DISCLAIMER: Everything but the plot is Joss'. Too bad. Oh, and the song lyrics are from “Problems” by the Sex Pistols.
PREVIOUSLY ON BUFFY: Buffy and Spike have lived through their first night at this “club” they work at, The Rising Sun, and Willow is beginning to suspect that something has happened to the Slayer.
Her ear lobes were vibrating. As Buffy battled between dreams and waking, the first thing she became aware of was how the pounding in her head was cascading into her ears, setting them into motion. At least, that’s what it felt like. Another veil of sleep lifted, and the pulsations were joined by a matching set behind her eyes, beating on them from the inside out, a tom tom in the orchestra of her hangover. Because that’s what it was, and the Slayer wasn’t so far gone that she didn’t know exactly what was going on, why she felt like this. CaveBuffy hadn’t been that long ago.
She tried to swallow and immediately regretted it. Somewhere, she had lost the lining of her throat and been left with this sandpaper chute, leading down into the tumult that was her stomach. Her tongue darted out to lick her lips, and she could’ve sworn that it moved in slow motion, too thick for her to control, too dry to do any good. What the hell had she been thinking last night? Hadn’t she learned anything by going one hundred million years b.c. last fall?
As her eyelids fluttered open, the memories of the previous evening came flooding back, and she blinked in open embarrassment as she remembered her behaviour, the obvious flirting, the clinginess, the…She froze. Oh my god, she thought. I hit on Spike.
She’d certainly not planned it. All she’d wanted was to get through the night as quickly as possible, and the alcohol had definitely helped with that goal. She wasn’t blind, though; she’d seen how he’d been watching her at the bar, staring at her every time she went out for a dance, his own personal thundercloud hanging over his head every time she let some guy grab her ass. After awhile, it had turned into a little game; what else could she do to piss him off, push him just that little bit further? After all, it wasn’t as if the chipped vampire could actually hurt her; thank god for those government guys for that, at least.
When he’d pulled her off her stool during that last dance, Buffy’d noticed for the first time since coming out into the club just how much better Spike looked than the other men in the room, and felt her body respond to it in spite of her better intentions. Feeling his muscled chest pressed against her, the barriers of his jacket and her dress only adding to the sensuality, had been even more intoxicating than the shots, and her excitement had only grown until her actions in the car had become inevitable. Of course, he’d gone and ruined the whole thing with the Parker snipe, but that was probably of the good; the last thing Buffy needed right now was encouraging Spike to think that she might be softening toward him, let alone attracted to him.
Her heart skipped a beat as she realized what she’d just thought. I’m not, she argued with herself. I can’t be. Not to Spike. He’s annoying, and potentially dangerous, and hates me and everyone I care about. How could I possibly be attracted to that?
But isn’t that what you told Willow? the little voice inside her head whispered. That the fire in relationships came from the danger? And you have been having those dreams about him ever since her little spell…remember? Buffy grimaced. Stupid sneaky little voice, she grumped. Always bringing up everything I just want to forget.
Because she had been having dreams, not very many, maybe two…OK, three. But they’d been pretty innocuous, mostly just lots of kissing and handholding, mainly what had happened during that entire night at Giles’ apartment. Certainly not anything to get all steamed up about. Nope, you’re right, the little voice agreed. That’s what the real Spike is for.
For the first time since waking, Buffy became aware of the sound of running water coming from behind one of the closed doors on the opposite wall. Propping herself up on her elbows, she had to stifle the giggle as the vampire’s voice filtered into the room, singing very loud and very off-key.
“…Eat your heart out on a plastic tray, you don't do what you want then you'll fade away, you won't find me working nine to five. It's too much fun a being alive…”
Shaking her head, the Slayer laid back, pulling the pillow up around her ears to shut him out. Spike had the worst taste in music…
She must’ve fallen back to sleep, because the next thing she knew, an icy hand was shaking her shoulder, spraying little tiny droplets of water across her cheek. “C’mon, Slayer,” she heard Spike say, his voice sounding more than a little annoyed. “Haven’t got all day to lay about in bed.”
Buffy opened her eyes, scowling, to see the blond vampire hovering over her, arms folded across his bare chest, his hair a tumble of still-damp curls. “Go away,” she said, and pulled the blanket over her head, blocking out the sight of him, and his muscles…
The comforter went flying through the air as he ripped it away from her, tossing it onto the floor. “Hibernatin’s not goin’ to make the hangover go away, pet,” he said. “Get up and get movin’. You’ll feel better. Trust me on this one.”
“I’m not hung over,” the young woman lied. “I’m tired. Big difference.”
He just stood there, his blue eyes dark as he watched her, before finally shrugging and shaking his head. “Suit yourself,” he said, moving away to grab a shirt hanging on the back of a nearby chair. “Just thought you’d fancy gettin’ outta that dress, considerin’ what you did in it last night.”
Buffy bolted from the bed, the red velvet only slightly hindering her movement, and whirled around, looking down at herself from every angle. “What? What did I do?” Probably threw up and don’t even remember, she worried. And then I slept in it? Ewwwww…
Spike’s laughter filled the room. “Nothin’,” he said. “But that little twirly thing is hysterical. Do it again.”
Her hazel eyes were venomous as she glared at him. “Fine. You win. I’m up.” Her gaze strayed to her surroundings, absorbing the delicate colors of cream and lilac, the antique furniture scattered around the perimeter, the enormous windows that took up one entire wall. The curtains were drawn, and Buffy felt an overwhelming urge to walk over and throw them open, scare the pants off the obnoxious vampire. Maybe later, she thought, when I can actually feel my toes enough to walk straight. “So where are we?” she asked.
“Well, told the chauffeur to take us home, so I’m guessin’…this is our place.” His tongue tapped against his top teeth as he waited for her reaction, the amusement still glinting in his blue eyes.
“Obviously, I did the decorating,” Buffy commented. When she saw the slight frown on his face, she added, “The complete void of black is a dead giveaway.”
Spike shook his head and turned to point to each of the three doors in the room. “Closet. Bathroom. Rest of the flat.” The gleam returned to his gaze as his lips curled into a smirk. “Pretty posh digs, if you ask me. You must be very good at what you do, ‘cause even the best bouncer couldn’t afford this place. And we both know…” He left it hanging, but both of them knew what his implication was, and no way was she going to rise to the bait.
Ignoring the vampire’s gibe, the young woman did her best to stride toward the bathroom, concentrating on not letting the ache in her head cause her to topple over. “You better have left me some hot water,” she said. “Or you’ll be the best pile of dust this side of the Mississippi.”
A long hot soak in the tub did wonders for Buffy’s hangover, and she emerged from the bathroom with major wrinklage, but feeling much more like her normal self. There’d been one moment of panic when the Slayer had realized she couldn’t reach the zipper on her dress to disrobe, and the thought that she was going to have to call in Spike to undo it for her had sent her into a desperation of intense creative thinking. In the end, a full-length mirror, a hair pin---at least, she thought it was a hair pin---and really flexible limbs had done the trick for her, allowing her to shed the gown and slide into the bubbly water without the vampire’s aid.
As she stood in the entrance of her wardrobe, though, Buffy had to admit he’d been right about one thing; escort or not, she was doing extremely well at her job. The “closet” wasn’t like anything she’d ever seen before; in fact, it could hardly be classified as a closet at all. Wandering into the wide-open space, the young woman drank in the clothes that lined two of the twelve-foot walls in double rails, a plethora of color dazzling to the eyes, every permutation of attire imaginable hanging there just waiting to be worn. Men’s clothes---Spike’s, most likely---adorned a third wall, while the remaining was dedicated to a dressing table and accessories. Sliding open some of the drawers, the Slayer was shocked into silence by the jewelry she found there---gemstones of every hue, set into necklaces, earrings, bracelets, even a few tiaras. Whether they were real or not, she had no idea, but the thought of getting the chance to wear some of them was sending ripples of excitement throughout her system. Buffy was feeling like Charlie inside the chocolate factory.
Half an hour later, she stepped out of the bedroom, hair still damp, and found Spike sitting in the main room of the apartment, feet propped up on a large coffee table as he lounged on an overstuffed settee. Cigarette smoke hung in the air, and he slowly exhaled as he watched her glance around, taking in the comfortable décor. The knit dress she’d chosen clung to her hips, the shade of peach bringing out the color in her face, and he felt the familiar stirring in his groin. For the first time, he was glad of the baggy trousers that were so fashionable for this era; they concealed his growing erection without him having to move and bring further attention to it.
“Took you long enough,” he said, leaning forward to stub out his cigarette. “You try picking something out of that wardrobe,” she replied, coming in further and running a wary hand along the edge of the couch, enjoying the plush feel of its fabric under her fingers.
“I did,” Spike replied. “Took two minutes.”
“Oh, yeah.” A distracted Buffy began wandering around, just letting it all sink in, flitting from one piece of furniture to another without exploring any. “This place is amazing.”
“I think I already told you that.” He watched as she stopped in front of a closed door not too far from the bedroom. As she began to reach out for the doorknob, he said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“The English accent does not make you my Watcher,” Buffy replied, and pushed the door open, not seeing Spike shake his head and lean back, an amused smile on his face. Silly bint will learn one of these days, he thought. Can’t say I didn’t warn her.
It was another bedroom, just as large as the other, but so differently decorated that the young woman froze in the doorframe, her hazel eyes widening in shock as they swept over the furnishings. A huge bed dominated the center, dressed in black satin, with piles of red pillows thrown across the head. Hanging from the ceiling in the far corner was a swing---at least, she thought it was a swing as it appeared to be made up of just a few dark straps---while the wardrobe next to it was open to reveal an array of costumes, both male and female, that were clearly not meant for Halloween. On the opposite wall, a set of manacles hung in repose, eerily not out of place within the context of the room, with a rack of whips, chains, and other oddities she was glad she didn’t recognize hanging nearby.
Tremulous fingers pulled the door shut again, and Buffy just stood there, not even turning around, as the pounding in her head slid down to include her heart. “This…is obviously…your room,” she said as steadily as she could manage.
Spike laughed. “Takes two to tango, pet,” he said. “And speaking of tango…”
The young woman turned to see the blond vampire rise to his feet, cross to a large cupboard against the wall, and open it to expose an antiquated record player. She frowned as the quiet strains of some oldie filled the room, its jazzy undertones creating ripples down her spine. “What’re you doing?” she asked as he turned around to face her.
“Goin’ to teach you how to dance proper,” the vamp replied, cocking his eyebrow. “You didn’t know what in hell you were doin’ last night, did you?”
“I know how to dance,” Buffy protested.
“Maybe for Sunnydale circa nineteen ninety-nine, but for this place…” He shook his head. “You’re outta your depth, Slayer. And seein’ as how we’ve gotta fit in ‘til Rupert susses out how to get us back, you’re goin’ to need a few lessons. Unless you want to just keep goin’ with the whole barfly routine, ‘cause I gotta admit, that did work for you…”
“No!” She winced as her head protested against her vehemence. More quietly, she repeated, “No. You’re right. I can’t do that again. Drunk Buffy is not Happy Buffy.”
“Actually, I’d say Hungover Buffy isn’t Happy Buffy,” Spike argued.
“And you can really teach me what I need to know?” she questioned, the doubt evident in her voice.
The vampire sighed. “Been there, done that, remember? Dru was a nutter for dancin’.”
“Dru was a nutter period,” she muttered.
“I heard that, Slayer.” He sauntered forward, waiting in the middle of the room for her to join him. When after a minute she still hadn’t moved, Spike tilted his head and looked at her with annoyance. “This works better if you’re actually within, say, ten feet of me.” He watched as she hesitated, then with a roll of her eyes, walked up to stand in front of him. “We’re goin’ to start with somethin’ easy.”
It hadn’t been what she’d been expecting. After a few false starts, punctuated with the occasional, “Bloody hell!”, Buffy had finally grown comfortable being held so intimately by the blond vampire, his hands roaming over various parts of her body as they moved, his hips occasionally brushing against hers as they executed a twist or turn. For some reason, the contact never seemed inappropriate. Instead, the young woman began to discover that she actually quite enjoyed him as a partner, the feline grace he’d exuded when they’d fought coming through naturally in his dancing as well, making the entire learning experience incredibly pleasant.
They’d progressed quickly from the foxtrot to more of the swing moves that Buffy had seen being revived around Sunnydale over the past few years. Her own natural grace made learning the steps simple, while her Slayer training had conditioned her to catch on to things quickly. Within an hour, she was moving like a pro, her own feet matching his during the faster numbers, her hips swaying provocatively during the slower. At one point, the young woman had thought Spike was going to call it a day, pulling away from her at the end of a song and just standing by the player for what seemed an eternity, while her pulse raced, the sweat gleaming on her forehead. Instead, he’d merely switched records, returning to her side, sweeping her into his arms as the beat of the melody began thrumming through their bodies.
Buffy found herself gasping for breath as the current song ended, bending over at the waist as if she’d just finished running a marathon. “That’s enough,” she panted. “I think I’ve got it.”
Spike clicked his tongue in reproval. “You know better than that, Slayer,” he admonished. “You don’t finish a workout without a final stretch.” Without straightening, she lifted her head, watching him return to the stereo and the stack of records next to it. A tiny line appeared between her brow as he flicked through the albums, almost as if he was specifically looking for something, then pulled one from its sleeve and slid it under the needle. His eyes glittered as he came back to her, reaching down to grab her wrist, guiding her firmly into a vertical position. “Cooldown dance,” the vampire murmured as the ballad filled the air, pulling her tight against him.
Both of them were perspiring, their clothes clinging to them in moist anticipation, and Buffy could feel the beads of sweat trickle down between her breasts. Her heart was racing, but if it was from the exertion or Spike’s nearness, she had no idea. The only thing she did know was that the iron of his hand in the small of her back was making ripples of excitement tremor through her thighs, causing her to stumble slightly.
The blond vampire caught her against his hip, and this time, there was no mistaking his arousal as his hardness pressed into her pelvis. For a brief moment, he considered pulling away, then thought, what the hell, and instead lowered his lips to her neck.
Buffy’s first instinct was to jerk herself out of his arms---this was Spike, the bane of her Sunnydale existence, after all---but as his mouth slid to the hollow under her ear, sucking at it gently, those instincts disappeared, replaced instead with an aching want in the pit of her stomach. The moan escaped her throat before she could stop it, and her hand reached around his back to pull his head closer, her breathing quickening even as the music seemed to slow, an allegretto to its adagio…
The shrill ring of the telephone shattered the young woman’s trance, and she yanked herself out of the blond vampire’s embrace to go skittering across the room to answer it. His sapphire gaze was thunderous as he watched her pick it up, holding it like a lifeline, his own hands clenching and unclenching at his sides.
“Hello?” she breathed, completely avoiding looking over at Spike. “…No, no, you’re not interrupting anything…”
He didn’t even hear the rest of the conversation. Disgustedly, the vamp marched over to the record player, scratching the needle across the vinyl as he snatched it off the turntable, before tossing it carelessly aside atop the other albums. Thinking with your cock again, he chastised himself harshly. Slayer’s goin’ to stake you in your sleep, you keep pullin’ shit like that. Of course it was nothing to her; she knew he was a non-threat in her pretty little existence, an annoying gnat that kept buzzing around her light. One of these days, she was goin’ to stop saying she was goin’ to dust him and just do it, and it wouldn’t be anyone’s fault but his own.
He heard her return the receiver to the cradle, but didn’t look up or even glance at her, concentrating instead on picking out imaginary dirt from under his fingernails. “That was Lombardi,” she said, her voice still slightly unsteady. “He says the car will be around to pick us up in an hour.”
Spike nodded. “Right,” he said, taking a deep unnecessary breath. “You go take a shower first. You need more time than I do to get yourself ready.”
He heard her hesitate, and wondered why, but refused to give in to the impulse to raise his eyes. Within a minute, the soft click of the bedroom door told him that she was gone, and his head fell into his hands. What a fucking mess, he thought…
“You lost it?” Her strident voice filled the room and the tiny demon shrank back into his seat. “What do you mean, you lost it? That’s what your species does, right? You find stuff and bring it back to people who are looking for it. So you tell me, how can you have lost my painting?”
His horns quivered in fear as he kept his eyes down. “Well, maybe lost isn’t the right word,” he squeaked, his normally high pitch made even higher by fear. “More like…dropped…”
“Dropped is not better.” She bent down over him, putting her cold blue eyes within inches of his. “Tell me what happened.”
“It was that storm, and she came out of nowhere, and when I saw it was the Slayer---.”
Her hand shot out and grabbed one of his horns, pulling his head sideways against the arm of the chair, bending his furry body into an impossible contortion. “The Slayer? Are you telling me that the Slayer has my painting?” He cowered as she abruptly let him go, pacing violently around the room. “I spend I don’t know how much to get it back, and now I find out…” Her voice faded, and the tiny demon was surprised to see a grin slowly spread across her narrow face. “The Slayer…” she contemplated. “Wait a minute. This might actually work for me. Maybe the Slayer can take care of my problem without me having to get my hands dirty…” She flashed a bright smile to her messenger. “OK, you can live. For now…”
To be continued in Chapter Five: Night and Day…