They awoke, after dark, to the sound of Buffy’s communicator buzzing angrily.
“Uh oh,” she said, yawning and stretching. “I think we’re in trouble.”
“May as well stay here in hiding then,” he said, pulling her down on top of him.
Just then, his own communicator went off and he groaned. Buffy giggled and ran to the bathroom to fetch the noisy little devices from the floor where they’d left them.
“Here,” she said, handing his to him. “You talk to Angel. I’ll answer Faith.”
With a sigh, he touched the screen. “What do you want?” he growled, making no attempt to hide his bare chest.
“I want to know where the hell you two are!” Angel snarled. “And why you didn’t report in with everybody else.”
“Didn’t want to,” Spike said and flicked the device off.
Buffy had answered her own communicator and heard Faith say, “I told you they weren’t coming back today, asshole. Leave them alone.”
“Hi?” Buffy said, bringing Faith’s attention back to her.
“Sorry, B. Somebody’s being a jerk about what he knows perfectly well is why you and Blondie ran off together.” She sighed and continued, “But it is almost time to head back out. I’ve got the girls doing shifts – half of them are here resting while the other half are doing cleanup and moving across the city. And then they’ll switch. We should be able to have things in pretty decent shape in another few days.”
Buffy nodded. “Sounds good. Thanks, Faith. Tell tall, dark, and nosy that we’ll be back soon. We didn’t run away together, just decided not to get our sleep in a crowded hotel.”
“It’s all good. See you when you get here.”
Buffy said goodbye and flopped back on the bed. “Don’t,” she said when Spike reached for her. “I have to get back to work.”
“Know that, love. Wasn’t planning to start anything time consuming… unless you’d like to?” he interrupted himself to ask hopefully. When she shook her head, he nodded. “I just wanted to start the day with a kiss and a cuddle.”
Buffy gave him a quick peck, then jumped to her feet. “Kiss yes, cuddle no.” She went into the bathroom to see if the clothes they’d hung up on the towel warmer at some point during the day when they’d taken a break from their non-stop love making to remember they had to wear those clothes again, were dry. To her surprise, they almost were. Not dry enough to be really comfortable, but dry enough to put on to return to the Hyperion.
“Let’s go,” she said, tossing his pants and shirt to him.
“Bossy bitch,” he muttered, smiling as he said it. Buffy just smiled back at him and began to dress.
They strolled to the Hyperion, pausing occasionally to look into any businesses that had been demon-run. Only once did they find one containing anything alive. The almost human looking woman (if you ignored the tail and the horns) was working in a small café called “Lola’s”. Before they could throw her out, the human owner ran up and put her arm around the cowering demon.
“Leave her alone!” she demanded. “She’s the only reason I still have a business left to run. She let me hide in the basement while she kept the restaurant going. She works here. And Fiona will have that job as long as she wants it.”
The angry woman faced off against Spike and Buffy as if backing down armed slayers and vampires was something she did every day. Buffy looked at her with newly aware eyes, then glanced at Spike for confirmation. At his nod, Buffy smiled.
“If you say so,” she said. “We slayers have to stick together.”
“I’m not a slayer,” the woman muttered, still protecting her friend from them.
“You were probably too old when we did the spell,” Buffy agreed. “You’d aged out. But you’ve got ‘former potential’ all over you. I’ll bet anything you’re stronger and faster than most human women, and you’re obviously braver.”
The woman didn’t reply, but the demon nodded at them. “She is. She’s brave and strong and takes care of others.”
“There you have it,” Spike said with a grin. “Slayer to the core.” He let his grin fade. “We’ll tell the others, but just in case, you should probably keep her out of sight for a while.”
“I’m going back into the kitchen where I belong,” Fiona said. “Running this place is much too stressful for me. I’m a cook, not a boss.”
“Nobody will see her,” Lola said. “They never noticed her before, and they won’t notice her now. She’s worked here for years. We just had to switch places for a while.”
“Good job,” Buffy said, her smile including both of them. “Sorry to give you a scare.”
“Have a nice day, ladies,” Spike added as he followed Buffy out of the building. His ears picked up the conversation behind them.
“Did we just meet a real slayer and a real vampire?” Lola said, forgetting that, as a demon, Fiona had met plenty of vampires.
“I’ve got a feeling that was more than just a slayer and a vampire. I think I know who that vampire is, and the power coming off that slayer was enough to knock me to my knees without her raising a hand to me. I think we just met Spike – one of the two vampires that were trying to help people before and after the battle.” Fiona frowned as she remembered that the two vampires may have had something to do with causing the event itself, then shrugged it off. “I’m not sure who his girlfriend is, but I’ll bet you she’s somebody special.”
“Well, I’m glad they found us rather than one of the other slayers running around the city.”
“Me too. But just in case, I’m going back to the kitchen. You’re on your own out here.” Fiona gave Lola a grin and retreated to the out-of-sight kitchen where she’d reigned since Lola hired her several years ago.
“Coward,” Lola said, but she smiled. “But smart.” She went back to organizing the tables and making notes of what items needed replacing before she could open for business.
Spike’s laughter made Buffy frown at him. “Were you eavesdropping?”
“Was. Couldn’t help it. You’ll be happy to know the demon bint recognized me, and figured you for both my girlfriend and somebody a bit more special than just another slayer.”
Buffy nudged him with her arm. “Which of those came first? Girlfriend or special slayer?”
“Does it matter? I can tell you which one is most important to me…” He reached one arm around her shoulders.
“I guess it doesn’t,” she agreed, letting him pull her into his side. They finished the walk to the Hyperion side-by-side, shoulders brushing occasionally.
Several days later, things at the Hyperion had settled into a routine and the non-active slayers were becoming restless. They’d taken to hitting all the shopping areas and malls, “just in case there are demons hiding there” they assured Buffy and Faith who rolled their eyes, but let it go.
The city was gradually returning to normal, the surprisingly large number of humans that had remained safely hidden emerging to go back about their business, the ones who’d been blocked out by the spell coming back to retake possession of their homes or businesses, and the ones who’d been trapped inside, returning to their friends and families in the unaffected neighborhoods.
“Can you imagine how long this would be taking if that spell had covered the whole of Los Angeles and not just the center of the city?” Buffy shook her head. “I’m not sure we have enough trained slayers to have cleaned that up. Half of them aren’t even old enough to drive, and in LA that’s just….”
“Yeah. We’d have to be running a shuttle service to get them around.” Faith peered at Spike. “Although your honey there makes a decent bus driver, he could probably—”
Spike snarl interrupted her comment, but couldn’t prevent her laughter. Still laughing, Faith said, “Jeannie heard from Giles. She said he wondered how long we were going to stay here.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “Until we’re damn good and ready not to,” she said.
“That’s pretty much what I told her to say,” Faith snorted. “But we do need to think about how to wrap this up.”
Buffy nodded. “I’m thinking we leave two squads here to continue cleanup and discourage any ideas the vamps or demons might have about trying for a comeback. We can decide later how many slayers we should put here permanently.”
“I—we—can handle our own city now,” Angel growled, waving at Spike who exchanged a quick look with Buffy.
“About that….” Spike began, frowning when Angel cut him off.
“So that’s how it’s going to be? Buffy comes waltzing in here – like she couldn’t be bothered doing when your hands were cut off – and you’re just going to leave with her,” Angel sneered in a way that reminded a shocked Buffy of Angelus. “I guess I can’t expect anything else from somebody who brags about being Love’s Bitch. You’re obviously Buffy’s bitch.”
While everyone in the room gaped at him with varying degrees of surprise and dismay, he snarled and stomped out of the room to his office, where he slammed the door behind him.
Spike made a sound somewhere between a growl and a sigh, clearly not sure how to take Angel’s anger and accusations. Buffy, who had initially flinched when Angel mentioned Spike’s hands, was now glaring in her former boyfriend’s direction with eyes that didn’t bode well for his continued existence. Spike reached for her hand and pulled her toward him.
“Didn’t mean to speak out of turn, love. But if you think I’m not sticking as close to you as I can from now on….”
“You weren’t speaking out of turn. I mean, I know we haven’t talked about it yet, but I wasn’t planning to leave you here. Not without me.”
“Looks like Angel hadn’t thought that far ahead. Maybe I should go talk to him.”
“I think I should go talk to him. I thought we’d settled all this when we first got here. He can’t tell me who I can see.”
“I think you should both stay here and let me drag him into the real world.” Faith shook her head at them. “It’s less likely to get bloody.”
“I did tell you he was yours to beat up,” Buffy said with a sigh. “But he can’t talk to Spike like that. Like he’s some kind of minion or something and I’m a—”
Faith and Spike exchanged looks. “I don’t think that’s what’s going on, Buffy,” Spike said softly. Faith nodded her head.
“He knows how you feel about Spike, and how Spike feels about you. I think this more about how he feels about Spike, and knowing he’s going to be losing all that’s left of his family here. He’s having a tantrum, but I can guarantee you right about now he’s wishing he hadn’t said those things.”
“That’s why I should talk to him,” Spike insisted. “It’s me he’s brassed off at for wanting to leave.”
“You’ll just get into a fight. I’ve got this. You two can go for a walk. Plan your happy-ever-after or something.”
A dubious Buffy and Spike allowed Faith to push them out the door into the just darkening night. By mutual agreement, they got into the SUV that was parked by the loading dock and drove off to see what was going on in the city. When they found no pockets of demons to harass, Spike steered the car out of the city and up to the hills above it. He parked in one of the overlooks, and settled back against the seat, pulling Buffy over beside him.
“Are we parking?”
“Might be. If you’re not afraid to be alone in a car with the Big Bad.”
“Are we gonna make out?”
“Oh yeah. That we are.”
“Okay then.” She settled into his side and joined him in taking in the view.
As Spike had predicted that first night, most of the outside lighting and street lamps had been fixed or turned on by now, and they stared out over the lights of greater LA.
“Penny for your thoughts, love,” he said.
“I was thinking how this should all feel more familiar than it does. I mean, other than Sunnydale, this is where I spent most of my life until just last year. But it doesn’t really feel like… I dunno. It’s not like I need to be here. It’s nice to visit, but…”
“So where are we gonna go? Back to Rome? Or Merrie Olde?”
“I was thinking… there’s a hellmouth in Cleveland. We stopped there on our way back to England, but we didn’t leave anybody on it. It’s not much. Nothing like Sunnydale’s, but it is a hellmouth and, you know, things happen there.”
“Things that might require the presence of the world’s best slayer and her bitch?”
Buffy stiffened. “That’s not—” He stopped her with a languid kiss that lasted long enough for her to forget her indignation.
“I know that, love. Was just yanking your chain. But I am yours. Make no mistake about it. Where you go, I go. If that makes me your bitch, I can live with that.”
“That makes you my partner,” she said. “Or my boyfriend, my lover, or my… whatever.”
“I can do whatever,” he said, nuzzling the side of her neck. “How about I do all of those things?”
“Can you do them in Cleveland?”
“If that’s where you want to be. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a nice place to retire. Just enough activity to keep us from getting bored, not so much that anybody’s likely to have to die to fix it.”
Buffy shuddered against him. “Never again. Neither one of us.”
“That would be the plan.”