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Rules of the Road

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Buffy had no idea why she was kissing him. She knew it was wrong to encourage his sick crush and there were a million other ways she could have shown Spike her appreciation that she wouldn’t have to edit out of the conversation with her Watcher later, but she just kind of…wanted to. Maybe he wasn’t the only one who was sick.

The memories of their previous kisses, from that insane, spell-induced night, lit up somewhere in her lizard brain as she relearned how his mouth felt against hers. It went on longer than she’d expected, but she couldn’t bring herself to pull away. His lips were soft and cool, though more swollen than she remembered. He’d gotten so hurt to protect Dawn. She didn’t understand it in the slightest.

Even though he had to be in pain, Spike was gentle with her—with what he thought was the robot, she corrected herself. He opened his mouth slightly, deepening the kiss, and she really wanted to nibble on his lower lip, but would that give her away? She resisted the urge to slide her hands into his messy hair, even if it was tempting. She had no idea how the robot would have touched him. Would it have acted passionately or responded to his gentleness in kind? And she really shouldn’t be trying to figure out how to touch him at all.

He kissed her like a familiar lover, like he intimately knew every dip and curve of her lips. It surprised her, in a way. Sure, he’d made a creepy sex-robot that looked like her, but she’d figured it was for one thing only. She hadn’t imagined he’d spent hours kissing it. Apparently, she’d been wrong.

Confusion and guilt swirled deep in her belly as Spike wrenched his mouth away from hers. There was also a tiny bit of heat, warming up her insides and making her heart trip along a little faster, that she hadn’t felt in a very long time. She tamped down on it ruthlessly. She didn’t have time for foolishness, not when Dawn’s life was at stake.

Buffy stared at Spike for a long moment after he broke the kiss, trying to read the expression hidden behind his injuries. She probably shouldn’t be disappointed that he’d figured it out so quickly, though it was kinda nice to know she didn’t kiss like a robot.

Sometimes she wondered if the last few months had stripped her of her ability to be passionate about anything other than slaying…but she wasn’t going to think about Riley anymore. He’d made his choice. And she needed to make hers. Glory was getting dangerously close to figuring out the truth. Spike’s face was proof of that.

Her strange trip to the desert had raised more questions than it had answered, but there was one thing she knew for sure: if death was her gift, she was going to make damn sure that all the people around her were safe—and as far away from Sunnydale as possible. The hellgod wasn’t messing around anymore. Spike looked worse than she’d ever seen him, and Buffy had been beating him up for years.

Spike finally opened his mouth. “Why?” His voice was hoarse, as though speaking was painful. She imagined even the parts of him she couldn’t see were covered in bruises, and worse.

Buffy shrugged, not really sure how to answer a question she didn’t know the answer to herself. “Are you sure you want to stay here?” she asked instead.

Spike slumped back against the sarcophagus like he was too exhausted to remain upright. “I’ll be fine.”

Buffy bit her lip. She should probably just leave him there, except that she had kind of rescued him (even if it was because she thought she was going to have to kill him) and she felt a little responsible for his current state.

Fine, a lot responsible.

But she hadn’t asked him to suffer for her or for Dawn. He was a very confusing man. Vampire. Not a man. She couldn’t forget that.

“Okay.” Buffy nodded. She wouldn’t argue with him now, not before she talked to her Watcher. “Just…be careful?” Spike appeared even more confused than he had when she’d kissed him, but she wasn’t ready to share her half-formed plan just yet.

She left the quiet crypt, standing for a moment in the afternoon sunlight. She sent up a silent plea to the Powers, who seemed to be seriously falling down on the job lately, to give her some kind of sign if she was going off the deep end. Spike might not be who she’d expected to be backing her up in this fight, but she could use all the help she could get. He’d thrown his lot in with her in a rather spectacular fashion, while simultaneously pissing her off beyond belief.

She almost smiled. Typical Spike.

The birds were chirping away in the trees and leaves rustled overhead. The ground was still muddy from a recent rain. This was her town; her world. She wasn’t going to give Glory the chance to take it away. Buffy walked slowly toward the cemetery gates, her mind a whirl of possibilities.

***

“Buffy,” Giles had been polishing his glasses for nearly two minutes straight. Buffy waited impatiently, trying not to wiggle like a disobedient child in her chair. She probably should have insisted they move to Giles’ living room for this conversation, but her Watcher had been researching at the table he also used as his desk and she’d just taken the seat opposite him out of habit. Right about now, though, she was feeling like she was back in the high school library. “I really don’t see how this could possibly be a solution.”

“It’s the only thing that’s made sense in a long time, Giles.”

Giles made a small, annoyed noise. “Really, I-“

“You didn’t see him just now.”

“I was there when we rescued him!”

“He’s a vampire, Giles, fast healing? But he looks worse than he did before. Glory seriously did a number on him.”

“I see. So you feel, just because of this, ah, incident, that he’s trustworthy now? Just like that?”

“No,” Buffy said softly. She stared down at her knees. “Not just like that.”

Images of Spike’s bruised and swollen face flitted across her mind, followed closely by all the times he’d watched out for Dawn in his own weird way, and capped off by his seemingly earnest, if incredibly bizarre, declaration of…feelings. Buffy had wracked her brain for any way he could possibly benefit from being tortured by Glory but was coming up blank. He couldn’t have expected anyone to come to his rescue, so why wouldn’t he tell the crazy hellgod who the key was? There was absolutely no reason for him to protect Dawn unless he somehow really did care. Which was supposed to be impossible. The entire idea was incredibly unnerving, and she was really trying not to think about it too hard.

She glanced up at her Watcher and attempted to put her jumbled thoughts in order. “I know he can be, uh…a pain.” Giles snorted at the understatement, but Buffy pressed on. “But this is too important, Giles. Dawn is too important. I need all the help I can get, and he’s earned his second or…” Buffy frowned, trying to count. “Fourth? Whatever number we’re on, chance.”

“Buffy.” Giles gazed at her sympathetically. “I understand he’s occasionally been helpful with Dawn, and that must lift a great burden, but you aren’t thinking clearly right now. With your mother gone-”

“No,” Buffy said, stiffening her spine. “I think this is the clearest I’ve been in a long time.”

“Surely, there are other ways we can protect Dawn from Glory without upending all our lives.”

“None that end well, Giles. If you can think of a better plan, I’m all ears.”

Giles was silent for a long time, gazing at her. She stared steadily back. “I still think this is a terrible idea,” he finally grumbled, frowning at his clean glasses. 

“Noted.” Buffy stood up. “Scoobie meeting at my house after dark? I need everyone on board for this to work.”

Giles nodded, his face impassive. “I’ll call the others.”