DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course. The chapter title comes from The Doors’ song, “The Soft Parade.”
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Holland had a meeting with a group of demons, while Spike smoked Buffy out of the house in order to tell her about Lindsey and the ring…
The story begins here.
All he could smell was Buffy. Though he’d turned on the heat to help her warm up, the antiquated electrics and faint aroma of smoke couldn’t mask the freshly scrubbed scent of her skin, the lavender shampoo she used when she was trying to make herself feel better. It made it hard to concentrate, especially when Spike still couldn’t believe she was actually sitting next him. In his car. In his life. Part of him felt like a kid at Christmas, granted his most earnest wish. It was all he could do not to grin like a madman.
When he caught her shivering, he reached behind to drag out the blanket from the back seat. She took it from him without a word, but as she tucked it around her shoulders, their eyes met, and Spike knew he saw gratitude there.
“Where to?” he asked when they came to a stop at a red light. “Not that I don’t appreciate a half-naked Slayer as much as the next bloke, but you’re probably goin’ to want your kit before we head out of town.”
“What?” Buffy’s head snapped up to stare at him. “There is no ‘we,’ Spike. There’s me, and there’s you, and--.”
“And the boytoy who nicked your little bauble,” he finished.
Her teeth clicked together as she clenched her jaw. “For the last time, his name is Lindsey.”
“His name could be Rumpelstiltskin for as much as I care,” Spike shot back. “Doesn’t change what he did, and we both know slipping that ring on is the best way for you to phone home, Buffy.”
Twin spots of color appeared high on her cheeks, and she dragged her eyes away from his to stare out the windshield. “I don’t even know why I believe you. You’d do anything to get me to stop seeing Lindsey.”
He saw the light change by the color shift reflecting off her eyes and gunned the engine to leap through the intersection. “You believe me,” he said, “because the other thing we both know is that I have never lied to you. Can you say the same thing about him?”
Spike didn’t need to see her face to know she couldn’t. Her body betrayed her, every single time.
They drove along for a few more blocks in silence, heading in the general direction of his flat. As eager as he was to get her out of town, the notion of taking her straight back to his place didn’t appeal, either. Buffy would never forgive him if she had to leave without her few belongings. She needed those revenants from her past as surely as she needed to breathe. While he was more than willing to replace whatever she wanted, Spike knew it wouldn’t be the same, and in the end, it would just be another excuse for her to use to leave him again.
“Turn left at the next light.”
He hated hearing the resignation in her voice. He’d always thought Ethan was the only one who could beat her down like that.
Spike followed her terse directions, maneuvering through the city until she brought him to a halt in front of a clean but aging apartment building. Her fingers played with the hem of the blanket, and he could see the debate raging in her eyes.
“Take my coat,” he said, shrugging it off his shoulders. “Don’t need the neighbors to know you’re starkers.”
She slid silently from the car, gone as easily as she’d appeared. Spike quelled the urge to chase after her and reached automatically for his cigarettes, only to curse out loud when it dawned on him they were still in his duster. Leaning over, he began digging around in his glovebox for his flask when a tap at his window jerked him back upright.
Through the chipped black paint, he could make out slivers of Buffy’s form, but when he reached to roll down the window for a better view, her palm appeared on the glass in a motion meant to stop him.
“Come on up,” she whispered. She knew he could hear her through the glass. It used to be one of her favorite drinking games when they were together. How far away could Buffy hide before Spike couldn’t hear her any more. Buffy never won.
He waited until she’d stepped back before opening the door and getting out. The neon from the neighboring street gave her skin an unhealthy glow, and Spike couldn’t tell if the odd light in her eyes was because of him or poor city planning. He decided he was going to believe the former.
“Lead the way.”
She hadn’t intended to let Spike find out where she lived. That had been the whole purpose in going to Lindsey’s, though really she’d never been comfortable letting Lindsey know where she lived, either. Even after she was in the car and Spike brought up the issue of her clothes, Buffy desperately searched for an alternative, anything that would get her dressed and keep Spike in the dark.
It was impossible. She needed a ride.
Once they were there, Buffy had meant to keep him out. She knew he could probably smell his way into the building, but the last thing she was going to do was make it easy for him. She’d stuck to that resolve all the way to the point where he turned off the engine.
Then he’d offered his coat without solicitation. How in hell was she supposed to stay mad at him when he pulled shit like that?
She didn’t look back as they climbed the three flights of stairs to her apartment. The maintenance sign wasn’t on the elevator for a change, which meant they could’ve taken that, but the prospect of standing so close to Spike in that tiny, enclosed space was more than Buffy wanted to contemplate. It was hard enough wearing the coat. To this day, she associated the smell of leather with Spike.
It dawned on her when they reached her door that not only were her keys back at Lindsey’s but so was her wallet, complete with her fake ID and some of her cash. She didn’t carry much, but every dime counted, and it burned that she’d let some of it slip through her fingers so easily.
“Something wrong?” Spike asked when she didn’t open the door right away.
She laughed. It had to be the stupidest thing he’d said all night.
Without answering, she broke the lock, trying not to think about the hit her security deposit was going to take for the damage. She was halfway into the tiny living room when she realized Spike wasn’t behind her.
It hurt to look at him. When he gazed at her with such frank admiration, she forgot about the fact that he was a vampire, that he killed so thoughtlessly, that he didn’t care about anyone or anything but his own personal gratification. It’s what had made it so simple to travel with him for as long as she had. In so many ways, Spike was more human than a lot of the people she saw walking around her. He laughed, he got angry, he noticed the world around him where others chose to block it out.
He was also the only person who’d never made any demands of her. Of everyone who’d come in and out of her life since being Chosen, Spike was the only one who’d been satisfied with her as she really was.
“Why are you here?” Buffy blurted.
He cocked his head. “Thought we were fetching your things.”
“No. Here. Las Vegas.” She took a step closer. “Be honest with me, Spike. Did you know I lived here now?”
“No. Dropped a mate off six weeks ago and decided to stick around.” He leaned against the jamb, and when he spoke again, his voice was deeper, as close to a caress he could get without actually touching her. “Doesn’t mean I didn’t want to find you, though. I missed you, luv. Missed holding you. Watching you. Touching you.” A single hand came up to stroke the invisible barrier that separated them, as if he was tracing some unknown design on a frosted window. Buffy couldn’t stop the shiver that ran through her body. “Found out the world’s not nearly so interestin’ a place if you’re not around.”
She held firm in spite of his silver tongue. “Funny, but I seem to remember you saying almost the exact same thing when you showed up in LA to kill me.”
“And you think that makes it any less true?”
“I think it means you need a new line.”
Spike shook his head. “You didn’t invite me up here to play word games, pet. Now let me in.”
“We’re not together, Spike.” Buffy forced the words, though they came out as a husky whisper. “This doesn’t change anything.”
“I know. Let me in.”
She uttered the invitation without pause, standing still while he sauntered across the threshold and kicked the door shut behind him. She didn’t move when he came to a stop in front of her, when he reached up to push his coat from her shoulders and let it pool in an ebony slump on the floor. She was barely breathing when he ran his index finger along the line of the towel across the top of her breasts.
“Had all these thoughts ‘bout what I’d do when I saw you,” he murmured. “Used to wank off to some of them, or brag to Rollerboy ‘bout how I’d make you bleed, how you’d be begging me to just finish it. But when I saw that git puttin’ on your ring and I realized he was practically sending Rayne an engraved invitation on your whereabouts…that didn’t matter so much any more. Just knew I had to get you safe again. There’ll be time enough later for you and me to suss out just what’s right with us.”
He didn’t look at her as he spoke. All Buffy could see was the top of his bleached head and his dark lashes feathered against his pale cheekbones.
“How long do you think I have?” she asked. “Before Ethan shows up.”
Spike shrugged. “Depends on whether he magics himself in or not, I s’pose.”
“He’ll fly.” When Spike finally lifted his eyes to look at her, she added, “He loves being waited on.”
Talk of Ethan seemed to crack whatever mood had settled around Spike, and his hand dropped back to his side. “Right then,” he said. “Let’s get---.”
She stopped him with a kiss. It took less than a second for his arms to come around her waist and tug her almost violently against him.
The towel ended up on the floor with the coat, freeing Buffy’s legs to wind around his hips. He felt slimmer than normal, the angular juts of his pelvis harder against her thighs, and somewhere in the back of her mind, she wondered if he hadn’t been eating well lately. Further consideration about his health was lost, however, when he carried her into the next room, hands clawing at her bare skin, teeth savaging her lips and neck. No fangs, though. That surprised her.
Her twin bed jolted against the wall when he dropped her to it, making the few pictures she’d hung bang in an echoing chorus. She didn’t have time to chastise him for the noise, too busy with her own whimpers and moans to care, and when she finally managed to get his jeans pushed down around his ankles, Buffy grabbed his dripping cock in an iron squeeze and pulled him toward her.
“Inside. Now,” she ordered.
His grin was one of wicked glee, and as he obliged her command, Spike dropped his mouth to her ear. “Miss me, pet?”
“Never,” she hissed, and curled her legs around his body to slam his hips into hers.
She’d always loved the contrast. Spike fucked without holding back, grinding bone into bone, scraping her clit with the coarse hair at the base of his cock on each thrust. He used teeth and fingers and tongue and muscle to drive deeper, harder, marking her in bruises and bites that left no doubt about his entanglement. But for every brand, there was a kiss. And for every burn, there was a balm, murmured words imprinted onto her skin and into her mind before he could even realize what he was saying. She’d often tried to block them out, convinced both that she didn’t want to hear and that he didn’t actually mean them, but every once in a while some would leak through her defenses. Butter smooth to soothe the scorch. Liquid devotion unmasking casual indifference.
It was another reason why she’d left. In the aftermath of Ethan, she wanted simple, not more complications.
Buffy came with his tongue in her mouth, his hands gripping her hips, his weight bearing on hers. She came again when he twisted her onto his lap, the new position scraping across her clit to send additional shudders unexpectedly throughout her body. And she came a third time after he roared and shot deep inside her, when he reached around her hips to slide two fingers into her ass.
She quivered in his lap, leaning a sweaty brow on his hard shoulder, feeling his cock twitch against her inner walls. “This was not how I saw my night going,” she murmured.
She was left feeling empty when his fingers disappeared from her ass, his strong hands massaging the knotted muscles at the base of her spine. “Can’t say I’m complaining,” Spike said. The hesitation in his body was palpable, and Buffy pulled away to stare into his clouded eyes. “Pet…” he started, only to be stopped by a sharp shake of her head.
“Don’t. Please. Not now. I can’t…” She buried her face in his neck, unwilling—unable—to look at him. “Can I stay at your place for a little while?” she asked, keeping her voice as neutral as possible. “Until I get all my shit together so I can leave. I mean, you do have a place, right?”
“Yeah. Whatever you want, luv. And I know a bloke who can arrange some mojo on my flat to make it harder for Ethan to find. ‘Til you leave, I mean.”
Impulsively, she pressed a kiss to his neck, felt his arms tighten around her. “Thanks,” Buffy whispered.
And meant it.
To be continued in Chapter 7: The Devil Was Wiser…