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“Slayer? What the hell are you doing out here tonight?”
“It’s just a night, Spike. There could be evil about – doing, you know, evil things.”
“There’s nobody within miles. It’s New Year’s Eve. Even the vamps are partying.” He cocked his head at her. “Which leads me to the question, why aren’t you all gussied up and dancing your cute little arse off somewhere?”
“Didn’t want to,” she said, her body language making it very clear that should be end of that line of questioning. But this was Spike….
“Bollocks! Try that on somebody who doesn’t know you as well as I do. The girl who had two San Francisco cops boogying on a table with her isn’t skipping New Year’s Eve because she didn’t feel like partying.”
Buffy winced. “Can we not talk about that night, please? I’m still trying to remember what I did and who I did it with.” A low growl was her only answer and she flinched again before finding her righteous indignation. “Don’t you growl at me! You were kissing some… some skanky brunette. And for all you know, I didn’t do anything with anybody! So just… shut up.”
“Still haven’t answered my question, pet. Why aren’t you at a party somewhere?”
“Idon’thaveadate,” she mumbled, turning her head away and hoping he’d leave it alone. Fat chance, Buffy
To her surprise, instead of mocking her, he shook his head and sighed. He offered her a leather-clad arm. “Can’t have a travesty like that, can we? Miss Summers, would you do me the honor of allowing me to escort you tonight?”
The unfamiliar language and studied mannerisms left Buffy speechless, even as she automatically took the proffered arm. They started walking down the street in the general direction of Buffy’s apartment, strolling peacefully until she came to an abrupt halt.
“What are you doing? What are we doing? What are you up to?”
Another rumbling growl told her that wasn’t the well-mannered response he’d been looking for. “I’m offering to give you a ‘date’ tonight, so you can go to whatever bloody party it is you’re ducking out of. Can you just, for once in your bloody life, let me do something nice without questioning my motives?”
“Oh,” was the best she could come up with after a moment of silently studying his face. They began walking again, more quickly this time, as Spike’s anger went to his feet. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I would love to go to the party with you, William.”
“Fine,” he said gruffly, pointing to her front door. “Up you go then. Get into something frilly. I’ll be waiting here when you get back.”
“You don’t want to wait upstairs?” She frowned, suspicion once again clouding her eyes.
Spike gave an exasperated sigh. “You want to go with me like this?” He gestured to the jeans and tee-shirt visible under his unbuttoned duster. “Go on. I’m just going to find something else to wear.”
“Gonna rob a bloody clothing store if I can’t find someone my size to mug,” he growled. “Would you just quit worrying about what I’m doing and go make yourself pretty? Prettier,” he added quickly when her eyes narrowed. “Make yourself prettier.”
“Nice save.” Her mouth twitched in spite of herself. “Go on. I’ll be down in a little while.”
When a much cleaned up Buffy came down the steps, walking carefully in her new four inch pumps and holding her only winter coat tightly around the black silk cocktail dress she’d splurged on last week, Spike was waiting for her as promised. His ubiquitous duster was still there, but she could see the black trousers and dress shoes visible beneath it. She pushed the coat open to find Spike’s upper torso covering in a form-fitting black dress shirt that emphasized his white skin.
“You look like you might have mugged one of the boys from the coffee shop,” she said with a teasing smile. “They like to show off their bodies like that.”
“If you got, flaunt it, love.” He smiled back at her and held out his arm again. “Are you going to be able to get where we’re goin’ in those… interesting… shoes?” Unspoken was the “come-fuck-me-heels” that he would have once used for shoes like that. Matching sighs and small smiles were their only nods to their shared past. Buffy tucked her arm in his and pointed down the street.
“Nope. No problem. It’s just right there.”
Once she’d pointed it out, the music and laughter that had just been typical New Year’s Eve background noise up until that point, became more noticeable. He identified the building and began to walk. It took only a few minutes to reach the front door, and another one for someone to answer the buzzer. “It’s me, Buffy,” she said into the intercom. “Sorry I’m late. Can we come up?”
The door was buzzed open without any verbal reply, and they entered, quickly locating the elevators. Buffy had released his arm when she used the intercom, and they reached the party no longer touching, but obviously together.
“Who are these people?” Spike asked as he knocked on the door. “Do I know them?”
“They’re friends of Dawn and Xander’s. I couldn’t come without a date because that was my excuse for not allowing Dawn to fix me up with some guy Xander works with.”
“If you think Dawn is going to buy—Hey there, Niblet. Thanks for inviting us.”
“Us? There’s an ‘us’?” She stared back and forth between Buffy and Spike, her eyes narrowing when she caught the guilt on Buffy’s face. “You are so full of it! Both of you.”
“We have no idea what you’re talking about,” Buffy sniffed. “I said I already had a date, and here it—he—is.”
“We’ll just see about that,” Dawn muttered, turning as the host and hostess walked up. “This is my sister Buffy,” she said with an abrupt change in demeanor. “And this is her… date… Spike. Buffy, this is Alice and Roy. They live here. It’s their party.”
“Thank you for including us,” Buffy said, smiling at them while Spike took her coat. “This is William, but you can call him Spike.”
“Sounds like a dog’s name,” Roy said, elbowing Spike. “Is that what she calls you when she wants you to come to heel?” He roared at his own joke, while his wife rolled her eyes and made apologetic faces at Spike and Buffy.
“No,” Spike said, his face showing no trace of the anger Buffy saw in the set of his shoulders. “That’s what she calls me when she comes.” He dropped their coats on the stack and walked away, quickly finding the bar and helping himself to a stiff drink. He could feel Dawn and Buffy glaring holes in his back, but ignored them, sitting on a narrow bench to enjoy his drink and check out the rest of the guests. His eyes followed a pretty redhead as she walked past him. Unable to pick up a trace of heartbeat from her, he watched as she joined a drunken man who seemed delighted to see her. She put her arms around his waist, smiling indulgently up at his slack face.
“Do you think she’s okay, or should I dust her? And by the way, you are soooo dead!”
“Love you too, pet.” He shrugged and moved over to make room for Buffy to sit beside him. “I don’t know. She’s definitely a vamp, but she looks like she genuinely likes that bloke. Maybe it’s alright. Probably wouldn’t make a very good impression if you staked one of the other guests right off the bat.”
“I think good impression went out the window when you decided to be a bigger ass than the host is.” She nudged his side. “And you’re the one who’s going to find a way to explain to Dawn that you were just being an ass and I’m not sleeping with you again.”
“Night’s young, Slayer,” he said with a grin, putting his arm around her and hugging her too quickly for her to have time to object. He stood up and held out his hand. “Let’s get you something to drink, yeah? We’re several hours behind everybody else here when it comes to alcohol consumption. Need to catch up, don’t we?”
She allowed him to lead her to the bar where she firmly insisted she was only having one drink and she was saving it for midnight champagne. Spike just smiled and fixed her a rum and coke. “Here you go, Slayer. Live a little.”
“I think I did that already. It didn’t go well,” she said, accepting the drink anyway, “Are you trying to get me drunk?”
“Not me. I know where that leads, and these are good shoes. I’ve got no desire to clean slayer puke off them.”
“I hate you.”
“We’ll see. Keep it up…”
Rather than take that much too easy opening, he just waited for her to think of the appropriately piggy response, laughing when she blushed and glared at him. He kept laughing, pushing away her ineffectual swats at his head. “I didn’t say a word.”
“Your voice was in my brain. You’ve corrupted my brain.” She tipped her glass up and took a big swallow. “I think drunk is the only way to deal with you.”
“If you get drunk and can’t remember if or who you shagged tonight, I don’t want you complaining to me.”
“If I get that drunk again, I expect you to save me from myself. You have to promise me.”
“You’ve got my word, love.” He leered at her. “Unless, of course, it’s me you’re trying to shag. Then I’m goin’ off duty.”
“You wish,” she snorted, holding out her now-empty glass. “More please.”
“You are so whipped, you make me look macho.” Xander’s voice only reached Spike’s ears. Buffy remained happily oblivious that their conversation had been overheard.
“I could crawl after her licking those sexy little shoes, and I’d still be more manly than you are,” Spike growled, elbowing his way past Xander to the bar. “Go see that she doesn’t wander off while I’m refilling her glass, would you?”
Xander willingly joined Buffy who was looking at the red-haired girl and mentally twirling a stake.
“Hi. I’m on keep Buffy out of trouble duty until the undead returns.”
“Hi. Did he really say that?”
“More or less. So, what’s the what? Are you two really all buddy-buddy again, or is he a feeble attempt to make Dawn stop trying to fix you up?”
“Uh… some from column A and some from column B? I don’t know. He’s my date tonight. That’s as far as we’ve gotten.”
Xander nodded. “So, you don’t mind then that he’s trying to put some moves on another woman?”
“What? Where?” Buffy whipped her head around, relaxing when she saw that Spike was striking up a conversation with the red-haired vampire. “Oh, that’s okay. He’s just trying to find out if she’s evil.”
“She’s a vampire, Xan. Don’t tell me you didn’t know?”
“She wasn’t a vampire last week! She works with Dawn. She can’t be a vamp. You’re wrong. Spike is wrong. She’s…” The red-head was snarling at Spike, her fangs clearly visible for a second. “… she’s a vamp. Oh shit.”
“So, who’s the guy she’s hanging on? Do you know him too?”
“Dawn does. I think he’s Sandy’s boyfriend. I wonder if he knows?”
Spike worked his way back through the crowd to give Buffy her drink. He nodded his thanks at Xander before saying to Buffy, “She says she’s here with her boyfriend and that she isn’t planning to eat any of the guests. Told me to sod off.”
“Seriously? She told you to ‘sod off’?”
“Well, the American equivalent of it, she did. She’s lucky I didn’t dust her just for being rude.”
“Maybe I should introduce myself,” Buffy said. “Let’s see if she wants to be rude to me.” Handing Spike her drink to hold, Buffy began to work her way across the crowded room, arriving just in time to hear Dawn say, “Sandy! Where have you been? You’ve been out all week. I think they’re going to fire you.”
“Sandy’s probably having a little problem getting to work – what with it being daylight then. Am I right, Sandy?” Buffy smiled her best insincere smile. “Hi. I’m Dawns sister, Buffy. The Vampire Slayer. Maybe you’ve heard of me?”
“Sheesh! I already told your pushy boyfriend I wasn’t planning to eat anybody here. What’s wrong with you people?”
“He said you were rude to him. Is that true?”
“If you mean, did I tell him to fuck off, yeah I did. He’s lucky I didn’t bite him.”
Buffy and Dawn exchanged looks. “Do you want to tell her the facts of unlife, or should I?” Buffy asked. Dawn shrugged. “I’m just going to back to my other, heartbeat having friends. She’s all yours. Hey, Sandy, I’ll just tell them at work that you quit. ‘k?”
As Dawn walked away, Buffy looked at Sandy with genuine sympathy. “Did you really not pick up on the fact that Spike’s a vampire too? Only, you know, one that’s been around for a lot longer that you have? Your chances of surviving trying to bite him would be somewhere between slim and none.”
“He’s a vamp? But he’s with you, and you said you’re a slayer.”
“I’m the Slayer. And yes, he’s with me, and we’ll both be watching you tonight. One hint that you’re planning to have the guests for dinner and your boyfriend’s going to be kissing a pile of dust at midnight.”
“Oh, so you can date a vampire, but my boyfriend can’t? I see how it is…”
“Not yet you haven’t….” Buffy growled as she walked away. “But keep annoying me and you will.”
She rejoined Spike and took several big swallows of her drink, only stopping when she noticed the look on his face. “What?”
“Nothing. It’s just…” He shrugged. “Was remembering a time when that much booze would have had you making adorable little faces.” He risked running a hand down her cheek, smiling when she didn’t flinch away. “Sometimes I kind of miss that little girl.”
Blushing, Buffy mumbled, “That little girl is who got so drunk she threw up on your shoes.” She raised her eyes and voice. “And anyway, you were feeding me straight Jack Daniels! This is a mixed drink. Much less yucky face making.”
“But it can get you just as drunk,” he responded, taking the glass from her hand and setting it down. “Why don’t we dance instead of drinking?”
“You mean real dancing? Like to music?”
“’S what everybody else is doing, isn’t it?” He gestured at the other couples swaying together in the very small area that had been cleared for dancing. “It’s getting close to midnight. Everybody wants to be with their date when it comes time for the kissing.” He cocked his head at her. “What did you think I meant?”
“Well, I don’t know, it’s just… when you talk about ‘dancing’ you used to mean fighting… or… other stuff that didn’t involve music.”
“Ah. Sorry, love. This time I just meant finding an unoccupied couple of inches on the floor and pretending we can actually move around there.”
Buffy took his extended hand and let him lead her to a corner next to the couch. Ignoring the couple making out beside them, she slid her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder. They gave matching sighs when his arms encircled her waist and their bodies melded together. Afraid to break the spell, neither one spoke, letting their emotions make themselves known through small shifts in position and slight caresses and squeezes.
Only when the music stopped and the countdown began, did Buffy raise her head and meet his gaze. As the New Year rang in, she went up on her toes to touch her lips to his. They remained frozen for a second, lips barely touching, until he groaned and pulled her tighter. The previous few years and events vanished as they fell into the same world-blocking kisses they’d shared for such a short time so long ago.
Not until Dawn tapped Buffy on the shoulder and cleared her throat, did they realize that the kissing time was over and everyone else was shouting and blowing on noisemakers.
“Just so you know, Sandy vamped out a few minutes ago and now I can’t see her or her boyfriend anywhere.”
“Shit! We forgot to watch her!”
Dawn snickered. “I’m pretty sure you forgot that anybody else was here. Xander thought we might have to throw ice water on you to get your attention.” She smiled at them. “I guess that answers his question about whether or not Spike is really your date, huh?”
“We’ll talk about this later,” Buffy said, blushing deeply. “Or maybe… not. We have to find skanky Sandy and make sure she’s just banging her boyfriend and not actually—”
“Found them, pet. This way.” Spike tugged her toward the hallway where they found Sandy’s boyfriend lying on the floor, his pants unzipped and Sandy’s mouth on his cock. “Well, guess we did catch her—”
“If you even think about finishing that sentence, I’m going home alone,” Buffy warned, whirling on him and putting her hand over his mouth. His lips moved under her fingers, air from his laughter blew over the tips. He grabbed her hand before she could pull it away and planted a kiss on her palm.
“Does that mean what I think it means? ‘Cause if it does, I don’t care if she drains everybody here, we’re leaving now.”
“Dawn and Xander are still here,” Buffy said primly. “We can’t let her vamp them.”
“Fat chance,” he scoffed. “She’s what, a week old? And they’ve been slaying vamps for how many years? We could probably just leave and tell them to handle it.”
From behind them, Sandy’s boyfriend was making sounds of appreciation that seemed about to reach a crescendo. Buffy turned her back on the scene and pushed Spike out of the hall and into the main room. Dawn looked at them, a question on her face; Buffy shook her head and shrugged. She then pointed to the door and waved her good-bye.
Dawn and Xander watched them pick up their coats, studying the way Spike held Buffy’s coat for her before putting his duster on. “What do you think?”
“I’ll give them a couple of days before he pisses her off and they start fighting.”
“Well, I know that. I mean, what do you think chances are they can make it work this time. After all the … you know, Angel stuff…”
Xander shrugged. “Spike’s a bigger wuss than I am when it comes to women. I’d say he’s already dealt and decided he can live with it if he gets to be the one with Buffy.”
With another wave, the Slayer and her vampire went out into the night.
As they walked the short distance to Buffy’s apartment building, they exchanged New Year’s greetings with the other revelers they passed. At some point, Spike had taken Buffy’s hand in his, linking their fingers. They paused at the entrance to her building.
“My roomies are both out tonight,” Buffy said, almost shyly. “They won’t be home until tomorrow – if you want to….” She waved her free hand around vaguely.
“I will always want to….” He imitated her hand motions. “But I don’t want to push for something you’re not ready to give me. It was a pleasant night – you drank, we danced, we kissed… not stupid enough to think that means anything but that you enjoyed yourself.”
“You’re looking pretty stupid to me right now,” she said, hands on her hips and glare firmly fixed.
“Bloody hell, Slayer. What are you trying to do – ruin a lovely evening?” His own temper rose quickly to match hers.
“I’m trying to get the man I…” She took a deep breath and exhaled explosively. “The man I love and missed and have been waiting for too damn long for him to notice it, to come upstairs and make love to me. And now you’re sounding like you were just trying to show me a good time and you don’t care if—mmmph—”
When he stopped kissing her this time, he pressed their foreheads together. “Say it again, Buffy.”
“Say what again? That you’re stupid?”
His answering snarl brought her attempt at funny to an abrupt halt. “I’m sorry. I just… this is not my thing, you know? I… I can love. The First Slayer said it was my gift. But I’m not so good with the saying it, you know? But I do. Love you. I wasn’t lying when I said it the first time. And if I’d known you were still alive, I would never—” Another growl stopped her. She nodded, hanging her head. “Sorry.”
He shook his head. “I need to get over myself. Wasn’t there; you had no reason to… I’m sorry. Forget it, Buffy.”
“It’s forgotten,” she whispered. “Can we go upstairs now and make new memories? Better ones?”
He picked her up and began walking up the steps two at a time, kicking the locked door open without stopping. “When did you say your flat mates would be back?”
“Sometime tomorrow,” she murmured into his neck, running her lips up and down it.
“Might not be done by then,” he said, lowering her to unlock and open the apartment door.
“Then they can’t come home.”
“That’s my girl.” He smiled at her, setting her on her feet just inside the door of her bedroom. “But think we should close this, just in case.” He shrugged out of his coat and put it on the outside doorknob before pulling the door shut. “Now where were we?”
“Making new memories,” she ordered, brushing the pile of clothes off the bed and kicking off her shoes. She turned her back so that he could unzip her dress, saying apologetically, “I paid a lot of money for this dress. I don’t want to destroy it.”
“Wasn’t planning to rip it off you, Slayer. I’m not completely devoid of self-control and common sense.”
She glanced back over her shoulder and raised one eyebrow. “Who are you and what have you done with Spike?”
Very funny,” he growled, nipping at the bare shoulder he’d exposed. He undid her lacy bra at the same time he finished unzipping the dress, letting them both drop to the floor. Buffy carefully stepped out, bending over to pick it up and presenting him with a view of her thong-clad ass. His growl deepened and she giggled as she stood up and carefully put the dress over the back of a chair.
“Problem?” She shimmied out of her thong, leaving it on floor and facing him.
There was no reply; he just picked her up and tossed her into the middle of the bed, ripping his own shirt off while she lay there giggling at him. His pants were soon gone, and he launched himself at her, landing on his hands and knees. He lowered himself to rest upon her body, fastening his lips on hers. When she was whimpering under him, he lifted his head to look down at her. She met his eyes, refusing to flinch from the love there that had made her so uncomfortable at one time.
“New memories,” he said, as if reading her mind.
“New memories,” she responded, wrapping her arms and legs around him and pulling him into her. “New Year, new memories, new beginning.”
Happy New Year, everyone!
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