Acceptance

By Sweetprincipale

Author's Notes: This story follows after A Model Romance and Desire. It picks up immediately following the last chapter of Desire in an alternate Season Six where Spike and Buffy became an acknowledged couple, though they are still struggling to fully be part of one another's lives.

Dedicated to Hannah the Bloody, Lithium Reaper, Good for the Soul and ACeH-aH

Direct quotes from songs and shows are obviously not mine but belong to the enormously talented people who created them.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Part I

We could be any normal couple in the world, Buffy thought as she and Spike sat at the dining room table, both barefoot, in jeans and tees, sipping from steaming mugs. Okay, hers was coffee and his was blood, but aside from that.

"I don't have to. Stay. If you don't want me to." Spike's voice was quiet, but strong. She said it in the heat of a moment. She meant it, I know she did- but she's famous for the slip an' slide on what she wants.

"Do you want to-leave?" She gasped, scalding herself as she swallowed a gulp instead of a sip.

"Bloody hell, no!"

"Thank God!" They both looked relieved.

"I never want to leave." He took her hand.

"Good." She squeezed him back.

"So...that room is our room?" He tried out this dream come true .

"Yes." She giggled.

"And that's our bed?"

"Yes."Giggling turning into a sinful smile.

"Is this - our house?" He whispered this part, not hesitant, but very serious. She had made it clear it was their room, but the house might be too big a leap for her. He felt her fingers twitch, but didn't let them go.

"Yes. This is our house." She answered in a hoarse voice filled with trepidation.

"Sweetlet, I can-"

"This is our house. I'm grown up, Spike. New year. New me. New life. This is going to be our home. Where you go to sleep each night and wake up each day. Next to me."

He stood up so fast the chair pelted to the ground, but he didn't care. He picked her up, swooping her into a cradle carry. "Sorry, I remembered something urgent I have to do."

"What?" She giggled. Geez, I giggle a lot when I just stop being a bitch and let him in. Where he belonged anyway. Blind much?

"Oh... just you."

"But we just got dressed!"

"Get undressed!" He ordered playfully.

"If I refuse?" She countered, swinging her legs lightly at his side as he flopped her onto the bed.

"How much do you like those clothes? 'Cause I wouldn't mind ripping them off of you..." He warned.

"I'm undressing, I'm undressing! Don't go Hulk on me."

"I won't. I look bloody awful in green."

He came to her like a seal slipping between waves of sheets, smooth and silent, joy in his eyes like she'd never seen. "You look so happy." She marveled.

"You did that." He praised. "An' you look happy yourself."

"You did that."

Giles kissed Dawn's cheek as she climbed sluggishly out of the red Beemer. "I'm sorry the couch isn't more comfortable. You could have taken the bed."

"Pfft. No! You're so way taller than me, you'd die on the couch."

"Well, it was sweet of you to be my cheering section at the slam."

"You were getting very checked out, you know."

"It was New Year's Eve. No one was 'checking me out' unless they were intoxicated."

"Believe what you want." She sing songed. "Oh, I got numbers for you! I threw out all the skanky goth girls' numbers, but there were like three decent ones. I wrote a description of the lady next to the number. They're on your fridge under the Big Ben magnet."

"Dawn! Dawn!" He sputtered.

"Why should you be lonely?" She smiled.

"I'm not lonely." He insisted. She rolled her eyes, starting to walk away. He jumped the door like a much younger man in a fifties flick, catching her elbow. "We cannot all be paired up conveniently, Sweetheart." He explains gently. "These things take time."

"I know. Sometimes it isn't convenient." She sighs. "Poor Spike and Buffy. They are never, ever gonna get this thing off the ground."

"Again, it takes time. It's only been a few months for them. We're all moving forward nicely, I thought. I don't know what you expect them to do." Giles followed her blindly into the house he's come to feel was his own, starting when Joyce passed and he stepped into the breach more than ever, steadily increasing his time there when Buffy passed. He found himself almost wishing Spike might be some of the support the girls needed. He had become so tangled in their lives that he had almost cracked, almost left. Sometimes a bit of breathing room was needed. Spike had been a help, he supposed.

"I don't know! Just, don't you think they're perfect for each other?"

Giles gave her a frankly scornful look. "Perfect?"

"Yes. Perfect- for each other. Emphasis on 'for each other.' " She glared.

"Bloody hell." He pinched the bridge of his nose and gave in. "He's a thoroughly obnoxious person- to almost everyone else. But yes. I concede. He's perfect for your sister. He loves her and cares for her and doesn't place unreasonable demands on her. He also knows his way around the weapons chest but he can't hurt her. That's what I'm looking for in her suitors." Dawn gave him an unbearably self-satisfied grin and he wanted to slap her cute little mouth for it. But, being responsible he resisted and continued in his fatherly voice of reason."Now- just give them some time. I'm sure things will 'get off the ground' as you put it."

From upstairs the sudden sound of a deep throated female moan and an appreciative cry of "God, yes, Buffy!" caused Giles and Dawn to literally trip over themselves to get out of the house.

"Oh my God! Oh my God, Houston, we have lift off!" Dawn, sitting on her rear, flung her arms wildly around Giles' neck. Giles, similarly sprawled but facing sideways grimaced and retrieved his glasses from the porch floor.

"Yes, it sounds like we do." He sighed and hid his smile. "Alright. Get back in the car."

"Huh? Why?"

"I'm not leaving you alone to listen to the uh- the-" He blushed and gestured towards the second floor.

"The wild Spike and Buffy lovin'?" Dawn was not in the least abashed.

"Yes, that. It's New Year's Day. I've heard it's traditional to make an ungodly large pork roast and lots of roast potatoes and invite friends round." He gave her a secretive smile as they brushed themselves down and stood. "Care to play hostess?"

"Me?" She squealed, and then stopped, made herself look mature and dignified. "Yes, that would be delightful."

Giles laughed and ruffled her hair. "When did you grow up?"

"When you stopped acting like such a grumpy old fart." She slid her arm through his.

"I resent that!"

"It can still be true, even if you resent it." She pointed out complacently.

"You're impossible."

"But not as bad as Buffy." She smiled broadly.

"No, thank heavens. Come along. Playing the hostess involves many chores. Including peeling potatoes."

"Can I opt out now?"

"No, you've said yes, and therefore you're bound by the solemn New Year's Pork Roast Oath." He held the door for her with a flourish and shut it after with a chuckle.

"I'm so looking that up when we get to your place." She grumbled, but they both smiled all the way back to Giles' apartment.

"I'll get it!" Buffy skidded down the stairs in a pair of pink panties and matching bra, her hair wet and tangled on her shoulders.

"Put some clothes on, woman! Bit should be home soon!" Spike stuck his head out of the bathroom door, then emerged cautiously in a towel.

"Hello?" Buffy picked up the phone on the fifth ring.

"Hi, Love Monkey Number One." Dawn's chipper voice greeted her.

"I'm gonna kill Giles! He let you drink, didn't he?"

"NO! And geez- I'm gonna be sixteen soon. That's old enough to drink in England."

"Remind me not to go to England with you. Why are you calling me Love Monkey, and why aren't you home?"

"I was home- about twenty minutes ago. And that's why I'm calling you Love Monkey Number One- and give my love to Love Monkey Number Two."

"Stop teasing your sister." Giles' muffled voice joined Dawn's.

"Is that your sis? Where is she, it's nearly half ten!" Spike's voice joined Buffy's as he clomped down the stairs.

"Oh God. Oh God, why didn't you- I don't know- knock?" Buffy ignored him, staring unseeing as she gripped the phone.

"Knock? To come into my own house? When you knew I was coming back this morning?"

"Sorry, sorry..." Buffy put her head in her hand and leaned back against Spike's chest as came to stand behind her.

"So I'm still at Giles. And we're having everyone over for New Year's Day dinner."

"Wait- we? At our house?"

"No! At Giles' house. I'm playing hostess. He's the host. Since we're both the only singles now, we've decided to be event buddies."

"What? That man is not takin' you to prom." Spike gasped.

"No! Like- I'm his cheering section for guitar gigs and I'm the hostess for important dinners. Until I get him fixed up."

"Please try to talk her out of that notion, Buffy- she's been taking numbers for me!" Giles pleaded, voice all the sudden much clearer.

"Hey! Give that back!" Dawn's voice faded from the receiver.

"Giles. Thank you a million, billion times for having Dawn last night."

"Yes- er- well- you're welcome."

"Oh no... you walked in with her, didn't you?" Buffy wished the floor would just swallow her up.

"No- erm- no reason to be- ashamed." Giles' fought past his own reservations to offer her support.

"Would you want people walking in on you?"

"Does the name Olivia mean anything to you?" Giles asked sarcastically.

"I will forgot what I saw if you will forget what you heard." She begged.

"Agreed."

"And we shall never speak of it again?" Buffy's breathing returned to normal.

"Amen." He laughed. "Dinner at four. Dawn is safe, and yes, she is playing hostess-" he dropped his voice, "she's very proud of the fact, so play along."

"Will do, Rupes. Give the phone to Bit?" Spike interrupted.

"Only for a minute. She has vacuuming to do."

"Potatoes, yes! Vacuuming was not in the agreement!"

After a few minutes, Spike hung up the phone and turned to his lover, her cheeks now matching the pink undies she wore. "So- we've been tumbled?"

"My sister and the guy who's like my father heard us having sex."

"Making love." He corrected, trying not to get hard again looking at her moodily straddling the arm of the couch.

"But- they were both really supportive. Although obnoxious on Dawn's part and dy ing of mortification on Giles' part. Can you do something with her?"

"What, take her for a ride?" Spike cocked his head.

"No. Talk her out of calling us 'Love Monkey One and Love Monkey Two'."

Spike grimaced. "I will. Right quick."

"Everyone's here!" Dawn squealed. "Hey, you drove the Jeep." She took Spike's coat in true hostess fashion.

"Nope, I drove the Jeep." Buffy looked terrified and pleased with herself.

"I got to say an entire Latin mass while she did it." Spike staggered into the living room, held up a bottle of wine as their contribution to the meal, and then passed it to Giles. "Be a good man and pour the whole thing in a glass for me."

"You remember an entire Latin mass?" Tara looked impressed

"Vampires can say mass?" Xander looked disbelieving.

"Mouth smoked a bit, but it took my mind of the ever present threat of me dyin' by car crash."

"You can't die in a car crash."

"Can if she blows the soddin' car up and I burst into flame."

"You know, just because you're my boyfriend and I'm madly in love with you doesn't mean you can tease me in front of our friends." Buffy poked him in the ribs and pouted.

The room fell silent. Even Spike, irrepressible as he was, just stared at her open mouthed and unashamedly looking like he might shed happy tears. "Yeah. I- you're-" For once his quick wit couldn't get there fast enough. Buffy tugged his head down firmly with one hand and kissed him soundly on the lips. For a long, long time.

Giles smiled and Dawn bit her lip, suppressing her squeal by putting a death grip on his elbow and bouncing up and down beside him. "That looks like a good idea." Anya grabbed Xander and copied. Tara shyly brushed her lips to Willow's.

"I feel left out." Dawn pouted and looked at Giles.

"I know."

"If you find a hot woman, can you maybe see if she has a hot teen son from a previous relationship?"

"I'll put it in the requirements list." He winked. "Now- as host and hostess, let's get dinner on the table."

Xander and Spike stood shoulder to shoulder in Giles' tiny galley kitchen. "So. She's lost her mind." Xander had held off commenting on Buffy's openness with Spike until they were alone together.

"Or found it." Spike smirked.

"You and me are never gonna get along."

"Not much."

"I can kick your ass, you know that."

"I know I can't kick yours because I'm chipped. Whether you can land a hit on me isn't proven. Ow!" Spike glared at Xander after being flicked on the ear with a wet tea towel. "That doesn't count, Bricklayer."

"The point being- you hurt her-"

"I die? Slowly and painfully? Inventively as well?"

"That sums it up." Xander muttered grimly. "You couldn't even let me threaten you, you big jerk?"

"Sorry, go an' puff up, manly man."

"I'll getcha later." Xander had to grin. His grin slowly faded. "You're lucky."

Spike tilted his head. "I know that."

"No. I mean, really lucky. Not just for a miserable, undead bastard like you. Lucky for a well hung millionaire genius model."

"Well, I don't know 'bout the millionaire part but- ow! Now stop flickin' my ear!"

"Then shut your pasty mouth." Xander held a carving knife menacingly in front of him for a moment and then put it down with a sigh. "Buffy- Buffy is something that you can't even imagine. She's beautiful inside and out, and she's fearless. Except about getting her heart hurt. You hurt her heart, you'll make her afraid. You make her afraid- I'll -Spike- I haven't even figured out what I'll do, but death will be the most preferable option."

Spike appraised him. "About time you grew a set. Oh, an' about time you lot noticed that. She's not just afraid of gettin' her heart hurt by men she falls for- she's afraid of losin' your love an' respect. All those she cares for, all of you can scar her up inside. An' I don't ever want to see that happen." His tone was glacial and left no room for misinterpretation.

Xander nodded slowly. "I see we have an understanding."

"That's the way they say it." Spike's grin was infectious, instantly replacing the cool gaze he'd worn. "No threats for me to leave her alone? Back off?"

"God dammit, Spike, you back off and leave her and I'll kill you."

"I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me." Spike whistled as he returned to washing up.

"That was the best New Year's Day ever. Let's do that every year." Dawn sighed contentedly as Spike parked the Jeep beside the motorcycle. "The bike's here?"

"The bike will be stayin' here. 'Til I get the garage cleared up. Then it'll be here, but inside."

Dawn's eyes grew wider and wider, thinking about Buffy's unashamed, obvious affection for Spike in front of others, the fact that he'd spent the night, the bike staying... By the time she got in the house, she was almost nonverbal with excitement. "Buffy!" She cornered her sister. "Is Spike- staying here tonight?"

"Yep."

"And he stayed last night?"

"Yep." Buffy's eyes twinkled. I am about to earn the big sister of the year award. Pretty spectacular after earning worst sister of the year, most oblivious sister of the year, and most unloving sister of the year award a couple months ago.

"So...umm. What's going on?"

"Is it okay if Spike lives here?"

"Is it- is it- is it okay?" Dawn's laughing shout made it nearly impossible for her to speak. Her telltale shrill of joy tore through the house and she knocked her sister down with her exuberant hug. "Are you serious? 'Cause if you're joking about this that's the meanest thing you ever did to me and I'll never, ever forgive you times infinity so are you serious or not?"

Buffy lay on her back, looking up at her sister whose face had gone from gleeful to severe and scowling during the space of her long threat. "I am one hundred percent serious. Spike is living here."

"With you. As your boyfriend. As in you're together, in the same room?"

"As in all of that." Buffy turned her head to see Spike coming up from the basement and into the dining room.

"This is new." Spike stopped short and scratched his head. "Buffy, aren't you supposed to be the one pinnin' people to the ground?"

"Not tonight. She's no match for happy girl." Dawn bounced up and hugged Spike. "You're moving in. Geez, should we rent a truck? What about your telly? And the microwave and mini fridge?"

"I'll look after that end of things." Spike reassured. He hadn't even thought of that. He'd been planning to rent a cheap room in the not so great, not entirely terrible part of town until yesterday. And now he was home, with his girls. Everything he'd ever wanted. "No worries."

"This is the best day ever." Dawn smiled with a serenity that neither of her companions had ever seen. "We can be-" she bit her lip and spoke carefully, "like a family?"

Spike gave her a quick warning glance. Bloody hell, leave it to Bit to press it. He waited, holding an unneeded breath to hear Buffy's response.

"It's not going to be a -" She paused. "It's not a normal family. But it can be a really great family."

"Screw normal! This is our family! It's not just really great, it's the total best!"

"I think this calls for hot chocolate. Sit down. I'll make it. Extra marshmallows. No, Bit, I know, not for you."

An hour later, Buffy tucked Dawn in, even though her sister made it perfectly clear she didn't need to be tucked. "Go! You have Spike. He's been waiting for you forever, and now you're here, in my room. Go be in your room!" Dawn gave her a nudge. More of a really hard push.

"Stop that, I'm going to start thinking you just want me to be Spike's personal bedroom bunny." Buffy resisted the shove and sat on the foot of the teen's bed.

"Not 'just', but some."

"But I'm your sister. I need to talk to you."

"Okay. Talk fast. And then I want you to go in there and not come out until morning." Dawn said in her best "mom" voice.

"Geez, you'd think a kid never played the old 'I need a glass of water' ploy before me." Buffy laughed. "I wanted to talk to you about making some kind of schedule. For people to stay with you when I patrol." She waited for the whining to begin, heavy on the repetition of reasons why she was old enough to be left alone. Dawn just nodded, and fished around under her pillow for a notebook and pen. "You're taking notes?"

"I'm making a schedule. You're organizationally challenged. If it wasn't for Willow and Giles, you would probably still be in high school." She smiled sweetly. "Hey!" She cried as Buffy bopped her with a plush purple bear. "Sorry, no toy violence. Continue."

"Well- we have to ask people."

"And they'll say yes.

"Right. So-" God. I am organizationally challenged...

"So obviously it'll have to be flexible, because you never know when the whole gang is needed, and they want to help patrol sometimes probably. But let's see- Giles for one night. Can Spike take one?"

"Uh- yeah."

"Okay. And then Spike could patrol for you one night so you can hang with me. So that's three. And maybe you can take some nights off sometimes, so there can be free slots." Dawn made a grid and started filling it in. "Tara and Willow said I can go there, but it 'll have to be on Friday or Saturday because I can't go on a school night, and then Willow and Tara can come here one night and sleep in the guest bedroom if you get back late. Oh, we have to move your stuff around and make your room the guest room. I'll help." Dawn bounced on the bed once and then resumed, all business, once again. "Okay, where was I? Right, Xander and Anya can come over one night- that just leaves one night missing. Maybe I can try to stay by myself and you guys try to come home early?"

Buffy nodded dumbly. "How'd you do that so fast?"

"You're not the only one who had to grow up quick." Dawn shrugged with a small bittersweet smile. She'd watched the others juggle Dawn-sitting and patrolling all summer. She knew the drill.

"I guess not. I love you, Dawnie." Buffy wrapped her in a tight hug.

"I love you, Buffy. Happy New Year. It's gonna be better than the last one."

Buffy nodded. She knew it was true.

Her stomach clenched in some weird kind of fear as she finished her nightly ablutions in the bathroom and walked to the bedroom that was now "theirs". Knowing that he'd already been in there. The water on the floor by the shower, washcloth rung out, faint smell of cigarettes and his perfect skin. The domesticity of it all overwhelmed her.

No, I'm not overwhelmed. I can do this. I'm a grown up. We have a nightly routine. We take turns in the bathroom. Then we kiss goodnight. Then we sleep. No, wait, I missed the part where we have the most intense orgasms on earth and I wake my innocent- well, semi-innocent, little sister up with my sex noises. I'm going to die.

Buffy pushed open the bedroom door just wide enough to slip in. That'd be another thing. What if Spike was lying around all nude and statue like when Dawn passed by and she was opening the door? Scarred for life. They would have to watch that. As in make sure it didn't happen, not watch as in- oh, I can't even think anymore.

"Shhh." Spike's hand pressed softly over her mouth and his hand was with hers on the doorknob. He'd been waiting behind it. "Shhh." He repeated.

"Spike? Why the secret agent deal?"

"I know what you're worried bout." His lips were against her ear. "You always were worried about this." He breathed in that low, dark rasp that made her turn to jelly. He apparently could smell that sweetness flooding her because he stopped speaking, flaring his nostrils for one long, intense inhale against her neck. "You've always worried we couldn't be quiet."

"I've heard us." She murmured against his fingertips, turning to face him.

"I'm going to prove to you that we can be better than quiet. We can be silent."

"No, we really can't." She was already having trouble keeping the moan from her voice.

"It's a challenge. If I can make it through both of our finishes without a sound-" His dark eyes flooded hers, "I win. You have to admit that I beat you at somethin' in the bedroom."

"And if we're both silent throughout?"

"We declare each other equals."

"And if neither of us can keep quiet?" He smiled to let her know that he also thought this was the most likely possibility.

"Then we practice every night until we get it right."

"Sometimes I want to make noise though." She confessed, a wanton flush creeping up her skin. She felt hot blood prickling her chest and throat.

"Mm," he stifled a noise of longing, "that's why we go back to bed after Dawn goes off to school." He whispered. "Take me on?"

"I'm gonna win." She whispered playfully and dropped to her knees.

Spike was already undressed and already hard. Her mouth slid onto him with wicked precision, her tongue deliberately aiming for "happy spots", the places that made him moan. He bit his lip, and pushed her away. She almost whimpered but stopped herself. He pulled her gently over to the bed. Buffy smiled and pointed at what he'd done. He'd lit one candle, enough so that they could see each other if they mouthed words or gestured in their silence, and he'd taken a spare quilt and folded it between the headboard and the wall.

She tried to kneel again and he caught her shirt hem as she went to her knees, tugging it over her head and snapping her bra off as well, harder than he intended. "Sorry, Pet." He mouthed.

"You'll pay." She mouthed back. She used every trick she knew he liked. She wrapped her hands around him as she pumped him in and out of her mouth, alternating with licks and nibbles, scraping her teeth lightly over his crown. And she never took her eyes off of his.

She's gonna undo me. 'Cause I'm makin' love to my beautiful Buffy in our home. In our room, in our bed. A bed no one else has ever made love in. A bed we claimed as ours. And she's lookin' at me with those eyes that scream "I love you and I want you to let me hear you love me, too"... He bit his tongue sharply and inhaled with a painful wince, fighting for control. He stood, and hoisted her up. "Minx." He mouthed, before he kissed her.

He's gonna win this, Buffy thought as his hands palmed her breasts and tweaked her hardened nipples, holding one until she squirmed as his other hand pushed her pants down. As soon as he- she found herself flat on her back, and tensed, waiting for him to take her soft wetness with his mouth, push her to a quick hard orgasm where she'd have to cry out. But he didn't.

She's not the only one who can be unpredictable, Spike smirked. He landed softly on top of her, holding himself above her and looking happily, contentedly into her eyes. "I love you." His lips formed the silent words. He softly kissed her cheeks, nose, eyelids, and lips, then headed south, making circling detours at her sweet breasts and across her ribs, now filling out.

She gasped loudly when his tongue pierced between her folds, hitting the hollow right under her clit on the first stroke. Shoot, she frowned.

"I'm sorry. That doesn't count, I meant to be a bit lower." Spike offered quickly.

"Spike? Can we whisper instead? Whoever gets louder than a whisper loses?"

"Fair enough." He was relieved. "We'll try the silent game sometime... next year, maybe."

"A whole year?"

"I've got plenty of things left to tell you." He purred and lapped her slickness like a spoiled cat. "Like how soft you feel. How good you taste." She quivered when two fingers pushed steadily inside her and she twitched hard on them. "How tight you are and how amazing your sweet, pink muscles are. Do it again." He teased his tongue around her bead and folded his finger tips up inside her. With a gasp, she involuntarily obeyed, wrapping her walls around his slender digits.

"I'd rather do this on your cock instead of your fingers." She invited in a low, throaty purr.

"Dammit, Luv, when you talk like that-"

"I want your thick, cold cock in my tight, hot pussy because it's like a force of nature, a thunderstorm, hot front meeting cold front, and there's always electricity?" She sat up saucily and pulled his wet chin from between her thighs.

"Who the buggerin' fuck are you an' where's my girl?" Spike demanded in a strangled hiss.

"What? This is how I talk when we're at home, alone, in our bed." She teased, pleased with her own daring, the suggestive way she let her mind wander. She was free. She had no one left to hide from, not even herself.

"Oh, God." He groaned softly, still in whisper range, and let her strong calves push his waist down, sinking his pre-cum slick member into her own slippery channel.

"I love you. Thanks for waiting for me." She whispered. "Even when I tried to get you to leave."

"Never gonna leave you. Love you too much." He bent his head and closed his eyes, concentrating on the feel of her, the scent and heat and her eyes emblazoned in his mind. "Pinch me." He demanded suddenly.

"Why?" Buffy obligingly tweaked his nipple and he let out a grunt of pleasure and grinned a satisfied smile.

"I'm so afraid I'm gonna wake up." He confessed.

"You will, Honey." Her eyes became dewy and she pulled him on top of her, wanting to whisper against his lips, look into the blue black of his aroused eyes. "You'll wake up every morning, next to me."

"That's my New Year's resolution." Spike smiled and mentally began thinking of all the other dozens of wonderful promises he wanted to make and keep with the woman he loved.