DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss', of
course. And the chapter titles are courtesy
of Robert Burns, as well as the poem Spike leaves for Buffy.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: The gang went to Scotland, Buffy fell in love with Spike, together they defeated the kelpie who'd stolen an artefact from the Otherworld, Buffy almost lost Spike, and everything ended with a huge demon bonfire and good cheer all around. Now, back in Sunnydale…
He dropped his keys on the desk as if he'd never left. "You didn't really get a grand tour your first visit," Giles said, shrugging out of his coat. He motioned to the various rooms as he spoke. "The bathroom is through there, my bedroom is upstairs, and the kitchen you can pretty much see for yourself. And I've been told the couch is actually quite comfortable. Of course, I've also been told it's a distant relative to an Iron Maiden, but that assessment came from Spike, so I'm sure you'll take that for whatever it's worth." He paused, turning to look back at the man lingering on the threshold. "Don't tell me after all this time that you're actually a vampire and I'm going to have to invite you in," he admonished Colin, though the mocking tone of his voice was softened by a slight twinkle behind his glasses.
The younger Watcher flushed, ducking his head as he stepped inside, setting the satchel in his hand by the door as he closed it behind him. "I suppose I'm still just a little overwhelmed that you would offer your hospitality so," he said. "I've told you. I can always find lodging at a hotel until I find a more permanent solution."
Giles cut him off with a brief wave of his hand. "Don't be ridiculous," he said, striding toward the kitchen. "The Council hardly pays enough to warrant such an extravagance when it's completely unnecessary." His voice filtered from the other room. "Would you like some tea?"
"Yes, thank you."
"Besides," Giles continued, "this will give us time to go over some details before you begin your assignment in earnest. Outside of Dall Rath, you've not had any field experience, and your exposure to Slayers has been…" He wasn't sure exactly how to finish that sentence. Colin's only dealings thus far had been with Buffy; how could he characterize that contact without debasing either one of them?
"Limited, yes." He picked up a small statue perched rather precariously on the corner of Giles' desk. Curious. He'd never seen one of these outside of a museum. "To be honest, I never expected Mr. Travers to give me this opportunity. He was most displeased with our failure to hand over the harness to him."
"You're not having second thoughts regarding our story?" The older Englishman came to the doorway, eyes narrowing as he gazed speculatively at his new protégé. "You must understand----."
"No, no," Colin rushed to assure. "I firmly believe that the Council was wrong to want the harness in the first place. Telling them that it got destroyed in the fire was really our only way to ensure its continued safety. Not that I don't think the guardian will protect it," he hastened to add. "But until the balance of three is restored in guarding the entrance to the Otherworld, the fewer outside worries they have, the better it will be for them."
Slowly, Giles nodded. "You're going to be a fine Watcher, Colin," he said. "You've learned a lesson already that took me years to acquire." He retreated back into the kitchen, the other Englishman right on his heels.
"Rupert, regarding Buffy…are you prepared for the…changes you're going to have to deal with?" Colin queried, surprised at his own boldness for bringing up the issue in the first place. In spite of numerous attempts by the others to discuss it, Rupert had been rather close-mouthed about the subject during the time between the completion of the closing and their return to Sunnydale. Even when Buffy had announced she would be travelling back in the hold of the plane with Spike, her Watcher had remained mute, ignoring the faint screams and jolts that came from the nether regions of the aircraft, not even scolding Xander for his joke about the Slayer and vampire knocking the plane out of the sky with their "shenanigans." When they'd landed, he'd merely given the pair of them perfunctory orders to meet at the Magic Box the following day, heading to his own transport without paying too much attention to their hand-holding as they walked to their ride.
It took him a moment to answer. The steam rose from the cups in gentle swirls as Giles set aside the kettle, reaching into the cupboard overhead for the biscuits he hoped were still reasonably fresh. "I expect that it won't be that much different," he finally said thoughtfully. "Except I'll most likely have to tolerate Spike's presence during the meetings. And restock on Weetabix more frequently. For some reason, I suspect I'll be finding my supplies suddenly disappearing again."
"Oh, come now," Colin admonished. "Surely, it'll have farther reachings than that. They've been inseparable since the entrance was closed. You don't think---."
"I trust them," Giles interrupted, and then flushed in mild embarrassment as if a child caught out in a lie. "Well, I trust Buffy. Spike…may take more time."
He seemed too absorbed in stirring his tea all of a sudden, the clink of the spoon against the side of the mug tinny in the tight quarters of the kitchen. Reaching past him, Colin picked up his own cup, warming his hands against the hot china, and waited for the other man to speak, only to realize very quickly that he wasn't going to. Oh well, he thought, as he turned back to the living room. I did try.
"He really does love her," Giles said quietly. When Colin glanced at him, the older Watcher was staring into his cup, his face impassive. "And she's happy, surprisingly enough. I'd wanted so much more for her…well, I still want more for her. But…he's not going to hurt her. He's proven that he's willing to place her needs far above his own. I suppose I can't ask for much more than that."
"You gain a powerful ally as well," Colin offered, trying to alleviate the other's strain. "Spike's far more educated than any of us ever gave him credit for. He'll be useful to you in research."
The laughter came unchecked to Giles' lips, the corner of his mouth lifting into a wry smile. "Yes, because if there's one thing Spike loves more than unlife itself, it's research," he said mockingly. His frown relaxed, easing into pensive contemplation. "I sincerely hope you don't have to worry as much with your charge," he continued, his mood a trifle lighter as he sipped at his tea. "Of course, you have a distinct advantage. Your Slayer is only fourteen. Far too young to be considering romantic attachments to the demons she's been chosen to destroy."
Colin chuckled. "Let's just hope so," he said. "But she's not a Slayer, remember, merely a Potential. There's a possibility I shall never have to face the tribulations you have had with Buffy."
"I still can't believe she's here in Sunnydale," Giles mused. "Imagine the odds."
"I must say, lucky for me she was. I get to train Amanda…" His voice trailed off, his brow furrowed, as his mind worked behind his eyes. "Damn it," he muttered after a moment. "Why can't I ever remember her last name?" He shook his head. "Oh, well. I'm sure it will come to me. What was I saying?"
Giles couldn't help his smile. "How lucky you are to be on the Hellmouth."
Colin brightened. "Oh, of course! I get to get my hands into some proper training, and I get to have you as a mentor. Very lucky, if you ask me."
"Yes, quite." His tone was dry. "Tossed into the lion's den, I would've thought, though."
"After the introduction to field experience I've had? I wouldn't have it any other way."
"What'd you get me?" Dawn squealed even before Buffy had completely stepped inside. Her eyes were bright with excitement, the smile too-wide on her young face, and the energy was rolling off her in waves as she watched her sister drop her bag beside the door. "Tell me it's something good. A kilt? A cute Scottish boy? What?"
"Where's Mom?" Buffy asked, giving the room a quick scan before handing the younger Summers the small sack she'd been carrying in her other hand. Without waiting for an answer, she called out, "Mom?"
"She's in the kitchen," Dawn replied, but didn't even look as her sister hurried from the room, leaving the front door open behind her. Eagerly, she reached inside and extracted the gift, the smile instantly vanishing from her face. "A t-shirt?" she squawked in dismay. "You fly halfway across the world and all you bring me back is a stupid t-shirt?"
Joyce was wiping her hands on a towel when Buffy burst into the kitchen, a welcoming smile on her face. "You're back early," she commented. "I guess I'm going to have to move that exercise equipment out of your room."
That stopped Buffy in her tracks, her eyes wide. "What? I called. You knew---." She stopped when Joyce laughed, her face relaxing as she realized she was being teased. "Ha ha. Very funny."
"You're so easy," Joyce said and crossed the room to her oldest daughter, wrapping her in a light hug. "Welcome home."
"How're you feeling?" She'd been dying to find out the result of all the tests her mother had undergone in her absence, and with her anxieties about Spike safely banished to the world of non-existence, Buffy was now ready to refocus her worries elsewhere.
"Wonderful. Those doctors the Council brought in are amazing. They've actually managed to pinpoint the problem. Of course, it's going to mean some more hospital time, but they say that this should be it." She held Buffy out at arm's length, scrutinizing her with a mother's eye. "You haven't been eating enough," she chastised.
"No, I have, but we kind of…lost our cook the last few days we were there," she said in explanation. "A…haggis accident. Very tragic."
"Oh. Well, I've got a huge dinner planned. If you want to call Willow and the guys---."
"Listen, Mom, can I ask you a fa---?"
"Geez, Buffy, did you forget how to close doors while you were gone?" Dawn griped as she came into the room and perched herself on one of the stools. She had slipped the gift shirt over her head before entering, the slogan, "I'd rather be Firkin than working," now emblazoned across her teenaged chest. "And why is that big black van still parked out front? They're not whisking you away again, are they? Because if they are, I get dibs on your stereo this time. Mom was totally hogging---."
"That's what I wanted to ask you," Buffy said to Joyce, ignoring her sister's rambling. "Spike's crypt isn't really great for door-to-door drop-off service, and seeing as it's still daylight outside, I was wondering if it would be OK if he crashed here until sunset?" She gnawed at her bottom lip. They had decided to break the news of their relationship to her mom slowly, not because she was worried that she didn't like Spike---for some reason, Joyce's liking of the vampire had never been in question---but because Buffy hadn't known what exactly her health situation was going to be. Though Joyce had been optimistic on the phone, until she saw her with her own two eyes, Buffy hadn't wanted to burden her with unnecessary worries about her daughter dating another vampire. There would be plenty of time for spilling of boyfriend details later.
"Of course," Joyce said in answer to her request.
"Spike's outside?" Dawn squealed, immediately brightening. "Can I go get him?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. She'd forgotten about the whole crush thing her little sis had going for the blond vampire. This would probably be the first boyfriend the Slayer had ever had that Dawn actually liked, although, in the long run, that might actually work in their favor. "Tell me again why you're not in school today," she complained.
"Well, duh, because it's Saturday." She was halfway to the door, not even bothering to wait for Buffy's OK to fetch the vamp. "I'll bet Spike got me something cool," she said, her voice trailing back into the kitchen.
"Does this mean you and Spike have ironed out some of the kinks in your…relationship?" Joyce asked once they were alone.
"You could say that." She paused. "We kind of came to an…understanding while we were in Scotland." The sudden yawn that overtook her surprised both of them. "Spike said jet lag was easier coming in this direction," she whined. "I am so going to rub this in his face. Once I have the energy to actually do any rubbing."
"Look what Spike got me!" Dawn chirped as she came bounding back into the room, the vampire in question sauntering in behind her. She held up the brown leather pouch, its tassels swinging wildly. "He says it's called a sporran. You wear it over your kilt." Her blue eyes shot daggers at her sister. "Not that I have a kilt."
"'Lo, Joyce," Spike said.
Buffy's eyes widened as she watched him lean in and kiss her mother on the cheek in greeting, and went even larger when he pulled a small wrapped box from his duster pocket and pressed it into her hand.
"From the fair land of the Scots," he said with a smile, affecting a thick brogue.
"Why, thank you, Spike. That's very thoughtful of you."
"I got you something, too!" Buffy protested. "It's just…packed." Folding her arms across her chest, her gaze locked with Spike's as he perched himself on the kitchen counter, his coat splayed around his black-clad legs. "And when did you find time to go shopping?" she asked pointedly. "And please tell me you didn't pay for that out of the money you took from Giles."
"Told Red to pick some stuff up for me," he replied with a nonchalant shrug, and though he was doing his best to appear casual, there was no mistaking the glitter of amusement in his eyes as they swept over the Slayer. "And I used my own dosh, thank you very much. Got paid, remember?"
"You're just jealous because he's a better gift giver than you are," Dawn said.
"He is not!"
"I dunno. Leather sporran or cheap pub t-shirt?" He pretended to seriously consider the options. "I think I'm gonna win on this one, pet."
"It's hardly a competition, Spike."
His blue eyes danced as they met Dawn's. "Methinks big sis is a sore loser."
He was teasing her and she knew it, but it was impossible not to rise to the bait. "Don't make me bring up the slapjack again," she warned lightheartedly.
Dawn's giggles erupted. "Spike plays slapjack?"
"It was a long flight," he growled.
Buffy affected a pretend pout. "Aw, does Spikey not like being reminded of losing at such a baby game?"
"It's not like I lost on games that actually mattered, Slayer. Games that require actual skill, as opposed to the ability to beat at a stupid piece of flimsy cardboard."
His eyebrow lifted. "I seem to remember a game of snooker---."
Dawn's head swiveled to stare at her sister, oblivious to the sudden flush in Buffy's cheeks. "Spike taught you how to play snooker? How cool is that!"
"It was just…one lesson. And we never actually finished the game." Her eyes were locked on his, the pounding of her heart suddenly really, really loud in her ears. Memories of felt scraping against her bottom, his weight pressing down onto her, flooded her head, and it was all she could do to remember to keep breathing.
"Oh, I don't know about that. I seem to remember both of us finishin' something there." His eyes sparked, the same recollections coursing through his mind. He was grinning now, savoring the dance as they kept up the pretense, oblivious to the other women in the room as he lost himself in the game.
"Will you teach me how to play?" Dawn asked the blond vampire.
"No!" Her voice was too loud, her veto too adamant, and Buffy found herself blushing under the curious stares from her family. "I mean," she hastened to add, "I don't think you're going to find that many snooker tables hanging around Sunnydale."
The awkward silence that followed was broken by Joyce's stepping forward to Spike's side. "You're staying for supper then, right, Spike?" she asked.
Buffy jerked at the question, eyes shooting wide. "Oh, he'd---."
"Love to," Spike drawled. "Thanks for the invite."
"What about the rest of the gang?"
She was still gaping at his audacity when her mother asked the question. They'd had an agreement. Slowly. This was supposed to happen slowly. At this rate, she and Spike were going to be having sex on the dining room table before dessert. With her mother and little sister doing dishes in the next room. Which, all of a sudden, didn't sound like such a bad idea. The sex part, not the close familial proximity part. Her gaze wandered to the kitchen door, the edge of the table just barely in her sight. I wonder if we'd break it, she mused.
"I'll give them a ring," Buffy said distractedly.
He could smell her growing excitement, and felt his own body respond in kind. Wonder what she's considerin', Spike thought, following her eyes to the doorway, wishing he could see what had captured her attention. Get a reaction like that one and it's gotta be good.
"Why don't you go get some Spike some blankets," Joyce was saying to her daughters. "That cot is still set up down in the basement. He can get some sleep down there without having to worry about the sunshine." She waited until both girls were gone before turning her wide smile to Spike. "Nice touch with the gift. I'm going to bet that was your idea."
Probably the last thing he'd ever expected to hear come from her mouth. "Excuse me?" the vamp queried, his own smile wiped from his face as his mind raced to try and catch up to wherever Joyce was leading.
"This thing between you and Buffy. You're going to have to be far more subtle if she insists on keeping up with this charade. You're not going to fool anybody."
Spike shook his head. There were a lot of reasons he'd always had a soft spot for Joyce, not the least of which was her ability to see past all the bullshit. "Told her it was a bloody waste of time," he said. "But you know Buffy. She gets an idea in her head and it takes a crowbar to get it out of there." His eyes twinkled. "Can't imagine where she gets it from." With a nimble jump, he hopped from the countertop, tilting his head as he regarded her. "It's not a casual thing, you know," he continued slowly, measuring his words. "I love your daughter. She's a remarkable woman."
She smiled. "You're not telling me anything I don't already know, Spike." Turning back to the counter, she felt him brush past her on his way to the basement. "Oh, and Spike?" she called as his hand reached for the doorknob. She waited until he'd turned around to look at her before continuing. "Just so you know? I still know where I can get my hands on a good strong axe if I find I ever need one."
The chuckle rumbled from his chest. "You Summers women are all the same. The bane of my existence, and the light in my eye." And with that, the vampire gave her a small salute and disappeared down the stairwell.
She hadn't had this much fun on the Hellmouth in ages. It had been decided before dinner that a night of frolicking and festivities at the Bronze was in order, so when Spike had emerged from the basement wearing one of the shirts she'd bought for him in Scotland, the dark blue of the cotton singing against his pale skin, drawing the sapphire of his eyes to focus in a crystal clarity that made her feel like she was drowning, Buffy had felt her heart skip a beat, the world suddenly falling to the wayside around her. Eating had taken far too long and when the time came to leave, she could barely mumble a hurried good-bye to her--oddly enough---amused mother before pulling him out on to the front porch. Her mouth on his had been voracious, and he'd laughed as he'd kissed her back, hands digging into her hips after merely seconds to pull her down and away.
"Got all night, luv," he'd teased, before scooping her hand into his and dragging her down the steps.
That had been three hours ago, and now she was hot, and sweaty, and desperately trying to get her make-up to look half as good as when she'd arrived. From the sink beside her, Willow handed her a third tissue and watched as Buffy wiped the color from her mouth to begin again.
"It's not like he even cares," the redhead commented. "You could go back out there looking like Minnie Pearl and Spike would still be completely incapable of even seeing anybody else."
She couldn't help her smile. The Bronze was packed that night, even for a Saturday, and though there were tons of pretty girls around, all Spike's attention had been focused on Buffy, his hand almost always somewhere on her person no matter what they were doing---in the small of her back when they danced, pressing her hips into his; at the back of her neck, a single finger tracing the delicate line of her nape when they sat at the table with the rest of the gang; kneading her upper arms when she leaned back against him, waiting for her turn at the pool table. When he wasn't there, she felt the lack as a pull from somewhere deep inside her stomach, and would inevitably turn from whatever she was doing to scan for his presence.
The casual acceptance by the rest of the gang certainly made it easier, Buffy decided. Xander and Spike were still bickering, but the tone had changed, no longer the derisive, "I hate you" mocking, but an irreverent, "I know how to push your buttons so I will" banter. There was give and take, with each man at one point having the upper hand, while the girls just laughed or rolled their eyes at their faux posturing.
Even Tara had joined in with the teasing, drawn out by the almost gentle manipulations of the vampire as he set about to include her in ways no one but Willow usually did. At one point, Buffy had caught him gazing at the blonde in a fond sadness, as if she was someone he'd known a long time previous and lost, but when he realized he'd been noticed, he'd merely shrugged the mood from his shoulders, a quirk on his lips, and proceeded to drag the Slayer back out on the dance floor. That was something for her to file away for future potential discussions, she'd decided. Like finding out where each and every one of those scars on his body came from. The minutiae that was Spike.
"Can I ask you a question?" Buffy said, looking into the mirror to gaze at her friend's countenance. "Did Giles seem extra…wigged by the whole sitch between me and Spike when we got back from kelpie land?"
Willow's smile was a small acknowledgment that she'd known this query would be coming. "I don't think you're going to have to worry about Giles," she said. "You didn't see him while you guys were gone. What Spike did impressed him."
"Impressed him, it's OK for him to date my Slayer? Or impressed him, I can't wait to sink a stake into his chest?"
"More like, I can see that he's not going to hurt her so I don't have to spend my nights drenched in sweat from worry, kind of impressed."
Hazel eyes lowered, suddenly intent on the water swirling down the sink as she washed her hands. "It's just…I want everything to be all right now. And the way Riley left…"
"You're not really blaming him for not sticking around, are you? Finding out about you and Spike really sliced into him. And then with the literal slicing when you guys were in the Otherworld?" She grimaced, shaking her head. "Not really conducive to a cozy, let's be pals vibe, if you know what I mean."
That part still saddened her. While Spike had rested from the repercussions of the closing spell, Buffy and Riley had sat down and tried to talk it out. She'd tried going through all the speeches she'd been practicing, but at each and every junction, he'd cut her off.
"It's all right," he'd kept saying. "I get it." Then, when he'd left to catch his own plane back to California, the only words from his mouth had been, "Don't worry about me. Just…be happy." Like that annoying song, except that she knew Riley really meant it.
The bathroom door opened as a pair of giggling girls stumbled in, the music from the bandstand filtering into the now-cramped space. "Let's go do the whole last dance thing," Buffy said with a smile, sweeping away the disquiet in her head with a toss of her hair as she slid her lipstick back into her purse. "I'm suddenly missing the smell of leather."
She knew something was wrong even before she was halfway to the table, stopping at the edge of the dance floor and swinging a clouded gaze around the room in search of his familiar bleached head. Even when Willow reached back and grabbed her arm, dragging her the rest of the way to their table, Buffy had known what was going to come out of Xander's mouth before it ever opened to speak.
"Now, before you start freaking out, everything is fine," he said, his brown eyes level.
"What happened? Where's Spike?"
"Someone came in that Spike knew, a big wrinkly guy. Said some Truva demons found out Spike was back in town and decided to trash his crypt as a welcome home present." He grabbed Buffy's arm as she picked up her coat. "Relax. They're not there now. But Spike had to go check it out. Everything is fine," he stressed. "Sit down, have a drink, listen to the tunes. Spike's a big vamp. He can take care of himself." He frowned when Buffy pivoted on her heel and began heading for the front door of the club. "Damn," he muttered.
"Pay up," Anya said gleefully, extending her open palm.
Willow frowned as Xander pulled a five from his wallet and handed it to his girlfriend. "What's…going on?" she asked.
"I won the bet," Anya replied. "I told Xander Buffy wouldn't even sit down before she went off after Spike."
"I even did the 'everything is fine' bit like he said to," Xander complained. "Twice."
Anya patted his arm affectionately. "You did good," she said. "Spike's just got to learn to put some more thought into these little surprises of his, that's all. If he gets interrupted because Buffy didn't buy his incredibly lame story, then that's his own fault."
"Surprise?" More confusion from Willow. "What kind of a surprise?"
Xander grinned, in spite of his failure to keep the Slayer from bolting. "A grand romantic gesture kind of surprise. To say, welcome back to the Hellmouth."
Stupid Truva demons, she thought as she marched through the cemetery. Always messing things up. First the chocolate sauce incident with Spike and then…She stopped, smiling. No, on second thought, just messed things up tonight. The Hershey escapade had been kind of fun. But she still hoped one was still lurking around when she got there just so she could kill it good and dead for cutting short her fun evening.
His crypt loomed in front of her but before she could decide whether to knock or just go barging in, her attention was diverted by a piece of paper, pinned to the outer wall with a long knife, fluttering in the slight breeze that drifted through the graveyard. She frowned, taking a step nearer, and tilted her head to better read the script that flowed across its edge.
Immediately, she stiffened, head whipping around to scan the area for activity, her Slayer senses on alert. Nothing. Just the quiet peace of the dead sleeping in their graves. But, if she concentrated…
Her eyes fluttered closed, and Buffy found herself leaning toward the wall of the crypt, her hand reaching out instinctively to tangle in the ivy that crept up the stone. He was there. Inside. Moving around. And he was alone.
Lids lifting, she gazed at the note stuck to the wall for only a moment before grasping the dagger's hilt, pulling it easily from its bed. The paper remained speared by the blade, and she slid it off, opening it from its single to fold to read its contents.
Confession time. No Truvas. Just needed to slip away for a bit to get things set up around here without the added distraction of you hanging around. I left things in quite a mess when we left, if you remember, and it's hardly fit for entertaining anyone as beautiful as you in its current state. But I have to say, the idea of saying good-bye---even just for a few hours---leaves a sour taste in my mouth after what happened in the Otherworld, so forgive me if I didn't this one time. Not that this is one. Not going through that again, not if I can help it.
So, in honor of our first night back, I'm suggesting a tribute to our Highland jaunt, our own Scottish fling if you will. And to set the mood, a poem, by my new favorite country's national bard, Robert Burns…
O, my love is like a red, red rose,
That is newly sprung in June.
O, my love is like the melody.
That is sweetly played in tune.
As fair are you, my lovely lass,
So deep in love am I,
And I will love you still, my Dear,
Till all the seas go dry.
Till all the seas go dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun!
O I will love you still, my Dear,
While the sands of life shall run.
P.S. In case you haven't already guessed, adding the poem to this note instead of giving it to you inside was a stalling tactic because I know you left the Bronze as soon as you realized I wasn't there. Patience is unfortunately not one of your better virtues, so I've got to buy the time I need from somewhere. Now get that lovely bottom of yours in here so we can start this night properly.
The first thought that went through her head was totally irrational. Spike's handwriting is prettier than mine is. The second made her smile. He gave me another poem. And the third made her shake her head. The vamp knows me way too well.
Tucking the note into her pocket, Buffy pushed against the crypt door, the squeak from its hinges sending light shivers down her spine. "Spike?" she called out, and then stopped as her feet crossed the threshold.
Every candle he owned must've been lit, scattered around the perimeter of the room like golden sentinels, fluttering in bittersweet symphony in the draft she couldn't feel on her skin. They illuminated most of the space, leaving the corners deep in shadow, and displayed the rose petals layered across the stone floor in white and burgundy, those farthest from the glow appearing black in the absence of light.
"Did you run all the way here?"
His voice came from the blackness farthest away, a honeyed caress across her flesh, and Buffy smiled as she peered in his direction. "Would it make a difference if I did?" she teased, taking a small step forward.
The command was gentle, but it stilled her feet, locking her in place at the bottom step. "You're in a bossy mood tonight."
"I just want this to be right," he replied.
"How did you get all this arranged?" Her gaze flickered through the room. "I think I should be the one asking you if you ran all the way here."
"I made some calls before we left Dall Rath. All I had to do was set up the candles." He chuckled. "Betcha Junior's still lookin' for his phone."
"So what's with the invisible man act? Don't tell me you've gone all shy."
"I want to make one thing clear, luv. What you're about to see is a one time only offer. Do not, and I repeat, do not expect to ever have a repeat performance of what you're about to see. No cameras, no flash photography, and we'll be just fine. Understand?"
It was an odd appeal, but now her curiosity was piqued. "Whatever you say," she said, biting at her bottom lip.
She saw his skin first, the light catching the pale luminance of his bare chest and arms as he stepped forward into the orange spills across the floor. His bottom half was still bathed in darkness, and it was only when he'd moved a few more feet, stopping in arrogant beauty to fold his arms over his chest and gaze at her expectantly, did she realize why he'd made the request in the first place.
Spike was wearing a kilt. And nothing else.
It was impossible to tell in the dancing candlelight exactly what colors were contained in the tartan. Red, and black, and a thinner, dark stripe that could've been anything from blue to green, dominated the scheme, but without seeing it closer, there was no way for Buffy to be certain of the others. It hung low on his waist, wrapped casually around his slim hips to drape in gentle folds around his legs, stopping above his well-muscled calves. The quick question---I wonder what he's wearing underneath it---came unbidden to her head.
"You already have a kilt!" she accused.
His head tilted. "No, I don't. I borrowed this one special for the occasion, which is why you are not to get used to seein' me in it. First thing tomorrow, it goes back to its rightful owner, and I go back to my nice faithful jeans."
Hazel glittered in the dim light and Buffy stepped forward, her tongue darting out to lick her bottom lip. "Why do men look so good in these things?" she purred as she closed the distance between them. "Is it the whole plaid thing? Because normally, I'd say men in skirts were definitely not my thing. But now…" She shook her head. "I think I'm going to have to re-evaluate my perspective on drag queens."
Spike didn't move, only lowered his arms as she approached, inhaling the sweaty musk of her skin. "Not the same, luv," he murmured, his voice husky. "Kilts are more…manly, for starters. All about the rugged Highlands, you know." He hissed as she traced a nail around the inside of the fabric at his waist, feeling his erection stiffen in anticipation of more of her touch. He'd been pretty good about keeping it in control until she arrived; somehow, he had a feeling that the tent effect might spoil his presentation. Now, though, there was no reason for him to hold back. She was here, and everything was ready, and he needed her.
"So this is our…Scottish fling, you said?" The catch in her voice wasn't the only indication of her mounting desire. Her heart hammered in her chest, and her skin was crawling with millions of silky fingers, fingers she was wishing were his.
He didn't answer. Instead, she watched as his eyes fell to her mouth, lashes low, hiding the blue from her scrutiny as he ducked to capture her bottom lip between his teeth, nibbling at the tender flesh before sliding into the kiss. Her nails dug into his waist, torn between the satin of his skin and the itch of the tartan, inviting him in to search the depths of her mouth, tongues sweeping and tasting, the memory of every previous caress erased with the urgency of this one.
The growl rumbled from Spike's chest as he pulled away, taking both her small hands in one of his to lead her from the upper chamber and toward the ladder that went downstairs. He'd been planning this ever since they'd forced him to rest after the spell, thinking of ways to make their first night back on the Hellmouth special, and though he hated the kilt with a passion he usually reserved for the poofter, he had to admit it had been worth it to see the reaction on her face, to hear the exhilaration surging through her veins. Who knows? he thought as he guided her down the rungs. She just might be able to talk me into borrowing this bloody thing again if this is the kind of reception it's goin' to get.
Spike had taken the same care with the downstairs décor, rose petals and candles lending an ambience the space normally lacked. The bed was freshly made---had to thank Clem for going out and buying a new set of sheets, fresh start and all that---and the corner of Buffy's mouth lifted when she saw the black satin. Not really a surprise with that one.
"Here I thought you would've had plaid blankets," she said, running her fingers along the silky edge. "And where's the space heater? It's not nearly cold enough down here to really be Scotland, you know."
He stood behind her, pressing his arousal into her hips as his hands slid around the front of her stomach. "Think you'll like it better this way," he murmured into her neck. "Don't have to sleep with socks on."
The breath caught in her throat as his hand cupped her breast. "Thought you…" Buffy gasped as he caught her nipple between his fingers. "…liked the socks."
"Like you," Spike growled and before she could stop him, he'd pulled her top over her shoulders, exposing her bare skin to the chill of the air. His hands descended immediately to her skirt, tugging at the button to loosen it from her hips, and stepped back just enough to let it drop to the floor.
When she turned in the circle of his arms, she caught him just as he grabbed the edge of his tartan. "What're you doing?" she asked.
For a moment, he looked confused. "Takin' the bloody thing off," he replied.
Buffy shook her head. "Uh uh. You have any idea how long I've waited to see you in this? Leave it on."
His smile was slow, his nostrils flaring as his tongue ran along the edge of his teeth. "That's one to remember," he drawled. "Slayer likes to play dress-up."
"Slayer likes you," she taunted, oh so casually tossing his words back at him. Gripping his hand in hers, she leaned herself back onto the bed, tugging his weight down on top of her so that she was pinned to the mattress, the kilt bunched in heavy folds between them. Reaching down, Buffy grabbed its hem, dragging it upward, allowing her nails to skate along the back of Spike's thigh.
The sharp exhalation at the contact caused his eyes to glitter, his mouth to descend to hers as he swallowed her down in a ravenous kiss. He hated the fact that she was keeping him from touching her, the wool of the kilt an uncomfortable itch just begging to be scratched, but he had to admit, as she exposed the curve of his ass to the air, the contrast her smooth skin made from the fabric actually made him harder, his cock straining to reach her. She was healed quite well from their adventures in the Otherworld and while the lovemaking they had shared when they'd believed it to be their last had been shattering, Spike was dying to just be able to let his passions go, to pound her into the mattress with the force he knew she could take, to make her feel just what loving her did to him.
Only when she felt the need to breathe did Buffy break from the kiss, chest heaving as Spike slid his mouth down her neck to suckle at the pulse point in the hollow of her throat. Too many wounds had kept them from truly being able to let go with the other over the past few days; even their romps in the hold of the plane had been subdued compared to what she knew they were careful of. Now, though, it was time for a different story.
Using her cheek to nudge at the top of his head, Buffy lowered her shoulder, forcing him to break the contact from her skin with an audible sucking sound that promised of infinite pleasures should it continue. "Spike," she breathed, and waited for him to look at her, drinking in the sapphire almost completely lost to the black of his dilated pupils. She smiled, lifting one hand to caress his swollen bottom lip. "Don't hold back," she said. "Just…don't…please?"
The next few minutes were lost in a flurry of hands that couldn't stop the caressing, raking over skin that in turns chilled and burned, losing what last barriers between them prevented the joining both wanted, both needed. With the kilt twisted into a knot against their stomachs, Buffy grasped the firm musculature of Spike's ass, eyes fluttering shut as he positioned his dripping cock at the seeping entrance between her legs, back arching as he buried himself inside her
Too much…and not enough…filling and pounding inside her as she clung to his back, trying to remember to breathe as each stroke throbbed inside her, his mouth never stopping its exploration of her skin, sultry and sweltering, threatening to melt her muscles into the comforter they hadn't even bothered to pull away. No holding back. No holds barred. All the walls were now down, pulled apart with bloody fingers to lay in shards at their feet as they rode out their union in a frenzy of grunts and screams, oblivious to everything else in the world but the other, drowning in the tomorrows that their bodies promised.
Spike felt her come the first time when she clenched around his cock, her channel tightening around him to the point where he hesitated, holding himself there for the briefest of moments while the shudders overtook the Slayer's flesh. The sight of her neck as she threw back her head, the gold of her hair splayed against the black satin, made his mouth water, the flecks in his eyes dance as he struggled to contain the demon rising to the front, and instead, renewed the rhythm, sliding in and out, daring and driving her to crescendo a second time within his embrace, even as his own orgasm threatened to explode.
"Yesss…." Buffy hissed and pulled his mouth to hers, sucking his tongue down as she forced him to quicken his pace, thrusting and riding the sensations that eddied around them…through them…crying out loud when the second climax coursed through her body, wracking and tremoring as his closely followed.
The kilt was damp with her sweat and juices, pooled around their hips as Spike slowly pulled himself out, his body trembling as it unsheathed itself from her warmth, jumping from the raw contact of the fabric against his sensitive cock.
Buffy giggled, the sheen of perspiration making her cheeks glow. "Aw, don't tell me we broke widdle Spikey," she teased, reaching down to drag the material back over his dwindling erection.
The vampire snarled, but the smile that twisted his lips belied the effect, and he grabbed her by the hips to roll her onto her side, keeping her hands firmly away from the kilt as he did so. "Not so little," he growled, dipping in to claim her lips one more time. "And very, very far from broken."
Her sigh of contentment fanned across his cheek. "I love you," Buffy murmured as she nestled into his shoulder. "Have I mentioned that lately?"
Spike smiled. "Think that might've come up once or twice in the past few days," he replied. His nerves were still racing, the power that she'd gripped him lingering in his muscles like a fine wine, and he was anxious to go again. But she had settled against his chest, curling herself into his flesh, and as his arm snaked around to draw her closer, the vampire decided that this was almost better. No, not almost. Definitely.
"I've been wanting to ask you something ever since I left the Bronze," Buffy said, her voice soft, but the curiosity unmistakable.
"Ask me anything. No holdin' back, remember?"
"OK." She lifted her head to gaze down at him. "I still don't know what in the hell happened to you down at Willy's that night. Not that considering the possibilities of why someone would want you to take a shower in chocolate sauce didn't give me hours of entertainment, but I'm going to bet the real story is oodles better than anything I could come up with."
Spike shook his head. "Nope. Ask me anything but that."
She slapped at his chest, the slight sting of the contact surprising him. "Since when are we keeping secrets here?"
"Since it's something that makes me look like a total git."
There was a moment of silence, and Buffy set her chin down on his shoulder, hazel eyes contemplative. "Make you a deal," she finally said. "You tell me the story and next time, I'll wear the kilt."
His eyes glittered, narrowing just ever so slightly as images of a naked Buffy with the tartan draped between her legs, rubbing against her clit, playing across her nipples, jumped into his head, immediately causing his erection to return. "Next time's goin' to be tonight," he warned. Her sly smile told him that she'd known that when she made the offer. With an unnecessary sigh, Spike pulled her down into his shoulder, inhaling the scent of her hair as he mentally shook his head. She was never going to respect him after this, he just knew it. "Fine," he said. "But you can't look at me while I do this."
Buffy giggled. "I won't. I promise."
"And none of this gets back to the others. Especially Harris." God, please, especially not the boy.
"I won't breathe a word to anyone."
She almost thought he wasn't going to do it, his body so stiff beneath her cheek. Just when she was about to lift her head, Buffy felt the rise of his chest as he readied himself to speak.
"It goes like this. I was on my way to the butcher's…"
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to everyone for your wonderful support and feedback regarding Charms, and most especially, thanks to angstchic for being such a marvelous beta, and to Craig for all the help in the *ahem* research. Hope you enjoyed the ride!