DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course, and the chapter title comes from The Doors’ song, “Soul Kitchen.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Ethan has seen through Lilah’s deception, while Giles has gone off to start implementing Buffy’s plan, leaving her and Spike sparring at the warehouse…

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

Chapter 14: Speak in Secret Alphabets

Ethan didn’t like violence. He liked watching the effects of violence, and he had no qualms about ordering violence, but when it came to the mechanics of it, he had a tendency to grimace, make some snide comment about it being beneath him, and walk away. The only exception to this was swordplay. He had a wicked knack with a blade and shared those skills all too readily. Beyond that, however, most of Buffy’s fight training came from the field. In eight years of scrapping and surviving, she’d learned a lot of dirty tricks. It was the best way for a Slayer to stay alive.

Spike had been around a lot longer than she had. His tricks were different. Different, in this case, was good.

Very good.

Buffy rolled out of his path, avoiding his tackle with ease even though she wasn’t fully warmed up yet. Whirling on her heel, she saw him skid to a halt, then pivot and stare back at her, his eyes gleaming with anticipation. He wore his human face, which she thought was a little weird for a vamp, but that didn’t stop her from lashing out with her heel when he attacked again, connecting with his jaw and sending him spiraling to the side.

For every punch and kick that landed, three were dodged. It wasn’t just Buffy; Spike danced around her with the expertise he’d boasted about for the past day. The slide of his feet, the fluid grace of his hands, even the decisive roll of his shoulders when he’d pause to regroup, it all united into the feral attack of a seasoned pro. He hadn’t been kidding. He was a killer.

So was Buffy.

She was the first to draw blood, when a lucky blow to his mouth smashed his lips against his teeth. Spike leapt back, beyond her reach, his fingers coming up to wipe at the stain at the same time his tongue darted out to catch the lost fluids.

“Nice move,” he said, grinning. “Was wonderin’ how long it was goin’ to take you to get serious about this.”

The pause amplified the hum of her body until it pounded in her ears. “Funny,” Buffy commented. “I was wondering the same thing about you.”

She took advantage of his momentary amusement to surprise him with a sweep of her leg, knocking him to the floor. A split second later, she was straddling him, powerful knees pinning him down, her hands grabbing his wrists and twisting them over his head.

“Ready to say uncle?” she asked.

His hips bucked up against her, and Buffy’s eyes widened at his very obvious erection driving between her legs. “Not even close,” Spike said, and then slammed his head into hers.

Stars exploded before her eyes, the world swimming with hypnotic lethargy. Before they cleared, everything tipped and became cold, the concrete floor suddenly beneath her as Spike reversed their positions.

When she saw his lips start to descend, Buffy used the angle of his body to flip him over her head, shimmying out of his way before he could rise to his feet. She took the electricity surging through her veins to fuel her next attack, flying at him with fists and feet.

Back and forth they danced. They hurt. They teased. They touched. Everywhere they made contact, Buffy burned.

Skin flamed in bruises, hers, his, matching sets of tattoos that would bloom as the hours passed but now only lay in wait, ready to remind them of this long after the last punch was thrown. Neither seemed willing to let it end, but Buffy was convinced she fought on for a different purpose than Spike.

If it came down to the two of them, she no longer believed she would come out the better. His prowess was every bit as good as he’d bragged, and if she was pressed, she would almost admit that it was even better. Should Spike choose to actually make good on his deal with the Council, Buffy no longer knew what the outcome of that fight would be.

Part of her wanted to end it now.

Part of her didn’t want this to ever end. She didn’t think when she fought. She only was.

The sweat dripped down the back of Buffy’s neck, sliding beneath her collar to tickle along her shoulder blades, but she fought the distraction, fervent with the fight. Even Spike noticed her concentration. His eyes narrowed as one of her swings went wide, but he didn’t speak.

He grabbed her instead.

Spike’s arm hooked around her neck, dragging her back against his chest, choking off the air in her throat and making the warehouse tunnel around her. “I win,” he whispered, his lips moist against her ear.

“I don’t think so,” Buffy gasped.

She reacted without thought. Reaching between their bodies, Buffy cupped Spike’s erection through his jeans, sliding her hot palm along its length. He jerked at the unexpected touch, and she took advantage of the adjusted angle of his arm to twist within his hold. All she could see was his tongue skating along the edge of his teeth.

Then, it was all she could taste.

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

When the Slayer drew the first blood, it was hard for Spike not to vamp out at the flood across his tongue. Instinct was tamped down in favor of not losing the fight; he had no doubt that Buffy would call him on the carpet for even looking like he might break one of her precious rules. So, he played her game, and when she sat astride his hips, her heat seeping through his jeans, he upped the ante by reminding her just what it was they were really doing.

Leave it to her to change it all around.

It was the sound of her breathing, ragged and sultry, that broke his desire to have their sparring last any longer. It scraped across the skin she’d exposed, made his cock drip with the want of her, and Spike took the first opening he saw to drag her against his chest. Intentional. Necessary. He needed the control back. He couldn’t cope with the fight continuing and not getting to share any of that glorious, sweaty heat.

But she was the one to touch, she was the one to reach down and cup his balls, stroke him so firmly through his jeans that Spike thought he would come just from that. And she was the one to squirm within his embrace, to force him to stare down at her dewy upper lip, to watch the lower quiver in desire just as strong as his.

There was a brief moment when she slammed their mouths together that he wondered how much of this was about him and how much was about her Watcher.

It was only a brief one. Frankly, Spike didn’t much really care. Not as long as he was the one who got to feel her disintegrate around him.

They tore at each other’s clothes, stripping away until her slick skin slid against his, her thighs squeezed against his hips as she wrapped her legs around them. She was as wet as he was hard, and it coated his cock where they rubbed up together, begging him to come inside, to sink so deep that he’d have to claw his way out again. The vague notion that he’d somehow lost the plot tickled in the back of his brain, but it was nothing compared to the gnawing thirst that knocked down the last vestiges of his control.

When Buffy slithered down his body and swallowed his cock into her throat on the first pass, the sound that came out of Spike’s mouth was a pleasure-soaked groan. His fingers laced through her damp hair, cupping the back of her head, and guided her motions with growing ferocity. He could feel those tender places below her ears where all it would take was a little more force, a little more effort, to pop her skull into so much bloody refuse, but this was not his current refrain. Spike merely stroked the soft skin in a matching rhythm with her sucking, waiting as the tempo rumbled and sped within his gut.

Just as he was about to come, his mind a torrent of visions of her slender throat working to drink down every last drop of his spunk, Buffy circled her hand around the base of his cock and squeezed. Spike gasped, his eyes flying open just in time to see her straighten. For the space of a dozen heartbeats, she kept her hold, driving his orgasm back until his vision cleared and all he could see was a thin red veil of frustration.

“You bloody tease,” he growled.

“Like you don’t want this to last as long as possible,” she shot back. She squeezed a little harder, the added pressure translating into frissons of pain that shot down the back of his legs. “This is all I’ve got, Spike. This, right now.” When she swallowed, he noticed just how swollen her lips were from where she’d been sucking him off. He couldn’t help but think that if he bit into them, they would burst, bloody and succulent on his tongue.

Buffy used his cock as leverage to pull him back to the floor, lying back against the concrete and spreading her legs so that her quim was open and exposed. He didn’t have to be told twice. The moment her fingers loosened, Spike dove between her thighs, lapping at the juices that had escaped her folds before sinking his blunt teeth into the top of her mound. He could’ve nibbled at her flesh all day if she hadn’t grabbed his head and pushed it down, begging him without words to feast elsewhere.

Fisting his hair just as tightly as he’d done hers, Buffy’s moans eclipsed the wet sucking sounds of his mouth against her pussy. His tongue slid into her depths, but he refused to establish a rhythm akin to fucking; that would be for his cock and his cock alone this time. Instead, Spike explored every square inch of her, lapping up every drop, sweat, juices, didn’t matter. Even her clit’s hood came under his probe, and she bucked when he used his teeth to slide the loose skin up and down the hard bud.

“Tease,” Buffy hissed, fearlessly throwing his words back at him.

He grabbed her gauntlet and held it tight, abandoning the swelter of her thighs for the sinewy muscles of her upper body. When his cock nudged against her opening, all pretense at playing fled, and Spike thrust inside, groaning out loud at the wave of heat that shuddered through him.

He fucked her without concern that every drive ground their pubic bones together, every stroke had his balls slapping against her ass, every press had him slicker, warmer, harder than the one previous. Buffy’s nails raked down his back, drawing blood that made his mouth water, and he really had no choice but to kiss her to block out the taste of the other in the air. No choice. Absolutely none.

She screamed into his mouth when she came, and the rippling of her pussy around his cock forced his own release, sooner than he’d wanted but more blinding than he’d imagined it would be this time. Only when he was done did Spike realize she was running her hands up and down his back, curving around his ass to stroke the more sensitive skin beneath before resuming the slide upward again. He slowed the kiss to a crawl and rolled onto his back, taking her with him in a tangle of limbs that allowed him to stay buried deep inside her.

“You planned this all along, you son of a bitch,” Buffy murmured when they finally broke apart.

“If I remember correctly,” he replied, “you were the first to start grabbing all the naughty bits. Can’t blame a bloke for goin’ where his cock is led.”

She lay on top of him, setting down her head so that her cheek rested against his chest, not arguing at his continued presence inside her body. Unbidden, Spike closed his eyes, copying the gentle stroking she had been doing just moments earlier, and was rewarded with a heavy sigh.

“Go ahead and rest, Buffy,” he said. “I’ll keep an ear out for Ripper.”

“Don’t let him catch us like this,” she instructed wearily. “Watchers give the longest lectures, and I really don’t need that right now.”

He gave her his word without thought as to why he was doing so. Less than a minute later, she was asleep.

Listening to her breathing, Spike mulled over the details of the Slayer’s plan for springing her Watcher, but every so often, his thoughts would drift to other topics, questions arising that he quickly tamped down, suspicions lurking that soured his post-orgasmic glee. In the end, he decided that none of it mattered anyway. Ripper was never going to pay him for killing Buffy now; he was all too eager to redeem this wayward Slayer. Combine that with the fact Spike was suddenly not so sure he could actually take the Slayer in a fight---not if she fought as well as she had today---and the smart thing for him to do was take what he could from this arrangement and get the hell out of town.

That would be the smart thing.

Yeah.

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

He concentrated on the fantasy in order to escape the reality. Because the reality was that he hurt like hell, and Ethan was not a great fan of his own pain.

The interlude with Lilah had been a delight. To see her continue to pretend, when he knew the truth…that was the stuff of wet dreams. There had been a moment, when she had pulled out the key to the manacles, that the frightening possibility thought that it really was Buffy, that he’d erred in his earlier judgment, had made him freeze in desperation. But then she’d claimed to have killed the security guy and he had known the truth.

His Buffy always found a way not to kill the humans, regardless of the circumstances. This was not his Buffy.

His Buffy was still out there, somewhere, with the ring that held their futures in its tiny band. Ethan didn’t understand why he couldn’t reach her through sheer force of will, but he was done questioning that. There had to be a logical explanation. Surely once he got his strength back, he’d be able to find her, bring her to him, convince her of what needed to be done. It just required him being at his best. It required time.

So, he rested.

And while he rested, he dreamt of more halcyon days.

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

“I still don’t get it,” she complained as they walked down the narrow street.

His hand was in the small of her back, guiding her through the throngs of people clogging the walk. “Theater is not about ‘getting,’” Ethan said. “It’s about experiencing. How did it make you feel?”

Buffy thought for a long moment before replying. “Dumb.”

That made him chuckle. “You’re hardly stupid, my dear. But perhaps next time, we’ll choose something lighter. A comedy, perhaps. I hear the production of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is worth the time.”

“That’s Shakespeare, isn’t it?” She grimaced, and then her eyes went wide in excitement. “Or we could go see ‘The Lion King.’ Singing animals are always entertaining.”

“You know the rules.”

Her mood instantly deflated. “You have so got to get over this Disney hate. It’s unnatural.”

They continued to walk back toward the apartment, Manhattan’s more nocturnal denizens emerging from shadowed buildings, pulsing nightclubs, even the occasional sewer. He stood back at one point when a vampire chose Buffy as its midnight snack, watching as she staked the demon without loosing a single curl from her updo before turning back to Ethan’s side with hardly a break in her step. It wasn’t until they were nearly on their doorstep before she spoke about the play again.

“Why do you take me to these things?” she asked. He glanced down to see her staring up at him, the streetlights reflecting off her eyes to make them glow. “You know they’re all over my head. I never understand what’s going on in the plays you pick.”

He smiled and leaned down to brush a tender kiss across her temple. She tasted of coconut; her new shampoo was well worth the money she spent on it.

“It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “One day, you’ll be sitting in the middle of the audience, and something will happen onstage that will make you sit up and take notice. It’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of finding the particular play that means something to you. And, if I have to take you to every play in New York for it to happen, I’ll do it. Good theater should be a gift, not penance.”

“Every play means ‘The Lion King,’ too, you know.”

“Every play except that one.”

She laughed at that.

Ethan loved the sound of her laughter.

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

There was a celebratory party going on down the hall. Apparently, Lindsey had not only won his case, but he’d also managed to publicly embarrass Angel as well, forcing that cop girlfriend of his to be demoted and reassigned. Holland was having a field day showing Lindsey off as the firm’s latest golden boy.

Lilah wanted to walk into the party and throw Lindsey through the window. If the golden boy was so perfect, surely he’d be able to fly then, too?

Even through her closed door, she could hear the laughter. It mocked her from a distance, reminding her of her failure to retrieve Jutta’s Ring. The Senior Partners would be asking soon about its safety, and Lilah was going to be forced to admit that not only had she lost it, but that the Slayer had it in her possession. The only restitution she could offer was the wizard who’d been responsible for its theft. It was too bad that would hardly make a dent in the debt that was owed.

Closing the file she’d been working on, Lilah swiveled in her chair to face her computer and log her time. As she made the notations, she saw that the annoying checkmark was blinking on her toolbar. Damn it. Arlene was messing with her schedule again. With a sigh, she finished her timesheet and clicked on the icon to see what changes had been made this time.

“What the…?” she muttered, her eyes scanning the page. Lines deepened in her brow and she reached to jab on the speakerphone. “Arlene?” she demanded. “What the hell is this appointment you’ve put in for six?”

There was a quick rush of papers and the unmistakable sound of a rasping file. Damn girl was doing her nails again; Lilah was sick of warning her about that. “He called when you were downstairs,” Arlene said hastily.

“Since when do you make an appointment at dinner without it being a dinner date? Especially on a day when I’ve told you, no new appointments.”

“It was the only time he could come in, he said. And he specifically asked to see you here.”

“Well, call and cancel him. I don’t---.”

“He said it was about Jutta’s Ring, Ms. Morgan.”

The last was said in a whispered hush, as if Arlene was afraid of being overheard, but Lilah wasn’t interested in her secretary’s discretion. She was more interested in the sudden rush of adrenaline that had shot through her system at the mention of the ring.

“Did he give you any specifics?” she asked.

“Just that he had information regarding its whereabouts. The only specific thing he mentioned was a name. Buffy Summers.” There was a pause. “Do you still want me to cancel?”

“No,” Lilah said automatically. She disconnected in a fog. She wasn’t sure yet if this was a lucky break or something else. Glancing at her watch, she frowned when she saw the time.

She only had ninety minutes to make a decision either way.

 

To be continued in Chapter 15: The Time to Hesitate Is Through