DISCLAIMER: The characters are Joss’, of course.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Maria has learned that Joyce is looking for Buffy, Joyce is stuck at the hotel with Doyle as a babysitter while she tries to process the information about Buffy and Spike, and our two favorite blonds seem to have cleared the air between them regarding their fight…


Chapter 27: The Stars Are Brightly Shining

As Buffy laced a path through the trees, the air was slick against her skin, hints of more snow laden in its breath, blending with her sweat to leave her damp and exhilarated, enervated and vitalized, all at the same time. The ground pulled at her feet, its white drifts disingenuous of their peril, but she refused to yield to its attempts to slow her down. Spike was behind her. To slow too soon would defeat the purpose of the game.

He hadn’t actually said the words, though he’d said everything in the neighborhood around them. Hell, he’d offered insight from the next town over, so even if Spike hadn’t come out and blatantly told Buffy that his desire to continue their relationship was based on feelings that ran a little deeper than lust, that was all right. It wasn’t as if Buffy got the gold in being upfront girl; the fact that she’d managed to squeak out what little confessions she already had still surprised her.

More than anything else---and this simple admission was the shocker to top them all---she was glad for the air clearing. Relieved. Happy.

Spike wasn’t the vampire she’d thought him to be when she arrived. He’d spent the past few days showing her sides of him she hadn’t seen before. And the more she saw of him…

…the more she saw of herself.

With Spike, there wasn’t the need to pretend. He took her strength and turned it into an asset. Buffy hadn’t realized how much she wanted that until he’d offered it to her, with no other expectations except to be treated as an equal. Which was hard in oodles of ways considering the vampire business, but something she was slowly growing beyond, breath by breath.

She had to.

He was forcing her to see that he was more than just fists and fangs and evil deed do-er every time he turned an understanding gaze toward Holly, or apologized in gestures not meant to be acknowledged. It was…freeing, in a way.

She was so ready to be free.

So, she ran, a smile playing on her lips as she skirted his attempts to catch her. She circled the cabin in roundabout patterns, never letting it go from her sight, ears alert for any sound of distress coming from the small house. She’d blocked the door slightly before climbing to the roof, but Buffy wasn’t convinced that Holly couldn’t still find some way to get out if the nocturnal desire overtook her. Then, there was the matter that she could wake up and freak out about being alone again. Whatever games Buffy and Spike played outside would have to be short.

Ducking behind a broad tree, the Slayer pressed herself into the bark, turning her head to listen for her pursuer. Earlier, she’d heard him thundering through the underbrush, just as loudly as she, but now, the forest echoed in silence, the only sounds she could hear the harsh rasp of her own breath. Deliberately, she focused on one of Giles’ relaxation techniques to cloak the evidence of her whereabouts, other senses sharp for anything amiss. Spike may have the upper hand when it came to being able to see in the dark woods at night, but Buffy wasn’t about to let that get the best of her.

A full minute passed while she concentrated. Her immobility was joining forces with the cold to leaden her limbs, but she was determined not to move until she knew where Spike was. Even if it took all night.

And then…

A faint crack of a stick breaking in the not-so-far distance.

It was gone almost as quickly as she caught it, and Buffy imagined an annoyed Spike freezing in his paces as he realized he’d divulged his location. Then, the soft brush of snow as something soft feathered against it whispered in her ear, and she knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was approaching her. Trying to be stealthy. Trying to surprise her.

Two could play that game.

Quickly, she shimmied up the tree, swinging herself onto a thick branch that was high enough to be over Spike’s head but not so high that she had an unwieldy way back down. Crouching into the deep bend at its juncture with the trunk, Buffy held her breath as she watched the direction she’d heard the telltale signs of his presence.

He didn’t disappoint.

Within seconds of her settling, she saw the black leather waft around the perimeter of a dead stump, an ebony shadow that flickered and danced before revealing the white burst of his head when it appeared in her view. Buffy stifled a giggle. In this veil of blackness, Spike’s hair really did glow in the dark. Teasing material, for sure.

His footsteps slowed further as he neared the tree, but his head never once tilted to look overhead. He wasn’t even in game face, which would’ve given him an advantage in the dark, she knew. It was as if---.

She shrieked when Spike’s hand shot up and grabbed her ankle, and she lashed out instinctively, breaking his hold and sending him stumbling back. When he looked up to see her, though, a broad grin creased his features, but in spite of the dim light that filtered through the branches, Buffy could still see the amusement dancing in the blue.

“Holdin’ your breath doesn’t stop your heart beating,” he commented casually.

Damn it. She forgot about super-sensitive vampire hearing as well as the sight thing. Next time they played this game, she was going to make Spike wear earmuffs.

“So now what?” she challenged.

“Now, you get your ass down here so that I can get you all tucked in back where it’s just a mite toastier than it is out here,” he replied.

“Aw, is somebody cold?”

“Believe we’ve already had this discussion, pet. Just not interested in listening to you natter on about a few sniffles when you wake up in the morning.”

He didn’t mean it, but she jumped down anyway, sliding between his arms when he lifted them to help guide her path to the ground. When they settled around her back, pulling her into the insulation of his embrace, Buffy allowed herself the luxury of caressing the hard line of his chest beneath his shirt. “Do you really want to go back in?” she asked. “Unless…” Her head turned in the direction of the cabin. “Did you hear something I didn’t?”

“No, but…” Reaching between them, Spike closed his fingers around her hands, containing what little heat she had in them. He felt almost warm compared to the frigidity of the air, and she jumped slightly at the sudden difference.

“You’ve been out and about all day,” he continued. His head bent, his mouth hovering above her ear. “Rather be in and about with you, is all.”

A cascade of shivers undulated down Buffy’s spine, and she closed her eyes against the image of pale limbs tangling with hers. “If we go in, we have to be quiet,” she said, and almost frowned when he pulled away to gaze down at her. “Is that what you want?”

“Want you.” His clarification was accompanied with the tightening of his grip around her, his erection grinding against her stomach as his mouth returned to her ear. His breath when he spoke again tickled but the sensations were lost in the flood of tremors that were threatening her legs.

“Could take you here,” Spike murmured. Slowly, he backed her against the tree she’d just vacated, until the harsh bark scraped across her shoulders. “That what you want?” The arm around her slid to the front, pushing its way beneath her coat so that his fingertips grazed along her waistband. “There an exhibitionist in there just dyin’ to get out, luv?”

Every touch labored her breathing even more. “Being an exhibitionist requires an audience,” Buffy managed to get out, though her voice was barely more than a throaty whisper.

“Which takes us back to option A.” Now, his mouth was joining the music of his hand, trailing along her jaw, his tongue tasting the tang of her skin. “Warm fire...the house all decked out, with the little one able to walk in on us at any second…could even let you finish what you set out to do last night.” Teeth nipped at her neck, a single finger dipping down the front of her pants. “After all, ‘tis the season for givin’, right? Then…it’ll be my turn.”

The promise brought with it a torrent of memories from the night before, how his mouth had felt between her legs, the incredible curling thing that his tongue did around her clit. Buffy squirmed against Spike’s hold, desperate for something more than the hint of hardness she was getting through all the layers of clothes and coats, and heard his chuckle like a luscious pledge to her flesh.

“Looks like I’m not the only one with an oral fixation, doesn’t it, Slayer? Which makes you wetter?” His hands stayed their motions, delaying during his speculation. “The thought of my hard cock sliding in and out of your hot, little mouth?” A pause while he listened to her body’s rhythms. “Or is it imagining coming from feeling my tongue drowning in your juices?”

Her involuntary gasp elicited the return of his touch, and this time, she felt the sharp sting of the air as her pants came undone beneath his command, the wintry air mixing with the swelter of her pussy as Spike’s hand dove in to test the results of his queries.

“What a greedy little wench you are,” he murmured against her throat.

Buffy’s inner muscles clenched at the intrusion of two of his fingers, and she could only pant in growing ardor when he drew them back out and promptly sucked them into his mouth. For a moment, his lashes fluttered shut as he seemed to savor what he tasted there, but when they opened again, the blue was almost entirely gone, pupils swallowing the irises to gaze at her with naked hunger.

“Guess it’s a good thing---,” Spike started to say, but the slam of Buffy’s mouth to his extinguished his need to finish the thought, their tongues instinctively demanding the other’s response as lips parted, appetites whetted beyond casual stroking.

Clinging to his shoulders, Buffy lifted her legs to wrap them around his slim hips, grinding against his erection through the denim as the world melted around her. Every cell of her skin tingled, though if that was from the cold or from Spike, she had no idea. Probably both. Didn’t matter. But when his arms clutched her small frame to his, and he turned back in the direction of the cabin, Buffy broke free from the kiss to shake her head.

“No,” she said breathily. “I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to have to worry about the noise factor.”

His tongue ran along the edge of his teeth, his gaze fixated on her mouth. “Could always put a gag on you,” Spike said. “Gives a whole new meaning to silent night, holy night, don’t you think?”

Her mouth crooked into a wicked smile. “Maybe next time,” she taunted. “For now…” Sliding down his body, Buffy quickly did her pants back up before grabbing his hand and pulling him off into the trees. She squinted against the darkness for the markers she hoped she wouldn’t miss, all the while her heart pounding in her throat.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“That lake Holly and I found today.”

“You’re not worried about the little one?”

She hesitated in her step, glancing back at him and the direction of the cabin. “You think we should be?”

“It’s Christmas Eve, and she’s just a wee little nipper who still believes in St. Nick. Would you be able sleep the night through?”

She’d forgotten about the Santa Claus issue. The reminder of real life put a stopper on her rising desire for Spike, and she stopped to contemplate what she was going to do. “Why are you being so grown-up about this?” Buffy asked him. “I thought you hated having Holly around.”

There was an odd discomfort to the way Spike shrugged, like he was fighting for a nonchalance that he really didn’t feel. “Not too fussed one way or another,” he said. “Just don’t fancy havin’ to take the blame for it if something was to happen to her.”

“Why would I blame you?”

He cocked a single eyebrow. “’Cause that’s what you do, pet. I’m your favorite scapegoat, remember? You break a nail, and somehow it turns out to be the Big Bad’s fault.”

“I don’t---.” She stopped when his gaze remained unwavering. Who was she kidding? Spike was right. Of course, the difference was, half the time, it was his fault. It was convenient having a resident evil around to shoulder responsibility for all the crappy things that happened in her life.

But if they were going to do this, if Buffy was going to allow Spike to have a place in her life, she knew that would have to stop. No way would he stick around if she continued to treat him like she had before. Not that he really had anyplace to go to, but he’d already proved to her that he still had a piece of his dignity that she couldn’t touch. And shouldn’t she want to treat him better? Hadn’t everything he’d done so far earned him that right?

It had to start somewhere.

It had to start with her.

“What do you want to do?” Buffy asked. His fingers twitched within her grip, mirroring the surprise that drew his brows back together. “This one’s your call, Spike. Whatever you want. I…I trust you.”

The way his face lit up at those three simple words made her wish she’d said them earlier. He looked…younger. More vulnerable, which was wicked weird because it wasn’t an adjective she would’ve ever applied to a vampire before. But most importantly…

He looked happy.

It didn’t take him any time at all to make the decision.

“Go on back to the cabin and get yourself warmed up,” Spike instructed. When she didn’t react right away, he gently tugged to get her feet moving, swatting Buffy’s bottom as she passed by as an extra push along. “Don’t be fussed, luv. You’re still gettin’ your greedy little way in bein’ outside. Just want you all toasty when it happens and I’ve got a few things to set up first.”

Pausing to look back, Buffy noted the gleam in his eyes, the pleased smile that curled his lips. “What is it with you and surprises?” she mused out loud.

He didn’t reply, but when she’d turned to begin the trek back to the cabin, his last direction floated up to her ears.

“And change into something a bit more…accessible.”


Lying before the fire was making her drowsy, so when the door finally opened to reveal a pale Spike, Buffy was almost asleep from the warmth. She had done as he requested, spending far too long staring at her wardrobe and the short skirts that proliferated there before finally opting for a long denim one. When Holly hadn’t even rolled over in the space of time it took Buffy to change, she’d realized that maybe her worrying was for naught. It had been a long, exhausting day for all of them. Maybe it was better to just forego the outside idea and curl up in front of the fireplace for the rest of the night.

“Miss me?” Spike asked as he strolled to the couch.

Buffy rolled onto her side to face him, her cheek still resting on the pillow. “Were you building another log cabin out there?” she teased. “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming back.”

“Never been able to stay away from you,” he murmured. Crouching down, his fingers, made icy by his continued exposure outside, pushed back her hair, traced the outline of her lips. “You still up for this, pet?”

She giggled. “Shouldn’t that be my line for you?”

“When it comes to you, I’m always up.”

Curiosity as much as desire for him propelled Buffy’s legs over, her hands engulfed in Spike’s when he tugged her to her feet. “This has got to be the weirdest Christmas I’ve ever had,” she said as she followed him to the front door.

“I’m assuming you’re meaning that in a good way, not in a backwards, wishing you had kept your mouth closed, way,” Spike said. He grabbed her coat without breaking stride, pushing the door open with his foot and then kicking it shut again behind them as if letting her go for even a second would be too much. “’Cause otherwise, I’m goin’ to have to give that tongue of yours a lesson in how not to piss off the vampire you’re currently shacked up with.”

She ignored his gibe. “So, what’s the big surprise?” Buffy asked. Her eyes scanned the void of the forest in front of them, but saw nothing different than when she’d last walked through. “You get me all dressed up with nowhere to go? Shame on you, Spike.”

“This way, Slayer,” he growled. He yanked her down the stairs, but his manner was deceptively gentle, the gruffness of his movements smoothed by the care he took to make sure she didn’t stumble. Without looking back at her, Spike began marching around the side of the building, his step sure, his head high.

She was more than familiar with the landscape surrounding the cabin. During their earlier forays, she and Holly had gone over and around these gliding drifts and thicks of trees until Buffy was confident she could find her way around in the dark. Still, knowing what to expect didn’t prepare her for the tableau Spike had created in her absence.

There were no trees here. Whoever had built the cabin had left its rear clear of the forest, a rectangular expanse that probably served as a back yard for barbecuing during less intemperate times. The woodpile that served as their primary fuel source was stacked against the back of the building, but the loose logs and tools they used in splitting were cleaned away. Even the small snowman that Buffy and Holly had built earlier had been relocated away from the center of the space, standing guard along the perimeter as if to ward away any further trespassers.

The snow was still present, but Spike had leveled it off, creating a low, packed wall with the extra that blocked against the slight wind. A blanket that looked far too firm was laid out along the ground before it, and icicles had been broken off from the eaves to adorn the barricade like a headboard.

“Got it when you were changing,” Spike said when he saw the question in her eyes. He led her over to the makeshift bed, and then wrapped his arms around her from behind to stop her from immediately settling down.

“Only have two rules,” he said softly into her ear. “Keep your eyes open and focused on the sky.”


“Rule number two. No questions.”

She caught the smirk on his face before lying down on the blanket. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that cold beneath her back; Buffy realized that Spike must’ve cleared the worst of the snow before laying it out. Above, the inky sky stretched as far as she could see, not a cloud marring the pinpricks of stars that gleamed through its curtain. If she concentrated her attention on the skeletal branches that edged her vision, Buffy imagined she could feel the world twirling away beneath her and quickly shut her eyes against the sudden vertigo that had her head and stomach swimming.

Spike’s prod at her shoulder prompted them open again.

“Is it the Slayer part of you that makes it impossible to follow my direction, or is it the female part?” he asked. “Not that there’s much I can do about either, but it’d be nice to know which is the bane of my annoyance.”

“I put a skirt on, didn’t I?”

He left it at that, crawling down to position himself between her feet. Nudging her legs apart, he picked up each of Buffy’s feet and removed her boots, setting them on the edge of the blanket so that they’d be within easy reach in case the need arose. Without tilting her head, Buffy couldn’t tell what he was doing, and had to fight not to break his first rule again in such a short period of time.

This was about trusting Spike.

Even having softer feelings for him, trusting him was something that was easier said than done.

She jumped when he took her left foot in his hand, strong fingers massaging the arch, working the muscles along her sole so that the workout she’d gained that day could ease in torpid relief. The groan that emanated from her throat was unstoppable, and it took every fiber of Buffy’s control not to close her eyes and wallow in the pleasure.

“Never said you couldn’t talk, pet.” His voice drifted up in a chocolaty rumble that made the languor overcoming her body even more difficult to resist. “In fact, might make it easier to keep yourself focused on those stars.”

His hands were on her ankle now, rotating her foot within the socket to loosen it up. The sudden understanding that it was actually a very vulnerable position for Spike, that he had placed himself in the path of her kicks should she choose to use them, made Buffy stiffen, but his steady rhythm gradually alleviated the alarm within her.

“I don’t really do this all that often,” she said in a desperate attempt to sound normal. “Look at the stars, I mean.”

“I know.”

Her head jerked up automatically, but at his upheld warning finger, it quickly fell back down again. “You know?” she asked. “How do you know?”

Spike sighed. “Rules are lost on you, aren’t they?”

“Pretty much.”

“How ‘bout we amend that second rule to just be no questions about what I’m doin’ here, then? Think you can stick to that one?”

“Does that mean you’re going to answer me?” She deliberately phrased her response in the form of a query to elicit the exasperated sigh from Spike, and smiled when it came as she’d hoped.

“I watch you, Buffy. That’s how I know. A blind man could see that you’re not enjoying yourself with the slaying as much as you used to.”

Her smile vanished. “When did this switch from stars to slaying?”

“All part and parcel of the same thing.”

“Newsflash, Spike. I go star-gazing while I’m on patrol, and I die.” His massage had moved up her leg, rubbing and kneading at her calf. He was taking extra care to keep her legs covered, though, to shield her from the worst of the cold, so it was impossible for her words to be anything more than a simple observation.

“I’m not tellin’ you to get yourself distracted.”

What is that catch in his voice? But any analysis of Spike’s thoughts was beyond Buffy’s faculty at the moment, each passing second sending her spiraling deeper and deeper into the torpor his hands were creating.

“But for someone who spends so much time out and about in the night,” he was continuing, “I just think you don’t actually see it any more.”

“I see it.”

“Do you?” Carefully, Spike put down her foot to shift his attention to the opposite leg. “Do you really?”

She didn’t know what to say to that. It wasn’t an accusation he was making; his gentle tone lacked any of the mocking that usually colored Spike’s words. But she had never known he’d noticed more than what affected his own world.

That had been before.

Before the accident.

Before the cabin.

Before this amazing, bone-melting, shattering massage.

His hands were sliding up her legs now, beneath her skirt, onto her thighs. She had been bold and removed her underwear when she’d changed, and now, the whiff of his promise made her pussy tingle in anticipation. Unconsciously, Buffy spread her legs a little further apart, feeling the cold lick along her outer lips. It felt deliciously dangerous.

“One of these days, I’m going to have learn the constellations for real,” she said. Her voice was breathy, her lungs already quickening as her body readied for Spike’s attentions. “Calling them the circly-star thing and the Big Star Bonanza just doesn’t cut it any more, I think.”

“If you’re serious, I can always teach you,” Spike said.

“Is this residual info from Drusilla’s talking stars?” Buffy teased. She groaned when the tip of one of his fingers grazed the junction of her thigh and hip. He was tormenting her on purpose, she decided. That had to be the only reason he wasn’t finishing the job of seducing her.

“Those stars got us outta more than one mess,” he replied. He paused. “’Course, they also got us into our fair share, too, so I s’pose it’s a double-edged sword.”

The lethargy his massage was creating within her muscles was making Buffy’s vision go soft, too, she decided. The stars seemed brighter as she gazed up at them, blurring around the edges to bleed together into a sparkling collage of silver, and the dizziness she’d felt when she’d first watched them move against the tree branches was long gone. Even blinking seemed to take an eternity, and the thought of breaking Spike’s first rule now seemed ridiculous when watching was so much easier.

“I think that applies to just about everything in life,” she said dreamily.

She felt his hands hesitate for a fraction of a second. “Was that the Slayer who just waxed philosophical?” Spike asked.

“I do have a brain,” she said. “College girl here, remember?”

He chuckled. “My little coed.”

It was the combination of the possession in his voice and the sudden intrusion of his fingers against her labia that made Buffy gasp out loud. All attempts at normal conversation scattered as Spike began stroking her pussy with the same tender attention he’d given her legs, directly avoiding her clit to slide up one side and down the other, the faintest of tugs on her coarse curls to send tiny electric shocks straight into her pelvis.

“Know you’re wondering why all the set-up,” he murmured. His weight was pressed against her legs as he stretched out between them, his hands dancing and floating with their task. “I just…I wanted you to just enjoy it.”


“Know it’s not been much of a Christmas for you,” he interrupted. “And I know you’re worried about your mum bein’ alone and not knowing where your Watcher is.” Spike’s finger dipped into her wetness, using her fluids to make his gliding along her inner and outer lips more silken, straying now to the crack of her ass just often enough to make her squirm. “Since we both know Father Christmas isn’t parking his reindeer anywhere ‘round here tonight, I figured…well, a few minutes where you don’t have space in your pretty little head to worry is about all I can give you in the way of gifts---.”

His mouth clamped shut when she bolted up onto her elbows, and Buffy saw the dark glint in his eyes before he ducked his head in embarrassment. “Stop,” she ordered, with more force than she felt, because asking him to halt what glory his fingers was creating seemed sacrilege. “Come here.”

When he didn’t obey as quickly as she wanted, Buffy bent to grab the lapels of him coat and hauled him upward, her skirt flaring to expose her legs to the cold before Spike covered them in denim and leather. “You’re impossible, you know that?” she said when his face was level with hers.

His eyes were black, shadowed by the sky above, pupils dilated from the desire she knew he felt. “Could say the same about you,” Spike replied. Pressing his palms to the blanket, he pushed away to gain some perspective, but didn’t leave the call of her flesh. “You have the same problem with presents that you do with rules?”

“I didn’t ask you for anything.”

“Because then this would be a favor, not a gift. And before you get your knickers in a twist, no, I don’t think I’m doin’ you a favor by servicing you.”

Her lips twitched. “Servicing me? Way to go with the romance, Spike.”

“You know what I meant.”

“Yeah, I do.” Buffy’s smile faded. “And…thank you.”

He was momentarily stunned by the show of gratitude, but he quickly covered it up with a knowing smirk. “You goin’ to let me get back to what I was doin’, then?” Spike asked.

“No.” Before he could argue, Buffy knocked his arms sideways, forcing him to fall back against her. Her lips found his in a hungry lock, and she clutched at his coat to keep him close. When the kiss finally broke, she met Spike’s confused gaze with an assurance that astonished her.

“I’m not drunk anymore, you know that, right?” she said.

“Never said you were.”

“So, what I said earlier…morning’s not going to come rolling around and you’re not going to throw it all back in my face with some stupid excuse that we were both under the influence, right?”

Understanding began to gleam in his eyes. “No, Buffy,” Spike said, his voice surprisingly sincere. “I know bloody well what’s goin’ on here.”

“Then…can I ask you one thing?” She felt foolish giving credence to her doubts, but until she heard him actually say it out loud, Buffy knew that niggle would eat away at her resolve and something between them would break as a result.

“Don’t need to.” His mouth descended to take hers in another kiss, his tongue deceptively warm compared to the frigid air around them. “None of this would’ve happened if you didn’t matter to me, luv,” he whispered when he pulled back. “Selfish vampire, remember? But you…you drive me bug-shagging crazy with your bossiness, and that little flip thing you do with your hair every time you think you’re right, and I shouldn’t be feeling this way ‘cause natural order it’s not. But…when you’re not there, I’m lookin’ for you, and all I want is to…” Shaking his head, he dropped his head so that their brows just barely brushed. “Yeah, so…you matter to me, Buffy. More than I thought could be possible. And right now, I’m thinkin’…I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


Though Spike’s coat hid most of the display from sight, Jenny averted her eyes anyway, turning away from the cabin and toward her ghostly partner. “Well, I suppose the upside is that at least he doesn’t have a soul to lose,” she commented. She held up a warning finger. “But you’re not getting a ‘you were right,’ so don’t even try.”

The other woman smiled. “I’m just glad Mrs. Summers isn’t here to see this,” she replied. “Can you imagine the look on her face if she’d stumbled across them like this?”

“Probably close to the one she had when she saw me in her hotel room.”

“I hope she’s all right.”

“She will be. Joyce is tough.”

The other woman was thoughtful. “No offense, but I always wondered why she and Mr. Giles never hooked up. They seemed to have so much in common.”

“Yeah, they did.” Jenny’s lips curved into a sly smile. “Why do you think I put the bug in Rupert’s ear during that band candy debacle?”

She was rewarded with wide eyes. “You didn’t!”

Jenny shrugged. “Rupert needed to have a little fun in his life. I just wish they both hadn’t gone all shy after the spell wore off.”

“You’re bad.”

“I try.” With a sigh, she cast a final glance toward Buffy and Spike, her moans and his endearments undeniable in the calm night. “I think things are going to be good here,” she said. “What say you to taking the rest of Christmas Eve off for a change? It’ll be our gift to ourselves.”

“Sounds good to me.” Pause. “This is because you can’t watch Buffy and Spike, isn’t it?”


“Thought so. Let’s go.”


To be continued in Chapter 28: A Visit from St. Nicholas