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Southern Comfort

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Fuck, but he loved her like this.

“Come on, Slayer,” Spike implored, rocking impatiently on his heels. “Hit me!”

“Someone’s a little too eager to be punched in the face,” Buffy retorted dryly, though her eyes were dancing. God, she was a vision. Tousled hair. Sweat-drenched skin. Pulse racing a thousand miles an hour. Her sassy mouth twisted in a self-satisfied smirk. She was a vision. A pure, fucking vision.

And she was all his.

“What?” he threw back, flexing his shoulders. “Don’t tell me you don’t like it. Come on, Buffy. Give it to me.”

She snorted and shook her head. “Too eager, I say.”

“You’re wrong. Just eager enough. Plenty eager.”

She sidestepped a headstone, inhaling sharply and casting her eyes heavenward. “I do love this cemetery,” she admitted. “It’s so pretty. Why aren’t the cemeteries at home this pretty?”

“Sunnydale’s a bloody heap of dead folks, kitten,” Spike pointed out. “Too many graveyards, not enough donations.”

Buffy nodded. “I’ll miss this.”

He paused and arched a brow. “Miss the cemetery?”

“The quiet. It’s really quiet here.”

“It’s not like the Hellmouth’s a budding metropolis.”

“Well, no,” she replied, “but there’s always some creep jonesing for the next apocalypse, and then things get really noisy in a big way. This place?” She spread her arms and twirled, and she looked so fucking cute he nearly tumbled over himself in his desperation to touch her. “It’s totally dead out here.”

Spike smiled and prowled forward. “Yeah. That’s the point, love.”

“No vamps rising. No ugly demons trying to ruin my date.” Buffy grinned at him. “See? Totally unlike home.”

“Take many blokes on patrols?”

She blinked. “Umm, hello? Vampire was my last, vampire is my current.”

Mention of her last had his bones rattling with the need to mark his territory. Though she’d spent part of the morning convincing him with her hands and mouth that she was completely his, the claim was new enough to trigger his rawest instincts. His fangs tingled. He wanted to taste her again—affirm it again. Wanted to feel her humming against his lips. “Vampire is your bloody only,” Spike growled. “This vampire, anyway.”

Buffy winked at him. “Memo gotten.”

“Not gotten enough.”

“Is this possessive thing gonna be…well, a thing? Because as cute as it is now, I have a feeling it’s going to get old.”

Spike shrugged. “Don’t know. Never been claimed before.”

“Damn straight you haven’t.”

His grin broadened. He loved it when her eyes flashed green. And being one with her in this sense—broad, all-encompassing, every cell in his body attune to hers—removed all limits and pushed aside all boundaries. He’d never felt so alive in all his days—not as a human and certainly not as a vampire. He had her blood in him, her words, her very being. Just as she had him. It was more than he’d ever dreamed. More, everything, wonderful…and he couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

It had happened that morning. Spike had awakened slowly, every nerve in his body singing with ecstasy, Buffy’s luscious mouth wrapped tightly around his cock, moving up and down his shaft as her hands rolled and squeezed his testicles. She’d smiled at him, much like she was now, and mentioned something about trying something she’d never before attempted.

“N-never?” he hissed, thrusting his prick deeper inside her throat. “Oh, Christ…”

“Sordid sexual history is kinda blank,” she replied before tonguing the underside of his erection. “Whole lotta stuff I never got to try.”

“Fuck, Buffy…”

“Buffy wants to suck first.” And with that, she’d taken his aching head between her lips and swallowed him whole.

“I’m yours,” Spike sighed. He wove his fingers through her hair, tenderly massaging her scalp. He wanted to seize her, hold her, thrust hard. He wanted to fuck her mouth, but he didn’t dare. Didn’t dare. This was about her. Her exploration. Her curiosity. God, her heavenly mouth.  “Oh… that’s so good.”

She released his cock with a wet plop. “Good, huh?”

He nodded and purred. “Fuckin’ amazing.”

Buffy dipped her head again, tongue exploring his sensitive slit, one hand squeezing his shaft. “Mmm. I like the way you taste.”

“Buffy…”

“Musky. Manly.”

“Slayer…”

“Is this good? You like this?”

“Fuck yeah.” Spike lifted his head and fell back again. The sight of her feasting on his cock had his balls tightening and every nerve in his body prepared for send off. But it was too sweet. Feeling her—her mouth, her tongue, the faintest whisper of teeth against his skin. She was so warm and perfect and he needed more. “Your hand…”

The hand around his prick tightened. “This one?” she asked.

“Yeah. Ohhh…stroke me, pet. When your mouth’s…just stroke me. God, that’s it.”

She began pumping him without further encouragement, mouth sucking hard. She slurped and licked and introduced him to new levels of pleasure. Knowing it was her—Buffy. His Slayer. His girl. The girl who loved him. It was her mouth. Hers. Her hands. Her eyes that met his. It was Buffy.

“Buffy!”

And when he came, she didn’t pull away. She drank every pearly drop.

Her fist connected abruptly with his nose, sending his head rocking back.

“Bloody hell!” Spike roared, hand flying upward. “What was that for?”

Buffy shrugged. “You asked me to hit you. I hit you.”

“I thought we were talking about graveyards,” he replied, groaning and surveying the damage with soft, tender strokes of his sore skin. “Bloody well broke my nose.”

“Did not!”

“Think I need a doctor.”

She rolled her eyes. “I think you’re full of crap.”

“Oi! Mind the wounded.”

“What kind of slayer would I be if I only hit vampires when they asked me to, huh?” Buffy sighed and crossed her arms, though her irritation fell to the wayside when Spike failed to drop his hands and retaliate. With a thoughtful frown, she stepped forward. “Here…let me see it.”

It was the perfect opening—and a thoughtful lesson while he was at it. The second she let her guard down, he sank his fist squarely in her jaw, knocking her off her righteous legs to the mossy earth and bouncing eagerly at the prospect of having one-upped her. It didn’t last, of course. Buffy wasn’t the sort of chit to take a smack to the face with a wink and a smile. She wouldn’t be his slayer otherwise.

“Ouch!” she spat, leaping back to her feet. “You ass!”

“Let your guard down, pet.”

“Yes!” Buffy agreed, aiming a punch at his eye, which he caught with ease. Didn’t stop her spunk—she knocked him off his game with a harsh kick to his side. “Because I hurt you!”

“This?” Spike stumbled awkwardly, wiping away the bit of blood that had drizzled out of his nostrils as a result of her enthusiasm. “Barely felt a thing.”

“Oh please.”

“Kinda tickled, now that I think of it.”

“You ass!”

“That one’s stale.”

“I’ll stale you up here in a second.”

He blinked. “Pardon me, pet, but was that supposed to make sense?”

Buffy all but snarled and lunged for him.

She landed astride his hips, giggling at the look on his face. “Hey there, handsome.”

Spike blinked blearily, doing his best to return to even ground. His cock strained, hard again and ready to go, rubbing against her naked ass with resurging desperation. “Oh my fuck, am I still alive?”

Buffy giggled again and sucked sweetly on his lower lip. “You never were.”

“That explains it.”He sighed happily, hands dropping to her hips and lifting her up so the head of his erection pressed against her soaking pussy. She was so wet for him. Drenched. Sucking him off had turned her on, and fuck all if that didn’t make him want her more. He hadn’t thought it possible. “You’re heaven, you are.”

“Heaven, huh?”

Spike grinned. “That mouth of yours, anyway. This pretty pussy…”

She pouted. “That’s all? My mouth and my…”

Her skin flushed and her voice trailed off. She was so cute.

“Can’t say the word, can you, love?”

“It sounds weird coming from me.”

He brought her down on his cock—infusing his body in pure bliss. Warm. Slick. Wet. Tight. God, so tight. She clenched around him, hands prone on his chest, eyes absorbing his face. She was so beautiful. So bloody beautiful. A nymph. A goddess. And all his.

“No,” Spike gasped.

“No?”

“All of you. All of you is heaven. Love you. Love you so much. Oh Christ, squeeze me like that.”

She batted her eyes with mock-innocence. “You liked that, did you?”

“Buffy…”

“Say that all you want. I’m the one on top.”

Spike favored her with a leer at that, and before she could murmur another quip, he had her on her back, cock pistoning wildly into her body. Deeper. God, deeper. Her silky walls compressing around him, holding him, her hips battling him with every thrust. Trying to reclaim him, seal him inside her body. Her voice faded into low moans and whispers, her nails at his back, clawing, scratching, digging.

Heaven. Pure heaven. As close as he’d get.

“Buffy Buffy Buffy…”

“Ahhh…”

“Feel so good. So wet. So tight.”

“Oh…gah…”

Spike chuckled against his better judgment, raising himself up on his forearms to get a better view of her pretty face. Her eyes were squeezed shut, teeth worrying her lower lip. She mewled every time he slipped away, every wet slide out of her body, every aching move inside her soft, molten pussy. She was burning him alive and he was happy to go.

“Not so confident now, are we, love?”

She opened her eyes with a scowl, but he chased it away with another thrust. “Yeah, you like that,” Spike crooned. “Like it hot. Like it hard. Like me digging just a li’l bit deeper…”

“Over-confident…jerk.”

He chuckled again, lips falling to her neck. The thrill of her pulse had his demon writhing, but he held his fangs at bay. “You love it,” he replied. “Just like you love me.”

“Jerk!”

“Say it, Buffy…” He drew back and licked her lips, eyes blazing. Then, punctuating his words with hard thrusts, he ground out, “You. Love. Me.”

“Lies!”

“You can’t get enough of me. Or this. You love what I do to you.” He smirked, mouth dipping to nurse on one of her breasts as his hand slipped between their warring bodies. The air was consumed with their gasps and sweet slap of flesh moving, wet smacks punctuating every thrust of his cock inside her. Her pretty pink flesh molded around him, suctioning him deeper with every plunge. “You…love…me.”

“Fuck. Off.”

“Am,” Spike replied happily, though his response was dragged out on a moan. She chose a very opportune time to put those slayer muscles of hers into good use, and his body trembled as a result. A few more squeezes like that and he was a goner. “And you love me.”

“Ahhh…”

He slipped a finger over her clit and earned a sharp gasp and a hard twist in turn. “Say it, Buffy. Say you love me.”

“I hate you.”

Spike chuckled and beckoned her forward. “Sing me another one, love. That one’s lost its music.”

“I can bring it back. I’m a trendsetter.”

He shrugged as though the matter were of no consequence. “It’s all the same, I suppose. Anyway, I know how to get my favorite song to play.”

Buffy grunted with another well-aimed kick, this one crashing into his shoulder and sending him flying a good fifteen feet across the hilly terrain. “Damn annoying vampire,” she grunted.

“Oh come on, pet,” Spike protested, brushing dirt and bits of grass off his duster. “Don’t go all pouty.”

Buffy stomped her foot, lower lip jutting out. “I do not pout,” she insisted.

The sparkle in her eyes betrayed her. She knew exactly what she was doing, and was rather unrepentant about it. Still, knowing he was being played for a fool, Spike couldn’t help his melting defenses. “Truce?” he offered, hands coming up.

“Truces never work with you.”

“Now, now,” he chided, “you’ll hurt a bloke’s feelings. I’d say they work out really well.”

“Except when you leave me to die because you’re toting your ho-bag girlfriend away.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Are you still brassed about that?”

Buffy waved a hand. “Angel could’ve killed me!”

“But he didn’t. You were better. You’re better than the lot of us.”                                                                                                       `                           

“Humph!”

Spike grinned and took a step forward. “Come now, love,” he drawled, running a hand down his chest and hooking his fingers through the belt loops of his jeans. “You’re not really mad. Wouldn’t be near as much fun if I just let you ride out your high horse, would it?”

She pointed her nose upward and crossed her arms. “I say again: humph!”

“Buffy…”

“You’re a mean man.”

“Evil,” he corrected. His hands itched to touch her and his feet could barely wait. Slow, methodical steps accompanied every breath that rolled off his lips. “Bad. Wicked. Naughty. All of the bloody above. And you love it. You fucking love it.”

A pause then. Her eyes grew wide and her voice wavered. “Do not.”

“Liar.”

“Nuh uh.”

“Uh huh,” Spike retorted in the same manner, reaching for her arm. “Come now.”

The game ended without warning. Her pout melted in favor of a mischievous smirk, brows flickering as that piece of sin she called a tongue took a swipe of her lips. “Come where?”

Ripples of excitement seized his body. “Doesn’t matter where, love,” he retorted in much the same manner. “As long as you’re on my cock.”

“You’re bad.”

“Very. And I’m gonna kiss you.”

Buffy grasped his cheeks and dragged his mouth to hers before he could blink. “No,” she replied against his lips. “I’m gonna kiss you.”

She bit him. Bit him hard enough to draw blood. Dug her teeth into his lower lip and sucked, nails digging into his forearms. Spike growled against her mouth, bruising her with his thrusts and doing his damnedest to fight off his orgasm. He wasn’t ready to come. Not ready—he wanted to feel her pussy tighten and drench him. Wanted to feel her spasm before he allowed himself to tumble over. She knew what she was doing—god, she had to know what she was doing.

She released his lip with a wet plop, contracting her muscles around his cock. “I do,” she said softly.

“Animal, you are…”

“I love you, Spike.”

He grinned. “Fuck yeah, you do. Love you. My naughty girl.”

“And…I want it.” Her head flew back against the pillow, fingers clutching him tighter. He fucked her harder. Harder. Needing more. Needing everything. “Spike…do it.”

“Do…”

“Make it…forever.”

There was no way he could second-guess her. No way he could help himself. Stopping was impossible and his demon knew what it wanted. Knew what he needed. In a blink, his fangs burst into his mouth and made a haven of her throat, drinking, consuming, feeling…oh god…

“Mine!” Spike snarled into her throat. “You’re mine, Buffy. All bloody mine.”

He tensed then. Holding himself between two worlds. The one with which he was most accustomed and the one he was exploring with her. She spasmed hard, drenching his cock with her hot juices. She clutched and gasped, clawing, her pussy so hot and tight. So wonderful. So…

“I’m yours,” she whispered, hips rolling seductively against him. The words had his heart clenching and unneeded breath seizing his throat. “Yours, Spike.”

The demon roared in triumph. The man stared in wonder. “Buffy…”

“Yours.” She thrust her pussy upward, pulling him in deeper. “And you’re mine.”

Sentiment she made permanent a second later, her teeth piercing his skin and triggering the most powerful orgasm he’d ever known.

She made him hers, and he accepted. After all, he’d always belonged to her. Always. Every step had merely been leading him here.

The words just made it complete.

She smelled of grass and perspiration, spiced with faded hints of body wash and her rose-scented shampoo. Like nature. Like the night. Her lips were soft, her tongue exploratory. She tasted of peppermint and wine, and him. He tasted himself all over her, and it near did him in.

“Buffy,” he whispered, walking her backward until she was trapped between a mausoleum and his hard body. “Need you.”

“Need me?” Buffy replied, nipping at his lips. “You need me?”

“Always.”

“Right here?”

“Right anywhere.” Spike explored her throat with his lips, his hands occupied with her soft, perfect breasts. He stroked her—played with her nipples through her thin cotton T-shirt. “Feel me?” he murmured, rubbing his jean-clad cock against her center. “Feel how bad I need you?”

Buffy grinned, her hands dropping to his belt. “Am I special or is this a permanent condition?”

He chuckled. “What can I say? You bring it out in me.”

“So it’s just me, right?”

“Just you.”

“Good.” She kissed the corner of his mouth as her nimble fingers dragged his zipper down. Then her hand was worming through the flaps of his fly to free his cock. And god, her warmth would melt him right to the bone. “I’m a jealous sort.”

Spike nuzzled her soft flesh. “Mmm. You and me got that in common, pet.”

“Really?” She favored him with a cheeky grin as they fought to free her right leg of her slacks. “Never would’ve guessed.”

“Minx.”

“Yeah, but you love it.”

His fingers glided over her pussy. She’d gone without knickers tonight—likely as he’d destroyed the last pair she’d packed before leaving home. Bloody shame, that. Buffy had scowled at him but without true anger. They weren’t her good panties, anyway, as she’d told him. She hadn’t packed those, thinking it unlikely that she’d be getting naked with anyone when she was assigned this crazy mission.

“Love it,” he agreed, aligning his cock with her dripping opening, teasing her clit with soft taps. “Love this. Love you.”

“Lots of love for an evil guy.”

Spike shrugged, pushing himself inside her wet haven. Her scorching heat swallowed his dick, the burn was too sweet to forfeit. In just a few days he’d already lost sight of how he’d ever managed without this. Without her warmth—her smiles, her quips, her playful eyes, her sweet pussy…without her.

“I’m an anomaly,” he answered, seizing her in a brutal kiss as he began to thrust.

It was a quick, desperate coupling. With the night air against their flesh and an insatiable need to feel the other tremble into orgasm, they had each other howling with release in minutes. Spike shivered, face buried in her throat, eager tongue lapping at the mark he’d given her. The mark she’d let him give her.

The one making her his.

“We…didn’t talk much…”

Buffy smiled up at him, caressing his cheek with a tenderness he would never grow accustomed to. “We talked enough.”

“It was just a second, love. I don’t think you got it.”

“I’m not a moron, thank you. I understood. You spoke slowly and used small words. Besides, slayer much? I have to know these things.”

“Vampire mating rituals?”

“Vampire rituals in general.”

“But these…these things…” Christ, it was difficult to think with her pussy squeezing him like that. Even more so when his brain was fried with pleasure and wonder, and all he wanted to do was lose himself in her arms. “Buffy…”

“I wanted this. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have done it.”

“But…”

“I love you and you’re not going away.” She blinked hard and forced her eyes to the ceiling. “It hurt with him…even though it was a fairytale, it hurt when it was over. But you…you’re real, Spike. I told you that. And if we… I’m not going to let you leave me.”

“Couldn’t,” he agreed with a gasp, unable to keep from renewing his thrusts. More, more, more. He always wanted more. “Not you. Buffy…”

“And…I just…wanted it…final.”

“And normal?”

She waved a hand before grasping his shoulders, her hips resuming their rhythmic rolls under him, her pussy recapturing him every time he dared leave her body. “We’re freaks.”

“Oh yeah…”

“I can’t…have normal. Not without you. You’re…you’re my normal, Spike…”

Spike purred, but it fell into a groan when his cock slipped free of her warmth. “Have you given any thought to what you’re gonna tell the Scoobies?”

Buffy frowned. “About what?” she replied, pulling on her pants. She was a vision. Eyes shining from her orgasm, hair even wilder than before. Still bloody hard to believe she was his, but he wasn’t about to question it. Not when he still didn’t trust the world to take it away again.

“Us.”

Her eyes grew distant for half a second, thoughtful, but she ultimately shrugged with a casualness that made his heart soar. “To deal with it? Xander took a vengeance demon to prom and boned an evil slayer. Willow’s dating a werewolf. And you’re…well, you tried to kill us, but saving the world twice—willingly, even—makes up for it.”

Spike barked an appreciative chuckle, tucking his cock back into his jeans. “How you figure?”

“’Cause this is my gig and I say so.” She dropped her shoulders the next second, a warm smile tickling her lips. “Honestly? They’ll throw a massive wig. I see many hissy fits in my near future…possibly an intervention or two. But eventually, they’ll get a handle on the idea that my life is my business and this is my choice. And if they don’t…well…I’m not gonna apologize. I spent too much time apologizing for Angel. You’re going to be a good boy for me, so—”

“Says who?”

“Says me.”

“Vampire, love.”

She waved a hand. “Slayer, love. And you’ll be good for me because you love me, and it’d kill me if you hurt anyone. Ergo, no bities for Spike.”

“Think so, huh?”

She nodded. “I know so. You’re whipped. I can feel it.” A thoughtful pause. “I have an excellent sense about these things.”

“Actually,” Spike countered, “you have no sense about these things. Even so, pet…it's my nature.”

“To kill humans. You know…the kind I'm supposed to kill you to protect. That's my nature.”

He spread his arms. “We're at an impasse.”

“You need blood for food. I can deal with that. Pig's blood—”

“Is disgusting. You fancy cleanin' the loos at the county fair with your tongue?”

Buffy sighed, her head rolling back. “Spike…for me? I can't handle it if you're going to be out there hurting people.”

“I know.”

“Then why—”

Spike smirked. “'Cause I like keepin' you on your toes. Already thought this one out, Slayer. Got me a plan.”

“Hopefully nothing I'll have to stake you over.”

“There's a vamp-run gig in LA. Import human blood at a fancy price, yeah, but it's the good stuff. I can swing the cash.”

She burned him with a suspicious glare. “Legally?”

“Does it matter, so long that the human population doesn't snuff it?” Spike broke away with a sigh, spirits falling. While he'd known this conversation would be difficult, he'd hoped to postpone it for at least a few days. “There aren't a lot of options for blokes like me. Vamps who have no cause to behave 'cept for the girl they love. I can either munch on the tasty towners without landing them in a morgue or drink imported human blood. Blood those humans will lose one way or another. Can't be legal, but at least it's not…”

Buffy held up a hand, smiling softly. “Spike, I was kidding.”

“You were?” He blinked, then said with conviction, “I mean, of course, you were.”

“Do you have any idea how much it means to me that you're willing to do even that? You have nothing to keep you from making my life a living nightmare. Not like…well, I hate using the A-word, but he had a soul.”

“Think I hate the s-word more than the A-word,” Spike muttered.

“I wasn't saying… My point is his reason was, well, that. You don't have that but you're still…for me.”

“You're all the reason I need. All the bloody soul I'll ever need.”

“And I know that. I know…and anything you do to keep me from… It means the world.” Buffy sighed and glanced down. “That's what I'm going to tell my friends. You're who you are and you always have been, and you're doing this for me. Human blood or not, you're doing it for me. Not killing.”

“Humans,” Spike interjected swiftly. “Demons are on the bloody market. Gotta give me some violence.”

Her face fell slack. “Oh, heaven forbid you try to help me save the world.”

Spike glanced around. “Not so loud, kitten.”

“You ashamed?”

“Of you? Never.”

“But that's… I want you with me. Always. I kinda made that clear this morning.” Buffy smiled tenderly, reaching up to caress the place on her throat where his fangs had made her his. “I just trusted you wanted me with you, too…and even though this isn't what either of us want as far as your hunting patterns go…I thought…it's a compromise, right?”

Not what he wanted. A slow grin spread across his lips, the sudden weight on his chest lifting. Silly girl. Silly, gorgeous, brilliant girl. It wasn't as though he'd wanted to concern her—rather, as soon as admitting he was in love with the Slayer, he'd all but conceded having her would coincide with a radical change in diet. Truthfully, he was blown the hell away at her acceptance of his alternative. Keeping Buffy meant more to him than anything. Even if it meant giving up human blood altogether—he didn't want to do it, but he wouldn't have put up much of a fight. It was his curse and his blessing. For her, there was little he wouldn't do.

However, there was no reason she needed to know that just yet. Leave a bloke with some room to stand on.

“I love you,” Spike said, stepping forward and tilting her chin upward to meet his kiss. She poured so much into kissing him. Devouring him. Stripping his mouth with her tongue and loving him with silent words. It was difficult to remember he was in the middle of making a point with her making love to his lips, but he forced himself to pull away with a grin. “You're all I need.”

Her eyes positively shimmered. “Really?”

“Well. You, sex, blood, violence, and the telly. I got you, and with you I get sex. Lots and lots of it.” She flushed but didn't object. Spike just grinned before continuing, “And we already covered blood. Violence I can get on any given night in good ole Sunnyhell. Reckon if we fix up a place, we'll get a telly. But none of that's doable without you. You're the bloody deal-breaker. And you give me more than I thought possible.”

The power of her smile would cripple a lesser man. “Well,” she replied, beaming. “I am rather giving.”

“I'll say.”

“And I love you.”

“God, I love those words.”

“Good, because you'll be hearing them a lot.”

Then she was kissing him again, melting away rational thought for the warm haven of her mouth.

He would never tire of kissing her.

*~*~*

Giles hadn’t picked up the phone.

Buffy flashed Jerome an apologetic smile, twirling the phone cord around her finger. Since she’d officially checked out of her room at the Birch House, she had to beg for use of her host’s private line to make a final call before leaving Natchez—which he’d granted graciously, if not eagerly. Jerome was, head-to-toe, a showman. He thanked her for her stay and invited her back again, though whether or not the offer was genuine or a part of the package, she wasn’t sure. After all the trouble she’d given him, she couldn’t imagine being welcome beyond this visit. She hoped so—her girlish mind had already pictured weekend getaways with her vampire.

Natchez would always be their place.

“Does he have a cell phone?” Jerome asked, glancing up from the book he was reading.

Buffy smiled awkwardly. “Giles is allergic to technology.”

“Ah. One of those.”

“Very, very British.”

The other end of the line picked up at that. “Hello?”

“Wow,” she said, turning away from Jerome to gain as much privacy as possible—which wasn’t much, given the fact that she was on his personal line. “Lazy much? What happened to picking up the phone the second it rang?”

“My apologies,” her Watcher replied sleepily. “The world didn’t end, so I assumed all went well. I was indulging in a long nap.”

“It did go well. Very well. Spike saved the day.”

“…Spike did.”

Jerome’s brows winged upward but he didn’t look up.

“Yeah. He grabbed the thing and…well, it ended.” Buffy blew out a deep breath. “Well, we’re on our way back. I just thought I’d let you—”

“‘We’?” Giles repeated, fatigue abandoning his voice. “Who is ‘we’?”

“Spike and me.”

“Spike is coming with you?”

“Yes, he’s coming with me. Things are different, Giles.” Buffy glanced to Jerome, whose eyes were latched onto his book. He was trying to listen without being obvious, which made it all the more obvious. She had to laugh—her host was many things, perhaps most prevalently a gossip-hound. “I…uhhh…kinda fell in love with him.”

Dead silence.

“…Giles?”

His voice was grave when it tickled the receiver again. “You’re not serious, are you? Tell me you’re not serious.”

“Giles—”

“This is one of your funny jokes.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “No, Giles. I’m not joking. Spike and I…well, we…it just happened. I don’t get it and I certainly won’t try to explain it. But he’s coming home with me. And…we…we kinda got…uhhh…married.”

Jerome’s head flew up, his eyes wide. His reaction, though, was nothing to her Watcher’s squawking.

“What?”

“Well…in Spike’s—uhh—custom. Not in the American—”

“You let him claim you?”

“Yes, and before you go into a big lecture, it’s done and you can’t make me feel bad about it. It was actually my idea.”

“Buffy—”

“And we’re going to take the Desoto home. I’m not ready to end my vacation.”

“Do you have any idea—”

“It’ll also give you time to tell the others and get used to the idea. I know exactly what I’m doing. Things are gonna change.” Buffy glanced up, catching Jerome’s uninhibited staring. His eyes bounced back to the book immediately, a warm blush spreading across his cheeks. She grinned in spite of herself. “Anyway, Spike’s waiting in the car. We’ll be home before the semester starts.”

Giles was still in a rage—for all the good it did him. “I can’t believe you’d—”

“See you in a couple of months.”

“Months?”

Buffy hung up the phone before he could tear down another righteous tirade and turned to her host with a knowing grin. “He…he said congratulations.”

Jerome just arched a brow, his eyes sparkling. She imagined her phone call would be a hot topic at breakfast tomorrow.

“Tell Edith I said goodbye? And Donna?”

He nodded. “Will do. It was a pleasure, Anne.”

His tone sharpened around her alias, alerting her he was very much aware—or had grown so—that she was flying under the radar. It didn’t matter anymore. “Yeah. I love your place…and if Spike and I ever come back, I promise I’ll be a better guest.”

“As I said, you’re welcome anytime.”

Something in his eyes told her he was speaking the truth.

*~*~*

“Ready to rumble, pet?”

Buffy grinned, settling in the seat beside him. It wasn’t a chariot or a horse-ride into the sunset, but she’d grown to appreciate the piece of junk Spike called a car…even if she’d never admit it. “Ready and willing.”

Spike tossed her a wink. “Just how I like you.”

“Any idea where we’re going?”

“Does it matter?”

She grew silent for a second, considering. No, it didn’t matter where they went. As long as they were together nothing seemed to matter. The next few weeks would open doors she’d never even considered. And though they might lead down tumultuous paths, she was confident she and Spike could emerge from any conflict better for it.

She loved him. He loved her. And he wasn’t going to leave.

Nothing mattered beyond that.

“No,” Buffy replied, leaning over and brushing a kiss across his cheek. “It doesn’t.”

“Then let’s find out when we get there.”

An eager giggle bubbled off her lips. Spike grinned at her and reached for her hand. Sun bounced off the blackened windshield, old rock blasted through the stereo, the air smelled of cigarettes and alcohol, and she didn’t care.

It wasn’t where she’d seen herself going, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Not so long as Spike was beside her.

“Hold on, kitten,” he murmured. “We’re in for a wild ride.”

His eyes were dancing, and she believed him.