CHAPTER NINE

"There is something very wrong with this picture." Bill glanced sideways at Buffy as he drove away from her house.

"I know, I know, but she just… pushed me out the door!"

"What brought this on? Not that I'm complaining," he hastened to add. "I'm more than ready for this step… but I thought you were still…. thinking."

"You thought I was still worried I'd close my eyes and pretend you're Spike," she said. "And I can't promise you that isn't going to happen. But I don't think putting it off… and making both of us half-crazy every time we're together… is the right answer. As my much-too-wise-for-her-years daughter pointed out – this isn't a normal situation and waiting around until it seems like it is..." Buffy paused. "I think she's getting tired of watching us dance around each other. Or maybe I'm just being bitchier than usual. I dunno. But she convinced me."

"That's worth an A plus right there," he said, risking a sideways smile as he threaded his way through traffic.

Buffy giggled. "Don't tell her that, or she'll be making herself invisible every time you come over."

He snorted his agreement and focused on the traffic again.

"Where are we going? Your apartment's that way." Buffy turned her head to look down the street they just passed.

"I was able to get last-minute reservations at the Hilton. Given the state of my apartment, it seemed like the more romantic option."

"Did Joyce tell you to do that?"

"No. Why? Why would she?"

Buffy shook her head. "Because that's almost exactly what she said she was going to tell you to do. Although now that I think about it, she shoved me out the door too fast to have had time to do it."

"Girl already knows me too well," he sighed.

Buffy laughed softly. "She's pretty observant. But since she never met her father, at least we know she wasn't saying it because of the way he used to live."

"Wonderful. So she figured out I have a messy apartment all on her own."

Buffy rested her hand on his arm. "I think she just wanted me—us—to have our first time be romantic and special. She is sixteen, you know."

"I know. I hope she's handling this as well as we think she is."

"So do I." She chewed her lip for a moment. "I warned her not to get too invested in it… I've never let anybody be enough a part of my life before that I worried that she would miss them if, or more likely when, they disappeared from it. I thought she was old enough now to—"

"To not have expectations that the man who has her father lurking in his brain will become her stepfather?"

"You know, when you get all spooky perceptive like that…"

"A – don't tell me it's just like Spike. And B – it doesn't take a genius to figure out what could be going on with her. She may be behaving in a very adult fashion when it comes to wanting us to have a physical relationship, but she is still a kid. And kids want families. No matter how wonderful their single parent might be, they always hope for that other half." He gave a short laugh. "And that doesn't come from being particularly perceptive; it comes from having taught school for the last fifteen years. You teach the kids, but you also learn from them."

"Wow," Buffy said quietly. "I think I'd lo-like you even if you didn't look like… somebody else."

"It's okay to say it sometimes, Buffy. It is what it is. I look like him, and sometimes, apparently, he shows up in the things I say and do. I understand that. I just want you to like the parts that are just me for themselves."

"Well, I haven't seen all those parts yet, have I?" she said, blushing at her own boldness, but encouraged when he choked and almost swerved the car into a tree.

"Oh, trust me, Buffy. We are going to remedy that as soon as can get this thing parked." He turned into the hotel lot, into the first parking place he found, and switched the engine off, turning and reaching for her in almost one motion. He pulled her across the space between the seats and into a searing kiss. He continued the kiss until they were both gasping for air.

"We have to check in," she whimpered as he ran his hands under her shirt.

"Nope. I checked in when I made the reservation in person. Got the key in my pocket. Room 324." He unhooked her bra and slid his hand around to stroke the bottom of her breast. "Ahhh…" he said, his voice shaking. "The feel of your skin is…"

"Upstairs. Now." She pushed him away and opened her door. He followed quickly, leaving her overnight case behind for the time being. Using a side door that opened easily with the key he already had in his hand, they were in the hotel and running up the fire stairs to the third floor. It briefly crossed Buffy's mind that while running up two flights of stairs was nothing to her, it might be a bit much for an English teacher. However, he was right behind her and not even breathing hard when they burst out into the hallway and looked to see which way it was to Room 324.

"This way." He took her hand as they hurried down the hall, not quite running, but covering the carpeted space very quickly. Stopping in front of the door, he dropped her hand and tipped her face up to his for a soft, chaste kiss. He inserted the key and opened the door as Buffy asked, "What was that?"

"That was just a reminder to myself that, as much as I want to rip your clothes off right now, I also think I've fallen in love with you… and that is just as important to me."

"Oh…." Buffy was stunned into silence, unsure of the proper response to what she thought was one of the most romantic things she'd ever heard. She put her hand to her lips and felt her eyes welling up.

As he entered the room, he turned to take her hand again and pull her in behind him. He had already shut the door before he noticed the tears in her eyes.

"Not quite the response I was looking for," he said, smiling at her. "But I'm taking it as a good sign?"

Buffy nodded, finally finding her voice. "That's just…. I think that's the sweetest, most romantic thing anyone's every said to me." As she spoke, she knew it wasn't true. Spike had always been romantic and sweet when they were alone. But no living man had ever made her feel quite as cherished as Bill just had.

"Not a mood ender, I hope," he said with a small grin. "If it was, I take it back. Never meant it. Not sure I even like you—"

Buffy's mouth on his put an end to his attempts to get her to smile with him. It took only a moment for his response to be all she'd hoped for and they fell together onto the bed, pulling at each other's clothes in a way that was familiar, but different enough for Buffy to maintain her perspective. They were naked so quickly they ended up laughing at themselves.

"Well, here we are," Bill said, his eyes drinking her in. "I know I'm staring, but what I really want to be is touching you. All over."

"That works for me," she breathed, blushing lightly from his appreciative scrutiny. "Touching is good. I like touching."

He ran one hand lightly down her cheek, then down her neck and to her breast. She sucked in a breath and shut her eyes as he cupped her breast and gently stroked it with his thumb. When he left his hand there, but dipped his head for another kiss, she fell back, crooking one arm around his heck to pull him with her. The new position, which put their naked bodies against each other sent them both into another frenzy of trying to be closer than they already were.

"Jesus, Buffy, I wanted to take all night learning your body, your likes and dislikes, and impressing you with my amazing foreplay, but…." He groaned as she wrapped one leg around his and rubbed against him. "But I don't think I can last that long…," he gasped.

"Impress me later, be in me now." She shifted her body and pulled him all the way over on top of her, opening her legs so his hips could drop between them. While Buffy tilted her hips to give him access, he seemed to have no hesitation about giving her what she wanted, where she wanted it. In a way that was so familiar feeling it almost broke her heart, he slid into her and sighed his relief. As they began to move together, his murmured endearments flowed over her. As it had been with Spike, it wasn't necessary for her to say anything – as long as she continued to make appreciative sounds and whimpers, he seemed to know exactly what to do to keep her building toward a happy ending.

As her sounds became louder and more forceful, his hips churned harder and he whispered in her ear, "Come for me, love. Come with me, Slayer, I know you can do it."

At the "Slayer" coming from the man who never called her anything but Buffy, she gave a little shriek and clenched around him, forgetting briefly that he was only a normal human man. Before she could relax and apologize, she felt him explode within her, giving no sign that he was anything but more than pleased with her reaction.

As they rested together, breathing gradually returning to normal, he made as if to roll off, but Buffy held him in place with her arms and legs.

"No. Stay there. Please."

"You won't get any argument from me," he said, nuzzling the side of her neck. "I just thought I might be getting too heav—" He snorted. "Guess that was sort of a dumb thing to worry about, huh?"

She gave her own lady-like sniff and tilted her head so he could keep moving his mouth over her throat. "Well, it's not like I would enjoy being smushed against your chest or something, but you fit just right. And, yeah, even if you were smushing me, I could push you off." She stopped her appreciative mmmmms and stilled under him, turning her face into his neck. "Is that… is that a problem? That I'm stronger than you are?"

Her voice was muffled, but the uncertainty in it was plain. He rolled them over so that she was lying atop his body and he could use one hand to lift her head up. Holding her gaze, he said firmly, "No. It is not a problem. Don't ever think that. And if I ever get on my masculine high horse about it, feel free to knock me off."

He released her chin, but continued talking to her. "Being a slayer and stronger and faster than I am is no different than if you wore glasses, or had a limp or a speech impediment, or…. Okay, my examples aren't going where I'd like them to," he said with a soft laugh. He pulled her down against his chest and nibbled on her ear. "I'm trying to say that those powers are part of you, part of what makes you Buffy. And if I'm going to love you, I have to love all of you… even the parts that could kill me."

"I don't think I want to kill you," she said, running her teeth over his throat and pulling the skin into her mouth for a short suck. She felt him growing hard again within her, and smiled. "In fact, I'm sure I don't. I have much better ideas." She sat up, smiling wider when he pushed his hips up with an encouraging hiss. "Hang on to your hat, William. We're going for a slayer ride."

XXXXXXXX

Hours later, they lay side by side, their hands linked. Bill raised them to his lips and kissed each one of her neatly manicured fingertips.

"If I admit to being completely out of interest in sex right now, will you think I'm a wimp?"

Buffy shook her head with a giggle. "A wimp? Compared to what?"

He rolled his head to the side and raised an incredulous eyebrow at her.

"Oh. Well. If you mean compared to Spike…" She shrugged. "What do you want me to say? That you've got the stamina and recovery time of a vampire? Of course not." She leaned in and kissed his chest before looking up at his carefully immobile face.

"But you know what you do have?" She ran a hand over his chest, stroking her fingers through the soft hairs there. "You're warm, I can cuddle up to you and it warms me up. You can take me on picnics, and to the zoo and the beach. You won't stay young forever while I get old and wrinkled…" She stopped and frowned. "At least I don't think so…. Anyway, my point is, you're not competing with Spike, you're competing with the handful of other men I've had in my life because you're human, not a vampire." She pulled herself up on her elbows until she could look him in the eye. "And those guys? They can't hold a candle to you. Trust me. I'm well aware that you're not a wimp. You're amazing."

"You're just saying that to soothe my ego."

Buffy shook her head and sat up. "I don't do that anymore. I quit worrying about hurting egos a long time ago. You asked, I gave you an honest answer. Are you like Spike? No. Because Spike was a vampire and almost as strong as I am. He was also a dead man. A very loving and passionate dead man, but just as dead and cold as any other vampire. You're alive, warm, and just as loving and passionate as he was. Not better, not worse. Just different." She sighed and lowered herself to snuggle into his side. He automatically put his arms around her as she threw one leg over his. "And I think I like it," she finished. "I like it a lot."

His arms tightened around her, but he didn't speak, and as their breathing evened out and their heart rates dropped, they drifted off to sleep for a short while.

XXXXXXXX

They didn't sleep very long. The room was too cool to be comfortable lying around naked, even if you did have someone warm to snuggle up to. Buffy stirred and stretched, blushing when her stomach gurgled.

"I forgot to feed you before I seduced you, didn't I?" Bill said, also stretching out beside her. He let a hand trail down her arm. "Would you like to do something about that?"

She sat up and ran her eyes down his body, noting the dojo-hardened muscles and tan lines on his skin. She deliberately licked her lips instead of answering him.

"Buffy?" He sat up. "Do you want to run down to the bar and get something to eat? It's only 10:30. They should be serving for another couple of hours."

She tore her eyes away from his body and nodded. "Sure. That sounds like a good idea… or we could do room service…."

He laughed and pulled her into his lap. "We'd still have to put clothes on, love. Much as I'm enjoying what I think is the thought behind that look, I really don't want you to forgo your dinner for it."

"Mmmmm. Are you sure?" She giggled as she felt him growing against her bare ass.

"You're evil," he said, pushing up into her even as he tried to insist he wanted to order food for them both.

Buffy laughed and kissed him before sliding off his lap and onto the floor. "FYI, William, calling somebody evil isn't a good idea in my line of work. Not unless you know they really are."

"I'm pretty sure you are," he grumbled, standing up and pulling on his jeans. He made a point of having to adjust himself to make his erection lie along his thigh.

"Maybe a little bit. But you're the one who pulled me onto your lap. I can't help the effect it had."

"That effect started when you licked those luscious lips," he snorted. "And don't pretend you don't know it." He gazed at her where she stood, unabashedly nude and grinning at him. "And put some damn clothes on!"

"Wow. One time in bed and you're already yelling at me. I see how it's going to be…"

Still laughing, she took her clothes into the bathroom to clean up before eating. When she emerged, cleaner and completely dressed except for her shoes, she saw that he had also gotten fully dressed. He tossed his car keys as he slipped the room key into his back pocket.

"We probably ought to get your things from the car while we're down there," he said. "But food comes first."