DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course. The chapter title comes from The Doors’ song, “Crawling King Snake.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Lindsey met with Holland, and Buffy and Spike have had their first face-to-face…
The story begins here.
Spike sneered at the fence that surrounded the property. It was so blatant, he almost felt sorry for Buffy. Trying so hard for the normalcy that had always been denied her.
His gaze strayed to the small windows of the house. It was a bungalow, set back along a winding road on the edge of town, with dozens of matching bungalows for neighbors. Each lawn had nearly identical foliage, paths that curved in almost the same trails to similar front doors. Only Hollywood could get more cookie cutter than this, but he doubted Buffy saw it that way. She probably saw it as safe. Spike saw it as boring.
She’d talked about this more than once during their time together. Wistful dreams of what life would be like if she wasn’t the Slayer, or if Ethan hadn’t found her before the Council did. There was talk about what she thought she needed to be happy, but none of it made any sense to him.
“Happy doesn’t mean homogenous,” he’d said to her.
But she’d misunderstood, or pretended to misunderstand, and made some inappropriate joke about milk that wasn’t quite up to her normal quipping standards. Spike always thought her dumb act was more about show than fact anyway. Then she’d let the matter drop until the next time the mood caught her fancy.
It looked like she’d finally found someone who wasn’t willing to tell her what she needed to hear any more. He’d bet his last fag the boytoy didn’t have a clue about what kind of woman he had in his bed; Buffy wasn’t about to tarnish her little game of pretend by telling him the truth about her calling.
They were probably in there fucking already, Spike thought as he reached into his pocket for his cigarettes. The truck was drenched in the scents of come, both his and hers, and he was mildly annoyed that his prediction about warming Buffy up had been so on the mark. But knowing Buffy, once wasn’t going to be enough for her, not in the state she was in. She’d keep going until the boy was begging her to stop for fear of his dick dropping off.
And Spike was going to be there to pick up where he’d left off. She had to come out sooner or later. After seeing the slight figure of the boy when they went into the house, he was going to bet on sooner.
Something was off with her, something more than the unexpected encounter with Holland at the club. Lindsey had spent too much time watching Buffy, seeing how she reacted to various situations, how mercurial her moods could be under the worst of circumstances, not to recognize when the glass façade she sported was starting to crack. She spent so much time pretending life was good, that she really was just a small-time poker dealer living the single life of an attractive young female, that he knew she probably believed it often enough to make it feel real.
Now was not one of those times.
She wandered restlessly through the house, not content to settle in any one place, like a moth in search of a light to guide it. First it was the kitchen, where she opened the fridge and stared inside for minutes before closing it empty-handed. Then it was the living room, poring over his small stack of CD’s and DVD’s. Again, she walked away with nothing.
Now she was in his bedroom, straightening up his mess from earlier that day, looking for order amidst the chaos. Lindsey watched from the doorway, his gaze solemn.
“You didn’t really want to come here just to clean my house, did you?” he said with a small smile.
She stopped in mid-reach for the t-shirt draped over the desk chair. “Oh, god, I’m really doing that, aren’t I?” Her voice was just as confused as her eyes, and she dropped wearily onto the edge of the queen-sized bed. “I’m sorry,” she said as he came in to sit next to her. “It’s just…tonight’s been big with the all around weird. This was probably a bad idea.”
“Seeing you is never a bad idea.” Carefully, Lindsey plucked his jeans out of her hand, tossing them onto the nearby chair before taking her hand in his. “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong, or is this going to be one of those times where we play Twenty Questions until I get tired of not getting any answers?”
“See? Bad idea. I’m all closed-off girl, and you deserve so much better than---.”
He stopped her from standing and walking away, though he could feel her muscles tense beneath his grip. She’d never demonstrated her superior strength in front of him, but every time they had sex, he could feel it pumping beneath her skin like a caged tiger desperate to be released. He’d had more than one fantasy of her letting loose just once, bending him with controlled pain to submit to her greater power. It was his second favorite wet dream.
“Why don’t you go take a shower?” he suggested. “Or a bath. I still have those things you left the last time you stayed over. I even washed them.”
Her lips twitched. “You did not. You hate doing laundry.”
At least she wasn’t talking about leaving any more. “OK, so I paid Lupita to do it. Doesn’t mean they’re not clean and just waiting for you to be all wet and naked in order to change into.”
The twitch turned into a full-blown smile. “This is all a ploy, isn’t it?” Her choice of words had him ready to argue against it, but he was stopped as she rose to her feet and lifted her blouse over her head. “Absolutely nothing wrong with naked, though, so never let it be known that I can’t be ployed with,” she said, tossing her shirt at Lindsey. She disappeared down the hall, leaving a trail of clothing behind.
He followed after, watching her ass as she slithered out of her pants. When she bent to test the water in the tub, he saw the ring around her neck dangle on its chain. So near, and yet so far.
Steam was already curling around the edges of the shower curtain when she straightened, but as she grabbed the end of it to step inside, Buffy hesitated, her hand going to her throat to finger the ring that was nestled there. Her face clouded, her eyes growing distant. When she looked up and saw Lindsey watching her, she didn’t even seem surprised. She just regarded him for a long moment, the water pelting in the tub behind her, and then smiled.
“Can you help me take this off?” she asked softly.
He did his best to hide his shock, nodding as he closed the gap between them. Her skin was hot beneath his fingertips as he fumbled with the clasp, and when it came free, Lindsey bent down and brushed a kiss along her shoulder.
“I’ll put it with your towel,” he murmured.
As Buffy climbed into the shower, an audible sigh escaped from the other side of the curtain, her pleasure at the stinging water all too obvious. Lindsey wanted to sigh as well. He couldn’t believe his luck. After everything, knowing that she had never taken it off during any other previous visit to his house, to have Buffy voluntarily remove the ring seemed almost too good to be true. It made trying to figure out how to deceive her simpler, especially when the thought of hurting Buffy made him sick to his stomach.
He didn’t bother dwelling on what could’ve changed her mind about it. That was inconsequential.
Turning his back to the shower, Lindsey pretended to set the chain down, palming it instead as he slid the towel closer to edge of the sink. When she reached for it after she was done, she’d assume the ring went down the drain. It was simple and direct, and if Buffy got too upset about the loss, he’d just promise to get a plumber out the next day to retrieve it. He could have a duplicate made in plenty of time for that.
Her voice stopped him before he could walk out of the room, and for a second, he was sure she’d seen him take the ring.
“Yeah?” he asked from the doorway.
He waited, but she didn’t say anything more. “Just take all the time you need,” he said quietly. “You know where to find me when you’re done.”
It was quite an innocuous little thing, a thin gold band with an onyx stone. It wasn’t of any real monetary value, so its worth to Buffy had to be sentimental. A gift from an old friend, perhaps? A remnant of a life previously lived? It could be anything. One thing Lindsey did know was that it wasn’t Jutta’s Ring. It was too dainty, made specifically for her finger, he’d bet. Contrary to what Holland might think, it was going to be absolutely useless to them.
His mood lightened. That might actually be a good thing. It would protect Buffy a little bit longer, allow him to stay in Vegas until they had more material to work with.
As he listened to the shower thrum smoothly from the other room, Lindsey sat in the window, letting the ring and chain play through his fingers like liquid gold. Maybe he’d offer to get her a new ring when she thought this one was lost. He liked the thought of her wearing something that was just from him.
It was a whim that had him slip the tiny band over his pinky. It didn’t go far, catching at his first knuckle and refusing to slide further, and he held it up to look at it more closely, the gold chain dangling around his wrist to bisect the back of his hand. There had to be a reason she didn’t wear it, he mused. Another secret she kept tucked away.
She had a lot of those.
The second he heard the shower start inside the house, Spike started fantasizing about Buffy in the marble tub again. Straddling the jets, strong thighs quivering as the water pounded against her clit, long hair streaming over the outer edge as she arched her back in order to strengthen the impact of the stream. The fantasies were even better when he saw the boytoy show up in the bedroom window. That meant Buffy was in the shower on her own.
He loved her quim. Pink and open and taunting him with how close she really was. A paradox. Soft and yielding, and then oh so fucking tight and firm once he was buried inside her. He liked to hold off on actual entry for as long as he possibly could. The anticipation was almost better than the actual act.
She’d spread herself out for him, legs akimbo, slim fingers stroking her inner thighs before delving deeper, parting her outer folds to slide up and down around her cunt, dipping into her fluids before drawing a nail across her clit. Her breasts bobbed in the water, nipples pert and pleading for him to bite into them, and she watched him the entire time he stripped, as hungry for him as he was for---.
His fantasy was shattered when he saw the boytoy start playing with a gold chain like it was some sort of Cat’s Cradle. And when the prat actually slid the ring it held onto his small finger, the erection Spike thought could cut glass disappeared in the blink of an eye.
“Bollocks,” he muttered.
When the first tickle came to the edges of his awareness, he was absorbed in watching the two nubile young women pleasure each other, his cock throbbing and heavy against his palm. His hand stilled, his breath suddenly short where the sight of the sixty-nine before him hadn’t succeeded in stealing it away. Something…wasn’t quite…right, but it took searching along the periphery of his mind to determine what it was.
A spark. A tiny charge. Where before there had been only darkness.
He sat up in the red plush chair, his arousal forgotten. Turning his gaze inward, he reached out toward the tickle, gathering his will to creep unnoticed along the towline it offered, trying to ascertain just where it was coming from. It called, and yet…didn’t, like an aria sung in the wrong key, haunting and familiar but wrong.
As his heart began to quicken inside his chest, he drew the spark close, recognition growing as it loomed larger and stronger with every passing second. Then a name fell from his lips, a stolen breath he’d not dared to utter in almost a year.
Except it wasn’t. This was…masculine? That left only one other option. The hope inside him hardened into something more lethal.
The girls on the bed stopped what they were doing, lifting shiny faces to stare at him as he rose from his chair. “What’s wrong?” the blonde asked. “Who’s Spike?”
“A dead man.” He chuckled at his own wit. If only they knew he meant that literally. “Party’s over, girls. I’m afraid I have a flight to Las Vegas I must catch.”
The redhead pouted. “But we just got started.”
“And you may continue. Without me, though. Which is a shame because the two of you do make quite the pretty picture.”
When they giggled at the easy flattery, he waited until he had his back to them to roll his eyes. Why were the pretty ones always completely without depth? he wondered as he picked up his robe.
Of course, Buffy would’ve been the exception to that. When she was alive.
Buffy had been the exception to many things.
Ethan sighed, consciously shoving aside the memories that had resurfaced. Buffy was dead. It was pointless to dwell on what he couldn’t have. Better to think about what he was going to do to the vampire foolish enough to steal and then slip on Buffy’s ring.
Those thoughts made him feel infinitely better.
To be continued in Chapter 5: Set the Night on Fire…