Five Words or Less

Author: AGriffinWriter

A/N: Reviews and other feedback are always appreciated! Right now I'm contemplating how to get rid of Riley as rapidly (in the plot) and slowly (long painful death!) as possible. ;) Well, to be honest, I'll probably have him succumb to Sandy's temptation a little too enthusiastically and see where I go from there.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Italics outside of dialogue usually signify someone's thoughts, typically Spike's or Buffy's, but will sometimes be used for dreams/flashbacks. This chapter includes quotes from S5:5 "No Place Like Home" and a phrase from S5:10 "Into the Woods".

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike realizes he is massively crushed out on Buffy. Audience watches very scared monks run from mystery beast. Giles opens the magic shop and immediately hires Anya. Joyce is having weird headaches, and when Buffy goes into a trance to try to find out why, she sees Dawn disappearing. Following a tip off from Giles, Buffy leaves her house to head for the factory where she found the Dagon's Sphere, and runs into a certain blond hottie in her yard.

Chapter 1: Idle Talk

"I'm just passing through. Satisfied? You know, I really do hope so, 'cause God knows you need some satisfaction in life, besides shagging Captain Cardboard. And . . . and I never really liked you anyway. And . . . you have stupid hair!"

Before he lets his mouth run away with him any longer, Spike turns on his heel and stomps away dramatically across Buffy's front lawn, his leather duster swaying around his ankles. Buffy pauses briefly, trying to process what her former enemy, now neutered pain-in-the-butt has just said.

"Hold on just a minute, mister!" she yells after him, her brow furrowed.

He halts, looking back over his shoulder in irritation. "What now, Slayer? I've got places to go and squirming weasels to wring money out of."

"Did you just say what I think you said?" she demands, her little nose all scrunched up with frustration.

Spike freezes and internally backtracks through his brash words, wondering which exact phrase has earned him this particular dose of Buffy scowl. Surely it was the slight on her hair – the sort of remark that would put a dent in the girl's precious ego – and thankfully it gave no hint of his recently realized obsession with her.

"Sure as I'm not breathin', pet," he sneers, smirking. "I said 'you have stupid hair'. Patchy roots growing out, ends are too blonde, looks too silky . . ." Bloody hell! There goes my mouth again! He snaps his jaw shut and clenches his hands into fists at his sides, trying not to dwell on his desire to run his fingers through those soft golden strands . . .

"Says the guy with hair like a greased polar bear!" Buffy counters, clearly insulted. "But that's not the point!"

Spike gulps uncomfortably, speculating if his long escape from death is drawing to a quick and painful close. If Buffy realizes I've fallen for her . . .

"What then? Like I said, Slayer, haven't got all night."

"Did you seriously say 'I never really liked you anyway'?"

Spike's unbeating heart skips inside his chest. "Yeah . . . what about it?" he asks with feigned casualness.

Buffy takes a deliberate step toward him, fixing him with her steely green gaze.

"You never really liked me?"

Swallowing quickly, Spike masks his trepidation with a snort. "No!" he snaps, staring down his chiseled nose at Buffy. She looks right back into his blue eyes, eyebrows pinched together. "No?" he says again, but softer this time, tilting his head, trying to read her expression.

"You . . . never . . . really . . . liked . . . me . . . anyway," she says, emphasizing alternate words. "What is that supposed to mean? Of course you've never liked me. You hate me, almost as much as I hate you. Are you talking about Willow's stupid spell last year?"

She gives a little shudder of disgust, and it takes all of Spike's self-control not to sigh in relief. The Slayer hasn't caught on, can't see I'm so crazy about her I'm slippin' up, getting' caught spyin' on her, bloody near admittin' it to her face.

"Well, yeah," he drawls, pulling another cigarette out of the carton in his duster pocket and flicking open his lighter. "As if anything could make me forget how much I loathe you, Slayer. Red's spell was just to make us get hitched, not moon over each other like the whelp and his ex-vengeance hussy."

Pow! Buffy's fist sinks familiarly into the already swollen bridge of Spike's nose.


"Don't talk about Xander and Anya like that!"

"Sorry, couldn't catch that in all this concussion," he snaps right back, pinching his nose to quell the dribble of borrowed blood. In hindsight, he considers, a few Slayer-strength punches aren't too terrible a punishment for a few minutes of her presence. At least she is touching him . . . in an aggressive, excruciating, nose-breaking kind of way. "Oh, just brilliant. You snapped my smoke."

He holds up the broken nicotine stick, half of it dangling on by a few fibers. Buffy rolls her eyes, but then catches sight of something on the ground behind him.

"Holy cow, Spike! How long have you been creeping around outside my house?!" She jabs a finger at the pile of cigarette butts under the tree. "Did you just stand there and smoke a whole pack just to be a jerk? You littered all over my lawn!"

Thank my stars she's more upset over the landscape than about how long I've been here, starin' up at her window, wishin' I was holdin' her, feelin' her beneath me . . .

"Oh, pl-ease," he snorts, wiping the last of the blood off his lip. "They're not 'all over' – "

"They're gross! Clean those up right now!" Buffy screeches, cutting him off.

Spike lifts his scared brow teasingly, stepping closer to Buffy. "I see how it is. Want me to grovel at your dainty little feet, eh Slayer? Kneel and obey the chosen one?"

"I said clean them up and throw them away!" she orders, her tone rising in volume and squeakiness.

Spike saunters forward another step, standing so close he can smell the fruity scent of her shampoo, almost close enough to plant a kiss on her if he dared. To him, her furious glare is adorable, the hint of a pout on her luscious lips, her eyes piercing into his.

"Why don't you make me, luv?" he whispers, tongue lingering sexily against his lower teeth, his unneeded breathing accelerating every time he draws in her scent. Buffy doesn't move, seemingly paralyzed by his brazen nearness. Her eyes jump in rapid succession from Spike's eyes to his full lips floating only inches from hers, the fluttering of her lashes tormenting him.

"Buffy," he murmurs suddenly, almost shaking with suppressed longing. His eyes start to close as he tilts his head another few degrees to the side, craving her lips.

Then Buffy's right knee snaps up and plows directly into his crotch. He lets out a strangled moan as fireworks of pain rip through his body. His knees buckle instantly, and he crashes to the grass, his face landing in the cigarette debris.

"Oh, God!" Eyes watering, he rolls over, curls into a fetal position, and grits his teeth together to keep from howling in agony.

"It's not like you have any use for that," Buffy taunts threateningly, standing over him with her arms crossed. "You're already impotent."

He just hisses at her through his clenched teeth, his most sensitive region throbbing with pain.

"I don't have time for you, Spike. I've got stuff to do, but when I get back, if I find one cigarette butt in my yard . . . just ONE . . . you'll wish I was merciful enough to put you out of your misery."

"Yeah," Spike winces, his right cheek flat against the dewy grass, breath coming in ragged puffs. "I'm the ruddy grateful undead."

He hears the crunch of grass right beside him and braces himself, expecting her to add a kick to his back or ribs to the one she's already bestowed on his groin. But she doesn't, and a moment later her heels rhythmically click-click-click on her driveway as she stalks away from him. He waits a few seconds to make sure she's out of earshot, then tightens his arms around his midsection and lets out of string of pain-induced swear words.

"Spike, is that you?"

Panicking, he whips his head around and claps a hand over his mouth at the sight of Dawn standing at the edge of the porch. Oh, brilliant job, you git. Slayer's sis and mum are the two people who seem most willing to tolerate me, and any hope of getting close to her will have to include them.

"Blimey, Bit, didn't hear you sneakin' up on me. Sorry 'bout . . . uh . . . well, just don't go repeating any of that to your mum. She hears language like that out'a you and she'll find another axe to hit me with."

Dawn shrugs. "I won't."

Nodding his thanks, Spike rolls onto his hands and knees, then slowly sits back on his haunches, testing his pain threshold.

"Got you in the nuts, didn't she?" Dawn deduces, watching Spike's labored movement.

He grimaces, leans forward again, and grudgingly starts picking up the cigarette butts. "Packs quite a kick, your big sis."

Dawn crosses her arms, clearly irritated. "She thinks something's wrong with me. Said I wasn't really her sister."

"That right?" Spike looks up at Dawn, tilting his head in surprise.

The teenager glares off in the direction in which Buffy left. "Uh-huh. She pushed me into the wall and hurt my arm. Then she acted like I was the one making Mom sick."

"Aww, that's rubbish. You Summers women may cat-fight when you're pissed, but you'll always come out together. You're inseparable."

Dawn half-smiles. "Thanks, Spike. I'm glad you think so."

"It's nothin', Niblet." He's managed to recover all the cigarette stumps, stuffing them deep into a pocket of his duster. He stands up gingerly, scratching the back of his neck. "Guess I'd better be going before . . ."

"Would you stay for a little, please?" she pleads, bounding off the porch and running to stand between him and the street. "I'm scared, and Mom's sick, and I can't do anything to help her. Please stay, Spike. If you're scared of Buffy you can go before she gets back."

"Eh! I'm not afraid of Buffy! I've killed two Slayer before, you know," he adds warningly, puffing out his chest. Dawn just shrugs.

"Please just hang out here with me, Spike. Please?"

Eyes rolling up at the stars, Spike heaves a sigh. "Oh, alright, Bit, I'll crash on your couch and keep you company, but I expect a steamy cup of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows for my trouble."

Dawn grins delightedly and skips up the porch steps, holding the door open for Spike to follow her into the house.

[Two hours and one fight with a hell-goddess later . . .]

Buffy limps slowly down Revello Drive, rubbing a sore spot over her collarbone. She doesn't think any of her bones are broken, but she can tell from the aches in her legs and torso that she's sporting some serious bruising and will probably wake up sore tomorrow morning.

She reaches the mailbox of 1630 and is halfway up the driveway before she remembers the shadowy lurking vampire whom she'd caught before leaving. Barely caring, she looks over at the spot under the tree. Well, at least the yard is clean now, no more of those stupid cigarettes.

Seriously, she wonders as she walks up to the porch and digs out her keys, how long was Spike skulking out here? Is he really so bored that he has to get his kicks from littering in my lawn and giving me weird mixed-signals? "I never really liked you anyway". What a dumb thing to say.

Newly aggravated, Buffy pushes open the front door, favoring her stiff right shoulder. As soon as she closes the door, a distinctly Dawn-ish giggle from the living room draws her attention. Buffy takes a few steps towards the sound, and what she sees makes her do several motionless double-takes.

There, on the couch in her living room, is Spike, sitting between her mom and Dawn, a half-empty mug of hot cocoa in his pale hands. His carefree smile vanishes the moment his eyes meet Buffy's stern ones.

"Buffy, you're home," says Joyce sweetly.

Noticing her sister, Dawn stands up and crosses her arms. "I wasn't bothering her," she mutters grumpily.

"Er, me neither," Spike adds quickly, setting his mug down on a coaster on the coffee table. "Right then. Guess I've overstayed my welcome. Better be off."

He pats Dawn on the shoulder, cautiously steps around Buffy, and takes his leather duster down off the coat rack. Buffy hears Dawn scurry up the stairs, but all her attention is focused on her undead and unwanted houseguest.

"Why are you still here?" she whispers harshly.

"Little sis wanted me around to keep her company, is all," Spike answers, his tone appeasing. "No need to get shirty about it. I just . . . thought you might like someone keeping a lookout for your mum while she's not at her best."

"Well, you don't count as someone. I don't have time to deal with you right now, Spike."

She exhales tiredly, shifting from one sore leg to the other. Noting her sensitive movement, Spike's eyes scan over her, and when they finally rest on her face, Buffy is surprised to see deep concern in his expression.

"Are you hurt, Slayer? Looks like you've been through one hell of a fight."

That look of kindness in his eyes is so . . . not him. This is Spike, Big Bad turned double-crossing, skulking loser. He's not supposed to care if I come home beaten to a pulp. He's not supposed to be at my home when I come home!

"Just get lost, Spike," Buffy orders, opening the front door and wearily glaring at him.

"Right," he murmurs quietly. "Goodnight, Buffy."

Still wearing that repentant look, he sweeps through the doorway, glancing back at her when he's crossed the porch. Frowning quizzically, Buffy closes and locks the door, then watches through the rectangular windows as Spike slowly strolls away from her house.

"What's that all about?" asks Joyce, taking another sip of tea as her eldest daughter lingers at the entrance to the living room.

"Nothing, Mom," Buffy shrugs, regretting it when her shoulder throbs. "Just . . . Spike stuff. I . . . um . . . I need to go talk to Dawn."