Summary and AN: Set in the comics Season Nine, just after the end of issue #1 and the beginning of issue #2 – it’s AU for what’s happening so far, of course. But not out of the realm of possibility…
“So, Slayer. You woke up naked, hungover, and surrounded by men’s clothing. Is there a reason why I should want to listen to this?” Spike’s words were spoken in a light tone, but his eyes were stormy.
“Hey! You were kissing…… some girl I don’t remember inviting to the party. So just… “ She sighed. “You’re right. It’s my problem to solve. It’s not like we’re BFFs. I should be discussing this with Willow.” They both paused to remember that Willow still had some unresolved issues with the loss of her magic. “Okay, maybe she’s not my BFF anymore, either.”
“I’ll be whatever you need me to be, Buffy. If you want a friend, I’m your friend. But if that’s all I am, then you don’t get to be brassed off at any kissing I might be doing.”
Buffy glared at him, searching for some sign of the man self-dubbed “Love’s Bitch” who would forgive her anything. Glaring back was a man who obviously had been through too much in the years they’d been apart to jump just because she said “frog”. She sighed and touched his cheek briefly before putting her hands in her pockets. She shook her head.
“You’ll never be ‘just a friend’, Spike. But I don’t know what we are anymore. I never heard from you – what did you expect me to think when I found out you’d come back and then disappeared after a big battle? You let me mourn for you twice – and then you disappeared again.”
“Came back a bit different, love.”
“And you didn’t love me any more. Hence the conversation about who I might have—”
“Don’t be stupid, Slayer. Never stopped— but you’d moved on without me, yeah? Seemed happy. And the great poof had stepped in a big one and needed my help.”
“That wasn’t me! I didn’t move anywhere!”
“Know that now, don’t I? But I didn’t know it then. Even Twangel didn’t know it wasn’t you. I thought you’d done your grieving and moved on. And I was needed elsewhere.”
“I needed you,” she muttered, so quietly that he wasn’t sure if he was meant to hear it or not. Spike was quiet for a moment, then said, “You did need me – last night – and I wasn’t there. I’m sorry, pet. I should have noticed how pissed you were getting and put you to bed before you did anything you might regret. “S what a friend would have done, innit?”
“Why didn’t you put me to bed, Spike? You knew I was drunk. Were you afraid I’d barf on you again?”
He unconsciously glanced down at his shoes and smiled before answering her. “No, Slayer. Never thought about that till just now. I promise you.” His smile faded. “I didn’t want you to think I was trying to take advantage of your… condition.”
“So you let somebody else do it?” She stuck her lip out, fully aware that she was blaming him for not saving her from herself. Predictably, he growled and didn’t answer except to glare at her until she looked ashamed. Then he sighed.
“You know bloody well if I’d seen anybody trying to take advantage of your pitiful ability to hold your liquor, I’d have ripped his head off. I don’t know where you went, don’t know who might have gone with you, and I couldn’t find you when I was ready to leave. I’m sorry you don’t know what you did… or who you did it with…. All I can tell you for sure is that it wasn’t me.”
She nodded. “I guess knew that. You would have mentioned the….” She smiled up at him. “Well, then, it wasn’t you, let’s go kill something. Maybe that’ll make me feel better.”
He obediently matched her strides as she struck out for the park where she’d encounter several vamps recently. When she didn’t continue talking, he said, “Didn’t mention what?”
“You said you should have known it wasn’t me because I would have mentioned something. What was it? Did you get your belly button pierced or something?”
“Or something. It’s no big.”
“Now I’m curious, Slayer. C’mon, tell me. What is it?”
Ignoring her, he continued, “Let me think. It’s something you think I would have noticed if I’d been the one to get you naked… and it’s not a ring through that cute little navel….” He thought for a minute, then stopped and grinned. “It’s a tattoo! You got yourself a tattoo. What is it? A butterfly? Nah, too soft for the Slayer. A stake? That’s it, isn’t it? You’ve got a stake someplace naughty. That’s it, isn’t it?”
Without waiting for an answer, he began to coax her. “Where is it, Slayer? Are you gonna show me? Tell me where it is. C’mon, luv. Friends should show friends their tattoos. I think that’s a rule somewhere.”
“You don’t like rules,” she said, laughing in spite of herself. “Even if it was one, you’d want me to break it.”
“Not this one, I don’t. C’mon, pet, give poor Spike a peek for old times’ sake.”
“You’re impossible,” she said, running ahead of him to intercept two vampires stalking an oblivious couple sitting on a bench. By the time he caught up, she’d already staked one of the vamps and was toying with the other one. He watched with narrowed eyes, ready to jump in if needed, but Buffy was enjoying the fight in a way he hadn’t seen from her since the whole debacle last year. A whisper of sound brought his head around and he saw a group of older vampires approaching.
“Incoming, love,” he said, standing up and signaling the now watching couple to leave. Fearing they were in the middle of a gang war, they did just that, sprinting for their car and leaving the park in an ear-splitting squeal of tires on dry pavement.
Buffy quickly staked her over-confident opponent and turned to face the gang approaching her.
“Looky what we got here, boys,” said the leader. His choice of clothing indicated he’d been turned sometime in the 80’s and Buffy prepared herself to work a little harder this time. “It’s one of those slayer bitches.”
“Wrong, asshole,” Buffy said. “I’m not one of those bitches – I’m the Slayer Bitch.”
“Nice try, blondie, but we know that one is down for the count. All she can do now is sling coffee to pretty boys and throw parties she can’t even remember. She’d piss her panties and run away if she saw anything like me—us,” he amended as his followers snarled at him.
“How do you know what I— never mind.” Buffy was on him before he’d even realized she’d moved, demonstrating that not only was she not afraid of him, she’d lost none of her ability to take on multiple old vampires at that same time. Spike limited himself to watching that she didn’t fall prey to a lucky punch from any of the vamps who were trying to surround her and failing because she didn’t stay in one place long enough for them to creep up behind her.
When she’d whittled the numbers down to just the leader and two much less confident henchmen, Spike finally moved closer. The leader glanced at him, taking in the pale face and lack of heartbeat. “Little help?” he grunted as Buffy’s foot connected with his stomach, driving him to the ground. His eyes lit up when Spike put a hand on Buffy’s arm, saying, “Hold on a second, pet.”
“What? Why? Did you hear what he said about me?”
“Did hear it. Want to know how he knows so much about you and what happened last night. Don’t dust him yet.”
“Fine,” she grumbled. “You hold him then. I’ve still got work to do—damn!” While they’d been talking, the remaining two vampires had sprinted off vowing to find another city where The Slayer Bitch wasn’t a resident.
Spike grabbed the leader by the throat, holding him up with one hand and watching with a satisfied smirk as realization dawned on the other vampire’s face. Startled eyes darted back and forth between the much older vampire holding him so easily and the slayer who had decimated his band of fairly experienced minions.
“Hey. We can work this out….” He stopped as Spike shook him. “What are you two?” he snarled, fear and fury in his voice.
“Me? I’m just your worst nightmare. The Slayer? She’s just who she said she is,” Spike said. “The question is why do you know so much about her?”
“Guys talk. You know how it is… everybody said she was retired. Some big war or something that was her fault—“ He paused when Buffy’s face crumpled and Spike snarled.
“Wasn’t her fault, you stupid git. She saved the whole world… again. Including all the wankers like you that she was going to have to keep fighting. Never mind that bollocks – tell us how you knew she had a party last night.”
“Ate some guys who were there,” the vamp said, resignation setting in as he realized he wasn’t likely to walk away from either of the people glaring at him. “They said she got wasted, got naked, then passed out on her bed. They had to leave without their pants and walk home in wet bathing suits. Guess they were afraid to be caught in her room if she woke up naked while they were dressing…”
Buffy’s eyes met Spike’s, relief and embarrassment flitting across her face in equal measure. She turned to Spike’s captive and beamed at him. “That’s great! Thank you!” she said.
“Does that mean you’re going to let me—“ His dust floated to the ground as Spike tucked the stake back in his pocket.
Buffy threw her arms around him, almost knocking him to the ground in her enthusiasm. “Did you hear that? I was almost a slut – but not quite. All I did was get naked… Ohmygod, I got naked? In front of everybody?” She moaned and slid down until her feet were on the ground, not noticing that he was still holding her.
“Reckon that tattoo isn’t such a secret anymore, yeah?” he said with a smile.
Buffy’s eyes widened. “Do you think anybody saw it? Just because I was naked doesn’t mean I…” She shook her head. “Nah if anybody’d seen it, they would have said so. I must have just walked to my room and passed out. I was covered – sort of – when I woke up this a.m.” She sighed in relief, unconsciously resting her head on his chest. “No. I’m sure nobody saw it.”
“What’s the point of a tattoo if nobody sees it?”
“I know it’s there,” she said, pushing herself away from him gently enough that it couldn’t be seen as a rejection. “It’s there for me… not for anybody else.”
“Now I’m really curious,” he said, letting her go but keeping one hand on her arm. “Were you drunk when you got it? How long have you had it?”
She gazed back at him, her eyes thoughtful. “I wasn’t drunk. I was… unhappy. And I’ve had it for years. Since long before… I’ve had it a long time.”
He gazed back at her with mingled doubt and hope in his eyes. “Buffy?” His voice sounded less like the confident hero he’d come back as, and more like the love-stricken vampire she’d thought was buried with Sunnydale.
She blushed and reached up to touch his cheek. “I’ll show you when we–I get home. Okay?”
“Gonna hold you to that, Slayer.” He was recovering some of his normal bravado. “If I have to strip you naked myself, I’m going to see this tattoo. I promise you.”
“It’s been a long time since you got me naked. Do you think you can still do it?” She batted her eyes at him as she threw out the challenge.
Instead of answering her, he grabbed her hand and began walking fast, dragging her along with him.
“Hey! What are you doing? Where are we going?”
“Where do you think we’re going? Back to your bloody apartment.”
“I wasn’t through patrolling!”
“You dusted a bunch of vamps, and found out you didn’t shag anybody last night. Good night’s work, I’d say.”
“What if I don’t want to go back yet?” she pouted, keeping up with him even as she protested that she didn’t want to go.
He whirled and pinned her against the side of a building. “Then I’ll get you naked right here and now.”
Her breath was coming hard and fast. “Promises, promises…”
“I swear, Slayer. If you’re just playin’ with me….” His voice was half pleading, half snarling.
In reply, she went up on her toes and fastened her mouth on his, keeping it there until he groaned and began to kiss her back. Lost in the moment, they failed to notice the small crowd that gathered to watch. The extra heartbeats eventually worked their way from Spike’s ears to his overheated brain and he glanced up. Shifting into game face, he snarled once and sent them scattering.
Buffy was laughing, her red face pressed against his chest. “Okay, here and now probably not the best idea.” She raised her eyes. “Race you home?”
Spike’s hand was gently stroking the picture on the inside of her thigh. Occasionally his fingers would slide up just a little and Buffy would catch her breath for a second.
“You know I’m going to tear out the throat of the wanker who did this, don’t you?”
She giggled. “He was a nice guy… and gay, I think. And I kept my underwear on the whole time.” Her voice softened. “Do you… is it okay?”
He looked from the small heart with the tiny railroad spike through it to her anxious face. “You have to ask?” He stroked it again. “Has anyone else seen it?”
“No, it was just for me. I needed to have something…” She shrugged. “That’s why it’s so private. It was nobody else’s business who I—” She watched his face shut down and hastened on, “But it doesn’t need to be! Private, I mean. I—”
“You’re bloody well not going to go around showing it off!” he growled, his eyes flashing yellow.
“I didn’t mean that!” She slapped him on his bare chest. Her voice and expression softened, and she cupped his cheek as she continued. “I meant that, if it was okay with you… if you wanted me to… I’d get one somewhere more… visible.”
He tilted his head and looked into her eyes, searching for what, she wasn’t sure. Then he relaxed and settled back against the pillows pulling her with him to rest against his side. “We’ll talk about it. Maybe we could get matching tattoos…”
“’K,” she said, her eyes falling shut.
Just as she drifted off to sleep, she heard him mutter, “I kind of wish the big poof had gotten a good look at it when he….”
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