Chapter Six: What about Me?
It was dark when the car lurched up the road and bumped up onto the sidewalk outside Buffy’s house. William was holding onto both sides of his seat with a grip that no demon in the world would have been able to break. As the car stalled and jerked to a halt, he let out a long sigh. “Were you supposed to hit that sign as we came into town?” he asked hoarsely. He didn’t think he’d ever felt such fear in all his life, even when the monster came rising up out of the water, or when Miss Summers had undone his trousers and -
“Oh, you mean the one that says Welcome to Sunnydale? I think someone must have moved it. Stupid sign. Being welcomed to the Hellmouth is a very strange thing to say to strangers. ”
“And the man who had to jump several feet across the road as we came round the corner?”
Buffy shrugged. She wasn‘t sure why people always complained about her driving. OK, she and cars were not mixy things, but she thought she’d done really well considering she was sitting next to a vampire who kept squealing just because they were going over thirty miles an hour.
She glanced up at the house and groaned. All the lights were on. She’d half hoped that the gang would have gone to bed and she could take William indoors and get both of them showered and changed before all the questions started. But there was no putting off the evil moment. “Come on, William. This is where I live.”
“A fine residence.”
“Ah, well, no, not really. Just an average sort of house.”
“Do I live here, too?”
“Oh, then perhaps you should transport me to my own lodgings, Miss Summers. I have to accept that I am in a strange country and a strange time. But I’m sure that if I can sleep well tonight, I will find a way tomorrow to make all this come right again.”
Buffy sighed. “No, William, you won’t. Not on your own. You need to meet Willow.”
“Meet? But your friends know me, you said?”
Buffy stared at the tousled hair, the slanting cheek bones, the way his muscles played under his skin as he moved. She swallowed. God, what was it with her and this guy? He was an evil vampire, no matter what his character, and even if he said he loved her, that was no excuse for her to want him so badly.
In he dark of the car, his eyes glittered like blue stars and she could see the curve of his lips. The rush of passion that flooded through her, startled and scared her. There was no way she could feel like this about William! It was bad enough having sex with Spike - well no, bad was not the word she should have used - sex with Spike was anything but bad. Wrong! She grabbed the word out of the last brain cell that still seemed to be working. All these feelings for this vamp were wrong.
Wearily, she led the way up the path and into the house. Willow and Anya jumped up from the sofa. Xander was just coming in from the kitchen, eating a slice of pizza that was dripping melting cheese down his chin. Willow gasped, “Buffy! Thank God. Where have you been? Are you OK?”
“And what on earth are you wearing!” Anya said, gazing in horror at the tight shorts and T-shirt, both now torn and dirty.
“Hey, Buff. Good to see you back,” Xander mumbled. “For god’s sake is that Spike lurking out there?”
Buffy turned round and realised William hadn’t followed her inside. He had a hand out, touching an invisible barrier. Of course! He was William, not Spike. And William had not been given permission to enter. “Oh come in,” Buffy said swiftly and the vampire blinked as the magical obstacle vanished.
“And he’s coming in the house because...?” Xander said sarcastically. “And why is he only wearing a pair of jeans? Buffy, what’s going on?”
“Can we have the inquisition in the morning?” Buffy said wearily. “We both need a shower and some sleep. As there’s no squealing and yelling, I take it Dawn’s at Janice’s.”
“How do you do?” William pushed past her, and advanced across the room, hand held out to Xander who gaped, dropped the pizza and automatically shook hands with the vampire.
“How do you - ! Spike! What the hell are you doing?”
“It’s very good to find a gentleman here,” William said cheerfully. “Are these ladies your paramours, perhaps?”
“What!” Xander’s yell could probably have been heard in Los Angeles, Buffy reckoned. Then she started to laugh and sank down on the sofa, her legs feeling weak. She couldn’t help it. The sight of Spike being all English and polite, trying to introduce himself to Xander was worth all the trouble she’d been through in the past few hours.
Anya went close to William and gazed up into his eyes. “Not Spike,” she said softly. “I can sense it.”
“Anya, of course it’s Spike,” Willow said snippily. “Look at him. Pale, thin, dyed hair, all Billy Idol except , of course, bare chested and - Buffy, why are you wearing those dreadful shorts?”
William was happily touring round the room, shaking hands as he went. Xander stood staring after him, his mouth open in astonishment. William took Willow’s hand and bent his head briefly over it. “Madam, I must say, I have never seen hair your colour before. Is it magic that makes it that red?”
“What! Oh, no, it’s called October Flame - I mean, Spike, why are you calling me Madam?”
William looked confused. He reached out to touch Willow’s screaming red hair and Xander propelled himself forward, grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him sideways.
William cannoned off the wall, and came up in game face. He took a long stride towards Xander, then stopped, shook himself and went back to human. “Sir, obviously I have made some mistake in the etiquette of this strange country and times. I offer you my sincere apologies and trust you will not hold it against me. Perhaps we could remove to a hostelry and you can tell me exactly how life is lived here. I must admit it would be welcome to have some male company. As exciting and interesting as Miss Summers is, I yearn for a little sensible conversation.”
Xander looked pleased. It wasn’t often that he was singled out as the person someone wanted to spend time with. “Oh, right, yes, we could find a bar - and, hey! What the hell are you talking about, Spike? I would rather chew off my right arm than go out for a drink with you.”
“And why is Xander suddenly more interesting than me?” Buffy put in, her voice cross. She felt hurt. OK, all sorts of goodness to be called exciting and interesting, even by a vampire. But surely there was no way William could prefer Xander’s company to hers! Not after what they’d been through together.
“I keep telling you,” Anya said, sitting at the table and picking up a nail file. “Not Spike.” She stared up at him. “I reckon - it’s William.”
“William!” Xander and Willow spoke together.
“Yes?” William said mildly, looking from one to the other.
Buffy sighed and stretched her arms above her head. Geez, she was so tired. If she didn’t have a shower soon, no one would want to come within a mile of her. “Guys, yes, Anya’s right, this is William. Not Spike, not William the Bloody, but William as he was before he met Dru! He’s still a vampire, still chipped, but not Spike. Don’t ask me how. It was something to do with the acidy stuff he got burnt with. Acid from a Tazksha demon. We need to find a way of changing him back, Willow. But, please, can we do it in the morning! I’m beat.”
The other three stared at her and then back to William, their faces pictures of amazement and disbelief. “I told you so,” Anya said at last. “No one was listening to the ex demon, of course, but I knew it wasn’t Spike.”
“But Buffy, where on earth did you meet a Tazksha demon,” Willow said worriedly. “They’re very, very rare. Don‘t tell me there’s one wandering around Sunnydale?”
“What? Oh, no, we were - er - ”
“We were in a little house on an island in the middle of a lake, Madam,” William put in helpfully, ignoring the glare Buffy sent him.
“It doesn’t matter where we were,” Buffy said swiftly. “I’ll explain later. Just now, William needs a shower, so do I. Then sleep.”
“Am I to share your bed, Miss Summers?”
“Now listen here, Spike, William, whoever you are,” Xander growled. “If you lay one finger on Buffy, I’ll personally stake your lousy skin and walk in your dust.”
William looked bemused. “But we’ve already - ”
“Yes, well, it’s getting very late,” Buffy broke in hurriedly, guessing that he was just about to tell Xander details of exactly what they’d shared in the last few days. “Let me show you where to wash up, William. Then you can sleep down here on the sofa. We’ll talk again in the morning.” And she urged him up the stairs, wondering as she did so, exactly what the new day would bring and how she could prevent William telling her friends every intimate details of their relationship so far.
“You have a very strange household, Miss Summers,” William said politely as she hurried him up the stairs. “Do all those people live here with you?”
Buffy was heading for the bathroom. She was longing to feel hot soapy water on her skin. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone so long without a wash. “No, Xander and Anya have their own home. Willow lives here and my sister, Dawn - who should be home any moment. But I don’t want you meeting her tonight.”
She pushed open the bathroom door and almost thrust the vampire into the room. She didn’t want to explain that she was hoping she could get Spike back before Dawn had to find out.
“Get in the shower. I’ll find you something to wear.” She left him staring around in amazement and fled into her bedroom. Buried in one of her closets was an old pair of trousers, covered with paint, that Riley had worn once when he’d helped her redecorate her bedroom. They would be far too big for Spike, but it was them or nothing!
“Jeez, I need water, hot, hot water,” Buffy moaned and raced back to the bathroom door. William was standing where she’d left him, a bemused expression on his face. Buffy turned both bath taps on full, groaning in ecstasy as the steam rose up in fragrant clouds as she poured bubble bath into the water, filling the room with vanilla and rose essence. She glanced round at William. “Look, there’s the shower cubicle. Get in there and have a wash. I promise not to look at you if you don’t look at me.”
William stared at her through the steam. “What mustn’t I look at, Miss Summers?”
“Me naked, of course.”
“But I’ve already seen you unclothed.”
“That was - different. Look, just get in the shower. No, take your trousers off first, idiot! Oh, do you know how to work a shower? No, of course you don’t! You have the bath. I’ll take the shower.”
“But the water smells of - ”
“I know, I’m sorry. It was meant for me. But it won’t hurt for once. Just get in and soak. You’re still covered in sticky yellow demon blood.”
“Buffy, are you OK?” It was Willow outside the door.
“Yes, I’m fine, Will. Just showing Spike - William, how to work the shower. I”ll have mine when he’s finished.”
“OK. Xander and Anya have gone. I’ll be downstairs if you want me.”
Buffy pulled off her clothes. She didn’t care what he thought. She wanted to wash now! She stood under the pounding water, feeling the dirt and demon blood and other unmentionable stickiness washing away. She peeked out once to the amazing sight of the vampire lying in rose scented bubbles, being male and playing with the taps with his toes.
“Oh god, Spike will never forgive me for this,” she muttered, diving back into the cubicle and rubbing shampoo vigorously into her hair. “Please, please, don’t let him ever remember I made him take a bubble bath!”
She was rinsing her hair for about the third time, eyes shut, almost asleep as the warm water gushed over her body, when a colder draught hit her. Her eyes shot open to find William standing in the open cubicle door looking at her, his eyes half open, glazed with desire. He’d tied a towel round his waist, but there were obvious signs underneath it that the sight of her was not unpleasant.
“William! What did you - hey, wait a second, I’ll get dry and - ”
Her words stopped as he stepped into the cubicle and, without speaking a word, began to kiss her. She felt the towel slide away and - oh god, was all that for her ? Yes! He smelt of rose and vanilla and Spike. His mouth was cold but for a while, at least, his skin was warm from the hot bath. And that felt so odd. Buffy moaned as his hands found her and his kisses grew deeper, more insistent.
She knew she should have stopped him, could easily stop him - she was the Slayer, she was strong enough to push him away any time she chose, end it now. Willow was only downstairs, Dawn would be home soon. They mustn’t make a noise, but how she stop herself screaming when he did - Why was she acting like this? This wasn’t Spike, it was William, but oh god, his hands were Spike’s hands and what he was doing with his tongue -
She reached for the tap to turn off the shower, but there wasn’t time. One of his hands slipped between her legs and she was glad the water was still thundering against the glass as she began to moan.
“Open your eyes, Miss Summers,” William muttered and she forced herself to look up through the spray and mist and steam into his blue gaze, panting, gasping, as he slowly, but surely sent her insane. She was still staring at him through the steam and for a second, the sapphire eyes boring into hers were Spike’s as she gave a final strangled scream and her climax hit, wave after wave of feeling coursing through her body.
She tightened her legs and arched her back, pushing her pelvis against his hand as he pumped wickedly with his finger, over and over again. She gave a little jump and wrapped her legs around his waist as he held her against the streaming tiles and buried himself inside her.
His movements were as hard and sure as Spike’s had been. This was no debutante to sex. Whatever lesson she had taught William, he had learnt it fast and well. There was no pausing, no hesitation, he held her effortlessly off the ground and made love to her until her body turned to jelly and every nerve ending shrieked for the bliss of release.
When she came back to reality, she found they were lying on top of her bed, tangled up in the quilt. She had a vague memory of William half carrying her out of the bathroom and her fumbling for the door handle and then locking it behind her. She rolled over and glanced down at the vampire. He seemed to be asleep, but the smirk on his mouth was one with which she was only too familiar. Whenever they made love, Spike got that expression on his face. Like a great cat that had just slurped a whole bowlful of cream.
Buffy poked him in the ribs as she hunted for clean clothes. “Get up, William,” she hissed as she pulled on dark blue jeans and a pale pink top. “We’ve got to go downstairs. You need to sleep on the sofa.”
“I’m very comfortable right here, Miss Summers,” he muttered without opening his eyes, but reaching out instinctively to stroke her thigh.
Buffy batted his hand away. “Stop that right now!” she snapped. “Get dressed. You can’t be in my room when my sister gets home.”
William sighed heavily, opened one eye and smiled sleepily. “I am heartily looking forward to meeting her.”
“You already know her - as Spike, that is. I don’t know how she’s going to take you being William. She’s...she’s fond of Spike.”
William swung his legs over the side of the bed and pulled on the trousers Buffy had found for him. She grinned. They were far too large and the leather belt had to be pulled in to its smallest to stop them falling off his slim hips.
“Very odd garments you wear in these times,” he said with a fastidious gesture that reminded her so much of Giles that her head swam. “Did these trousers belong to your father?”
“What? No way - they belonged to Riley. He was - ”
“One of your lovers?”
“Hey, there’s no need to make it sound as if I’ve had thousands of them. He was my boyfriend - OK - maybe more than that for a little while and - ” She stopped dead. Why on earth was she telling him all this? “It’s none of your business, William. We’ll get you to Spike’s crypt tomorrow and you can wear his - your - oh god, it’s so confusing. Whoever you are tomorrow, there’ll be clothes there that will fit you. Look, there’s this T-shirt, too. Yes, I know it’s torn, but it’ll do. Now come on. Downstairs.”
At the table, Willow was sitting on her own, working on her computer. She’d turned out all the lights except the desk lamp and it turned her hair to burnished copper.
She smiled as they appeared, obviously fighting back the desire to laugh at William’s appearance. “Hey there. Well, you certainly look a lot cleaner, Buffy. That must have been the longest shower on history. And you, too, William.” She stared fascinated at the head of tiny blond curls that had appeared as his hair dried. Willow couldn’t remember if she’d ever seen the vampire without his usual slicked back hair-style. “This must all seem very strange to you.”
‘“I have had a most cleansing bath,” the vampire said happily. “Although I must apologise if I smell highly scented in a most feminine fashion. Miss Summers put copious amounts of a highly pungent substance in the water and even though I washed it off in the shower when we were - ”
“ - were rinsing out his wet jeans,” Buffy broke in swiftly, knowing that at any moment he was going to relate to Willow exactly what they’d done in the shower. “Now, Will. Have you any ideas on how to get Spike back?”
Willow shook her head and turned back to her laptop. “No, but I’ll probably find something at the Magic Box tomorrow. I know Giles had a couple of books there that covered reversion spells. And Buffy, remember that the Tazksha demon is very dangerous. You simply mustn’t let it touch you. I’m surprised Spike didn’t die from the acid.”
“He almost did,” Buffy said wearily, sitting down on the sofa, exhaustion beginning to bite her. She shuddered, remembering how ill the vampire had been, how she’d been convinced she was going to loose him and how that had sent her brain into overdrive. Why should he matter so much to her? Perhaps it was just ‘the sex’ as Xander would have said. Did that mean she was some sort of sex addict? She’d heard about people like that, who got hooked on it just as much as they did on drugs or drink. But it isn’t that, she thought desperately. When she’d believed she was going to lose him, the thought of sex had never entered her mind. All she could think of was Spike himself and how empty and pointless her life would be without him in it.
Buffy glanced across at him now. He was walking slowly round the room, picking up photographs of her mom, of Dawnie, of the Scoobies all together, smiling and laughing. Even in the ridiculous T-shirt and trousers, he had an elegance of movement that always surprised her. She could have watched him all night.
“OK, tomorrow we’ll be all researchy and clever,” she said. “William, I’m going to find you a throw - even though I suppose you don’t really need one because you’re cold already, but - well, anyway, I’ll find you one. And then tomorrow we’ll start some serious research into getting Spike back.”
The vampire turned and for a second Buffy’s heart flipped. His gaze was very direct; it could have been Spike looking at her. “And if you get this Spike back, where do I go, Miss Summers?”
There was a long silence. Willow was twisting a lock of hair round and round her finger, gazing at Buffy from under her lashes. She looked very nervous.
Buffy stood up. “Go? Well, you won’t go anywhere, William. You’ll just be - Spike again.”
“But what if I don’t want to be Spike?”
He sat on the sofa, and clasped his hands in front of him. “I appreciate that you have all been extremely concerned, but you have never bothered to ask me what I want to do. I like it here. I like who I am. So if it’s all the same to you, Miss Summers, Miss Willow, please don’t bother with any magical spells or potions. I’ve decided to stay here as myself. I don’t want to vanish, to disappear. I like life. I’m afraid this Spike character can’t have my body any more. He can’t come back.”
And as Buffy stood looking down at him, she could see there was a stubbornness appearing on his gentle face that reminded her once again of the very man he was condemning to perpetual banishment.
to be continued