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Dreams and Desotos by bloodshedbaby
 
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10/30/05- I am in the process of going over this fic and rewriting certain parts. Thank you to chicklet for beta'ing the newest versions!

    Rated NC-17

 Chapter 1

    As Buffy loaded the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, she once again marveled on the weird path her life had taken.  This point in her life where she was finally happy. Probably happier than she'd ever been, if she was all honest girl. The events that had led to this point had at first left her drenched in despair, then slowly gave way to something greater than she had ever thought possible.  Almost as if fate had dictated a series of events to unite two people who would never have given the other a chance otherwise. It was almost...

 

     Cosmic. 

 

     How else could she explain living in a small quiet town in New England with her previous enemy, and being the happiest she'd ever been?

 

    Shaking her head wryly at the direction her thoughts had wandered, Buffy rinsed the remaining contents of the coffee mug under the running water before lining it up neatly in its place next to the others.  For someone who didn't even need to eat food to survive, Spike sure dirtied up more dishes than any two people combined.  She didn't know how he did it, but there they always were, a huge stack of dirty dishes haphazardly piled in the sink. 

 

    Buffy didn't really mind the little domestic task though. It seemed to  provide the best opportunity for her thoughts to roam, like they were doing now. When she moved on to wiping down the tiled counters, her mind once again made the familiar journey to that night six months ago. The night that had changed her entire life.

 

SIX MONTHS PRIOR

 

    Buffy stumbled out of the looming, oppressive mansion, her eyes wide with shock. What had she just done? Angel... Oh god, it had been Angel... Tears pooled in her eyes before taking the final plunge down her cheeks. She had just stuck a sword through the man she loved. To save the world. Again.

 

    A noise coming from behind caused her to cast blurry eyes in that direction. She saw Spike leaning heavily against the massive frame of the double doors.  His face was an unmovable mask, but his eyes were probably mirrors of her own.

 

    Agonized.

 

    Suddenly angry that she shared anything in common with this cold blooded killer, she lashed out with the only weapon she had left.

 

    "Where's Drusilla?" Buffy asked coldly, regretting the harsh words the instant they left her mouth.  

 

    "I didn't mean to," he replied in a tortured voice, his eyes searching hers as if begging for forgiveness. "She came at me.... and I shoved her." He didn't need to finish, Buffy got the picture. Angel wasn't the only vampire who had gone to hell tonight.

 

    Realizing just who he was talking to, Spike shook his gloomy thoughts aside and slipped into his typical Big Bad role. He pushed away from the door frame and adopted his familiar cocky, confident swagger, although it was lacking serious conviction tonight. "Come on, Slayer. Let's you and me get out of here.

 

    Feeling an irrational anger that this vampire was alive while hers was dead, Buffy offered him a withering glare and stormed off. She needed to get the hell away from the place where she'd had to kill her lover. Away from the vampire who wasn't as evil as he should be. 

 

    Away from everything.

 

    Buffy was fortunate that she didn't run into any vamps on the way home, as her distraction could have proven fatal.  As she had walked along, her brain had become numb. Blessedly blindingly anesthetized. She knew it was a defense mechanism but she couldn't give a shit at that point. Numb was of the good. Pain and agony were of the bad.

 

    When she got to her house, she noticed the lights on downstairs. Rather than attempt any confrontation with her mother, she bypassed the front door and made her way to the tree that stood tall in front of her bedroom window. As she had done so many times before, Buffy shimmied up and stepped through her window. She was the Slayer and stealth was part of the whole package.

 

    In minutes, she had shoved clothes and various things into a leather satchel. She didn't really care what she grabbed, just knew she wasn't coming back. She was finished. Her mom had told her not to come back which really made things that much easier. Buffy had saved the world for the last damn time. They had given her grief the previous year when she had tried to quit, when her death had been predicted at the hands of the Master. Well, now she wasn't giving them a choice. She was done. As in, finished. Let someone else take over, because this was one job she no longer wanted.

 

    Grabbing the stash of money at the bottom of her weapons chest, Buffy slung her satchel over her shoulder, and took one last assessing look around before racing over to her bed to grab the stuffed pig from his perch on her pillows. Can't forget Mr. Gordo, she thought frantically. She exited her room the same way she had come in, and was on the ground in seconds. Suddenly she felt that little tingle at the back of her neck that warned her of approaching danger, and whipped around, hand already reaching for the stake within easy reach. It didn't come as a surprise to see Spike, somehow knowing he'd be turning up.  She released her hold on the stake that was in her grip as they regarded each other.

 

    He had parked in front of Buffy's next door neighbor, his black monstrosity idling noisily at the curb. Buffy stalked over to where he was leaning against the passenger door and not a word was exchanged as he simply held the door open for her. Not looking him in the eye, she allowed herself to slide in, and he shut the door firmly behind her.

 

    He walked around the Desoto and climbed behind the wheel. Shifting the car into drive, Spike slammed his foot on the gas, and they roared out of town and as far from Sunnyhell as they could get. Neither saying a word, both locked in the horrible memories of the last few hours.

 

    And so it began. 

 

    She didn't ask why he'd come for her, nor did she question her total lack of hesitation in accepting his silent invitation. They both needed to run, and it just seemed easier to do it together. And they both understood that traveling with their mortal enemy came at some risk, one that they were both more than willing to take. 

 

    They had driven for over an hour before Spike finally pulled off. "Gas," was the only word he uttered, and Buffy nodded. She got out and used the bathroom, not even noticing the scum and filth that clung to the walls. She did make sure that she washed her hands, briefly coming out of her self induced indifference to notice the lack of housekeeping the bathroom possessed when she was forced to wipe her dripping hands on the ass of her jeans. Giving her reflection a dirty look, she exited the bathroom and returned to the land of not giving a damn as she climbed back into the car. Spike was waiting for her, and they took off, once more not exchanging any words.

 

    Just before the morning rays made themselves known, Spike pulled into a motel. Buffy couldn't even say where they were, it could have been anywhere. And she didn't really care. All she wanted to do was sleep, fall into deep oblivion. She waited in the car while Spike checked them in, not offering to pay her way. And Spike, for his part, didn't ask her to. There were no objections when he came back and motioned her to follow, slipping the key into the lock. This place didn't rate fancy key cards, and with a twist of the old fashioned key, he threw the door open. A cloud of stale cigarette smoke came billowing out of the room and with one last gasp of clean air, Buffy followed him inside.

 

    Nothing was said by either of them about the single king size bed that dominated the tiny room. In another time, Buffy figured she would have probably been embarrassed by it, the thought of sharing a bed with Spike. But right now, nothing was penetrating her hastily erected protective walls. She grabbed her satchel and went into the bathroom, not even bothering to lock the door. She stripped off her clothes and pulled out a t-shirt, slipping it on over her head. Exiting the bathroom, she climbed into bed after making sure the curtains were drawn securely.

   

      Not bothering with the niceties of clothing, Spike stripped and climbed into bed a few minutes after her. They laid stiffly on their respective sides of the bed, both trying to forget that they had sent their own loved ones to hell this day. As if in concert, they turned to the other and took comfort in each other's arms, finally allowing the repressed tears to fall. No words were ever shared, the pain was too raw. An underlying current of anger flowed at the core of both of them, each blaming the other for their current circumstances. Buffy continued to hold on to her irrational anger that Spike was the wrong vampire, it shouldn't be him offering her comfort.  And she could see the same sentiment reflected back in his eyes. It was her fault that Angelus had returned, and the consequences that followed.  Buffy wasn't Drusilla. Spike wasn't Angel. Yet they continued to hold each other as they slept, allowing the nightmares to be kept at bay. Sex wasn't part of the equation, even though Buffy could more than feel Spike's erection pressing into her.

 

     Because she wasn't Drusilla. And he wasn't Angel.

 

    And thus a pattern was soon established. Silent nights of driving with only their thoughts for company, followed by an endless stream of seedy motels where they spent the day sleeping. She had lost track along the way, didn't even know what state they were in. On those long silent drives during the night, Buffy would sometimes give in and think about what she was doing. What they were doing. While she knew Spike wouldn't try and kill her, she realized that this was not doing either one of them any good. They were doing the avoid-y thing, something that Buffy was so proficient at. Unfortunately, it was beginning to wear on both of them. Spike was becoming increasingly snarly, his demon coming out more and more often. And Buffy was... well, she didn't want to think what she was becoming.

 

    One night, after two weeks of the same cycle, Buffy decided it was time to break the silence.  "Spike? Where are we going?"

 

    He cast a quick surprised glance her way before narrowing his eyes. "You're just asking that now?"

 

    "Wasn't so much with the caring before."

 

    Spike tossed his cigarette out the window and took a moment to answer. "Dunno where we're going. Reckon we'll know when we get there."

 

    "Oh."  Buffy's face was thoughtful as she looked out the window. She had scraped the black paint off of her window so she could see whatever scenery could be discerned at night, which usually proved to be bleak and depressing. Kinda like her mood.

 

    "You wanna stop somewhere and eat?"

 

    The question was unexpected. "You mean, like go in and sit down? That type of stop and eat?"

 

    Spike picked up on the slightly hopeful tone of her voice. "Yeah."

 

    After two weeks of gas stations and drive-thru, it sounded great. "Ok." 

 

    Spike pulled into a Denny's and put the car in park. Buffy had reached down to slip her shoes back on when her car door was opened. It threw her off balance a little, manners from a vampire. Especially this vampire. She got out and he slammed it shut behind her. Keeping his hand possessively on the small of her back, he opened the door leading into the restaurant. Buffy wisely kept her mouth shut, knowing instinctively that making any comment would be of the bad.

 

    Once they were seated in a booth, Buffy looked across the table at him and took the opportunity to study him under the crappy restaurant lighting. He looked bad. Majorly bad, and she hadn't even noticed until now. His skin was almost translucent; his lips cracked and totally lacking their usual blood red tint. Dark circles haunted the hollows beneath his eyes and the usually pronounced cheekbones were now almost obscene on his gaunt face.

 

    "What are you staring at, Slayer?" he snarled, not bothering to look up from the menu.

 

    "You're not looking so good." Buffy told him.

 

    Spike looked at her over the top of the menu, one eyebrow arching sardonically. "Wouldn't cast stones, pet. Least you can see yourself in the bloody mirror," he scoffed, the slight tilt of his head in her direction indicating her own lack of stellar looks.

 

    The flash of pain that struck her face didn't go unnoticed by Spike, who sighed and set his menu down.  "Look, we've both been in a bad spot, ok?  Neither one of us has really been eating as much as we should. You're getting to be a bit on the skin and bones side yourself."

 

    That surprised her. "You haven't been feeding?"

 

    He offered her an amused snort. "Last I looked, I'm traveling with the bloody slayer."

 

    Self disgust flooded her as she realized she hadn't even thought about his feeding habits in the course of her misery. She was the damn slayer, and he could have been leaving a trail of corpses behind everywhere they went. And the worst thing? She wouldn't have cared. Some protector of the innocent she was.  "So, you haven't fed?"

 

    "Didn't say that. Just said I haven't eaten as much as I should be."

 

    "And that means.... what exactly?"  Her voice was snippy, like it used to be when she would talk to him. Spike didn't know why it pleased him to see it, but it did, finding it preferable over the indifferent monotone she had maintained.

 

    "It means that instead of completely draining a bloke, I just take a quick nip so I don't have you coming looking for me," Spike announced with a lethal timbre to his voice.

 

    "You can do that?" Buffy asked curiously. She'd actually been surprised to not have felt his fangs when she laid wrapped tightly in his arms. Especially when she would wake up and he'd be in game face as he slept, with his erection pressing into her. She'd written it off as a vampire thing, waking up fangy and hard, since he'd never tried to inflict any of those protruding appendages on her.

 

    "You're still alive, aren't you?"

 

    "Yeah, unfortunately," Buffy mumbled to herself, casting her eyes downward. The waitress approached the table,effectively putting a stop to the direction their first actual conversation had taken, and Spike ignored that he had heard her telling comment.

 

    But that stop at Denny's did more than just pad Buffy's stomach with something that hadn't come in a drive-thru bag, it broke through the dam that had kept them wrapped inside themselves. After leaving the empty restaurant, the night passed by with hesitant attempts at conversation. A tentative friendship was being formed; yet both refused to speak of anything of a personal nature, not trusting the other enough to let them into their private Hellhouse of pain.

 

    But it was a start.

 

    By the time they stopped that morning, Spike looked even worse, appearing almost skeletal now. Deep grooves were sunken into his face and his skin had a translucent blue cast to it.  Buffy didn't know how he could keep up all this monotonous driving, and there had even been a few episodes where he had swerved into the oncoming lane, making her grab the wheel and jerk them out of death's way. She knew he needed to feed, and her gut clenched up at what that meant. Not knowing where they were, the likelihood of finding a place that sold animal blood was low. The early morning hour was also a deterrent, most shops were not likely to be open for hours yet. 

 

    After Spike once again got them checked in, he threw himself tiredly on the bed and closed his eyes. Buffy sat down tentatively next to him.

 

    "I know what you're doing."

 

    He didn't open his eyes, his features remained expressionless but Buffy saw the barely discernable stiffening of his body. "What's that then, pet?"

 

    "You're not eating to punish yourself."

 

    This caused him to pry one eye open to glare at her. "And again, wouldn't cast stones if I were you. I've seen you doing the same thing."

 

    "Yeah, maybe I have," Buffy quietly admitted, but then conviction grew in her voice. "But if *I* get too hungry, all you'll have to deal with is a bitchy Buffy.  If you get too hungry, I become an appetizing snack."

 

    Intense blue eyes bored into hers, searching. "Think if that's what was on my mind, I would have killed ya already."

 

    Warily, she laid down next to him, the awkwardness of sharing their feelings stretching between them. But guilt had Buffy reaching out again. Guilt that she hadn't noticed Spike's progressive emaciation, guilt over the fact that he could snap and go on a homicidal rampage which she knew she wouldn't have the energy to stop. And the ever present guilt over what happened that night in the mansion.

 

    Silently, she raised her wrist to Spike's lips in an unvoiced offer. His eyes sprang open once more, as he smelled the scent of her skin practically shoved under his nose. His face slid easily into that of his demon at the scent of her blood pumping so close to him.

 

    "What the bloody hell is this? A bit on the suicidal side yourself, eh?" he asked angrily, pushing her arm away.

 

    Buffy propped herself up on her elbow and glared down at the face of evil below her. Anger filled her, but it was a different anger, and it felt good. "If I was being suicidal, I would have offered you my jugular, you big jerk."

 

    A smirk almost snuck onto his face as he stared up at the golden beauty of the slayer.  "Then why don't you bloody spell it out for me then."

 

    Buffy sighed tiredly, allowing her head to fall to the pillow beneath her. ""Look, I don't really know what happens when a vamp starves, but from what I can see, it's not pretty. Since you're driving, I'd rather you be all with the alertness. I don't know how to go about getting you any blood here since I don't even know where the hell we are. This is a one time offer. After this, we'll work something out."

 

    "How do you know I won't just drain ya?"

 

    Spike almost didn't think she was going to answer, the silence stretched on for so long. "Because then you'd be alone and I don't really think you want that."

 

    Anger and denial flashed heatedly in his amber eyes. "You don't know a soddin' thing about me."

 

    Buffy expected his anger, she would have been worried in its absence.  Her walls were crumbling, and while the urge to throw them back up was almost overwhelming, she knew she needed them gone. Otherwise, this lack of feeling was going to ruin her. A glimpse of tears shimmered in her eyes as she stared back at Spike. "No, I don't know you that well. But I know that I'm scared to be alone right now, and I don't want you to die." She put her wrist back to his mouth. "Please," she asked softly.

 

    A shudder went through Spike as his eyes burned into hers. With a anguished growl, he grabbed her wrist and sank his fangs into her flesh, tearing through the tender skin on the underside of her arm roughly, bringing a small cry of pain to her lips. And that sound of pain was music to his ears, he wanted to punish her. For forcing him to choose to live again.

 

    Her blood was indescribable to his starving body, the slayer component adding a rich powerful mix to it. But he took no joy in it, taking long punishing pulls, allowing the warm liquid to slide down his throat where it went to work almost immediately. He could feel her blood feeding his starving cells, filling out his skeletal frame, restoring him to his former self. Taking longer pulls than he should have, he allowed her blood to heal his body.

 

    And the better he felt, the more angry he became, deliberately digging into her wrist until his fangs scraped along tendons and bone. When his cruel action brought no response, he looked over and realized she had passed out. He could hear her heart struggling to catch up with the sudden, violent blood loss, and he wrenched his fangs out of her.

 

    "FUCK!" he yelled, jumping off the bed and stomping into the bathroom to grab a towel. Tying a pressure dressing against the gushing, gaping holes in her wrist, his self-loathing increased tenfold.  "Why the fuck didn't you stop me, you stupid bint?"  he screamed at her unconscious figure, her skin now as pale as his had been. "You're the bloody fucking slayer!"

 

    He took to pacing the room, running his hands wildly through his hair. He mentally ran through his options, and realized he had none. He'd practically drained her; he could still hear her heart frantically trying to catch up with her body's urgent demands. Why hadn't she stopped him? But he knew why. It was the same reason he had stopped feeding. If death was being offered, it was a welcome way out.

 

    And now he knew exactly what she had gone on about, why she had forced him to feed off of her. He didn't want to be alone either. If she died because of this, he would be walking out and kissing the sun. She may be the slayer and a bloody human, but she was all he had right now. 

 

    And he didn't want her to die.

 

    Pulling out a cigarette, he lit it with an agitated snap, noticing that his hands were shaking. He threw himself into the chair that was situated in the corner and watched her, listening to every beat her heart made. Spike knew if she wasn't the slayer, she would have been dead right now, and he just hoped it was enough to pull her through.

 

    Storming back over to the bed, Spike ripped the towel off of her wrist, noting that the bleeding was slowing. Unable to help himself, he sank to his knees beside the bed and grabbed her hand, bringing the mutilated wrist back to his mouth. Whereas before he had treated her flesh cruelly, now he allowed his tongue to gently brush against the gaping edges of the wounds, finding himself sickened by his actions.

 

    His saliva combined with her slayer healing ability had finally allowed the mutilated flesh to cease bleeding, a fact which Spike noted with a small amount of satisfaction. And though she lay just moments away from possible death, the heavy tangy scent of her blood continued to scream at him, pounding like furious fists on a door to every enhanced sense in his body to take even more. He'd taken enough human life to know exactly how much blood loss a mortal could withstand, and had gone well over the limit with Buffy. The compulsion to just finish the job was there, but his need to live was even stronger. And Spike now knew that in order for him to live, he needed this young girl with him. He didn't dare think of what that meant, responding to what his instincts hurled at him.

 

     Spike could not allow the vampire slayer, his only friend left, to die.

 

    Clasping her hand gently in his own, he brought her cold hand to his lips, feathering a tiny kiss to the back of it. Her lower body temperature disturbed him, and he eased the heavy comforter out from underneath her body in an attempt to get her warmed up, assuming shock was setting in. Gently, he lifted the cover up and over her body, tucking it in around her side, leaving her damaged wrist exposed so that he could monitor its healing. 

 

    Once more returning to the spot by her side, he lifted her hand in his, wrapping her lax fingers around his hand.  He brought her knuckles to his lips, keeping them there, as if the light touch of his lips alone could restore her life. Spike was finally rewarded moments later by a fluttering of her eyelids before they finally slid open to reveal her dazed hazel eyes. He watched as she blinked in exaggeration, slowly trying to bring the world into focus.

 

    Buffy felt like she was breaking out of a dark cocoon; her body felt heavy, her arms laying useless at her side  and she couldn't quite remember where she was or more frightening, how she had gotten there. She gradually became aware of her surroundings, and the stinging pain in her wrist. Slowly she turned her head to the side to investigate the source of the biting pain, and saw a pair of blue eyes shining brilliantly back at her.

 

    "You ok now?" The question came out hoarse, almost gruff.

 

    "What happened?" Buffy asked in a slightly slurred voice, eyebrows knitting together in concentration.

 

    Spike dropped her hand, causing a streak of pain to travel through her as it fell limply on the bed. He got to his feet and began pacing the room once more, anxiety pouring off him in waves.  "Almost bloody drained you, is what," Spike remarked harshly, running his fingers through his hair in a gesture that showed his agitation.

 

    Buffy struggled to push herself up to a sitting position but dizziness assaulted her from all sides. "What the bloody hell do you think you are doing? Trying to kill yourself all over again?" Spike growled, quickly returning to her side and assisting her back against the pillows. He threw her a black look, then strode over to the bag on the table. Pulling out a juice that she had purchased at a mini mart before they had stopped for the day, he twisted the top off and brought the bottle over to her.

 

    "Drink it," he ordered harshly.

 

    She tried to manage a defiant glare at his tone, but then noticed the slightly pleading look that haunted his face, and gave in gracefully. He added a pillow behind her back at her request, which allowed her to sit up a little and made drinking easier. Taking the proffered drink with her good arm, she brought the bottle to her lips and let the sugary fluid flow into her system.

 

    When Spike saw Buffy finally drinking the juice, his legs crumpled beneath him and he slumped to the floor, bracing himself heavily against the side of the bed.  "You were right, Slayer," he began in a tortured voice. "I don't want to be alone."  His stormy blue eyes dug into hers, allowing her to see how much he hated himself for what he had done.  "Don't ever let me do that to you again." His voice broke off into a tormented whisper. "I can't lose you too. Please."

 

    Buffy stared heavily into the eyes of the monster responsible for almost killing her.  She put the empty bottle on the night table beside the bed and just held out her arms to him. With a choked cry, Spike scrambled up off the floor and joined her on the bed, slipping quickly under the covers and into her outstretched arms, taking the second precious gift she had offered him that day. 

 

    "I'm sorry," he whispered, tears falling once more. But this time the tears were for her, not Drusilla. His tears soaked the front of her shirt where he lay with his head on her chest, arms wrapped tightly around her.

 

    "Me too," she whispered back, running the fingers of one hand soothingly through his hair, knowing that she had tried to take the selfish way out at his expense. The oddity of being apologized to by the very vampire who had tried to kill so many times refused to affect her. They were no longer the same as they had been. "Let's just sleep a bit, ok? I'm kinda drained."

 

    Her attempt at humor was not acknowledged, and she was asleep again in minutes with one hand resting lightly on his neck, the other in his hair; her chin resting on the top of head. Spike tightened his hold on her and joined her in slumber. 

 

 

 

    The next few days were spent on the same driving schedule with the exception of a few planned diversions along the way. With the hours they traveled, entertainment choices where limited, but midnight movies were a welcomed relief. Late night miniature golf had even been among the diversions.

 

      Seeing the Big Bad amid the mini-scale backdrops always amused Buffy, likening him to a predator in Wonderland. But their true nature would quickly come out during these times of fun, and the game would quickly digress into a fierce battle as their inherent competitive natures took hold.

 

    The last time they had played, things had escalated quickly, becoming violent by the time they had approached the third hole.  

 

    Not surprisingly, they didn't get to finish the game, being asked to leave long before finishing. They had easily fallen back into their old pattern of insults and taunts with a hint of violence, increasing in severity the longer they played. Their savage display and use of golf clubs as weapons, had parents running to keep their children away from the snarling duo and security being dispatched to deal with the problem. 

 

    When the security guards had approached, Buffy had kept a hand on Spike's arm to prevent him from charging while he insisted they should be allowed to finish the game. But after being threatened with the involvement of the 'proper authorities', Buffy bodily dragged the enraged vampire back to the car, secure in the knowledge that she had the higher score.

 

    Once they were back on the road, Spike snickered and commented, "That was a bit of alright."

 

    Her lips had twisted into a wry grin. "Yeah, it was, Spike." 

 

    It had been a brief respite before the familiar guilt had wormed its way back into the car, dampening their spirits. But now they brooded together rather than suffering in silence, making it easier to cope and bringing them closer together. Not that Spike would ever admit to brooding.

 

   On occasion, Buffy would find herself plagued with self-disgust that her guilt over Angel was lessening, and more importantly; the fact that she was enjoying her time with Spike. But she had come to realize Spike wasn't what he had made himself out to be. Away from his vampiric influences, he was different and the irony that the person she felt closest to was another vampire was not lost on her.  

 

    Buffy had solved Spike's feeding situation, at least on a short term basis. She would find a butcher willing to sell her blood and buy it in bulk, preserving it in a cooler full of ice. Spike wouldn't have to worry about who his next meal was going be and she didn't have to worry about him not feeding. Buffy didn't want to admit to feeling relieved that her blood had restored him to his usual vigor, almost more so with the added slayer power. Spike had not brought up what he had almost done to her that day, and she was kinda glad. Because to admit that there might be tender feelings developing?

 

    She was so not ready to go there.

 

    A few days after the golf incident, Spike turned into the circular driveway of a large resort-like hotel rather than one of the typical dives they usually inhabited. Buffy turned to him and arched an eyebrow in silent question.

 

    He shrugged nonchalantly. "Figured we could use a break from the shit holes we've been staying in. Be nice not to wonder if cockroaches are going to climb into the bloody bed with us."

 

    She nodded although she was seriously questioning his motive. "Gotcha. No cockroaches for Spike."

 

    "Things are bloody disgusting."

 

    She held up her hands in mock surrender. "Hey, got it. No argument here." Buffy pretended like she didn't hear his muttered, "Yeah, that'll be a first."

 

    By the time they made it up to their room, a shower and clean clothes were screaming Buffy's name. She had been not-caring girl for so long that she had begun to wear it like a second skin. But after walking through the plush lobby with all the smartly dressed people, she felt yucky. Like the uber yuckage that only a hot shower and clean clothes could help to vanquish. New clothes would have been way preferable, but the last thing she wanted to do was ask Spike if they could go shopping. Besides, they had just stopped at a Laundromat the previous night and at least all of her clothes were now clean.

  

     Wallowing in her feelings of grunge, the grandeur of the room failed to make an impression on her. Spike was sprawled in one of the easy chairs, smoking. She could feel his eyes on her, watching her, as if he were sizing her up.

 

    Making her feel more aware of her insecurity. And more important, why she was feeling insecure.
 

    "I'm going to go take a shower, " Buffy announced suddenly, grabbing her bag and escaping into the bathroom. Once inside, she was forced to appreciate the lavishness of the shower and the adjacent sunken tub. Definitely a far cry from the cracked dingy bathrooms she'd become accustomed to for the past three weeks, she thought miserably, because this one made her want to take the time to make herself look pretty.

 

     The other bathrooms had just driven her to flee their depressing circumstances at the earliest moment possible.

 

    With a heavy sigh, she got to work.

 

    Forty five minutes later, Buffy emerged, feeling ten times better. She'd actually used the hair dryer for once instead of just pulling her hair back in a messy ponytail. She had chosen a tank top and shorts pajama number that she hadn't worn before, mostly because she had deemed it too revealing. But now? For some reason, keeping her curves covered in bed didn't really seem to matter here, and she refused to think of that significance. 

 

    +++

    Christ, she was gorgeous.

 

    Spike's eyes drank her in as she stepped out of the bathroom into the darkened bedroom and made her way to the bed. Her skin, deprived of the sun for weeks, was pale and beautiful; her limbs long and lean. She was bloody perfection.

 

    His cock had jumped to attention at the first sight of her, and he was grateful that he'd already undressed and had slid under the lush comforter. Having to feign indifference at this moment would have been a struggle and Spike was having a hard time remembering why he hadn't just fucked her into oblivion yet. But something in him remembered, telling him it wasn't time; that taking her now would ruin them both.

 

     Pushing away his cryptic conscience, Spike tucked his hands behind his head, leaving his abdomen flexed and the comforter tucked around his hips; shielding his erection from her searching eyes.

 

    "Well, that's a little less than you usually wear," he commented, assuming a bored voice.

 

    Buffy just gave him a pointed look. "You're one to talk, Mr. I-Sleep-Naked."

 

    Spike threw a teasing, lewd smirk her way. "You coming to bed?"

 

    Rather than respond, Buffy crossed the room and climbed into bed, offering him a tantalizing view of her firm breasts that left him aching for more.  As she had done every morning since they had left Sunnydale, Buffy turned on her side and reached behind her for the security blanket she knew she couldn't sleep without. 

 

    With a sigh of frustration, Spike closed the distance between them and wrapped her in his arms, spooning her body up against his hard torso. He waited for her reaction to his erection that nudged her ass, but it was the same as usual. A quick tensing of her muscles then she would relax.

 

    It couldn't go on like this, that much Spike did know. But... for now he'd give her a bit more time to get used to him. Because when he finally took her?

 

    He was never letting go. 

++++ 

 

    Buffy awoke first, hours earlier than usual. Self-doubt began plaguing her mind, shooting her to a completely wakeful state which she was unable to reverse. She began thinking about her mom, and her friends, wondering what was happening in her absence. Buffy couldn't find it within herself to feel guilty about her defection with Spike, this had been the right thing to do. She couldn't even imagine trying to deal with things at home, with her Watcher, her friends. Nobody else could understand the pain she was in, the enormity of what she'd had to do. Nobody, that is, except Spike. 

 

    Buffy looked over at him, her eyes trailing fondly over the sharp planes of his face, noticing once more how sleep softened his hard edges. Leaning over, she pressed a light kiss to his lips before slipping out of bed. She was hungry and strangely restless. Usually they would stop at a mini-mart before holing up for the day, allowing Buffy to supply herself with processed fortification to make it through the day. Most of the dives they stayed at were outdoor units on the outskirts of absolutely nowhere. And while some possessed some sort of vending machines or had an adjacent restaurant, Buffy would usually have to wait until the sun went down to eat. She had flat out refused to get behind the wheel of Spike's black monster, and Spike hadn't pushed the issue.

 

    Since this hotel was actually in possession of an elevator, a cafe and several shops within the massive lobby, they had bypassed the usual mini-mart run in favor of Buffy eating something that didn't come out of a package. Spike had been a lot more aware of her eating habits since his little bite fest, and had gotten to the point of being a nag about her poor food intake.

 

    Quietly, Buffy changed in the bathroom, her stomach threatening to wake the sleeping vamp with its loud rumbling. She got out her make up kit that had scarcely been touched since their journey began, but today she felt like sliding on the powerful armor that only make up could provide. Taking one of her better outfits out of her satchel, she put it on, grimacing a bit when she witnessed how loosely the skirt now fit.  Her stomach seconded the motion with one last growl, and she grabbed a handful of her money that she had brought with her. Money that had never been used, Spike having paid for everything up until now. 

 

    Buffy wrote a quick note for Spike telling him that she was downstairs getting something to eat. And as quietly as possible, she exited the room. When the elevator let her off at the bottom floor, she almost turned around and went right back up. The flood of panic that hit her had taken her by surprise and had almost managed to render her paralyzed.

 

    But that would be giving in, so Buffy forced her legs to move.

 

    Stepping out, she looked around, almost cringing at all the people walking around. God, what was wrong with her?  Three weeks in the company of one vampire, and she was freaking out in the real world?   Just as quickly as the mini panic attack had struck, it thankfully passed, allowing her the confidence to proceed. Surveying the lobby, she noticed that the cafe was packed with people. Ok, mass people of the bad. Then she saw a little pub-type place further down that was dark and only had a few patrons milling about. Much better, she decided, striding purposefully for the door that would take her inside. Her stomach grumbled again loudly when she caught sight of a huge basket of fries being set down at someone's table.

 

    'Ooooh... fries .' Buffy's eyes lit up and she took a seat at one of the tables closest to the bar. The tables were made of heavy, dark oak with matching chairs, and the decor could only be described as rustic, right down to the white napkins with simple silverware that lined the paper placemats. Looking to one side, Buffy studied the huge bar that had rows of alcohol on varying shelves behind it, and more importantly, the huge mirror that took up the entire wall above it. She had to quell the sudden desire to check out her appearance in the mirror as she would have in the days of old.  

 

+++++++++++++

 

    Three hours later, Spike drifted into a wakeful state, immediately sensing Buffy wasn't in the room. With a hint of alarm, he leapt out of the bed and  looked around. Spotting the note she left, he grunted, then noticed the time it had been written. Wadding it up into a ball furiously, he threw it across the room and stormed into the bathroom to get dressed. He couldn't figure out if he was worried or pissed,  just wanting her back with him.

 

    In under five minutes, he was in the lobby, a hard look set on his face. He could smell that she'd come this way and followed it, shrugging off the relief that came with knowing she was still in the hotel. 

 

    His anger was irrational but the predator side to him didn't care, determined to find what it considered his. 

 

    Spike traced her to the little pub that he had planned on taking her to later, and he forced himself to stop at the door to get himself under control. Beyond all else, she was still the slayer.

 

    But what he saw had the demon screaming murder.

 

     Buffy was sitting at the bar while some git serving drinks tried to chat her up. When he saw her smile at something that was said, that was the last straw.  

 

    With a possessive growl, he slipped into the room and stalked towards Buffy, fighting the urge to slip into his game face and rip the bastard's head off. He didn't know where this rage was coming from, didn't particularly care, he just wanted Buffy back.

 

    Buffy's neck gave her that tingle that screamed 'vampire' and she whipped her head around, her hand reaching for the stake she carried in her purse. But what met her eyes caused her breath to hitch in her throat. Spike was sauntering towards her with such burning intensity in his eye, goosebumps erupted along her skin. She gulped nervously. Because usually when he came at her looking like this? He'd been trying to kill her. This was so different.

   

    And fighting was the last thing on her mind.

 

    "I was worried about you, pet," he announced, his voice low and lethal.

 

    "Sorry. I, uh, got hungry," Buffy replied, wondering why she was so unnerved. She wasn't doing anything wrong, so why did it feel like she was?

 

    "You were gone a long time, baby," his voice held a low purr as he sidled up to her, rubbing his hands lightly up her bare arms. Spike kept a piercing eye on the bloody git behind the bar, who was staring at him with a hint of fear. Smart lad.

 

    "Lost track of time," Buffy admitted, smiling perkily at him, his touch affecting her more than she wanted to let on. At his snarl, she realized the perky routine may not have been the way to go, suddenly fearful.

 

    "What do you say we go back up to our room then, eh, baby?" He had never spoken to her like this, and when Spike grabbed hold of her wrist and forced her around, capturing her gaze and making sure she was aware of the violent edge he was barely restraining.

 

    Buffy gulped again, shocked that she had driven Spike to this , just by being absent for a few hours. Rather than ringing her warning bell, it merely served to make her feel wanted, cherished even. This was a Spike she had not seen before, at least not in regard to her. 

 

    "OK," she agreed quickly, her heart speeding up as she slid off the stool. Turning to the bartender who had entertained her with his bragging stories over the last few hours, she said, "Nice talking to you, Brian. Good luck with that grad school thingie."

 

    Spike slipped his hand into hers, lacing his fingers with hers as he pulled her possessively against him.  "Yeah, thanks mate, for keeping my girl here entertained."

 

    Buffy heaved a sigh of relief that Spike wasn't going to do anything, feeling the possessive rage pouring off of him and guessing the reason for it. But when they turned to leave, Spike whipped back around and grinned slyly. "Think you need to get that monstrosity of a mirror fixed, mate. Doesn't seem to be working."

 

    "Huh?" Brian asked with a perplexed look, looking behind him to the mirror that encompassed practically the entire wall. It took him a few seconds to process that while he was seeing his reflection and that of the girl he'd been hoping to score with, her scary boyfriend was totally absent. Turning back around with fear and confusion in his eyes, Brian was met by a cruel smirk.  

 

     Buffy couldn't help but roll her eyes at the total male posturing.

 

     "Come on, luv, let's blow this place," Spike announced, effectively dismissing the bartender once the overwhelming scent of fear had hit the air.

 

    Brian watched as they left together, finding himself shaken. Briefly, he thought about making sure that  Buffy would be ok with... whatever that guy was.  But fear of the unknown made him keep silent on the matter, not wanting to cross paths again with what his suspicions were telling him 'Spike' was.

 

    But that was crazy because everyone knows there is no such thing as vampires.  

 

    On the brisk walk back to the elevator, Buffy allowed Spike to keep a tight grip on her hand while casting him questioning glances. Her stomach was tight with tension and she had no idea what was up with that. "So, what was with the total bad moodies back there?" she finally asked.

 

    Spike didn't answer, merely delivered a thunderous look her way. When the door to the elevator opened, he stormed inside, pulling her roughly behind him. The door to the elevator opened, and he stormed inside, pulling Buffy behind him. She wrenched her arm away defiantly and offered him a petulant look. Big bully, thinking he could just manhandle her like that!

 

     Spike punched their floor number, his entire body exuding an agitated fury that Buffy was growing increasingly wary of. Something was up with him in a major way.

 

    The very moment that the elevator made its initial lurch, Spike startled her by slamming his hand on the 'emergency stop' button right next to her head, effectively halting them between floors.

 

      "Oh my god, I so cannot believe you just did that!" Buffy gasped, eyes wide and accusing.

 

    As soon as he turned his head and their eyes met, Buffy knew she was in big trouble, watching as he closed the few feet that separated them. The primal intent in his eyes caused her to instinctively back up until she was pressed flush against the wall of the elevator. He did not relent in his pursuit, using his body to hold her in place. When he placed one hand on either side of her head, palms flat against the smooth wall of the elevator, her eyes widened at the ferocity etched on his features.

 

      Leaning in close, he growled huskily, "Believe it, baby."

 

    Baby?

 

    Buffy shoved him hard in the chest, finding herself unnerved by his close proximity and the foreign endearment. When he stumbled back a step,she made her escape, ducking under one arm. She spun around immediately, eyes wary.

 

    "God, what is with you tonight?" Buffy couldn't help but ask, not knowing if she was going to like the answer.

 

    With a sardonic smile, Spike announced, "I'll show you what is bloody up with me."

 

    With speed that defined him as not human, Spike closed the distance once more and crushed his lips to hers, hard and reckless. She stiffened initially, the intensity behind it giving her cause for alarm. But as a flush of desire stirred within her, Buffy couldn't help when her arms slid around his neck, pulling him impossibly close as she granted him entry to her mouth.  With a low growl that sent shivers through her, Spike's tongue boldly invaded, sweeping through until meeting hers in a lovers duel.

 

    Spike groaned and pulled her roughly against him, his rigid cock close to bursting through his jeans. Tearing his mouth away to give her a chance to breathe, he buried his face into the crook of her neck, inhaling deeply the fruity scent of the hotel's shampoo, the sharp musk of desire, the tinges of smoke that still clung to her hair. But most overwhelming of all was the intoxicating scent of her blood pumping away beneath her luscious skin.

 

    He knew what he had to do.

 

    Tearing his face away from the temptation, Spike forced himself to look into the passion-glazed green eyes in front of him. Cupping her face lovingly, he managed to rein in his desire long enough to ask, "Buffy... do you want me?"

 

    Did she want him? Yes, she really did, knowing this had been building up since the moment she had gotten into his car. Buffy nodded in response, really just wanting to get back to the kissing part. Because wow... who knew?  But his next words threw her off. 

 

    "Do you trust me?" 

 

    This time Buffy's nod came a little slower, but grew with conviction as she realized that yeah, she really did. Every moment she had been with him, her life had been at risk. He'd had thousands of opportunities to kill her, yet hadn't. Trust had been slow to build, but it was there. Even with this scarier version than she was used to. "Yes," she finally managed to say, wondering where this was leading.

 

    He smiled, the first true smile she had ever seen from him, and it was beautiful, dazzling. He was beautiful. Spike captured her lips again, and Buffy sighed with pleasure, liking the feel of his mouth against hers a lot. A shard of guilt tried to sneak through her bliss, telling her that she didn't deserve to feel it. Impatiently, she thrust it aside and focused her everything on the man in her arms.

 

    When he once again released her mouth, she took deep breaths to replenish her depleted oxygen; his face finding the groove of her neck. She hissed in pleasure when she felt his tongue dart out and lick a path, shivering as he blew a stream of cool air on the area he had just lavished.  Closing her eyes and tipping her head back, she granted him full access to her neck. Just what he was waiting for, her gift of trust - a sleek column of throat offered without regard to what he was

 

    It had to be done.

   

    Buffy barely had time to acknowledge the feel of sharp ridges emerging against her tender flesh before being assaulted by a sharp, piercing pain as his fangs slid effortlessly into her skin. She immediately tensed, her survival instinct kicking in and she tried to pull away. But Spike was prepared for her flight and kept a firm grip on her, working as quickly as he could.

 

    Taking his teeth from her flesh, Spike nicked his tongue and mixed their blood before soothing the burning wound with his tongue. Buffy continued to struggle, not understanding what he doing, or more importantly - why.

 

      "Trust me," he pleaded against the satiny skin of her neck, the scent of her fear not pleasing his demon a bit.

 

    "What are you doing?" Buffy asked shakily, trying to deny that Spike's tongue on his mark felt good. 

 

    When Spike was satisfied it would scar properly, he pulled his head back, letting himself get lost in her eyes. "You're mine now."

 

    "I'm what?" Buffy asked, aghast, unable to believe that Spike had done something to her without asking. From Giles, she had learned more about vampires and their barbaric rituals than she wanted to, so she had an idea of what had been done.

 

    Only... this hadn't been much with the barbaric. And why was she feeling relieved rather than an overwhelming urge to stake his ass? But she knew why.

 

    It meant that he wouldn't leave her.

 

     Spike watched passively as her thoughts played over her expressive face, holding his breath at what appeared to be acceptance nodded. "Why?" she asked

 

    "Because I'm not letting you go," he murmured, running a hand gently down her hair. "You're all I've got."

 

    Slowly, Buffy's lips curved up into a smile, and Spike let out the breath he'd been anxiously holding. "So... now what?" she asked.

 

    His answering smile gave her a pretty clear picture of just what, exactly, he had in mind.

   

 

 

   

Present day

   Buffy jumped as a loud banging noise from the front room reverberated throughout the house, startling her from her little stroll down memory lane. Whipping around to face the sudden commotion,  Buffy watched the open entryway with growing anticipation. The heavy footsteps grew louder as they neared the kitchen, then stopped as the person responsible was framed in the doorway.

 

    "Hello, luv," Spike drawled, holding his welcoming arms open to her.

 

    "Hi," she answered back, a big goofy smile plastered on her face as she threw herself into his waiting embrace.  "I missed you."

 

    "Was only gone an hour, pet," he reminded her.

 

    "Yeah, and I missed you, you dope"

 

    "Eh. No need for name calling. So, what's got you into this little mood?"

 

    She shrugged. "I was just remembering all the bad that happened in Sunnydale and how much stuff  we went through before winding up here."

 

    "What brought all that on?" Spike tipped his head intently as he regarded her, knowing Buffy didn't often dwell on the past these days.


    "Because I was thinking about how happy I am and how I might have missed out on this," Buffy admitted, sneaking her arms up to circle his neck, pressing herself fully against his hard frame.

 

    "Yeah," Spike agreed blissfully, grinding himself against her.  "So....since we're so happy, care to venture upstairs?"

 

   Buffy pressed a quick kiss to his lips before drawing back regretfully. "Hello, it's bowling night."

 

    "Oh, right," Spike replied wistfully, cursing himself for not remembering before he went and got all worked up. Who was he kidding? He got worked up just looking at his girl. 

 

    But not even the lure of a fantastic shag could interrupt bowling night, as much as he hated to admit it. The Big Bad and bowling were two things he had never seen coming together, but couldn't deny he was hooked but good. It had started not long after arriving in town, a weak substitute for the brutal miniature golf game that had been interrupted while they had been on the road.

 

    It had only taken one game before they realized it easily filled the void of their previous attempts at killing each other; providing just enough challenge and more than enough opportunity for taunts and sly innuendo. Their supernatural strength had to be tempered but that was part of the challenge.  

 

    They had joined a bowling league not long after, something else Spike had never seen coming. The league consisted of a group of blue collar men and women who eagerly welcomed them into their town and their lives without a hint of reservation. Before long, their league had quickly become like family. And if they suspected something was off with Spike not leaving the house during the day, or Buffy's freaky strength, nothing was ever said.  

 

    Because it wouldn't have mattered.

 

    Spike didn't want to admit that those nights spent bowling with Buffy and their new friends were some of the best nights he'd ever had in his life. His life was so different now compared to the evil and chaos he had embraced before, yet there was nothing to complain about. Being with Buffy was indescribable, it made him human. In this town, he was a man, not a monster. Something he hadn't even known he craved or yearned for until it occurred. 

 

    When they had first arrived, his inherent lust for blood and violence taunted him daily, urging him to rip out the throats of everybody in town. As time went on, even that voice became quieter and quieter, his demon accepting the fact that to do so, would be to invite sheer loneliness and desolation.

 

    And that was not something he was willing to accept.  

 

       They belonged here.

 

    They had known that the very moment they had pulled into the quaint little town, both looking at the other with the same wide-eyed realization present. The endless nights of driving had come to end.

 

    A month and a half after leaving Sunnydale, they had found a place to put down roots. 

tbc...

 

 

DREAMS and DESOTOS

   Major thanks to the beta-age of Spikeskat. You rock girl!

 

Part 2

 

    Two weeks had passed in peaceful bliss since Buffy's last trip down memory lane. At times, it almost felt as if she'd been reborn; that this small piece of heaven was her reward for past sacrifices and the risks she'd been forced to take night after night. Yet, that small thread of pain that continued to shadow her  laughed at her naivety. 

 

    Because the world just did not work in that way. 

 

    If it did, Buffy wouldn't have felt compelled to flee her family and friends with her mortal enemy rather than face them.  But while content and happy, a part of her couldn't completely forget those she had left behind, and yearned for reconciliation.

 

    Not enough to do anything about it though. 

 

    Six months had passed since Buffy and Spike had first arrived in town. Outside their previous influences - it had ceased to matter that he was a vampire and she was the Slayer. Now they were simply two people starting over and falling in love. 

 

      The people of the town had yet to learn that a monster lived among them.  At the beginning, Buffy had been seriously paranoid about anybody stumbling onto the fact that Spike lacked a heartbeat, constantly on the lookout for things that would identify him as different. Mirrors. Sunlight. Invitation requirement. Luckily, that was something easily dealt with due to the friendliness of the town. Buffy found herself keeping an eye on Spike at first, not quite able to put aside the fact that he had killed more people than she wanted to even think about. 

 

     Eventually, her paranoid vigil relaxed and she began to get the feeling that it wouldn't be such a total big if Spike was found out. He was different now, no longer the cocky, evil vampire from Sunnydale. The Spike she slept with every night was the real Spike, and the real Spike was far less evil than he'd made himself out to be. She also knew that Spike considered this town his, and not in a diabolically evil Master vampire way either. He didn’t view the town’s people as his own personal food source; rather, a lot of them had become his friends.
 

 

     A month after settling in, Buffy had obtained a position working the evening shift four days a week in the emergency room of the town’s only hospital. She had needed something to fill the void that her new non-slayage status had left, so she'd gotten her Emergency Medical Technician certificate. Since driving an ambulance was out of the question, Buffy applied for an open position in the ER. 

 

    Her first job. Thanks to the false paperwork that Spike had managed to acquire, her age was listed as twenty-one and she had the same last name as Spike.  There had been moments of wig wondering if the false papers would hold up under inspection, not to mention that she was supposedly married to Spike. Marriage was something she had never given much thought to, but once Spike had explained why he had arranged it that way, it made sense. As a married couple, they wouldn't pique anybody's curiosity or disapproval.

  

    Buffy hadn't been sure what to expect working in the medical field, but soon found herself looking forward to going to work each day. Her hours of four in the afternoon until midnight meshed perfectly with Spike nocturnal habits, leaving them plenty of time together while letting Buffy discover her own independence. 

 

    Working at the hospital was completely different from her 'chosen' occupation and for the first time. Buffy had been thanked for her help. Even the fact that  she didn't have as direct a role in the life save-age aspect as before didn't bother her because she was part of a necessary medical team. Not having to be the one to make all the decisions?

 

    No complaints there.

 

    Plus helping people through some of the bleakest hours of their existence rewarded her in a way slaying never had. Buffy was appreciated for her efforts, by the patients, and especially by the staff.  She just fit in - yet another thing that she would have missed if she had stayed in Sunnydale. 

 

    While Buffy would work, Spike indulged in a pastime of his prior life - writing. When she had finally caught him diligently working on a laptop that had been recently purchased, Spike confessed to working on a novel. But instead of the ridicule he had expected in his paranoid fashion, she had managed to surprise him with a smile and a nod of encouragement.

 

    And Spike began writing in earnest, the horror story that had played out in his head demanding to make it onto paper while his fingers struggled to keep up.  The words flowed and within a month, he had completed more than half of it, finally allowing Buffy to read it.

 

    She had been astounded.

 

    Her enthusiasm and praise gave him the conviction to continue, secure in the knowledge that his writing had meaning, had depth.

 

    That it was good.

 

    Buffy would often watch him as he worked, barely able to believe that a creature who had so much nervous energy could keep still for so long to write. She loved watching him; the way his eyebrows knitted together in concentration, the way the tip of his tongue would just peek out from between his harsh determined lips...  Often times it was the smell of her acute arousal that would alert him that she was home. Of course, Buffy would then find herself tossed over his shoulder and taken upstairs to be properly shagged.

 

    Not that she ever complained.

       +++


     Once bowling had been added into their life, it was something that neither Spike or Buffy ever missed.

 

    Now, two weeks later, Spike and Buffy strolled hand in hand through the glass double doors, their bowling bags slung casually over their shoulders. Greetings were immediately tossed their way, and they replied in kind. They headed over to where their group had settled a few minutes earlier for their requisite session of weekly gossip.

 

      Spike left Buffy with the other women to attend to an important detail  Namely, the manly beer run. 

 

    Buffy sat down in one of the plastic chairs next to her friend Elaine, who immediately launched into informing her of the new products she had just started stocking in the beauty salon she owned. Elaine's husband, Rick, was off with Spike, and Elaine was more than anxious to get in some girl talk.

 

    On the low end of thirty, Elaine wore an extra twenty pounds around her middle, although insisting she'd had quite the figure at one time. Her features were attractive, though somewhat muted by the slight fullness of her face, and her long blonde hair was always artfully coiffed. Buffy had never seen Elaine when her make up hadn't been carefully applied, and had even requested her friend's expertise in that area. Elaine had not let her down either. 

 

    From the moment they had been introduced, Elaine and Buffy had clicked, and she had become Buffy's best friend since moving to Windmont.  Rick and Spike had developed an easy friendship, and the two couples usually spent two or three nights a week together.

 

    "Sooooo..." Elaine began meaningfully, "how are you and Spike doing?"

 

    Buffy laughed, commenting, "Geez, you ask me that every time I see you!!"

 

    "Yeah, and you always smile your little happy smile and say 'good' in that dreamy voice of yours," Elaine replied in exasperation.  "I mean, come on. Look at the guy."  Buffy couldn't help but do just that as Spike came back carrying several pitchers of beer. The well-built physique of Elaine's husband trailed a step behind, a pitcher locked in his grip as well.

 

     Spike had come up with a retro black bowling shirt he'd bought in a local second hand store, and had Spike embroidered over the pocket. The shirt, together with his black jeans, black and white bowling shoes and his bleached blonde hair slicked back in its familiar style, cut quite a stunning picture.  His retro bowling outfit was always cause for ribbing, but he took it good-naturedly. Little did they know that prior to their arrival in Windmont, Spike would have ripped the throat out of anyone who mocked him. Now he just took it in the spirit it was intended. 

 

    "Oh yeah, I'm totally looking," Buffy announced, staring unabashedly. Spike caught her gaze just then, running his tongue slowly over his pearly whites, his smoky intense gaze boring into her own eyes.  "And I think I'll be doing a whole lot more than looking after we finish bowling tonight," Buffy added carelessly, causing her friend to laugh.  Spike winked at her, knowing full well the direction of Buffy's thoughts, handing her the coke that had been requested.  

 

    League night had begun.  

 

    By the fifth frame, the other five couples were watching what they had long since coined the Spike and Buffy show , as the two blondes tried to out bowl each other.  Both exhibited such smooth grace and dead-on precision, sending the ball hurtling down the lane, almost always destroying all the pins sitting in its path. They were a sight to behold.

 

     All the women, married or not, couldn't help but watch Spike, each deciding long ago that he possessed that animal magnetism they had only read about in books.

 

    There was little doubt that Spike was popular among their group. All the men liked his outspoken, sarcastic British views and considered him a lucky bastard for being independently wealthy like he apparently was, and for being married to a girl like Buffy. There was a dangerous edge to him, something that had made them pause for just a moment when they had first met him, but now it didn't even register anymore.  The women of the group liked Spike's gentle teasing and appreciated the sex appeal that just seemed to ooze from him.  It was the  general consensus that Spike and Buffy were perfectly suited, and nobody doubted their affection for each other. Theirs was a close knit group, aware of the aspects of the others lives. And while the deception sometimes weighed heavily on Buffy, she valued being treated like a normal person for once, far too much to tell her friends the truth.

 

     Sometimes she wondered just what her new friends would think if they knew just what exactly Spike was.  And what she had been in her former life. This town was so far off the radar of the demon populace  that it had taken Buffy a few seconds to react when she had been confronted with the one and only vampire she had seen in the entire six months that they had lived there. Luckily, she had been by herself, and had dispatched it with little difficulty.

 

    No, the supernatural and Windmont were unmixy things, and that suited Buffy perfectly. Spike, her new friends, bowling, and her job were more than enough for her.
 
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