Spike didn’t know how it had happened or why, but he was infinitely thankful that it had. If he wasn’t a demon, he would go to the nearest church and kiss the cross that hung from the altar. He still might.
He sat, glass of blood in hand, feet propped on the arm of his couch, looking at the picture. He didn’t really believe he actually looked like that, but Buffy assured him he did. Right down to the scar on his eyebrow and the twinkle in his eyes.
He didn’t know vampires could twinkle.
He chuckled at the horrible thought, brining the glass to his lips and drinking slowly. The blood washed down his throat like a lover, caressing him, fulfilling him. Yes, it was only animal blood, but it soothed the hunger within him. The hunger that he felt sometimes when he was with her, the urge to drain her, take all that power and her sweetness inside. But he never did.
And he never would.
Sighing, his thoughts turned to what had occurred the week before, the week he lost the woman he had loved for a century, the week he was almost lost to the woman who loved him.
Once to Drusilla’s blade, the second to Angel’s love.
She had a marker made for Drusilla, setting it up in a quiet corner of the cemetery near a patch of flowers. He wasn’t sure how she knew Dru would like being where the flowers wouldn’t whither and die, but she did. She had taken him there that night and let him cry on her shoulder like a baby. And she had retrieved Miss Edith from the mansion, putting her into a memory box she had made for him.
He didn’t deserve her. He was a cold-blooded killer. A demon without a soul. Her mortal enemy.
But she loved him anyway.
Smiling, he saluted the picture on the wall with his glass and finished the contents. He looked down to his friend sitting next to him on the couch. "It’s all your fault, you know."
Floppy only smiled.
"My arm is asleep."
"Don’t care, I’m comfy."
Spike sighed and tried to wiggle his arm from under the blond. They had been laying like this on the floor for several hours, not moving, just enjoying each other’s company. Which was why his arm was asleep. *Technically, it’s not asleep because the blood doesn’t pump in my veins,* he thought to himself as he worked. *But still, this is bloody annoying.*
"Stop moving," Buffy said, not opening her eyes. "Or I’ll have to hurt you."
"I’d like to see you try," he teased. One gray-green eye shot open and stared him down. *On second thought, maybe I should just let her lay here.* He stopped moving. The evil eye closed. Spike sighed again, this time in relief.
"I’m turning into a pansy-ass, nancyboy," he muttered. "Even worse than Angel."
"What was that?"
*Ut-oh, there’s the eye again,* Spike thought. "Nothing, dear."
Buffy pushed herself up onto her elbows, freeing his arm from her weight. He open and closed his fist several times to be sure it was still working. "Did I ever tell you you’re a pain in the neck?"
"I try to be," he answered with a sardonic grin.
Buffy groaned and got to her feet. "I gotta get home. I promised I’d help Willow tomorrow morning…or later this morning," she corrected, looking at the clock on the VCR. "Do you want to watch a movie tomorrow…I mean tonight?"
"Sure, pet," Spike said, tentatively moving his numb arm. *Still bends at the elbow…*
"Interview With the Vampire ok?" she asked, trying to keep a straight face.
"Anything you want, luv," he answered absently. *Shoulder seems to be working, too…*
"Hey!" Spike said, glaring at the shoe that just smacked him in the head. "What was that for?"
"You weren’t paying attention to me," Buffy said, retrieving said shoe.
"So you resort to projectile weapons?"
"Flying fatalities," she corrected. "Works every time." She bent and gave him a kiss, then sashayed to the door. Spike loved watching her behind sashay. "See you later, pet."
"Cute, Slayer. Real cute."
Grinning as she walked down the street, Buffy swung the bag of video tapes, humming to a tune only heard by her. Her normal attire of short skirt, boots and tank made her look younger than her twenty-one years, until an admirer reached her eyes. Then, she looked decades older.
She’d had a heart to heart with Willow that morning, about all that had transpired the last couple of weeks, especially about Angel’s return.
She actually felt kind of bad for Angel. He gets sent to Hell by the person he loves, spends a long time there having unspeakable tortures done to him, then returns only to find the person he loves is in love with someone else. And she did, love someone else, that is.
Angel was part of her past, the part that she had to box up and shove into a corner of her heart, labeled precious. Their relationship had been intense, scary, powerful, leading into a downward cycle of despair. But, with Spike, none of that was there.
Sure, it was a intense, scary, powerful relationship as well. But it was also full of laughter, happiness, and comfort. Rarely sad or melancholy.
Buffy changed the tune of her humming as she neared the condominiums where Spike lived. The fading sun glittered off her diamond engagement ring, sending rainbow prisms into the air.
Since school was ‘out’ for the summer again, her mom was a little more lenient as to how late she returned home. One of these days, she would agree with Spike and just move in with him. But only because she could stop walking back and forth from her house to his.
She really needed a car.
She really needed a license.
Letting herself in, Buffy tossed the bag to the coffee table with a thump and dropped her purse on the small table by the door. "Spike, you up?"
Spike emerged from the small laundry room which was next to the bathroom at the end of the short hall, carrying a basket. "Hello, pet."
"You actually have laundry?" Buffy asked with fake awe. "I thought you only had one pair of clothes."
Spike scowled at her, then set the basket on the couch and began the long, arduous task of folding his clothes. He hated folding. "So, what did you rent?"
"Interview With the Vampire, The Lost Boys, My Best Friend’s A Vampire, Once Bitten, Vampire in Brooklyn, Dracula and Bunnicula," Buffy said with a straight face. It didn’t last long because of the terrified look he gave her. After she had calmed down and wiped the tears from her eyes, she told him the real titles.
"Much better," Spike told her. "Why don’t you make us some popcorn while I finish this?"
"Sounds like a plan." Buffy moved into the kitchen, humming to herself again as Spike continued to fold the laundry. "Hey, did you know that pretty soon you’re going to have my clothes to fold, too?"
"I try not to think about it," Spike responded. Buffy chuckled. Gathering up the now-folded clothes, he went into the bedroom and put them away, hiding the basket back in the closet. Emerging after changing into a clean pair of sweats and shirt, he plopped himself down on the couch and dug through the bag of movies.
The microwave beeped, and Buffy dumped the popcorn into a waiting bowl. She ate a handful as she left the kitchen and went over to Spike. He handed her a tape, which she put into the VCR, then settled down next to him on the couch.
That’s when her smell hit him.
"Buffy, are you wearing perfume?" he asked, sliding closer to his love.
"No," she answered, sighing as he began to nuzzle her neck.
"Did you change shampoo?" Spike let his lips travel across her warm skin, the nearness of her beginning to overwhelm his senses.
"Mmm…no," she replied. "Why?"
"You smell so edible," he whispered with a low voice near her ear.
Buffy melted into a puddle on the couch and would have slithered to the floor if Spike’s arms hadn’t come around her waist, pulling her snug against him. She felt him lick her ear, her jaw, her neck as if she was an ice cream cone.
He began to kiss and lick down her shoulder, pushing the strap of her tank down her arm as he went. He used his other hand to push the other side down, baring her to him, her breasts clad in a wisp of navy blue lace.
Spike’s whole being was focused on the smell of the Slayer. He couldn’t get close enough to her. All his other senses disappeared as he continued to lavish her with his lips and tongue. With great difficulty, he unhooked her bra, freeing her to him. He took one pebble-like nipple into his mouth, suckling it, driving Buffy into a small frenzy before moving over to the other breast.
"Oh, Spike," she groaned, running her hands through his short hair. He went lower, licking and kissing her stomach over the material of her bunched up tank top. His hands moved from around her body to under her skirt, pulling her panties down her legs and letting them fall to the floor. He pushed her short skirt up at the same time as he slid to his knees in front of her. Buffy leaned back on the couch, allowing him access.
Spike kissed and licked her creamy thighs, the smell getting stronger as he came closer to her womanhood. Finally, he flicked his tongue over her most sensitive part, and she bucked against him, her pelvis connecting with his mouth. He made a sound, partway between a growl and sigh, and delved into her hot core.
The taste overwhelmed the smell.
He grabbed Buffy’s hips, holding her to his face as he worked his magic with his tongue. Soon, she exploded, digging her fingernails into the back of his skull, and that’s when it hit him.
Coming from her in small bursts as her muscles contracted as she orgasm, the blood flowed from her opening, bathing his mouth and tongue with its rich, tangy taste. Spike ate greedily, not wanting to miss a drop of the blood that nurtured life.
He held on to her hips until the blood ran no longer. Slowly, he pulled away, his eyes glazed over.
"Spike?" Buffy said tentatively. He raised his head, but was not focused on her. "Hello? Is anyone in there?" She waved her hand in front of his face.
Spike blinked and shook his head, coming back to reality. "Wha’?"
"Where did you go?" she asked.
He shifted on his knees and felt something cold and wet against his legs. Looking down, he saw a giant wet spot on the front of his sweats. His eyes widened comically. "I came."
"You what?" Buffy leaned forward to see what he was looking at. She pressed her lips together when she saw the spot, trying not to giggle. "I take it this is a first." Spike nodded his head imperceptibly. "What was so different that it made you cum in your pants?"
"You’re bleedin’," Spike’s accent thickened. "An’ you tasted so delicious, like a ripe peach."
Buffy blushed from her roots to the tops of her toes. She grabbed her underwear from the floor and ran to the bathroom, mortified.
Spike shook the remaining cobwebs from his head and stood. He went into the bedroom and grabbed a clean pair of pants, then knocked on the bathroom door. "Slayer?"
"Luv, I need to get cleaned up."
"I’m never coming out again."
Spike leaned his forehead on the door. "Come on, open up, pet. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about."
The door opened and he almost fell into the bathroom. Buffy looked at him with tears in her eyes. "I’m sorry I didn’t know. Usually I don’t get my period for another week, complete with cramps. I bundle myself up tightly so the vamps can’t smell me coming."
"Don’t be upset, pet. I enjoyed it, as you can tell," he motioned to the front of this sweats. She giggled and he smiled. "Why don’t we hop in the shower?"
At her nod, he closed the door behind him. Ten minutes later, Buffy yelled out in ecstasy, then laughter.
"Spike? You did it again."
"Do I have to go?" Spike whined for the fifth time.
"Yes. They’re staying open late, just for us," Buffy repeated again. "And you’re going."
"No buts. Now, get your ass in the car."
"Yes, m’um," he said, hanging his head and climbing into the back seat of Joyce’s car. His future mother-in-law tried not to laugh at the downtrodden vampire. It was a good thing she couldn’t see him in the rear-view mirror, or it would be a very long trip across town.
"All set?" Joyce asked as Buffy joined them in the car.
"Let’s roll," Buffy said.
They arrived without any hassle at the small shop that was part of someone’s home on the other side of Sunnydale. Parking out front, the trio entered the shop. Spike was glad they had a ‘Please, Come In’ sign on the door, so he didn’t have to worry about the embarrassment of needing vocal permission. *Sometimes it sucks to be a vampire,* he thought with a wry chuckle.
The small shop was set as an ornate living room. Twin, fancy love seats sat at angles on a rich, oriental carpet. The burgundy walls held beautiful works of art in scripted frames, lit by small lamps scattered throughout the room.
Spike sat on the edge of one of the couches, afraid that he’d break something. His leg started to bounce nervously, and Buffy had to put a hand on his knee to stop it. "Will you relax. It’s not the end of the world."
He nodded and rolled his shoulders, wishing he were anywhere but here. When the smartly dressed man entered the room and began to speak, he wished instead for a large piece of wood to pierce his heart, leaving ashes all over the fancy carpeting.
"Welcome. I’m Jonathan. You must be Ms. Summers," the man gushed, shaking Buffy’s hand. "And, of course, the sister of the bride…"
Joyce laughed at the compliment, shaking his hand as well. "Mother of the bride, I’m sad to say. Please, call me Joyce."
"Very well, Joyce," he said, finally turning to Spike. "And you must be the lucky man."
Spike grunted and Buffy elbowed him in the ribs. "Yeah, that’s me, mate."
"So, are we all set to get to work?" Jonathan asked, sitting next to Joyce on the second couch. He rang a small bell and a moment later another sharply dressed man entered, pushing a silver tea trolley piled with large albums. He stopped it next to Jonathan, who smiled and picked up the top one. "First we’ll start with the easy stuff. What would you like to serve for dinner?"
Spike rubbed his temples as the hours went on. He had wanted to throw Jonathan through the nearest window on several occasions, especially whenever he asked for the vampire’s opinion on something as asinine as flowers or how many layers should the cake be. What did he care about the cake? It’s not like he was going to eat it anyway.
"How about this one, Spike?" Buffy asked, pointing to yet another sample invitation.
*Please stake me,* he thought as he looked at the book. "It’s ok, pet."
"That’s what you said about the last twenty," she pointed out.
"Well, so far nothing has screamed bloody murder at me," he said tiredly. She elbowed him again. "Here, give me the books. I’ll scan through them and pick out the ones I like, and you can move onto whatever else needs to be done." She nodded, handing him the book and joining her mother and Jonathan.
He flipped through the pages of the albums rapidly, nothing catching his eye. His thoughts were swimming in Corsica script as he turned page after page after page… He had just about given up when the title of a back section of one of the books jumped out at him. He quickly opened to that page and began skimming the invitations. On the fifth page, he’d found a winner.
"Slay…er, pet? I like this one," Spike said, holding the book for her to see.
Buffy came to his side and looked at the invitation he was pointing to. Spike knew they found a winner when she began to laugh. Joyce and Jonathan shot glances their way, so he passed the open album to them on the second couch.
Joyce saw the invitation and began laughing as well. "Oh, Spike. That is too funny," she said, covering her mouth with her hand.
"I do not understand," Jonathan said. "This is a Halloween Party invitation, not a wedding invitation."
That only made the ladies laugh even more.
Angel wondered what was so funny as he watched through the window from outside. He had been checking up on Buffy when he’d seen her ream Spike a new one in front of her house, before they got into the car and drove off.
He had to admit, it had boosted his ego a lot to see Buffy coming down on his childe like she did. Spike was one very whipped vampire. But then, searching for his former lover all over Sunnydale didn’t make him any better.
The modest store built into a home bore no name pronouncing its wears. Angel was left to mull over what could take hours of looking through albums. He hadn’t a clue.
Spike glared at the back of Buffy’s head. They were driving home from the wedding coordinator’s shop, complete with samples, and he was getting the cold shoulder. *After sitting there for bloody hours listening to that pillock,* he thought with ire.
He didn’t even know how the fight started. One minute, everyone was laughing over the invitations, the next, Buffy’s eyes flashed with fire and she gave him ‘the look.’ *Where do females get that look? Must be genetics,* he grumbled as the Slayer’s head whipped around to stare at him.
Turning his attention to the rapidly passing streets, Spike tried to ignore her. He’d have to be going home because of the hour and he doubted the neighbors would like an all out fight staged on Buffy’s front lawn. Not that he cared. But Joyce would care, and then she’d get mad at him, and then the axe would come out…
Joyce pulled into the driveway and Spike couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. It hadn’t even stopped rolling before he was down the driveway, rapidly stalking home. He heard the car door slam, then the rapid click-click of her heels as she came after him. He stopped himself from breaking into a run.
"Spike, you had better stop this instant," Buffy told him in low even tones.
Gritting his teeth, he did as told, stopping abruptly but not turning. "What." It wasn’t a question, it was a demand.
"Drop the ‘tude, it doesn’t become you," she said, as she stepped into his line of vision. He glared at her, but said nothing. "What’s your childhood trauma?"
"Gee, Slayer, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the time mum tanned me with a butcher’s knife. Or when da threw me out the second floor window of the flat into the rain. Did you know it’s always bloody raining in North London?"
"Oh, I know. It was the night Angelus made me the darling corpse standing before you today," he said, spreading his arms wide. "An evil, soul-less demon who kills for pleasure."
"That. Is. Enough." Buffy ground out. "If you’re gonna act like this, stay the hell away from me."
"My pleasure," he said, stepping around her. "You sent your first love to hell, I might as well join him."
"That was cold."
"You want warmth, get a bloody dog."
Spike threw his keys at the wall after he’d entered his home. The hit with a resounding thud, then fell behind the couch. "Of all the bloody, stupid…"
Striding to the refrigerator, he yanked out a container of blood and downed it in one, long gulp. Unsatisfied, he threw it across the room as well, leaving a trail of red splattered on the floor. For the first time in a year and a half, he was going to kill.
He was out the door in an instant, game face rippling to the surface as he searched for prey.
"Hi, can I come in?" Angel asked from the window of Buffy’s room.
"Sure," Buffy said with a sigh.
Angel entered and sat next to her on the edge of the bed. "What’s wrong?"
"Nothing. Everything. I don’t know," she said, staring morosely at her reflection and his lack of one in the mirror. "Spike and I had a fight."
"What? How?" Buffy asked.
"I lurk," he answered with a small smile.
Buffy couldn’t help the responding grin on her face. But as soon as it surfaced, it faded away. She sighed again, looking down at her left hand, the single diamond solitaire sat nestled on her ring finger.
"Do you want to tell me what happened?" Angel asked softly. He absently took her right hand in his left as his eyes scanned the room. He let his thumb rub over the back of her hand.
"Well, we were at Jonathan’s and he was being no help at all. I don’t know why I even had him come with, he was only a pain," she said. "Ok, I’ll give him credit for the invitations, but Spike’s offhanded comments to Jonathan when he brought up places, times and dates really hurt me. He made it as plain as his roots that he didn’t care one way or another. Of course, I shot a scathing insult back…it was really good, too…then he said ‘why don’t we just have it in the bloody sunlight standing on a cross, give them a real show.’" Her mimicking of Spike’s British voice made the quote eerily accurate.
"I’m sorry, Buffy," Angel said, looking into her face. He had no idea what she was talking about, but hurt because she did. "But you have to remember, he has no soul."
"Oh, gee, thanks," she replied. "Make me feel all better."
"Sorry," he said truthfully. He wouldn’t hurt Buffy for anything. He bent and kissed her forehead. "Do you want me to talk to him?"
"No. I’ll go after the sun comes up so he can’t run out," she said with a hollow laugh. "Thanks, though."
"Ok. I had better get going," he said, standing. He pulled on her hand and hugged her. "It’ll be alright, you’ll see."
Angel knocked on Spike’s door. It was two hours before sunrise and the sky was lightening in false dawn. "C’mon, Spike. Open the damn door."
Not getting his wish, Angel turned the knob. It was unlocked, so he pushed the door open and stepped inside. Music was playing on the stereo, but no one was to be seen. "Spike?" No answer. Closing the door behind him, Angel let his gaze roam around the small condo. He saw a trail of dried blood on the kitchen floor, then the empty container laying near the coffee table. Shaking his head, he walked down the hall to check the bedroom.
"Spike, you in here?"
"Who said you could come in?" Spike’s voice came from the side of the bed. Angel walked over and saw him sitting on the floor. He could smell the blood that soaked his childe’s shirt.
"Have you been hunting?" Angel asked.
"What of it?" Spike replied. "That what us bloody vampires do."
"You know, I came over here to talk to you about Buffy," he said. "But you are falling lower and lower on my shit list, so I’m not going to bother. In fact, I should report that you’ve been hunting."
"I don’t bloody care."
At the lifeless tone in his voice, Angel stared sharply at him. That’s when he noticed that a framed newspaper clipping was sitting next to Spike, along with Mr. Gordo and another rag doll. He sighed and held out his hand. "Why don’t you get cleaned up. Buffy will be here in a few hours. You don’t want her even madder at you."
Ignoring the proffered hand, Spike pushed himself to his feet and, with slumped shoulders, left the bedroom. Angel heard the bathroom door close, then the sound of the shower running. Crouching, he picked up the stuffed pig and doll and set them on the bed before retrieving the picture frame.
Angel almost dropped it when he read the clipping. "Buffy and Spike, married?!" he whispered in disbelief. He looked at the date the engagement announcement ran. Two days before Buffy’s twenty-first birthday. Two days before he was spit out of Hell.
Setting the frame on the nightstand, Angel stood wearily to his feet. *Why didn’t she tell me?* he thought. He made his way out of the bedroom and then the cheery condo. He wandered around the streets of Sunnydale until the coming dawn forced him to find shelter. And all he could think of was one thing.
Spike emerged from the shower to find his sire gone. He threw his bloodied clothes right into the wash machine, then returned to the bedroom. The CD player was still letting soft music fill his home as he crawled onto the bed and curled in a ball, holding Mr. Gordo and Floppy to him tightly. For some strange reason, the two stuffed toys brought him closer to Buffy.
His mind registered a few of the lines to the song that was playing.
To really love a woman, you let her hold you,
‘Til you know how she needs to be touched.
You gotta breathe her,
Really taste her,
‘Til you can feel her in your blood.
And when you find yourself lying helpless in her arms,
You know you really love a woman.
As the sun crested the horizon, Spike let sleep overtake him.
"Spike?" Buffy walked into the bedroom to see the vampire asleep on the bed curled protectively around two stuffed toys. She smiled at the sight, quickly shed her clothing, and joined the naked man, wrapping her warm arms around his cool back.
Spike felt the warmth against him and woke. "Slayer? I’m sorry."
"Me, too," she said, nuzzling her nose into his back. "It was only a fight. It’s not like the world is going to come to an end. Again."
Spike chuckled and turned so she was nestled in his shoulder, head on his chest. "I love you, and whatever you want is fine with me. But, I’d prefer to get married at night and not in a church. Do you know how hard it is to get ashes out of your clothing? I swear, I’m cleaning the trap in the wash machine all the bloody time."
Buffy laughed, filling the room with its feminine sound. All was right between the vampire and the Slayer once more.