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The Vamp Around the Corner by Rebcake
Chapter 2
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Joyce called with an invitation to a Christmas party at Spike’s house taking place on the Saturday after finals were finished.

“I know it’s a few weeks off, but he really wanted to make sure you got the invitation ‘before your dance card fills’.”

Buffy wondered if this could possibly be a date. Probably not, if he was setting it up through her mom.

“My what?”

Joyce laughed. “Those were his exact words. I think he thinks you’d rather go to an end-of-term kegger or something.”

Inwardly, Buffy groaned. He did see her as a dumb kid.

“Yeah, right. Because Buffy and beer are so mixy. You guys are going, right?”

“We are. Dawn informs me that it is an event that requires new dresses.”

“Oh, really?” That sounded promising. Even if it wasn’t a date, she was confident she could find a dress that would move things in the right direction. “So…shopping?”

“Shopping,” promised Joyce.


Turns out, while shopping at this time of year, you were bound to run into people you knew.

The Summers women emerged from the last shop on their list, laden with bags and chattering about their epic success at the sale rack, nearly running over a dejected-looking Spike.

“Spike!” said Dawn, who spied him first.

He looked over at them with surprise and made a visible effort to rearrange his face into his more usual cool and confident expression.

“Hey there, Bit. Ladies.” He took in their bags and flushed faces. “Happy hunting, then? Must be parched after all that. Can I buy you all a drink?”

“That would be lovely, Spike,” said Joyce. “You’re very kind.”

He shuddered. “Just need to get out from under these fluorescent lights. Makes my skin crawl.”

They found a restaurant with a blooming onion on the menu — a thrilling prospect for Dawn and Spike, apparently — and a quiet booth tucked into a shadowed corner. Buffy could almost convince herself it was verging on romantic, but the vision of Dawn primly fussing with her Shirley Temple across the table ruined the illusion. As did the fact that she couldn’t get a word in edgewise while Spike and her mom talked about gallery stuff.

Was she ever going to get any time alone with this guy?

Joyce finished her drink and picked up her purse.

“Thank you again, Spike. I feel ready to brave the mall once more. Dawn, you and I have one more stop to make. Buffy, shall we meet you at the fountain in, say, forty-five minutes? You can manage the bags, can’t you?”

Ooh. Conspicuously uninvited. Praise Allah. Or one of those guys, anyway.

“Sure thing, mom. I’ll just keep on taking a load off. Save my strength for defending our retreat. Have fun!”

Once they were gone, Spike signaled for another round. He seemed to be steeling himself for something. They were finally alone. Where was the flirty sex god now? Not even looking at her. Her skin was buzzing at being near him, but he didn’t seem to be affected by her at all. Buffy started to get annoyed.

“Something bothering you?” she asked. He shot a quick glance at her before concentrating on fiddling with his empty glass.

“What? Oh, not really. It’s just the holidays I suppose. Can get a fellow down.”

Oh. Well. She could sympathize with that. She was all about the sympathy, in fact.

“Mom told me that you don’t have any family nearby. That’s got to be tough.”

He poked at what was left of the onion, not looking at her.

“No family anymore, period. It was just me and my…grandfather…for a long time. He wasn’t well. Took a lot of looking after, but I didn’t mind. Gave me something to focus on, you know? He was killed about four years back, and it’s just me left. Still a bit at loose ends, I expect.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Are you?” he asked, pinning her with a challenging look.

Urgh. He must be one of those annoying people who mistook every expression of sympathy as an apology, some admission of guilt. Why did they do that? She obviously didn’t have anything to do with his poor old grandpa’s death. She met his gaze.

“Yes. I’m sorry for your loss, and I’m sorry that you’re feeling down.” She cast about for a way to put things in a more positive light for him. “Look, I don’t know you very well, but you seem like a guy with a lot going for him. You’re young, you’re smart, you’re handsome, you’ve got friends, and they seem to care about you. You’ve got my mom in your corner and that’s like having your own army, right there.”

He smiled briefly. “Yeah. I’ve got friends. I’d almost forgotten what that was like.” He sighed. “Still, nothing beats family.”

He took a breath and fixed his gaze on the red votive candle nestled in the seasonal centerpiece. Slowly, he reached out his hand and held it over the flame. Smoke soon began to curl around his fingers, but he held it there for long seconds, seemingly mesmerized. Buffy was about to intervene when the waitress set their drinks on the table, startling them both. He pulled his hand back and blinked at her. He regained focus and shrugged.

“Oh well. Can’t be helped. Just like an old friend used to say — the trick is not to mind it.”

Buffy was beginning to think that he was a little weird, and not just because he was English. She grabbed his hand to check for injury. It was unmarked.

“Gonna kiss it all better?” he asked with a smirk. Ooh, flirty Spike was back.

She rolled her eyes and dropped the hand, but couldn’t help smiling. He turned toward her in the booth and flung his arm across the back of the bench, almost touching her shoulder.

“So, we’ve got a few minutes to kill, pet. What do you want to talk about? Wait. I’ve got something. What was it? Oh, right. You said something about me being handsome?”

She ducked her head. “You heard that, huh?”

He nodded. “Fascinating subject. Bears further discussion, don’t you think?”


Before she knew it, it was time to go meet her family. Spike walked her to the fountain and stood squinting up into the mid-afternoon light spilling through the atrium ceiling. He was a bit strange, and made her feel all kinds of unsettled, but she couldn’t remember ever feeling such a thrill around a guy before. She usually only got this worked up from slaying, but it was nice having that level of excitement without all the bloodshed.

Yep, Buffy knew for certain what she wanted Santa to bring her. She spent the ride home wondering how Spike would look stuffed into her stocking come Christmas morning.


Spike’s house was bedecked with all the holiday trimmings. Beautiful tree, swags of garlands, tons of holly, ivy, mistletoe and other greenery. A fire blazed merrily in the fireplace. A young woman played seasonal tunes on the piano in the corner of the living room.

Joyce introduced Buffy to Xander, the young man who had built her deck. He was open and friendly, if a little juvenile. Buffy was unsurprised when Dawn bounced off to play video games with him. Joyce was soon chatting happily with a group of art lovers. Even with the great new dress, Buffy was feeling awkward. She didn’t really know anybody here, though they seemed nice enough. They were townies and she was a gownie, even if a townie by relation. She didn’t want to hang out by the food table for long, just in case she actually turned into a crab puff by eating so many of them. She wandered over to look at the large painting hung over the mantle.

It was an old-fashioned portrait of four young people in elegant Victorian garb. Even through the impressionistic brush strokes, she could tell that the women were stunning. There was a blonde that looked regal and imposing in spite of her youth. A demure brunette with striking, luminous blue eyes wore a smile that told the viewer she had a delicious secret. The men were handsome enough, she supposed, though the bigger one had really terrible hair, and his sneer was not attractive. Something was vaguely familiar about him, she thought, before the smaller man in the portrait captured her attention. He had longer, darker hair, but his blue eyes blazed above prominent cheekbones — a dead ringer for Spike. Buffy laughed.

“What’s got you so jolly this evening, Slayer?” Spike came to stand beside her in front of the fire.

Buffy pointed at the painting. “This is really good. I thought it was authentically old, but then I saw your face painted on it and got the joke. It’s way better than those Old West fake photos, that’s for sure.”

A shadow passed over his face as he gazed up at the picture.

“That’s prob’ly because it’s not a fake. Been in the family for a century, at least.”

“But, that could be you!”

“Expect so, in another time and place. Funny, isn’t it?” He didn’t sound like he thought it was funny at all.

“So, I guess you’re related, huh?” She looked again at the other faces, not seeing any strong resemblance to Spike in them. The dark-haired man looked down on her, his haughty expression challenging. She could almost imagine they’d met somewhere, but it was silly to think it.

Spike cleared his throat and pointed at the blonde woman. “She was my great grandmother, as I understand it. Vindictive bitch, it’s said. No doubt she had her reasons.” He made a visible effort to shake the gloom settling around him. “Sorry, pet. Seem a bit stuffy to you? Want to get some air?”

“Air is one of my favorite things,” agreed Buffy.

Outdoors in the nighttime was her specialty. Riley used to tell her that she was at her most beautiful in the moonlight. She liked to think there was some truth in it, although he wasn’t usually so poetic. She worried he’d got the line out of a manual: 50 Effective Techniques for Talking to Your Prospective Partner, Female.

Spike led her out onto the patio. A couple of party-goers were smoking cigarettes while lounging around a firepit set into the flagstones, but they were otherwise alone. It was cool and crisp by southern California standards, but that was no impediment to Buffy, who spent more time outdoors in the evening air than your average co-ed. A pool shimmered off to one side, underneath a trellis strung with tiny lights. In the other direction was a winding path leading to a merrily lit gazebo.

“Ooh! Cute!” exclaimed Buffy. “C’mon!” She tugged his arm and took off down the path.

Spike groaned. “Fussy old pile. Been meaning to tear it down for years, but the landscaper keeps going on about feng shui bollocks until I’m so bored I’ve forgotten what we were talking about.”

“Don’t be a grinch. It’s sweet!” Buffy bounded up the steps. The gazebo had a bench built around the edges, appointed with scattered throw pillows, but the floor was open. She threw her arms wide and spun in a circle. The little lights blinked gaily, the rush of cool air caressed her skin. She felt like she was dancing in dry champagne, effervescent. “It’s beautiful!”

Spike stood at the bottom of the steps, looking up at her with a hungry expression. He slowly mounted the stairs, never taking his eyes from her face. His gaze grew hotter as he drew closer. She shivered. This must be what prey felt like. Interesting. She wasn’t sure if she couldn’t move, or just didn’t want to. He prowled around her, and she felt a wave of goosebumps spring up as if her skin could tell where his eyes swept over her body. God! If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was as much a creature of the dark as she.

He halted in front of her. Wordlessly, he pointed up. She glanced at the crossbeams and saw a clump of mistletoe hanging directly over them. She gulped and looked back to him.

“Don’t want to…” he started, before grinding to a halt. He looked into her eyes with such intensity that she felt he was at war with himself. She could see the desire, but there was something else. Suspicion, maybe?

She had no such ambivalence. She stood on her toes, wound her fingers in his hair and brought his mouth down to hers. He tensed for a moment, but then kissed her back with fervor. She felt electricity flow between them, cold and ferocious. It arced over her skin, from scalp to tingling toes. The sensation was so strong, she felt barely able to stay upright. This was passion as she’d never felt it before. Yet, something about the phenomenon seemed familiar. Then she realized.

Her slaydar was on overload. VAMPIRE! it screamed. She pulled back. His eyes flew open, and when she saw the glint of yellow reflecting from them she knew she was right.

How was it possible? She’d seen him in the sun. Watched him run his hand over a candle flame. Talked with him, laughed with him. In a split second, she decided it must have just happened. This was no longer Spike, and she would do her duty.
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