Disclaimer: The characters are all property of Mutant Enemy, Inc. and Joss Whedon.

Note: This story takes place in the middle of the sixth season of Buffy, right after Buffy's haircut and before Riley's return. It's a bit simplistic: no evil baddies, no serious plot twists. Just fluff.

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Spike lay in his crypt entwined with his love, his slayer, the two of them panting in completion. While he waited for her fast escape, he toyed idly with her short hair, lifting it to kiss her neck and running his fingers through it. "Didn't do any good, you know, luv," he said quietly.

Buffy stiffened in his arms and pulled away. "What didn't?" she demanded, defenses already in place.

Spike grinned and tugged a short lock of hair. "Getting' all that lovely hair cut off. Didn't make you any less beautiful."

Her face softened for a moment – she almost smiled a little – and he took that chance to kiss her. Really kiss her. It was one of those soft, romantic sorts of kisses that he'd been wanting to give her for a long time.

Usually their kisses were of the "I need you right here right now" variety, and while Spike enjoyed them hugely, they lacked the emotional impact that the poet inside him craved.

Buffy responded to the kiss and when it ended she was trembling. "Spike, I –"

"I know, Slayer, I know. I've gotten good at this game. You have to go home 'cause you're so upset with yourself because I'm a dirty disgusting demon and this will never happen again. Right?"

His tone was resigned, but it had a cynical edge to it. Buffy winced. She sat up facing him, but couldn't meet his eyes. Heart in her throat, she reached out and took his cool, smooth hand in hers. She started again.

"Spike, I – I told Tara about you. And me. About us, I mean." She paused, not knowing how to phrase what she had to say.

Spike's eyes widened. She'd told one of her precious slayerettes about them? He swallowed hard. Playing it cool, he made a feeble jobe. "Well, she didn't come and stake me before you got here, so that's a good thing."

Buffy's lips twitched, but she was still too nervous to smile. She took a deep breath. "Talking to her made me realize something. I owe you an apology, Spike." He opened his mouth to speak, but she continued quickly, "and if you say one more word I'll shut up now before I even get to the part you'll like."

Spike closed his mouth with an audible pop. Buffy grinned. "That first night we... were together, I said you were just convenient to me. I'm sorry I said that. I hope you know that's not why I'm here." She paused for another minute, and Spike, afraid to say anything, pulled her down for a
quick kiss and waited for her to continue.

"Damn," she said. "I was hoping you'd interrupt so I wouldn't have to finish."

Smiling, he mimed locking his mouth shut, and put his arms around her. With a sigh, Buffy lay back down and rolled away from him to he was spooned up behind her. "Do you mind? It's easier to say stuff if I'm not looking at you."

A slight caress reassured her and she went on. "Tara asked me if I was in love with you. She said it was okay if I was, and okay if I wasn't, but that I should at least figure that out for myself. But I can't. I mean, she asked me and I couldn't give her an answer. Honestly, I don't know if I
love you or not. I don't know if I ever will. All I know is this," she said turning to face him again. "I need you, Spike. I need you for helping me patrol, for helping take care of Dawn, for always being willing to fight with me when I need to punch things. I need you even for this," she said
indicating the bed. "I need you for so many things. And plus, I – well, I guess I kind of like you. A little bit. Sometimes."

Happiness radiated from Spike's face as once again he claimed the mouth of his lover. When they finally separated again, Buffy asked, slightly breathlessly, "What I can't figure out, though, is what you need me for?"

Spike looked as if he was about ready to explode. Buffy laughed. "I'm done. You can talk now."

In answer, Spike kissed her again and said simply, "I thought that was obvious, luv. I need you to need me."

"Works out well then, doesn't it?" Buffy said, and then groaned.

"What's wrong?"

She shook her head. "I'm just not looking forward to telling the others about us, that's all. Tara was great, but I don't know how Xander and Willow are going to react."

"You – you want to tell them about us?" Spike asked incredulously. He indicated their bed. "About this?"

Buffy gave him a flirty smile. "Well, I wasn't planning to go into detail, but yeah. Unless you'd rather keep it just between us."

He lay back and closed his eyes. "Take a long look, sweetheart. After you tell them, this fine young body's going to be a pile of dust."

She snorted. "Fine young body, my ass! Spike, you're over a century old!" She started to get up.

"So what? And speaking of fine young bodies, where are you taking yours? It's early yet."

"Can't stay. Have to patrol."

"Need help?" He ignored her glare and reached for his pants. "All right, then. Want company?"

"All right, but only patrolling. Okay?"

"Oh, absolutely, Slayer."

###

"Um, Tara? Why is my sister making out with someone in a graveyard?" Dawn asked, having seen a flash of movement catch her eye.

"Oh, um, he lives here," Tara said, too startled to lie. She clapped her hand to her mouth.

"Oh, is it Spike?" Dawn asked casually. Tara nodded, unsure what else to do. "Thank God," Dawn said, sounding relieved. "For a minute I was afraid she was with someone else. But, hey. Spike. Way to go, Buffy!" She linked arms with Tara and steered her away chattering happily about the teasing she was going to give her sister for falling for a vampire after warning Dawn to stay away from him.

"Buffy, what's the deal with you and Spike?" Dawn demanded as soon as her sister came through the door. Without giving the older girl a chance to respond, she continued, "Wasn't it only last year you told me to stay away from him, and now you're seeing him yourself on the sly? I know you thought he was cute, but whatever happened to 'Big, Bad, Dangerous, Evil Vampire'?"

"Is that true, Slayer?" came the unmistakeably delighted voice from behind the blushing Buffy. Spike sauntered in behind her. "You thought I was big, bad, dangerous, and evil? And cute, besides?" He winked at Dawn who was cowering under her sister's glare. "Hello, Bit. Mind if I come in?"

"No!" "Yes!" Both sisters spoke simultaneously. Spike chose the answer he liked better, and sat down.

"How did you find out?" Buffy asked Dawn through gritted teeth, utterly ignoring Spike.

"I was out with Tara tonight and we saw you kissing in the cemetery." Buffy looked down guiltily. Dawn went on, "At first I didn't know who it was, and I got mad – but then Tara told me it was Spike. So now I just have to know: why is he good enough for you to make out with, but not for me to hang out with?" She folded her arms and waited for an answer from her sister.

The answer came from Spike instead. "Last year she wasn't sure I'd keep you safe, Little bit. She did right to warn you away. We both know I'd never let anything happen to you, but big sis didn't know that."

"So she trusts you now?"

Spike glanced at Buffy and answered seriously. "I hope she knows she can."

Buffy protested, "Guys, I'm still in the room!"

"Oh, lighten up, Slayer. Here, come and sit down." Spike patted the couch next to him.

Dawn came and sat across from him. "Yeah, Buffy, come sit down and dish! How long have you guys been together?"

"Well," Buffy said, seeing she was outnumbered. She sank down on the couch next to Spike. "Remember the night Tara stayed over with you?"

"'Cause you never came home and neither did Willow?" Dawn asked. Suddenly her mouth and eyes went wide. "Oh, my God! Were you with Spike that night? Never mind, it's none of my business. Well, were you?"

Buffy nodded wearily.

"But you'd been fighting, you said. And you came home all bruised and limping and –"Dawn, suddenly realizing the implications, smoothly changed the subject. "So how come you've been keeping it a secret?"

Willow came in at that moment and Dawn, with youthful exuberance, said, "Willow! Did you know Buffy and Spike were together?"

"What? No! When did this happen?"

"Apparently we're not keeping it secret anymore," Buffy said sarcastically. "Thanks a lot, Dawn."

"Guess I'll be on my way, then," Spike said, getting up to leave. "Don't fancy being hoovered out of the carpet in the morning. I'll see you later then, luv. You know where to find me when you need me. 'Night, Bit," he said, and headed for the door.

"Spike, shut up," Buffy ordered. "And sit back down. At the moment I need you here with me."

Spike sat down looking smug.

Buffy went on, "Willow, can you call Xander and Anya and ask them to come over? It's time everyone found out."

"What about Tara?" Willow asked.

"Tara already knows, but have her come over anyway... if that's all right with you."

Willow nodded mutely, trying not to show her hurt at Buffy's confiding in Tara instead of her.

Later, with everyone gathered, Xander asked, "So Buffy, what's the up? Some new baddie in town?"

"More like an old one," Dawn muttered. Spike snickered.

Buffy elbowed him hard and said, "Well, I know that secrets are bad. At least for us. I mean, for me. Every time I've kept some big secret from you guys it always ends up... badly." She and Xander exchanged uncomfortable glances. She went on, "So this time I want to be up front about it, so there aren't any surprises later."

"Don't tell me Angel's come back!" Xander joked. At their looks, he stiffened. "What, you mean he has?"

"No, it has nothing to do with Angel," Buffy said, blusing again. "Well, not very much, although I guess you could say there's a connection –"

"Buffy and Spike are seeing each other," Dawn burst out. She shrugged at her sister's glare. "What? You weren't getting the words out. Someone had to tell them."

Xander scowled and turned on Spike. "You – you – I told you to stay away from her, fangface! I'm gonna kill you!" He lunged at the vampire, but found himself on the floor before he knew it. Buffy stood over him, arms crossed.

"Xander, I'm only going to say this once: who I date is my business and no one else's. Spike isn't using me or hurting me or taking advantage of me in any way. If anything, it's the other way around. I'm with him because I choose to be, and you have nothing to say about it – to me, or to him. Do you understand?"

Xander still bristled. "But Buffy, he's –"

"Bad, evil, dangerous, blah, blah, blah. I've heard it all. Hell, I've mostly been the one saying it! But he's proven he can be trusted, so please, give him a chance?"

Buffy helped her friend up and he nodded soberly.

Later, after her friends had gone, Buffy sat leaning against Spike on the couch. "Well, that went slightly better than I had expected."

"Luv, about all those things you said to them..."

"Yeah?"

"Just wanted to say thanks. Means a lot. And I won't ever let you down again."

"Again?" Buffy wondered.

"You know, the way I let Dawn get cut, and let you die." He looked at her with serious blue eyes. "Won't happen again. Only time I'll let you die again is over my dead body."

"Spike, when you die your body will be dust."

"Exactly my point."

Buffy kissed him then, a brief, sweet touching of lips that left her self-conscious in the face of her real feelings. "You, uh, feel like some more patrolling?"

"Honestly? No. I feel like dragging you back to my place and making love with you for the rest of the night."

Buffy turned away. After a moment, she asked in a small voice, "Maybe after a little more patrolling?"

"Deal."

END