Startled, Buffy stared at William. He didn't offer any explanations, instead concentrating on his laptop. Uncertain of what was going on, she waited on the bed, frozen in place and positive she’d somehow made a mess of everything. His bare back offered her no clues as he clicked madly away, then grabbed a pen and paper. Looking back and forth between the screen and his paper, he made a series of marks along the edge of his paper before folding it in half. “Come here.”
Buffy walked over to him on shaky legs, nerves fluttering.
“Look.” William numbered the lines on the paper and handed it to her. “I’ve pulled up a questionnaire. You’re supposed to answer on a scale of one to five. Five means it’s something you can’t live without – it must be part of your relationship. Four means you enjoy it, but don’t need it. Three is if you don’t much care one way or the other. Mark two if you’d rather not engage in that particular behavior, but you’d be willing to do it for me, and one is for no, not ever.”
“What...?” He turned the laptop so she could see the website he’d pulled up. “A BDSM checklist? What does that even mean?”
“Just answer the questions best you can. If you don’t know what something means, skip it.”
She wrinkled her nose, but before she could ask anything else, like what “Abrasion” meant, he rested his hand on her shoulder, the gentle weight pushing her into the chair. “This isn’t life or death, pet. It’s just to prove a point.”
Buffy took a deep breath, forehead still creased, and turned back to the screen. The list, which looked like a list of sexual kinks, was easy enough to figure out. Though she would have rather not known some of those fetishes existed. Swallowing feces? Forced public nudity? Bestiality? Obviously, she hadn’t even begun to explore kinky behavior with William.
Was this the kind of thing he enjoyed?
She filled her answers out quickly, trying not to let her agitation show. “Done,” she said.
William took the paper from her and unfolded it. “Now compare.”
Buffy glanced down, then examined it more closely, matching her answers to William’s. Though she had many more ones marked down than he did, most of her ones were his twos – he didn’t enjoy it, but would do it for her. And on the others, the majority of their answers matched, or were very similar. Buffy scanned the list again, realizing he didn’t have a single five. She looked up at him, startled. “But that means –” He raised his eyebrow and waited for her to say it aloud. With a frown, she said slowly, “That means you’re not so very kinky after all.” She brandished the paper. “I mean, you don’t really care about most of these things one way or the other. And the things you like – they’re not that weird. Most are even things I like.”
“It’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
She worried the list between her hands. “So many twos. Is that – is that what your life was like? With Dru?”
He shrugged. “Did a lot of things I didn’t care for, to make her happy. And I’d do the same for you, just as willingly. No, more willingly, because I know you love me. But, Buffy, what I want is you. The rest of it is just details.”
“You’re telling me you could just give all this up?”
William hesitated a moment. “If it was what you wanted. I’d hold out hope we could get a little frisky on special occasions. But if you said no, well, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have the odd fantasy or two, but I don’t need it. Not like I need you.”
“That’s what Liam thought, and look how well that turned out.”
A thunderous expression crossed his face. “I am not Liam. But if he’s what you want, by all means, pet, be my guest. Run along your merry way.” He stomped to the other side of the room, muttering under his breath. Buffy gaped at him, stunned, before she realized something. William had his own insecurities. His own fears. And playing second fiddle to Liam was one of them.
“No, you dummy, I don’t want Liam, seeing how as I broke up with him pretty much immediately after we got back together. And told him it was because I was in love with you.”
He paused in his ranting and turned to face her, a disbelieving expression on his face. “You told the sod you loved me?”
One corner of his mouth quirked. “Bet he took that well.”
“No, I can safely say he did not,” Buffy said with a grimace. “But it was the truth. And I’m sorry. I know you’re not him, okay?”
“Bloody well got that right.”
She tucked her hair behind her ear and took a deep breath. “But I still can’t help but wonder... what if I’m not enough for you, in time? Don’t get mad!” she said quickly when his eyes narrowed in an angry scowl. “It’s a fair question. And a really important one.”
The muscle in William’s jaw ticked, and his hands clenched and unclenched. Slowly, he relaxed. “No, you’re right. My sex life has never been what you’d call normal.” Buffy snorted, and he smiled ruefully. “Right, bit of an understatement. But did I enjoy it? I’ve spent some time thinking it over these last few months, and the answer is no... and yes. It wasn’t something I’d sought out, or something I’d fantasized about – like you, I never even knew the kinds of things going on behind closed doors. So when I met Drusilla... I’d been singled out by this goddess of a woman. Chosen by her. What wouldn’t I do to be worthy?”
Buffy scowled at this confession, but she forced the jealousy down so she could give his explanation the attention it deserved. William continued, gaze distant. “Then it became about the rush, the thrill, the novelty of doing something so wicked. Feeling superior to the poor sods who would never know how it felt to be with a woman like Drusilla. With each new experience, I was earning her approval. Hers and Liam’s. Dru made me feel like I belonged.” He turned his gaze on her. “You don’t know what it meant to me. I did just about anything to keep the illusion going.”
“Pathetic, I know. And then I met you, and I learned what it was I really wanted. What I really needed to feel true satisfaction rather than the hollow existence I’d been living. I don’t regret those years with Dru, but I don’t want them back. And before you ask again, I can prove that life is not the one I want with you.”
William hurried back to her side and reached for his laptop. He clicked open a video player and sorted through his lists, finally finding the one he was looking for. “Here. Look at this. Which video is the most viewed?”
Buffy glanced up at him, then back at the screen. She pointed to a file that had been viewed far more than any other. “That one.” He clicked it, and it began to play. With a start, she realized it was one of the videos they’d made right before Christmas. “William,” she gasped. “You promised me you’d get rid of those.”
“No, I promised I’d do it before I got back together with Dru. I never got back together with Dru, so...”
Blushing, she squeaked, “And you’ve been watching this? Over two hundred times in six months?” She blushed even harder at the reappearance of squeaky Buffy. It had been a long time since anyone had been able to embarrass her so thoroughly.
“I am a man, love. A lonely man, I might add. Never claimed to be a saint.”
“But... but...” The Buffy on the screen moaned, and her cheeks burned. “Oh. My. God.” She darted a glance at William and realized he was stroking himself. Mouth agape, she stared at him.
“What?” he said, a bit defiantly. “It’s hot. Look at you. How could I not be turned on?”
“Yeah, but...” There was another moan, a masculine one, and her gaze was drawn back to the screen. Buffy swallowed, her pulse thrumming away, and realized her cheeks weren’t the only part of her body on fire. “Okay, hot,” she agreed.
William moved behind her and cupped her breasts, and she groaned in time with her digital self. His hands copied the movements on screen, and it didn’t take long for Buffy to be completely distracted. “William...”
Buffy turned her attention back to the video with a gulp. “Oh.”
“That’s...” She paused, remembering that day, and all the things they’d done. Or not done, in this instance. If she had to describe what they were doing right now, it would be –
“That’s the time we – we – did nothing.”
“Not nothing. Made love.”
“Just you and me.”
She turned to face him. “That’s what you’ve watched most? Almost exclusively? Not the re-enactments of our lessons?”
“When I missed you – when I wanted to remember our time together – this is the memory I wanted.”
“Not the kinky stuff,” she said in wonderment.
“Not the kinky stuff,” he echoed. “I enjoy the kinky stuff, but it’s not what leaves me satisfied and content. Get it now?”
Buffy threw back her head and laughed, giddy with relief. She took one last look at the video, noticing for the first time her on-screen lover’s happy smile, and his tender expression. How had she been so blind to the way he felt? She floated out of the chair, her body as light as a feather, and took William’s hand. Maybe she’d managed to ruin their reunion with her fears, at least for herself, but she could make up for it now. She wasn’t afraid anymore.
Still giddy, she pointed to one of the lines where he had marked a four but she’d left it blank, unable to figure out what it was. “We’re going to talk about this Shibari later. Maybe even have a show and tell.” William cocked his head, a lascivious leer on his face, and she repeated, “Later. Right now...” Buffy led him to the bed. “Make love to me.”
He picked up the plate she’d pushed aside earlier, off the pillow where she’d abandoned it. “Don’t you want your cake first?”
She didn’t even spare it a glance. “Nope. Who needs cake? I’ve got something a million times better.” Swinging them around, she pressed William onto the messy sheets and straddled him. He laced his fingers behind his head and his eyes locked on hers, blazing with devotion.
Buffy’s breath caught, and she flashed him a radiant smile. “I’ve got you.”