(A/N: I suck. I forgot to post this with a "THANK YOU!" to my BETA Anigen ! Sorry )

The Fifth Chapter

As they moved in it became very apparent that having two super powered people at one's disposal came in handy. There were only three rooms upstairs; the master suit and two smaller bedrooms which were separated by a bathroom. So the whole process of unpacking everything and putting it away only took about a day. The only apparent dilemma the trio faced was deciding who was to have the master bedroom, Joyce or the newlyweds. Spike knew that his opinion wasn't worth a brass farthing as far as this matter was concerned so once everything was put in its proper place he went out and began to explore his new territory.

Sunnydale California, Spike thought, could be summed up in one perfect word. Boring. Why the nastiest of the universe would ever want to pop up in the sun-shiny suburban nightmare he'd never know. 'The Big Bads are prolly begging for a slayer to come and put them out of their sodding misery.' He sighed. Some may have argued he was taking the coward's way out, but he figured he'd at least still have his bollocks attached at the end of the day. Metaphorically or physically. He had recently begun to busily warm up his missus to the idea of sharing "ye olde marriage bed", he'd even snuck into her bed more than a few times and she hadn't complained about it. However he had a feeling, deep in his gut that, despite all their stolen kisses and moments, mom would be claiming the larger room and equally larger bed as her own. Well there was nothing wrong with sneaking around; it was kind of fun and a way. Convincing his slayer to be all naughty and bad under his in-law's nose was as close to being evil as he could get nowadays.

Course he had nothing against Joyce. She was a good woman and a decent lady who always treated him like a beloved son, and not like a possession, something she'd bought and paid for. But she was a slayer's mom and had a real fiery streak in her. As much as she seemed to care for him he doubted she'd encourage such obvious sexual proclivities between a fully grown man and her "going-on-sixteen" daughter, married or no.

'We'll just need to keep working on building our relationship.' Spike figured with wry amusement. 'It was nice.' He thought, 'being treated like a man.' He'd been quite fortunate. He could've been a lab rat or stuck in that blasted cell still. Sure he lost his "ripe wicked plum", but his new family was alright. His wife was a sexy little thing who wasn't against having a bit of fun. She seemed the loyal sort, not the kind to stray, not even with her eyes. Least he figured she wouldn't what with her father having been so. She was honest, and pure. He found he liked that in a girl. 'Was a pleasant change at any rate.'

Eventually Spike began paying more attention to his surroundings as he entered the only shopping district Sunnydale could provide. His eyes scanned each shop window searching for something to jump out at him. Something meaningful and appropriate, as Spike recalled he had yet to give Buffy her wedding present. It was tradition and though he had no way to adhere to it prior to their move to the hellmouth he still felt that he should honor it.

He had an idea of what he wanted to give her, what he would've gotten his bride back when he was that ponce William back in England. A necklace. Not any necklace would do, not for her. His girl was a slayer after all, so it needed to be sturdy and useful as well and as lovely as its intended.

'So crucifix it is then.'

He checked many different dainty designs to many a different shop clerk's dismay, but so far none were good enough. Not a one of the cross shaped pieces of silver or gold screamed "I belong to Mrs. Buffy Summers-Pratt, Vampire Slayer!" to his sensitive vampire ears. They were either too small, too big, to gaudy, to plain, too fragile, or just not right. He was beginning to think he'd have to do his "Shopping" in one of Sunnydale's numerous crypts when he arrived at the end of the stretch of shops and spied "The Magic Box".

"Seems not all the residents of Sunny Hell are as ignorant as they pretend to be." He mused as he pushed open the door. The bell above the door clanged noisily throughout the store's interior. Spike's nose easily picked up the pungent smell of incense and slug wax candles. The man behind the counter smiled his oily salesman grin before launching into a rehearsed speech in a fake mystical accent. Spike cut him off halfway through with an irritated glare and leaned rudely against the counter.

"Got any crosses mate? Nice ones? It's for a girl."

"Oh, yes of course." The shopkeeper blurted out, revealing his lower east side roots, with obvious relief. "Can never be too careful, especially at night. We've a nice selection of crosses from our basic wood to more elaborate silver…"

"I'm looking for something extra special and very versatile. Has to be sturdy, as in not likely to get torn off or any such thing, but pretty." Spike said, then added "money is no object."

"Well if you want the best of the best and most expensive we've these beauties." He announced showing Spike to a small case revealing bedazzling masterpieces of the finest craftsmanship.

"Now these are more like it."Spike gazed over the necklaces with a practiced eye and quickly narrowed down his preferences. He was rather taken with the filigree cross inlaid with pearl, and garnet. It had a nice old feel to it and reminded him of the one his mum used to own. The front of the necklace had a nice cabochon garnet dead center with four pearls in a motif surrounding it. However he was not too pleased with how delicate the chain on it appeared. Then his senses cried out with joy with the last crucifix in the glass box. Technically it was a keepsake necklace, but it was a beauty. The antique silver vintage piece was adorned with real rubies with a single ruby dangling at its bottom like a fresh blood droplet. This style of keepsake necklace would've been used to carry oils, a favorite perfume or small clips of hair or poetry. The chain was thick corded metal, not the least bit flimsy, and had no catch so it could not be loosened. Spike picked the cross up and decided it would slip well enough over Buffy's head but not off it should she get turned about whilst fighting.

"Each of our perfume pendants have a non-removable, non-breakable vial inside which seals with a screw top lid." The sales man provided. "We also include a small funnel to use while filling it. Ah and if you're interested in something other than perfume to fill it we do carry anointing oils, as well as 'Lagrimas de la Virgen Madonna'. A bottle costs about ten to twenty dollars depending on size."

Spike smiled. It was perfect. "If I'm going to put holy water in it might as well be the best. I'll take a large bottle of the tears and this beauty." He announced, "Oh and one more thing, mate."

The shopkeeper paused in his rush to gather his frightening customer's order. "Ah, yes sir?"

"Do you gift wrap by any chance?"

Buffy was pleased that this small town at least had a mall. It was small and there was only one, and it wasn't even a great mall compared the ones in L.A. but it would do in a pinch. Her mom had driven them here in order to get a few needful things. Buffy knew that translated as they were actually here getting guilt gifts for Spike.

It was beyond obvious that Spike, her husband Spike, wanted to share a room with her. He'd snuck into her bed enough times to prove it. Mom wouldn't say anything about it but she would give him the "Mom" look and he'd return it with his 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth' innocent smile.

'Butter may not melt, but Buffy soo totally does.' She mused, as they entered the bedding department. They were there to pick out bed linens that Spike might deign to sleep in as Mom felt it was too soon in their relationship to be tempted to sleep together.

'Not that we haven't some close a time or two or three.' she blushed, remembering. "Oh hey, Mom! Look! Spike covers!" Buffy exclaimed picking out an expensive black leather comforter.

"Oh Buffy, I don't know."

"Come on mom, you know Spike would die for this. Well if he weren't … you know. Dead already."

Joyce laughed and caved. "Alright then, nothing's too good for my son-in-law I guess." She impulsively added a nice Egyptian cotton sheet set in a deep burgundy colour, before heading towards the till."Well that should take care of that." Joyce announced, arms laden with their pricey purchases. "Was there anything else you wanted to get Spike, sweet heart?"

Buffy thought that over for a moment. She did want to get him something. Something special. They were married after all, like permanent boyfriend and girlfriend, so there was nothing wrong with buying a little present for him. She could almost picture how cute his smile would be when she did. Would he do that thing he did with his tongue? Had her mom not been present, Buffy might've been tempted to peruse the lingerie stores for something naughty to wear and maybe knock Spike for a loop. But Joyce was, so she decided to go with option "B".

"Yeah actually, mom, I want to get Spike some protective gear." Buffy answered. "For his hands." She rushed noticing the double meaning and reddening at the thoughts it provoked. "Like all we need is some crazy demon person to go all ker-choppy on him and then everything will turn out so not good. Cause he has nice hands."

"Okay." Joyce smiled, amused with her daughter's babbling. "Where do you think we should start looking?"

"Where there has to be some place here, these people can't be in that much denial."

It ended up taking the two women several hours to find a store that served their needs. The wrist guards most athletic outlets sold wouldn't stop a butter knife let alone an axe blade. Spike would require something much stronger than most metals but as flexible as some cloth models on sale.

"So what's in it?"

"Well the exterior cover in is a nice leather, which we carry in a variety of different colors." The salesman said, opening one wrist guard to show the metal work within. "Now the inside band is actually made up of intricately woven scales or small circles, of Orichalcum. This is one of the strongest metals known to man and said to have originated from the lost city of Atlantis. It is easily identified by its reddish hue and versatile nature. Now due to the way they are linked together they allow for a freedom of movement, not usually found in metal wristbands."

"Cool." Buffy replied, looking it over. "So they'd say... stop and axe or sword or something?"

"Oh yes, quite easily, though I cannot promise that the leather won't get damaged if you intend to be hacking away at it on a regular basis."

"It's a bit pricey."

"Yes, but the reasoning behind that is sound. You buy a wrist guard of orichalum you buy one for life." He pressed. "I can also throw in an extra set of leather exteriors, if you're interested?"

"How many?"

The salesman sweated it out but decided. "Three?"

"Sold!"

"You shan't regret it madams."

"Hey mister, do you gift wrap?"

Later that evening, during dinner, Spike unloaded some stressing revelations he had garnered on his walk-about.

"Family?" Joyce wondered out loud, stuffing a forkful of her salad into her mouth.

"Aurelian vampires." Spike explained further. "The Master, he's the head, is here for sure though he's either dormant or stuck because I can only sense him in certain parts of town. Darla, my great grand sire is here too. The Master turned her himself back in the day. She's his red right hand and a complete bitch, if you'll pardon my language. It'd be in our best interests to get rid of her as soon as possible. She's old and dangerous and has been getting around, specially to where the younger sets hang out. I thought I sensed my great poof of a grandsire as well but I can't be sure. Don't think Angelus would be with them though, as last I heard Darla tossed him to the curb."

"What do you mean you sense them?"

"Well, it's kind of how you go into a house and just know someone's home."

"Except you know who's who?"

"Yeah. You can always tell when family is about. S'part of being a vamp, really." Spike told them. "Sometimes we can even know each other is near in our dreams. It can happen between sires and childes, when they've been closely reared and shared blood. It's a bond between vampires that's quite powerful."

"Oh? How so?" Buffy asked, joining the conversation.

"Well the bond between Sire and Childe is more special and powerful than that of mother and child, because of the blood. Blood is especially potent from one's sire. Real heady stuff, much like slayer blood, or fae blood. Sire's blood is what gave the childe life after all. It's what makes it hard for a childe to rise against and/or kill their sire." Spike revealed. "Would rather chew off their own arm than do that. It's not so bad the other way round, though you feel the loss. You mourn their passing."

"You know from experience?"

"Buffy!" Joyce scolded.

"What!"

"Didn't you read all about me pet? You've my bloody dossier after all."

"Well… I skimmed it…"

"Oh, Buffy…"

"You Skimmed It!"

"It was long and heavy and didn't have many pictures!" Buffy cried in defense. "By the way you totally looked cute with the curls and those nerdy glasses back when you dressed like a romance cover model."

Spike gaped in amazement, and then laughed. "Dunno if that was a compliment but thanks anyway slayer."

After dinner, Spike and Buffy took care of the dishes before heading out on a quick patrol. They managed to slay a large number of surprised undead before they decided to call it a night and head for home. They were passing through the park when Spike deiced it might as well be now.

"Hey, Buffy…" He began but was interrupted by his spouse's "Hey, Spike…" They giggled in shy amusement, each offering the other to go first."I got you something. A bridal gift; its tradition after all." Spike managed to get out feeling absurdly embarrassed and much like his human self had long long ago.

"A present!" Buffy squealed, giddy with excitement. "I got you one too!" she confessed patting the box she had tucked away in her pocket.

"Well… here." He said removing the box from his duster's pocket and placing it in the eager young girl's hands. Buffy ripped through the paper and opened the box in record time. She stared in complete wonder at the jewel within and blinked owlishly up at Spike. "Oh, Spike... it's… it's so beautiful."

"It's real love. Only the best for my girl." Spike said softly, pleased that she like it.

"Oh no, I'm afraid I'll lose it or, Spike."

Spike paid her babbling no heed as he helped her to slip the necklace over her head."It's a keepsake cross. Inside the vial has been filled with 'Lagrimas de la Virgen Madonna', or tears of the Virgin Mary. I've the rest of the holy water back home, but I thought you'd enjoy a lil backup just in case."

"It's beyond perfect, Spike." Buffy breathed touching the small rubies delicately before paling. "Now I… I can't give you your present! It's not half as pretty."

"Um, I'm a bloke luv. Don't really go for pretty, unless it's girls."

"No! You can't have it yet, till I get you something nicer, for your wedding present."

"Oi, none of that luv!" Spike teased, circling the reluctant slayer, waiting for his chance. "Just hand it over."

"Eeek! Spike! No! Give it back!"

"Ha Ha!" Spike crowed as he successfully clutched his prize away from the grasping arms of his wife. "it's mine, no take backs!" he declared and quickly un wrapped his gift before she had a chance to take it from him again.

Buffy sighed and huffed as Spike un-wrapped his gift. Sure his present was useful and expensive but it didn't look it! Her necklace had RUBIES! Real ones, all over it and he was being strangely quiet all of a sudden. 'Oh no, he hates it!'

Spike gazed down into the box for several minutes before turning his gaze top meet his worried wife's. "Buffy." he managed, before she started in on her self defense.

"They don't look like much but; the inside is like super-strong metal so your hands won't get chopped off." She said, her toes kicking into the dirt of the playground. "There are other colors for the bands, I've got the black one and there's a white one and a pretty red one too."Buffy stopped babbling to realize Spike was smiling at her and it wasn't one she's seen before. It wasn't his 'I know something and you don't' smile. It wasn't the naughty one that made her insides get all woozy, nor the 'I've just been laughing for a good while cause you staked a vampire in every which part of its body except its heart' smile. It was one that made her feel like they were the only two people in the world and that she must be the queen of it because of the way he was smiling at her right now.

"No one's ever…" Spike stopped, stepping closer to her and lightly running his finger across her cheek. He didn't do it the usual way; which made her think he was running it along someplace else. It was feather light ad sweet like a butterfly's kiss, loving and kind. She felt loved. "Thank you."

She couldn't take it anymore.

"Kiss me." She pleaded entranced with this side of him that was so monumental and poetic.

'Ah there's my naughty smile.' She thought, and then tried her best to remember how to breathe. 'And tongue.'