She saw him first.
Even with the hundreds of bodies pressing around her, alternately strutting and racing and ambling through the artificial labyrinth created by the carnies, Buffy remained as casual as possible, plucking at the spun sugar she’d purchased to try and blend into the crowd as her kohl-lined eyes locked on the motionless figure at the edge of the sand. In the sea of movement, he remained an island, an ebony outline against the white grain of the background, unmoving in spite of the rush that swept past and around him. He seemed oblivious to the driving pulse of the old-fashioned rock music blaring through the sound system, unbothered by the stench created by the incoming sea air mingling with the sweat and grease and too-much perfume of the fairground. It was as if he wasn’t really there, but it was an effect that Buffy had expected.
After all, Spike Adams hadn’t remained a lethal specter for the past ten years by being conspicuous.
Everything about him belied that image. The leather duster that swirled around his legs had long ago been declared illegal, and the bleached hair made unruly by the ocean breeze screamed “notice me” louder than if he’d been walking around with a sign around his neck saying, “I kill hundreds of people a year. Ask me how.” But it was his eyes, feral and hungry and alive, that seemed to want to counter that impression the hardest. Though his lithe body remained at rest, his hands thrust deep into his coat pockets as the carnival danced and sparkled around him, his eyes never stopped moving, sliding over the curves and angles of passers-by with the sage calculation of a man who saw everything, narrowing when an iota of interest snagged his attention before relaxing again when he instantly dismissed it as nothing.
She wondered if he was looking for her. Had her description been included with the communiqué setting up the rendezvous? Buffy couldn’t remember. Not that it mattered. They had their code words set up to make physical confirmation superfluous. Even if she hadn’t already known what he looked like, it would’ve been nearly impossible for her to hook up with the wrong guy. Willow was too good to make that kind of mistake.
Tossing her cotton candy into the nearest trashcan, Buffy’s free hand automatically went up to the tiny gold cross nestled between her breasts. The comfort it offered was minuscule compared to the weight of the blade she had strapped to the back of her calf, its presence masked by her knee-length boots, but with the thrill of adrenaline already beginning to surge through her system at the prospect of the confrontation ahead, she was going to take strength wherever she could get it.
He let her think she saw him first.
Her attempts at looking casual were almost laughable, and Spike had to fight the smile watching her suck the sugar from her fingers brought to his lips. Sure, to anyone else, she looked the part---blonde hair curled carefully in disarray before being pulled back off her delicate face, tiny lace halter that only accentuated her muscular curves, the red satin skirt swirling around her flat-heeled boots---but beneath the fabric façade, power radiated from her every pore like a pheromone only he could scent. Oh, yeah, this girl was a killer; there was no doubt in his mind about that. After all, it took one to know one.
The picture he’d failed to get was now a moot point. When the first contact had been made, Spike had argued against the others about the necessity to confirm who he was meeting up with, but he’d let them go on the hunt for a picture of Buffy Summers anyway though he knew he wouldn’t need it. The way he had it sussed, she’d have establishment rat written all over her, and if he couldn’t sniff her out, then he was in over his head. Surely the clues he’d gleaned from various reports over the last few years would be enough to pick her out of the crowd---petite, blonde, with an aura of California girl that harkened back to more innocent days. Even if she’d lost that sense of innocence years ago.
And he’d been right, because there she was, the grace of a lioness on the prowl betraying her every intention. She was prettier than he’d expected, and in spite of his better judgment, Spike’s body reacted accordingly, hardening and tensing as if they were about to fuck instead of fight. Not that we couldn’t do both. Just have to get the order right. When her fingers went to the gold chain around her neck, it drew his attention away from the glitter in her eyes, stopping before the curve of her breasts to fix on the hollow of her throat. His first thought---shame to have to snap it---was consumed by a flare of satisfaction, his control over the curl of his mouth lapsing in his delight.
Someone’s got a tell.
She deliberately put a sway into her hips as she crossed the boardwalk. Not that she thought it was enough to catch his attention, but her intel on Spike told her he had a thing for the ladies, and any advantage she could gain was a good thing. The nearer she came to the water, the stronger the breeze became, until by the time she had stepped from the sure footing of the walk to the capricious sand, her skirt was being whipped around her legs like a second skin, forcing Buffy to slow her step in order to maintain her balance.
His head cocked in curiosity when she stopped in front of him, a slight quirk of his brow the only indication that her presence interested him at all. Up close, the power behind those eyes seemed to leap across the chasm that separated them, driving her pulse rate upwards in an uncharacteristic slip in her control. For a moment, she hesitated, doubt about the wisdom of her plan joining with the danger in his gaze to make her question her next action. But then Dawn’s face rose up in her mind’s eye, and all ambivalence fled.
She would do this.
She had no other choice.
She didn’t smile when she spoke to him. “Don’t start by saying you’re sorry,” Buffy said, as if they were old friends and she was meeting up with him for the first time in ages.
He stayed still, only the black leather jackknifing around and through his legs audible to her ears as the world tunneled away, the carnival receding to a silent, neon background that would’ve made her dizzy if she’d concentrated on it. With each passing moment where he didn’t speak, her anxiety that it was going to fall through, that for some strange, inexplicable reason Spike Adams was going to back out of the arrangement before she had an opportunity to get him to talk, swelled to stomach-lurching proportions. Don’t make me kill you yet, she thought in growing desperation. Her fingers itched to go for her knife, but it was too soon to betray her identity to him. Better to wait it out.
So when he finally spoke, his voice an unapologetic rumble that reached like silk fingers into her chest and squeezed, she almost laughed out loud in absolution.
“I didn’t come here to atone,” Spike replied. He smiled then, his gaze raking over her curves. “Though the notion of gettin’ on my knees in front of you is suddenly strikin’ me as rather appealing, luv.”
The relief at the expected flirting was enough to bolster Buffy’s confidence back to pre-facing him levels. Affecting her most engaging smile, she took a step forward, reaching up to finger the leather of his lapels. “Someone likes to live dangerously,” she commented, and then looked up at him through her lashes. “Not afraid of getting picked up for wearing illegal goods?”
“Not afraid of anything,” Spike said with a wicked curl of his lips.
“Why does that not surprise me?” It was eerily simple to act the coquette for him, especially when his hand came down to settle on her hip, but there was also a game to be played here, and Buffy couldn’t let herself forget that for a single moment.
“Wasn’t sure you were goin’ to show,” he murmured. His head tipped and she felt his warm breath on her neck as he inhaled her scent. “But I have to say…you were definitely worth the wait.”
“Do you have the stuff?” Her question was breathless, almost an afterthought, as the gooseflesh erupted down her arms. Whoa. And his mouth didn’t even touch me. No wonder he’s survived this long.
“Business already?” Spike chuckled, the hand on her hip gliding to her back to run a single fingertip up her spine. She shivered. “And here I was hopin’ for a little pleasure first.”
“Nothing says we can’t have both.”
She could already imagine Willow’s face when Buffy’s words came through her earpiece, a combination of shock and wonder at what exactly her best friend was doing. At least it was a one-way system, or Buffy was sure she would already have been on the receiving end of a long and agitated argument on why fucking the guy you were trying to bring in for interrogation was just wrong, wrong, wrong. There was probably a point in there someplace, but at the moment, she was beginning to feel a little lightheaded at the slow and steady breathing that still hovered just beside her cheek.
“Where’s the money?” he whispered, and she jumped when his teeth nibbled at her earlobe.
“Thought you weren’t interested in business yet,” she answered.
“I’m not, just…” He stepped back at that, clearing the space between them so he could sweep his gaze over her in obvious appreciation. “I told you no plastic, pet, and there is no way you’re hiding that amount of cash on you.”
“I’ve got it.” It was her turn for a direct appraisal of him. “And shouldn’t I be asking you the same thing? Somehow, I don’t think you’ve got an inside pocket big enough on that coat to hide a chest full of weapons.”
He spread his arms wide, exposing the black billowy shirt above the skin-tight jeans. “You’re more than welcome to take a poke around for yourself,” Spike said. “Can’t say it wouldn’t be fun.”
As tempting as the offer was, Buffy just smiled and shook her head. “I’m an upfront kind of gal,” she said. “Digging for buried treasure’s not exactly my thing.” She squared her shoulders. “Are we going to do business or what?”
“I’d prefer the or what, but I’ll settle for business.” With that grin she was beginning to realize must be the trademark smirk she’d read so much about, Spike reached into his pockets and extracted a lighter and pack of cigarettes.
The buzzing started as soon as both were in the open air. Though she was certain he couldn’t see the vibrations in her necklace, Buffy could more than feel them, and her attention immediately went to the items in his hands. Thanks for making it easy for me, she thought, and swiftly stepped forward to take both from his hands.
“Smoking will kill you,” she said lightly. Before he could react, the cigarettes were crushed between her fingers, while the silver lighter went flying through the air, disappearing against the black of the ocean.
“Ow!” Anya’s fingers yanked the receiver from her ear, her face screwed up in a grimace as her pinky went back in, in a vain attempt to clear the ringing that was currently splitting her head in two.
“What’s up?” Clem asked. He scowled as he took the confection from the carny, but it didn’t stop him from lifting it to his lips. “Calling these ‘elephant ears’ is just wrong,” he said between bites.
An inattentive Anya grabbed the earpiece from where it dangled down her shirt front, sliding it into the opposite ear this time. “Don’t do this to me, Spike,” she muttered. After a moment of fidgeting with the tiny, flesh-colored button, a snarl of disgust burst from her throat as she pulled it out again, this time dropping the entire gizmo to the ground and stomping on it with the hard heel of her boot. “Damn it, damn it, damn it!”
“There a problem?”
“He let it happen again.”
“Oh.” There was a pause as Clem chewed, watching Anya whirl away and begin storming down the boardwalk, all the while ranting under her breath about Englishmen and their hormones. “He let what happen again?”
I like this one. She’s got spunk.
Though Buffy’s little disappearing trick with his fags and lighter now meant Spike was cut off from his team, it hadn’t been something he hadn’t anticipated. It just meant being a little more on his toes, keeping an eye on the tiny blonde in case she decided to get a little weapon-happy before the time was right. It would probably be a knife, he mused as he turned away from the ocean to look back at her. He’d heard this one had a thing for sharp, pointy things.
“You expect me to brush before I kiss you, too?” he drawled. Before she could react, his hand shot out and grabbed Buffy’s waist, pulling her roughly against his lean form. He smirked when he felt her momentarily stiffen, and bent his head to brush his lips along the line of her jaw. “Seems like such a waste of time when we could be havin’ so much more fun.”
She wasn’t fighting the embrace, but Spike could still feel the tension coiled in her muscles as she prepared for some kind of fight. He chose to ignore it. She didn’t have a weapon in her hands, and with her held so tightly against his lower half, he’d have plenty of time to react should she try a more subtle attack. Besides, knowing the danger in what he was doing was half of what made all this worth it.
“Relax, luv,” he murmured into her skin. His mouth watered from the tiny tastes his tongue was treating him with, and he felt his arousal tighten his jeans further. “Nothin’ wrong with a dance before we make our little exchange, now is there?”
She moaned in response, grinding her hips harder into his, and Spike felt her small hands slide beneath his coat and around his back. For a moment, he stiffened, alert to any sign of peril, but when he felt her fingers begin kneading at the hard muscles they discovered there, he resumed his oral exploration of her neck with vigor.
It was so tempting to lose himself in the sensations. She tasted of butterscotch, with a whisky chaser, and every swipe of his tongue only submerged him further in the brio that was Buffy. Any other circumstances, he would’ve been tumbling head over heels in lust with the girl, not that he wasn’t halfway there already; now, though, Spike had to fight to remind himself of the job he had to do, of the reason he’d agreed to this farce of a meeting in the first place.
You’re doin’ this for Dru, you wanker.
Thinking of his ex was enough of a cold wash to focus his attention, and Spike slowed his caresses as he lifted his free hand to stroke the opposite side of her neck. Fingertips tickled the soft skin it found there, and the moment he felt her giggle against his chest, his fingers found the clasp of her necklace and pinched it tight.
“Oh!” Buffy cried out as the gold cross slipped to the ground. She pulled back, ducking her head to look for it, but Spike was faster.
“Let me.” Pretending to fumble in the sand, he quickly spotted the glitter of the charm and set the toe of his boot over it, grinding it to an audible crunch. He straightened to see Buffy’s dropped jaw. “Oops.”
“Uh oh,” Willow said, staring down at the tiny silver box in her hand. She gave it a good shake, tilting her head as if she were listening for something, and then shook it again.
Xander stopped in mid-chew. “Uh oh’s are not good,” he said around a mouthful of pizza. He cast a glance at the crowd that passed by them on the bench before leaning sideways to peer at the receiver Willow held. “Did Buffy blow her cover?”
“I don’t know.” Another shake. “But I’m pretty sure she lost her transmitter.”
“How?” He was on his feet in a flash, the pizza tossed into the trashcan at the bench’s side. “Short of cutting off her head, how does she lose a necklace?”
She just shrugged, unwilling to tell Xander just what she’d heard happening on the other end of the receiver. It was Buffy’s job, and Willow wasn’t one to question her methods, even though those said methods seemed to have been more of the kiss me now variety than the kill you now. She began walking briskly up the boardwalk, Xander right on her heels.
“They weren’t fighting,” she said, “which is good, because then hopefully it was just an accident that it broke or something.”
“So how are we supposed to find her now?”
She didn’t look back. “We start with where she was when I lost the signal.”
Stupid, distracted, really needing to get laid Buffy! What the hell was I thinking?
Before she could lash out at the blond for making her lose her necklace, however, a sharp beam of light cut through the darkness on the beach, blinding her for a moment when she turned to face it.
“What’re you two doing down there? This beach is off-limits!”
Spike’s hand was in hers before she could speak, tugging her toward the boardwalk. “Just showin’ my girl a bit of the waves, mate,” he said, the lie slipping easily from his lips. “No harm, no foul.”
As the bright neon came back into focus when they approached the carnival, she saw the uniformed security guard poised on the edge of the sand, one hand curled around the flashlight, the other sitting lightly on the stun gun in his holster. The weapon didn’t faze her; she knew she could take him if she had to. Creating a scene, however, was not on the itinerary, so instead she opted to tighten her grip and curl into Spike’s side, adopting her most winning smile.
“I’ve never seen the ocean before,” she gushed. “I never knew it was so big!”
The giggle she threw in for effect only seemed to narrow his beady-eyed gaze as it first swept over Spike’s coat and hair, before shifting to do the same to Buffy. “Being big don’t make it legal,” he said, backing up toward the boardwalk. “I suggest you two clear out of here and find someplace a little more appropriate for…whatever it was you were doing.”
“My pleasure,” Spike said.
The tug on her arm loosened Buffy from where she’d glued herself to his side, and she found herself almost skipping after him as Spike pulled her into the sweaty throng. He wasn’t running, but he was going damn fast, and she cast a wary look over her shoulder to see the security guard watching them in growing suspicion before tilting his head to speak into a comm button on his collar.
There was no time to think. Swiveling her green gaze over the various mechanics that loomed around them, past the too many bodies, and around the games booths, Buffy quickly spotted what she was looking for and angled her body toward it. When the action broke her from Spike’s grasp, she saw him stop and stare at her in confusion.
“This way!” she called out over the raucous din, and pointed to the dwindling line for the skycabs.
Blue eyes shot up, following the heavy cables where they soared above the boardwalk before disappearing into the night, and then angled back to see the security guard marching determinedly toward them. Decision made, he was on her heels as they raced for the queue, his hands on her hips by the time they reached the barker.
“Two tick---,” the scrawny man started, only to be cut off when Buffy thrust a pair of the tickets she’d purchased when she’d first arrived at the carnival into his hand. Tearing them in half, he dropped them into the bucket at his side before grabbing the iron bar that kept the next car steady. “Hop in.”
She didn’t have to be told twice. Sliding across the torn seat, Buffy had herself strapped and ready to go before the door was locked shut, head turned to spy the guard coming to a stop when he saw they were on a ride. Spike followed her gaze, raising two fingers to the man in a rude salute she’d only ever witnessed once before in her life, and then laughed as the car swung free from the docking station.
“Bloody brilliant, that was,” he said, and laid his arm across the back of the seat as he sprawled in its corner. The grin he gave her was dazzling. “Wouldn’t’ve minded a spot of violence to go along with the run, but can’t knock anything that gets the ol’ ticker pumpin’.”
In spite of herself, Buffy collapsed in a frenzy of adrenaline-fueled giggles. “Did you see his face?” she said. “Like he really thought he could catch us.” She twisted to face off with their now obscured pursuer, sticking her tongue out in defiance. “I think not, Mr. Too Many Donuts Security Guard.”
“C’mere,” Spike growled, and pulled at her seatbelt, unloosing it to drag her the length of the seat toward him.
She fell onto his torso, all too aware of the hard muscles of his chest beneath her spread palms, but before she could say anything in protest, his mouth was on hers in a demanding kiss. He’d left the smooth teasing behind on the sand, it seemed, because immediately his tongue was demanding entrance, hot and probing and oh so delicious as his fingers crimped through the satin of her skirt to dig into the flesh of her bottom.
It took Buffy all of a single second to start kissing him back.
At least nobody’s listening in this time.
The sway of the car as it climbed the steel cable above the crowd was nothing compared to the lurching going on inside Buffy’s head. She didn’t do this, damn it; she was a professional, and making out with the guy she was supposed to be interested in grilling was not supposed to happen. But the smoky bite of his tongue…the expert way his hands coaxed her body to respond…the plush timbre of his voice when he’d been murmuring in her ear…it all added up to overload in her system, and rational thought fled in the face of her desire.
His breathing was ragged when he finally tore away, his mouth chasing the tang of her skin down her neck. She gasped when he started to suck at its base, eyes fluttering shut as she lost herself to the sensation, and when she felt his tongue travel back up to her jaw, she moaned out loud.
“Never thought a Slayer would be so mouthwatering,” Spike murmured as he nibbled at her ear.
The label made her blood freeze. Slowly, Buffy opened her eyes and pulled back, looking down at the sculptured lines of his face in shock. She didn’t say a word when he stared at her in confusion, but after a long moment, the lines on his forehead smoothed, and he banged his head backwards against the car’s cage.
“Bugger,” he said, though it sounded more amused than anything else. Without releasing his hold on her hips, Spike looked back at Buffy with more than a glint of merriment in his eyes. “Guess the jig’s up then.”
To be continued in Chapter 2: Spread Your Wings…
I'm feeling a little better, but I definitely have caught something. Posting this is as close as I'm going to get to coherent writing today, methinks.