Under other, less dire, circumstances, Ethan Rayne would’ve been exactly Lilah’s type. Tall. Lean. Morally ambiguous. The sexy accent didn’t hurt either. But she wasn’t doing this for any sort of personal satisfaction, unless she counted saving her own neck in that category. This was about one thing, and one thing only. She kept that in mind as she knelt at his side to tenderly cup his face, wearing her best practiced smile.
“Now, would I leave my Watcher in the hands of these nasty lawyers?” she said, her voice so sickeningly sweet that it turned her stomach. “You know you can always depend on me, Ethan.”
This close, she could see that the black had consumed his eyes, all white and color completely gone. His pupils were faint shadows deep within the ebony, and though she understood that it was a side effect of the hallucinogen his body had absorbed, it still made her stomach shudder. What was worse, he watched her unerringly, like a snake watching its prey. Not even knowing that Ethan was safely contained in his shackles convinced Lilah he wouldn’t find some way to break free and strike out at her.
“I was worried,” he said. “I couldn’t…” But the thought trailed into nothing, and a wariness replaced the wonder in his countenance. “What took you so long, Buffy? Where have you been?”
She had her answers prepared. “Javier tried stabbing us in the back,” Lilah said. “He had me jumped behind the club, but I got away. It took me this long to figure out where you were.”
“Of course,” Ethan breathed. “I heard them say, but…” He shook his head, so languorously that she could practically hear the pain in his muscles. “Never mind. You’re safe. That’s the important thing.”
Her heart hammered inside her chest. She hadn’t expected to be this nervous interrogating the Watcher, but she kept her demeanor calm as she pressed with her questions.
“They want the ring, Ethan,” she said. She continued with the soothing strokes along his face. “They said, if we give it back to them, they’ll let you go.”
He stiffened beneath her touch, finding the strength to pull away from her hand and stare at her with those empty pools. “Then they’ll be disappointed. You know we can’t return it.”
He moved a few more inches away. The chains rattled as he pulled at the manacles again, but he didn’t make a noise about his obvious discomfort. “Please don’t tell me you believe their lies,” he said. “This is what they’re paid to do, remember, or did the job description of lawyer escape your attention?”
Desperation started to crawl through Lilah’s veins. “I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s just a ring.”
When he suddenly sprang forward, she fell back onto her ass from the shock. She blinked, but he was still within inches of her face, eyes probing hers, his tongue snaking along his dry lips.
“How many times must I explain this?” he demanded. “The ring gives us back our future, Buffy. Our lives. Aren’t you tired of running?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “I am. We’re better than that. We deserve more. I, for one, am not interested in seeing those prats win.” The corner of his mouth lifted. “I like seeing us win. The game’s much more pleasant that way.”
“We can’t win all the time, Ethan.”
He chuckled. Lilah realized she could count his lashes if she wanted to; he was that close.
“We only lose when we play by their rules,” he said. “They try and control the game, and they think, because we’re playing, that they control us as well. But we both know that’s not true. Rules are for the weak. They’re there to manipulate those who lack the strength to create their own. The team that wins is the one that best understands that.” He paused, regarding her carefully. “Do you know why you and I make such a good team, my dear?”
She shook her head. It was better for him to keep speaking at this point.
“Because you and I are the same. Outcasts. Misunderstood because those simpletons fail to appreciate our power. We’re strong, and they can’t control us, so they respond in the only way they know how.” Somehow, some way, Ethan stretched against his bonds even more, his lips brushing against Lilah’s cheek as he leaned toward her ear. “They fear us. We are that which they can never have, so they have no choice but to try and destroy us. So, you see? We need the ring. Otherwise, the game will never end. Not until both of us are dead.”
The shivers started somewhere at the base of her spine. His tone was chillingly persuasive; even being aware this was just part of her act, Lilah had to summon every ounce of her discipline not to bow beneath his seduction. It was almost unnerving. If he could coax such a response from a near stranger, what effect would his words have had on the Slayer who’d been under his care for the past eight years?
“They won’t just let you go,” she said. It shocked her to hear how calm her voice sounded. “These lawyers mean business. We have to give them the ring.”
“So little faith…” Ethan murmured.
His mouth slid a hot trail back along her cheek, and Lilah fully expected him to slump back within his fetters. It shocked her, then, to feel the slight caress at the corner of her mouth, the almost delicate way his tongue came out and traced her lips. For a kiss, it was remarkably modest, and yet, knowing the true relationship he had with Buffy, something deeper took root in the sentiment he seemed to wish to express.
She barely had time to breathe before the endearments began, words that would’ve seduced a younger, more callow woman, words that still managed to make her hesitate, pause when it was dangerous to do so. Before she could realize what she was doing, Lilah was kissing him back, answering his unspoken call to bring her hands up onto his body.
Her sharp nails caught on an exposed nipple, drawing a hiss from Ethan. His back arched, his head falling back to expose the long line of his neck, and she looked up in time to see his eyes flutter shut in pleasure.
“It’s been too long,” he murmured.
Her mouth felt bruised, though the kisses hadn’t been nearly as heated as others she’d experienced in the past. She didn’t need to ask what he meant; somehow, her gut was more than aware of what it was. She did, however, have to get him back on the topic at hand.
“The ring,” she prompted.
“Is safe,” he finished. He was still poised in wait, his throat working as he swallowed, his black eyes hidden behind closed lids. If his hands had been free to fold in front of him, his pose could’ve mistaken for one of blissful supplication. As it was, it still made her uneasy.
“It’s right where I put it when you brought it home tonight,” Ethan added when she remained silent. “So do stop worrying. You’ll get frown lines.”
Pulling away from him, Lilah bit back her pleased smile. This was exactly what she needed to know. The Slayer didn’t have the ring after all, and even better, all Lilah had to do to get was track down a single address in order to get it.
The loss of her touch dragged his attention forward again, his eyes opening to gaze at her in confusion. “Why aren’t you freeing me?” he asked.
“I can’t,” she said, straightening her skirt as she stood up. “Not yet. I have to…get rid of security first.”
“Just hang in there. I’ll be back as quickly as I can.”
She almost ran from the room, eager to finish the task now that she had the information she needed. Memories of the physical contact with the Watcher were erased as Lilah fantasized about how the Senior Partners would react to her resourcefulness, images of luxurious rewards replacing the nightmares of torture that had plagued her earlier. There was only one step more to take. She just had to ensure that she sent a team who could handle a waiting Slayer.
He watched her prowl around the perimeter of the room, her bright eyes jumping from the unmade bed, to the open bathroom door, to the clothes he’d left lying around. She had yet to say anything beyond her simple declaration about her sleeplessness, but on this, Spike could be patient. Witnessing this resolute pacing was akin to standing in front of the open cage of a feral lioness; he had a feeling that any second now, Buffy was going to leap with claws fully extended. The thought of the blood she might draw made his cock come even more to attention.
She came to a stop in front of him, dusky lashes dropping for a moment as she took in his bare torso, the open button at the top of his jeans that exposed the hard tip of his erection to anyone who looked. The muscles in her throat constricted, and Spike had to fight the urge to drop his book and shove her to her knees, to thrust his cock deep into that hot Slayer mouth and just fuck it quick and deep. She’d swallow. For whatever reason, he was pretty certain that was a trick she’d long ago mastered.
Then, she was looking at him, straight at him, and he realized that her eyes weren’t as green as he’d first imagined. Flecks of uncompromising blue and amber mingled with hues too many to number. Her gaze pulsed with life, both blazing with and burying the emotions coursing through her veins, and for a moment, he floundered. Words chased each other through his mind, adjectives too weak to be accurate, descriptions too gratuitous to be true. He blamed it on the fact that she’d caught him reading.
“How much did they offer you?” Buffy demanded.
She didn’t have to elaborate. He knew exactly what she was talking about. When he told her the figure, though, her eyes widened in surprise, and a glimmer of the innocent girl she had been peeked through.
“Why didn’t you do it when you had the chance?” she asked.
“Who says I’ve missed it?” he countered.
She just shook her head. “You have got to be the weirdest vamp I’ve ever met.”
When she started pacing again without waiting for his response, Spike dropped the book he still held onto the chair at his side. He wanted both of his hands free when the Slayer finally made her move; he had a feeling he was going to need them.
“I like your coat,” she said out of the blue. She’d stopped where he’d tossed his duster over the end of the bed and was fingering the worn leather of the lapel. “Where’d you get it?”
“New York. Got it from the second Slayer I killed.”
“Why did she…oh.” Realizing how he’d come to own the jacket didn’t stop her from picking it up and holding it out in front of her, tilting her head to scrutinize the elegant drape with a trained eye. “You don’t feel funny about wearing a girl’s coat?” she asked.
For some reason, the implied mockery made Spike bristle. “Thought we’d already had our turn at establishing my manhood,” he said.
The look she shot over her shoulder was straight at his groin and still-hard cock. “Considering you seem to walk around with a perpetual hard-on,” she said, “I’d say anything you might have to add would be redundant.”
He grinned. He couldn’t help it. She had this way of disarming him with just a few words that was utterly enticing.
Turning her back to him, Buffy slipped the duster on, the hem skimming the floor as she walked over to the full-length mirror that was bolted to the wall. Her head tilted as she surveyed her reflection, and then she proceeded to pinch and fold the leather in various places, seeing how the coat fit.
She ended by thrusting her hands into the pockets.
“She was tall,” Buffy observed, not looking away from the young woman who stared back at her in the mirror.
Tiny lines appeared between her brows. “Did you fuck her, too?”
Spike chuckled at the jealous tone in her voice. “Should’ve,” he admitted. “Wanted to. But didn’t. She probably would’ve ended up winning that fight if I had. Got a feelin’ she would’ve been as much of a wildcat as you are, pet.”
He’d meant it as a compliment, but she didn’t take it as such. Her face closed, and she turned away from the mirror, circling around the bed to go into the bathroom. When she didn’t shut the door, Spike leaned to the side to see what she was doing, but could only see the black expanse of his leather as she stood in front of the sink.
The sound of water spilling against the porcelain filled the room, and after a moment, Buffy emerged, her face dewy from where she’d splashed the water over her cheeks.
“Didn’t know wearin’ my coat got you so hot and bothered,” he said with a smirk.
“It’s not a coat,” she said. “It’s a trophy.” There was a pause. “If you do manage to kill me, what are you going to take of mine?” She pulled the panties he’d stolen from her room out of the duster’s pocket. “And please tell me this isn’t it.”
He was tired of waiting for her to come to him. With all the swagger he could summon, Spike stalked toward her, head low, eyes locked, not stopping when he reached her but instead pushing her roughly back against the wall.
“Why’d you come here, Slayer?” he asked. His voice was silken, his hands curling into the leather as he pinned her in place. “What is it you’re hopin’ you’re goin’ to find?”
“I told you.” Her breath was minty, and he realized she must’ve found the candies in his pocket before coming out of the bathroom. “I couldn’t sleep.”
“I’m not some pill you can pop to make yourself feel better.”
“Yet you let me in anyway.” She licked her lips, and the fact that he wasn’t entirely sure she did it consciously or unconsciously made his mouth water. “Who’s the one hoping to get something here?”
He kissed her then. Hard. Brutal. The best part about it wasn’t the sweet tang of her mouth, or the drop of blood that fell on his tongue when his teeth caught her lower lip. The best part was her kissing him back.
She made it deliberate, forcing him to slow his attack. Lifting her hands to tangle in the loose hair at his nape, Buffy held him steady while she allowed her mouth to work over his, hot and hungry yet hanging on to each second of contact as if breaking away would be the end of her. His body could do nothing but slide his arms around her waist, pull her flush against him, and grind his erection against the heated cleft between her thighs.
“Not like this,” she said in between kisses. “Bed.”
He wasn’t going to argue with her. He’d take the Slayer any way he could, and considering they hadn’t made it to a bed yet, he was more than willing to indulge whatever need she had by complying with such a simple request. He just needed to feel that slick heat squeezing around his cock.
Disengaging from his embrace, Buffy pushed Spike away until his knees hit the edge of the mattress. He allowed her to knock him onto his back, then propped himself up on his elbows to watch as she pushed her shorts down her toned legs. She wasn’t wearing any underwear. His nose prickled at the scent that wafted to him when her thighs parted from the fabric, and he was off the bed, on his knees in front of her, before she could even reach for her tank top.
“What are you---?” she started to say, and then broke it off with a gasp when he sank his blunt teeth into the sinew of her upper thigh.
The lapse in her guard made it easy for Spike to pick up her leg and throw it over his shoulder, opening the way for him to skate his tongue along her outer lips and lap at the fluids that were already collecting there. Only one thing tasted better than this, and Spike was determined to get some of the other as well before he was through. The Slayer would be too busy coming to even notice what he was taking.
She bent her knee to hold him in place, her moans a growing echo inside the room. Spike traced her opening with the tip of his tongue and then caught her clit between his teeth, his fingers pumping effortlessly into her slick channel. Fucking her with his hand while he sucked and bit at her clit made his cock throb in a sympathetic rhythm with her racing heart, and he reached down when he had the chance to free himself fully from the denim. It would have its turn soon enough.
Her moans became whimpers, whispered words escaping her lips that he was fairly sure she wasn’t even aware she was uttering. There was more and please and don’t stop and more calls to a higher deity than Spike had heard from a bed partner in decades.
But there was also forgot and I wish and why and why not and other, more damning phrases and names that made him furious. He wasn’t fond of ghosts sharing his sexual partners; he wanted her to know it was just him there with her, wanted her to be incapable of even imagining another man’s face while she thrashed beneath Spike’s touch.
So he redoubled his efforts, and his slicked fingers slid around her ass to find her tight hole, pressing in with a fervent resolution while his tongue took over the task of fucking her. At first, she clenched, and he wondered if this was a bridge she wasn’t yet ready to burn, but after a moment, the muscles loosened, allowing his fingers to probe deeper, stretching her out at the same tempo his tongue chose.
When he felt her inner walls start to quiver, Spike returned to her clit, drawing the hard bud between his teeth and biting it with just enough force to make her scream. It was the only notice Spike needed.
He buried his fangs in the soft flesh of her inner thigh, tapping into the artery with practiced precision. The blood he’d only had a taste of earlier flooded his mouth, electric and fervid, scalding his taste buds as it flowed over his tongue, down his throat, into his system with ferocious potency. The thudding of her heart accompanied every pull, making his eyes and skin pulse with the same cadences, and it was only when it started to slow that he withdrew, albeit reluctantly.
Her fingers were coiled painfully in his hair, and her eyes were fevered when he looked up to meet them with his own. But she hadn’t pulled him away, and even when he deliberately leaned in to lick the drops of blood still oozing from his bite, Buffy remained rooted to the spot.
“What happened to the bed?” she asked weakly.
His fingers left her various orifices, and Spike slithered up her body until his cock prodded her stomach. “It’s still there,” he said, his voice rough. When she started to brush past him to climb with shaky limbs onto the mattress, though, he grabbed her arm to stop her.
“Take off the coat,” he ordered.
Her chin lifted in defiance. “Afraid you won’t get the smell of me out of it after?” she goaded.
“No,” he replied. “But I’m fucking you, not her.”
She hesitated, bewilderment clouding the hungry sheen of her aspect. “We’re both Slayers.” As if that was the only explanation he needed.
A long minute stretched between them. Her muscles were tense within his hold, the orgasmic glee fading from her face. But then, understanding began to sink in, just when Spike was beginning to think he was going to have to lay it out for her even more blatantly.
Slowly, Buffy edged away from the bed. Her fingers played over the soft leather, caressing the lapels before gripping each and sliding it from her shoulders. It pooled in a midnight slump at her feet and she stepped back forward, running her hands down his sides to the waist of his jeans to stroke along the hardened muscle of his torso.
“And just so we’re clear,” she said, “I’m fucking you.” Slipping beneath the denim to cup his ass, Buffy leaned forward to lick around his left nipple. The next was almost a whisper. “Not him.”
Spike’s eyes fluttered shut at the growing sensations in his gut. “Glad we got that sorted then, luv,” he managed to say, right before she pushed him back onto the bed and straddled his cock.
To be continued in Chapter 11: Time to Live in the Scattered Sun…