by Starlight