Patrol followed in the same pattern as the night before. The first to get the kill got to ask the question. Spike won the first round with a lot more shoving Buffy out of the way in the name of 'safety' than was strictly necessary.

"What's with you and tall sods of the wanker variety?" he had asked.

Buffy gawked. "Excuse me?"

"You're a bitty bit of thing. But there you are with bloody Sasquatch time and again."

She rolled her eyes. "Okay, Mr. Jealousy, whatever you say."

"I'm not pussy footing around, Slayer," he had dogged her, keeping pace as she scoped out the alleys of Sunnydale.

"Ew! Let's leave the phrase out of the rest our relationship. If what you're trying to ask is if I have a thing for tall guys then I guess the answer would be yes." He growled. "Especially when you consider that at five four most guys tower over me, including you. So you can just swallow down the pointless jealously or get on with the wearing lifts business."

Spike snorted. "I wouldn't bloody wear lifts."

"Mhm," Buffy eyed him. "That was a dumb waste of a question."

"You asked about my hair. That was a dumb question."

"Whatever." She turned down the next alley way, pleased when she heard dumpster ruckus sounds. Beating a trail forward, she outdistanced Spike, quickly separating the possible neck victim from the vampire.

This time, Buffy exerted energy shoving Spike out of the way to ensure her own slay. Once the mission was accomplished, she asked, "What was your favorite decade?"

Spike scoffed. "Do you know nothing at all about me, Slayer?"

She narrowed her green gaze dangerously. "More answering, less talking back from the loser."

"The 70s, Pet. The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Clash. Killed my second slayer, got the duster. The Exorcist and Taxi Driver playing at the cinema. Great decade that was. Clothes were better then too." His expression was quintessential nostalgia. Buffy had to smile, he looked so cute and dreamy. "Course, you wouldn't have even been a speck in your mum's mind yet, so I'm pretty partial to the 1980s too."

Buffy blushed. "That's like way sappy."

He curled his tongue behind his teeth, giving her his best sex face. "But you like it, don't you, Precious?"

"Shut up. We have more demons to slay."

They didn't come across anymore vampires until they reached the cemetery where a newly sired vamp was crawling forth from his grave. To give each other equal footing, they agreed to let the vamp emerge first and get it's bearings before attacking.

When it came down to final blows, Spike's stake connected with the vampire's dead heart. "Favorite food?"

"Whoa, going easy on me now?" Buffy teased, linking their hands together as they turned to head back to the house. "My mom used to make the most amazing spaghetti, just ask Dawn. That's my favorite. I haven't had it since – since she passed and seeing as I'm a terrible cook, I doubt I'll have it again anytime soon."

"Personally, I liked Joyce's hot chocolate best of all, little marshmellows and all."

She laughed, whacking him lightly on the chest. "A vampire who loves hot chocolate, how lame are you?"

He leered down at her. "I'm bad, Slayer, very bad."

At eight o'clock, the Scoobies were all gathered around the kitchen table with the exception of Andrew who was still housed in the spare bedroom. The girls had set him up with a television, Playstation, and comic books. It kept him quiet and occupied. All the better for them.

After yesterday's blow out, Xander seemed to have calmed down again. He was even looking at Buffy, which was better than having him stare at the space just over her left shoulder. When he caught her watching him, he said, "What? You think I'd miss a once in a life time opportunity to participate in an Angel bashing?"

Buffy smiled. "Yeah, maybe not."

Spike's attention perked up. "You not a fan of the Great Poof?"

"I never liked Dead Boy, even when he was helping us and not trying to eat us." Xander grabbed a slice of meat lover's pizza.

"I might have misjudged you, Whelp." Xander bit into the pizza, landing flecks of pizza sauce all over his grey shirt. "Then again, probably not."

But somehow, the mutual dislike of Angel seemed to abate their natural dislike of each other. Their barbs and sarcastic comments weren't openly hostile. They were borderline friendly, actually. For the rest of the evening as the Scoobies compiled a detailed memory / plot line of Angelus' time in Sunnydale, they managed to only get in one argument.

Anya acted as secretary, writing everything down, fact checking when pieces seemed to be missing or out of order, and offering her own thousand year old demon insight into the events. All in all, it was a really productive evening, it left them all with as sense of accomplishment.

"Okay," Willow said at nine thirty. "We'll sleep on it over night, see if anything else comes to us, and comb over the results tomorrow. I'm telling you, guys, whatever the evil is, it's in Anya's notes somewhere."

Willow and Buffy cleaned up the dishes; Dawn took the left over pizza to Andrew; and Spike went to the basement to eat dinner. As Buffy handed Willow another dish to dry, Willow asked, "You really are happy, aren't you?"

"Hm?" Buffy dunked the glass she was holding into the soapy water.

"With Spike, I mean. At first, well, I wasn't really sure what was going on. But the other night when you told us all? You were serious, you want to be with Spike. Then seeing you together this afternoon, the way he acts around you? He's different too. He's careful and I've never seen Spike careful. So, what I'm trying to say is, I'm happy for you too."

Buffy know it was stupid, but she was blinking back tears. It had been so incredibly long since she felt her friends approved of her or what she did and as much as she didn't want to admit it, Buffy had sincerely missed their approval. Buffy dropped the cup back into the water, sending up a flurry of soap bubbles. She grabbed Willow in a tight embrace. Willow hugged her back, laughing a little.

"I love you, Will."

"Love you more, Buffy."

As Willow went upstairs, Buffy walked downstairs. Spike was sitting on his cot, idly drinking a packet of blood. He looked up at her approach, his brow line rigid. She sucked in her bottom lip, trying to hide her smile, but he saw it anyway, smiling back at her with blood on his lips and yellow eyes.

Buffy sat down on his lap. Taking the blood packet from him and resting it on the floor, she wrapped her arms around his neck. His hands came to rest at the small of her back. With a cautious hand, she lifted her fingertips to trace over his rigid bones. Spike's eyes fluttered close at the touch; Buffy never knew a demon could look so blissfully peaceful.

She took a deep breath, then kissed him, the blood smearing against her mouth, the taste of it still heavy on his tongue. But this was Spike. And he was hers. And Buffy wanted all of him. The light, the dark; the good, the bad; the man, the vampire. She didn't need words to tell him that, he knew by her actions.

Their bodies tangled together, never able to get close enough unless they were inside each other. Spike sucked at Buffy's bottom lip, she panted against his mouth. Their tongues ran against each other. Buffy leaned into him, pressing him back against the wall, her breasts firm against his chest, her legs clamped over his. Cool fingers traced up her skin, sending tingles down her spine.

Buffy kissed his top lip, then his bottom. Smiling at him, she pulled his shirt clean over his head, tossing it somewhere behind them. Spike grinned back, his human features resurfacing. "You're incredible," he said, resting his smooth forehead against hers.

"And you're dangerously sexy." Buffy snatched his lips back to her, bruising them with the force and the need of her kisses, because she knew he could take it and she loved being with someone whose strength matched her own. There was a freedom in that like no other. Buffy could be entirely herself with Spike, no holding back, no reservations.

Spike grabbed the backs of her thighs, lifting them up in one powerful movement. "You're bed or mine, Precious?"

"Mine," Buffy gasped, feeling bereft without his lips on hers.

Somehow he carried them up the two flights of stairs, all the while her fingers ran against his hair, curling it up. Buffy's mouth refused to be moved from his; she drank in the taste of him, her tongue running over his teeth, over the smooth skin of the inside of his cheeks.

Spike was panting by the time they crash landed on Buffy's bed. He tugged her shirt roughly off, then with stark contrast, he gently ran his hands over her revealed skin. Goosebumps ran up her arms at his touch, she sighed against him; her own hands covering the expanse of his stomach, tracing every line of the hard muscle of his abdomen.

"God, you're beautiful," she told him.

Spike growled, dragging Buffy closer to him. "Nothing compared to you, Love."

Dipping her fingers into the front of his jeans, Buffy worked the button then the zipper. Spike kicked them off, as he did the same to her jeans. "I love you, Spike." She kissed the side of his mouth.

He lifted his head enough to see her clearly. "I love you, Buffy." Then he dove back down, ridding her of her remaining clothing, kissing every inch of her exposed skin.

Buffy responded with sighs and moans as Spike put pleasure into every action. Her body was on fire for him, craving the cool release only he could give her. Her fingers ran over him, down past his hips, to where he waited for her. Strong and hard, she caressed him in soft slow motions. This edged his attentions onward, he kissed her breast, sucking at her nipple until it was pebble hard, until Buffy was straining against him.

As much as Spike enjoyed the foreplay, Buffy couldn't be bothered with it tonight. She needed him and she needed him now. Flipping him over, Buffy pressed each of his hands to the metal railing of her headboard. "Don't let go," she instructed.

Spike grinned wickedly. "You're willing slave, Pet."

Buffy slid her body down to his, rocking against him just once before taking him fully inside. Their bodies fused together, fitting perfectly. Spike filled her and made her feel whole. Buffy stretched up then slid back down, the friction everything she wanted it to be. Spike watched their bodies come together, his eyes glazed and heavy lidded.

Bracing her hands on his chest, Buffy worked them together, her hips rotating up and down, his hips coming to meet every motion. It was never like this with anyone else, a seamless dance, no awkward moments, always envisioning the next movement before it came.

Buffy's hair spilled down her back, her mouth hung open. "Oh, Spike," she sighed in ecstasy, his shaft rubbing against her in a way that lit her inner passions.

He groaned, his hands twitching on the bars, desperate to touch her. "Buffy, you feel so good."

She curled over him, kissing his slightly swollen lips. As she lost focus in the kiss, he snaked his hand down between them, pressing it just so against her and Buffy cried out for him. Spike responded by rubbing her in fast circles. Her hips worked harder, riding him full force.

He tensed beneath her, at the edge but unwilling to go over. "Not without you, Love," he growled with visible effort, each word spoke between puffed breath.

Buffy closed her eyes, giving herself fully over to the feeling of his finger against her and his erection inside her. Still, Buffy couldn't release. Sensing her problem, Spike sat up and sunk his fangs into her neck in one swift motion. The combined pleasure sent Buffy over the edge, spiraling into the fireworks of red and blue.

"Spike . . . oh . . . Spike."

"Yeah, Buffy," he grunted, clasping her tight against him, lowering his mouth to suck the blood from her dripping neck. And when he drank, Buffy's own pleasure was eclipsed by his as he came full force, his body bucking under hers, his hands holding her to him so strongly that had she been merely human she would have bruised.

Spent, they fell back against the tangled sheets.

Returning to work the next day was anything but exciting, especially since Buffy felt on edge about the basement. She found her gaze flickering continually to window of her office that looked out into the hallway. Just beyond the scope of her vision was the dreaded basement door.

Tonight the Scoobies were set to have another Angelus meeting, go over what they had written down and try to figure out what exactly the ghost was. Trapped in the school, knowing she was directly above the Hellmouth kept Buffy from feeling even slightly relaxed.

Staring unseeingly out of her office window, Buffy thought of Spike. He was at the house either sleeping or looking in on Andrew. Her hand traveled over her collar bone to his scar. Even after being bitten multiple times, the scar remained the same, a white kiss, the skin colder and smoother than the rest. It healed quickly now, as if her body had gotten used to the almost nightly biting process.

Drinking Buffy's blood, Spike required less pigs blood and while feeding from humans should have made him more dangerous to the humans around him nothing had changed. That made Buffy strangely proud, Spike wasn't dangerous because he didn't want to be dangerous, because he could be a better man and he was.

When the bell rang at the end of the day, Buffy hurried out of the office. She made a left down the hall to avoid Dawn's locker and allow her sister time to flirt shamelessly with Davie Smith. Apparently, Buffy's prison background and random display of sisterly embarrassment and grounding Dawn had not daunted his interest in her. Buffy considered this a very positive thing, because if Davie was really going to be a part of Dawn's life, there were going to be plenty of weirder things to put him off.

As Buffy was waiting for Dawn, Principal Wood walked up beside her. "Ms. Summers."

"Principal Wood," she smiled. "How are you?"

"Good. It's been a day without food fights. I count that as a success."

"As you should," Buffy laughed. Around them, students slowed their run to a fast walk down the hallway, not wanting to catch the principal's attention.

"How's the recycling?"

Buffy's brow furrowed. "What?"

"Super Recycler Summers?"

"Oh, oh!" she said. "It goes well. I recycle, I – I dig through others garbage for recycling goods . . ." she trailed off.

"Well," he looked down at her then quickly away, "that's good."

"Yes, the neighbors think I'm crazy, but the planet is better off."

"So, I was thinking you could give an assembly on recycling. It would be good for the students and look good for the school if we were to advocate going green."

Buffy's lips twitched in dismay. "Yes! Yes, it would. And I'd love to . . . "

"How does next week Friday sound then?"

"Perfect!" Buffy was reminded vividly of the talent show Xander, Willow, and she had been forced to perform in during Snyder's days. Being the Slayer was always getting her into reckless problems.

He clapped her on the shoulder. "Good work, Ms. Summers. I'm looking forward to your presentation."

"Thanks, Principal Wood."

Dawn was skipping down the hallway to them, the glow in her cheeks a clear clue that Davie Smith had been making with the smoochies. "Hi, Principal Wood."

"Dawn," he said as he walked away.

"What are you and the principal chatting about?" Dawn asked, hooking her thumbs through her backpack.

Buffy groaned. "I'm supposed to give a presentation on recycling next week."

"Why?" she asked, bewildered.

"Because I'm Super Recycler Summers," Buffy said dejectedly.

When they got home, Willow was in the kitchen baking cookies. "Oh my gosh," Dawn enthused, "those smell amazing, Willow."

"Good, because they are going to be used as motivation." Willow set a tray of freshly baked cookies on the island, both of her hands encased in kitten shaped oven mitts.

Dawn and Buffy took seats on the kitchen stools. "Motivation?" Dawn asked, reaching for a cookie. Willow gently kitten mitten slapped her hand away.

"Yes. We want to know about Davie Smith."

"Who is we?" Dawn asked, her brow crinkling.

"We is me, and Willow, and Spike, and Andrew," Buffy explained. As if called by their names, the two male occupants of the house appeared in the archway of the kitchen.

"Cookies!" Andrew shouted joyously.

Spike grabbed him by the shoulder before he could make a mad dash for the pile of chocolate chips enmeshed in cookie dough. "Cool it, Nancy Boy."

Andrew's shoulders slumped. "Fine. But I was promised cookies. Spike said –"

"Shut it." Spike squeezed Andrew's shoulder until he made a face.

Buffy lifted one eyebrow at her undead boyfriend. "Spike said what?"

"Nothing, Love." He released Andrew and came to stand behind her, his arms wrapping around Buffy's middle, his chin propped up on her shoulder, but he was looking at Dawn. "So Niblet, about this Davie Smith, when do we meet him?"

Her eyes grew impossibly large. "You can't be serious. I'm not bringing Davie here to meet you guys."

"Willow," Buffy directed. Willow handed a cookie to Andrew, then one to Buffy, and one to Spike, keeping one for herself as well.

Dawn eyed the cookies longingly. "We've only been on one date."

The adults took a bite of their cookies.

"He's – he's shy!"

Their mutual moans let it be known how delicious the cookies were.

"I'm seventeen! That's like almost an adult. And - and you already read though his student file!"

Willow set out four glasses and poured milk.

"This! This is blackmail!"

They each took a drink.

Dawn threw her hands up. "Fine! If Buffy can cook a real meal, I'll invite Davie over for dinner on Thursday."

Willow looked to her best friend for confirmation. Buffy nodded. Willow handed Dawn a cookie. "God," Dawn sighed, biting into the cookie, "you guys can be so evil."

"Years of practice," Spike said, polishing off his cookie.

Beyond the obligatory drink, he hadn't touched his milk. Dawn reached for it, but feeling this was a bit too weird even for her, Buffy offered her sister her glass instead which was still half full and took Spike's for herself. Somehow, Buffy just didn't want her sister's lips on the rim of the cup where Spike's had been.

Still, having Spike there as part of a completely normal domestic scene was undeniably amazing. They were all functioning as a unit again, and Spike was a part of that unit. Buffy really couldn't have been happier, unless, of course, Giles had been with them.

"Can I come to the Angel debate group tonight?" Andrew asked, reaching for a second cookie.

Buffy frowned at him. "Why would you want to? You don't even know Angel."

"Human contact? Seriously, my social life has taken a severe plunge since moving in with you guys." He munched contemplatively on his cookie.

"Moving in?" Buffy asked in disbelief.

"That's how I choose to think of my current living arrangement. The positive thinking book I stole from Willow's room said it all depends on how you want to view your life as to whether or not you're happy."

"That's where my book went?" Willow asked.

"Bugger this, we're never letting him out again. The boy talks too much." Spike grabbed two more cookies, handing one to his girlfriend. She felt very ugh about the situation, because every time Spike was sweet, Buffy wanted to drag him into a dark corner with her and do not so sweet things to him.

"It's an idea, though," Buffy admitted. "Circumstances might look familiar to Andrew, since he's bumped into this evil too."

"Hey!" Dawn said, snagging herself another cookie. "If Andrew gets to do research, I definitely do!"

"Andrew's not grounded," Buffy said.

"Uhm, hello? He's not grounded, he's kidnapped!" She poured herself more milk.

"I prefer to think of it as voluntary confinement," Andrew said sagely.

"A gag then, yeah? You Scoobies were always trying to gag me, and I'm not nearly as bloody annoying as this one," Spike argued.

"Willow?" Buffy looked to her best friend for help.

She smiled meekly. "Yes to Andrew, and Dawn, you can research after you've done your homework and unloaded the dishwasher."

"Will, you're amazing. You are going to be a great strict mom," Buffy said, getting off the stool.

"Thanks, I think," she said.

"Compliment, I promise. Plus, I need your help. I have to give a speech on recycling."

Spike laughed. "What's that, Precious?"

"Recycling, it's this thing we invented at least a century after you died where –"

"I know what recycling is," he said flatly. "I meant, why are you giving a speech about it?"

Buffy frowned sourly. Willow read her expression accurately. "Oh no, not Super Recycler Summers?"

"Super, what?" Spike asked, laughing hard now. Andrew joined in, laughing for the sake of laughing with Spike.

"This is all your fault, actually." Buffy jabbed her finger into Spike's chest.

"Mine?" He grabbed her finger and stretched their hands against each other.

"If you hadn't been playing Renfield in the school basement, Principal Wood would never have seen me creeping out of the basement and I would never have said that ridiculous thing about looking for recyclables."

Curling Buffy's fingers over his, he gave her the absolute incarnate look of innocence. "I'm sorry for inconveniencing you into becoming Super Recycler Summers." He pressed a chaste kiss to her hand.

Snatching her hand back, Buffy slapped him on the chest. "You are seriously so full of it, William the Bloody. That soul of yours has no impact on lying?"

He titled his head to the side, thinking. "Nah, can't say that it has."

And with complete unexpectedness, Dawn threw her arms around both Spike and Buffy. Uncertainly, Buffy gave her sister a one armed hug and Spike did the same. "This is so great," she said.

"What is, Dawny?"

"You two! All bickery and flirty. I'm so happy!" She squeezed them harder.

Buffy blushed, catching Spike's eye, he gave her a shameless smile. "Yeah, well, not sure I'm ready for the group hug and all," he said, disentangling himself from the sisters.

Still hugging Buffy, Dawn put her hand on her hip. "Please, you are so enjoying the cuddling. Deep down you're just a big cuddly vampire."

Spike's expression did not hold with the cuddling. "I don't know, Dawn," Willow said from behind the trio. "He once threatened to stab me in the face with a broken bottle. Not so much with the cuddles that day."

"Right," Spike smoothed his hand over his hair. "Sorry about that, Red, too much to drink, depression, and general evilness; the usual."

She gave a little smile. "Apology accepted. But then again, you tried to kill me in –"

"Bloody hell! Assume I'm remorseful for any attacks or selling out or other evil things I did as long as they don't include Harris who I will never be sorry for having tormented." He snatched one last cookie and headed downstairs.

Willow, Dawn, and Buffy shared a mildly surprised look before breaking into giggles.

"Uhm, I'm going to see if Spike needs male companionship," Andrew said, grabbing two cookies and chasing after Buffy's boyfriend.

"So, I think Angel did remorse with a lot more sexy brooding and a lot less annoyance," Dawn said, twisting around on the stool.

"I see Angel as more of a Luis and Spike as more of a Lestate," Willow offered.

Buffy gathered up the glasses to wash, making a face as she did so. "Ew. Can we not compare the real vampires to the imagined ones? Besides, Lestat definitely never came around from being evil."

Munching happily on her cookie Dawn asked, "Does anyone know what's going on with Xander and Anya? Because they are like friendly which is weird since I'm pretty sure she was determined to hate him."

Willow and Buffy glanced at each other. "I don't know, Dawny. Whatever is between them is complicated and definitely none of our business."

She made a face. "It's not like I was just going to blurt it out and ask Anya –"

"Ask me what?" said the very woman, popping into the kitchen. "Oh! Cookies."

"Cookies?" Xander hurried in after his ex. "Does this mean we're meeting Davie Smith?"

"What?" Dawn gasped. "You're coming to dinner too?"

He looked at her as if she was stupid. "Obviously. Who is going to play your overprotective father figure if I'm not there?"

She returned his look. "I was kind of thinking the vampire in the basement would."

"Spike?" Xander asked aghast.

"What about me?" Cool fingers wove with Buffy's as Spike took up residence beside her, the basement door swinging shut on Andrew who gave a cry of pain. Buffy felt she was correct in assuming that Andrew's constant talking had chased Spike out of his basement dwelling.

Once again, they were all crowded in the kitchen which suddenly seemed way too small for seven people. Maybe it was a good thing Giles wasn't here. Buffy wasn't sure they had any room left.

"Wha – why would Spike be at dinner?"

Spike lifted his scarred eyebrow. "'Cause I'm dating the Niblet's sister? Why would you be at dinner?"

"Me? I've known Dawn all her life!"

"Yeah, and?"

"And – and I care about her so I should get to be at the dinner doing manly things to scare Davie Smith away." Xander grabbed a cookie and bit down triumphantly.

Spike curled Buffy into his chest; she rested her cheek against his unbeating chest. "Niblet, who gets to threaten the whelp, me or nancy boy here?"

Buffy grinned into Spike's shirt, loving how ridiculous this entire conversation was and the fact that Dawn could finally see how much everyone cared about her.

"No one! No one –"

"What about me?" Willow asked. "I mean, I – I kinda played the butch with Tara and so – so I feel I should get to be all macho too."

Spike and Xander looked over at Willow in disbelief. "Will, really, I don't think –"

"Red, you're softer than the kitten mitts you've got on. You play the supportive Aunt, yeah, and leave the threatening to me and Buffy."

"Hey! I'll be doing the threatening with Buffy!" Xander argued.

Anya passed a cookie to Andrew. "This is all very boring," she said none too quietly.

"Really? I think it's like a live soap opera," Andrew said in an audible whisper.

"Buffy!" Dawn whined, looking to her for support.

She shrugged. "Please, Dawn. You didn't think we'd be all Full House about this, did you? He's your first boyfriend. Obviously we are going to be obsessive about it. But I promise, I won't let anyone get out of control and I'll make nice with Davie Smith, although, with a fine underlying of disapproval.

Dawn made a noise of frustration. "So no helping."

"But, you're going to have to pick Xander or Spike for the macho thing, because I think two machos might make it a bit scary for Davie. Especially since he thinks I've been to jail."

"Jail?" Xander asked.

"Yes, can you even believe that?" Buffy pouted.

Spike laughed. "Yeah, actually I can. I don't know any other girls who –"

"Spike!" Dawn shouted. "Spike will do the scary macho thing because Spike does scary and evil a lot scarier and eviler than Xander. So Xander, you do the less macho thing."

"And what would that be?" he asked, sulking.

"The pulling him aside for a conversation in which you subtly threaten him thing."

Xander lit up. "Ha! The more important macho thing!"

Spike blinked. "Whatever, whelp. See if he needs a talking to after I'm through with him."

"Alright, testosterone," Buffy said sternly, "Davie Smith won't be here till Friday, so let's save the machoing until then."

With a hostile look at one another, they subsided.



"Perfect. You guys set up the living room for discussion mode. Dawn you get to work on your homework if you really want to join us," Buffy directed.