Day after day, the carnival turned out to be a blast. Yes, there was the occasional demon scuffle, but the presence of the slayers and witches patrolling it non-stop made them pretty inconsequential. Three times in the last four days there had been trouble with humans; two of those times it had been the humans provoking the demons and the third had seemed to be a reciprocal assault. In all cases, though, the slayers had stopped most of the violence and the witches had cast spells that led the demons and humans in question to be unable to do violence for several hours. Not to mention the fact that anyone involved got booted out of the carnival, no sweetness about it either: they didn’t want any violence here and it had to be clear to all, demons and humans.
Aside from these few instances, though, everything went smoothly enough to let Buffy and Spike have plenty of fun with the games and attractions of the park. It turned out she’d been dead honest when she’d said she was happy to spend this ‘holiday’ with him: she kept smiling and smiling, making Spike feel just a tad too emotional for his liking, but leaving him pleased as punch by dawn every damn night.
Oh, and the fact that she’d been giving him a peck on the cheek every night, before wishing him good night and scarpering off to her bedroom, helped plenty.
Spike sighed and looked at the Slayer, who was currently telling the demon that manned the Mirror Maze of Horrors that the two of them needed to enter in order to inspect the attraction. He smirked, trying not to think of how much he loved her bossiness.
A few minutes later, of course, they found themselves in the maze. It was an ingenious, huge place, in which the more traditional shape-deforming mirrors were followed by magic ones that made you look starved, enormous, ill, and other nasty things — and most entertainingly, that made you look like you were one of several species of demons.
The most shocking thing, though, was what they discovered the first time they saw one of the magic mirrors, something that made both of them jump in surprise: Spike’s reflection appeared next to Buffy’s in all its glorious, maggot-filled spectacle.
“Magic,” he murmured, looking at the vermin that slithered from his nostril to dangle over his rotten lips.
“Bleeding fascinating?” He leaned closer to the mirror, inspecting his writhing image. He could almost hear the crr-crr of the little critters munching through his festering, dead flesh, but he was mostly interested in the image of himself underneath all the squirming little thingies. Were his cheekbones really that sharp, or was it just the dead look of the mirror? He couldn’t possibly be that thin, could he? He was built, damn it!
“Disgusting, Spike. Come on, let’s go forward…”
“Nah, wait, look. Do my shoulders really stick out that much? Come on!”
Buffy just shook her head beside him — the little maggots on her face flying about her head in the mirror — and yanked him to the side and forward along the path. He couldn’t help but grin at her heartfelt ‘eww’ when the next mirror showed their bodies as if they’d just been skinned — all muscles bleeding on each other and forming puddles on the floor.
It was all absolutely hilarious until they found the one that was supposed to show you your vampire version — Buffy wasn’t overly amused and Spike was particularly annoyed that what it did to him was make him look like a Turok Han.
“That’s total bollocks,” he muttered under his breath, dragging Buffy by the arm so they could get back to the entertaining part of the attraction. Anywhere else would be better than that particular mirror.
His annoyed muttering stopped abruptly when her hand grazed his while he let her arm go. He ignored the little jolt of pleasure he felt at that — until the little bitch went and grasped his hand with hers in a firm grip, foiling all his attempts at being even remotely comfortable around her.
He dared a look at her but she just smiled widely at him and pulled him toward an obscured, raised, and empty bend of the path that went left.
“Come on, Spike, let’s see what’s here.”
He let himself be pulled, doing his best to neither jerk his hand away from hers nor concentrate too much on just how good that contact was.
“Well… lookie here.”
They suddenly found themselves in a hexagonal room with mirrors for walls, and the door they’d come through closed behind them, effectively surrounding them in the reflective surfaces. The only exception was one corner between two of them, right in front of them: there, he could see a twisted tree, one long branch jutting out towards the centre of the room and an old-looking rope tied in a noose dangling from it.
That tree, together with the magic mirrors all around them and the bright, shining ceiling, made it look like they’d suddenly stepped into a sunny forest — populated with endless demon shapes and lightly swinging nooses.
Spike took a step forward and so did half of the demons in the room. He grinned, looking at his reflections grin back at him, all more or less disturbing in their various demon faces.
“It sure is something,” came Buffy’s voice, low and somewhat awed. She was looking at all her reflections — who subsequently seemed to look around the whole ‘wood’ — and Spike felt her fingers intertwine with his and grip his hand a tad more tightly. Suddenly, he felt the strong urge to keep his attention on the strange mirror forest.
“Pretty sure I’ve read about something like this somewhere,” he murmured, trying and failing not to look at their hands together. What book was it? He needed a distraction, and soon.
She moved closer to him, her arm touching his. He swallowed and forced himself to look away, his gaze falling on the noose hanging from the only real tree around them. That sure looked convenient, as a dark way to escape this idiotic torment that the Slayer was inflicting on him…
“Uh, I remember, pet.” He stepped closer to the tree, not daring to move his hand away and stifling a whimper — of both pleasure and frustration — when she moved with him and stayed firmly at his side. “’S from that crazy book, The Phantom of the Opera.”
“Huh. Always thought it was a musical.”
He spared her a quick glance, smiling at her adorable little frown.
“Was a book way before then, Slayer. Remember reading it as a serial on a French newspaper at the start of the century. Well, the last one.” He tried to move his hand a bit but she just followed his movements until their arms were swinging — and God, how awkward and ridiculous was this? He cleared his throat. “Story about this madman who pretended to be a ghost and was ready to kill and torture whoever kept him from his beloved… kinda resonated, you know.” Even though I bleeding hated the ending, at the time.
“Oh.” He could almost expect her harsh tone — but her voice stayed light. “So he built a demon-mirror chamber?”
“Not exactly,” he grinned at her briefly, then looked at the floor beneath them, searching. “Far as I remember, there was some sort of strong light, supposed to bounce off all the mirrors and end up scorching you to death…” He found what he was looking for and tugged her towards it. Then he crouched down, finally finding the strength to actually move his hand away from hers. “Unless you knew of the secret trapdoor,” he added with a grin her way, opening an almost invisible latch on the ground.
“You know, you remember it disturbingly well…”
He shrugged before dropping down the short fall, ignoring the little ladder dangling there.
“Just felt like it was an ingenious torture room, is all. Always felt Angelus might have taken a good liking to it, too, if the bastard had been cultured enough to read…”
Buffy’s soft chuckle tickled his ears as she jumped down next to him, then jumped up to close the trapdoor above them. They found themselves at the beginning of a low, narrow corridor, with only the faint light of a few candles to show the mirrors that stood in as the walls. He took a moment to look at their reflections, seeing various demons that seemed caught in the middle of a battle, bloody and battered, but at the same time deformed from their natural shapes with creepy twists of flesh.
“I love finding out stuff like this about you, you know. What you like, what you’ve read…” He turned to look at her, his heart almost thudding at how close she was in the very narrow corridor. “I didn’t even know you spoke French. I feel like there’s so much to discover, so much about you I don’t know.”
Her voice was soft and low and oh-so-close. Her eyes, wide and dark in the low light, were intensely fixed on his. He had to swallow a couple of times.
“Yeah. Never really felt like you were so interested in discovering much, back then, you know?”
Her eyes lowered for a second, making his fingers twitch in desire to touch her. Then she looked back up at him, her eyes almost shining.
“It’s different now. You know that, Spike, don’t you?”
He swallowed again, nodding. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see his demon reflections nodding along with him — but then she took his hand in hers again and all his attention switched to their fingers, softly intertwining.
There was silence for a beat and then — and then she kissed him. She, Buffy Summers, kissed him — and not on the cheek, this time.
At first he was simply too stunned to move. Then, his brain seemed to register what was happening just enough for him to grip her arms and kiss her back, his lips desperate against hers. Then, his brain seemed to register all of what was happening and, in one of the hardest moves of his life, he wrenched himself from her and took a step back along the corridor, his hard breath matching hers, his eyes wide as hers as well.
“What?” She gave a breathless laugh which went straight to his cock, making him weak. “What does it look like, Spike?”
She moved towards him but he stepped back again. The look of hurt in her eyes pierced his dead heart, but he didn’t close the distance.
“Buffy, I… I don’t…”
“Y-you… you don’t?” She whispered, and he saw her expression fall. “You don’t want me?”
Her voice was so small and he felt like the biggest prick on the planet. But he couldn’t give in; he wouldn’t let himself go back to being anyone’s whipping boy, not now, not even hers.
“Buffy, don’t be bloody barmy. Of course I want you… but,” he started, but he didn’t know how to end that sentence. ‘I don’t want to ruin our friendship’? ‘I can’t bear to go back to my pathetic self, not even for you’?
“You want me, but..?” She didn’t lose her hurt expression, looking down. “Is this about… about you wanting to be your own man?”
“Yes,” he breathed in relief, glad he didn’t have to explain himself from scratch. “Yeah, it’s — it’s that. I don’t want to…”
“Be with me,” she finished his sentence. His heart broke at seeing her swallow before looking up at him, her eyes wet. “You can’t be your own man with me, is what you’re saying.”
He blinked a couple of times, at a loss for words. That was the gist of it, wasn’t it?
“Is it about… is it about me?” Her voice was so small and he could see her lower lip tremble. He felt his eyes water and took a small step toward her, desperate to stop this train wreck. “Is there something about me that makes a — a normal relationship impossible?”
“Love, no, it isn’t —”
“Don’t call me love, Spike,” she said in a soft, sad voice. “Please. Don’t call me love if you don’t mean it.”
He jerked backwards, feeling like she’d punched him. Like he’d punched her, the way she looked at him.
“Buffy. Please listen to me.” She looked to the side but then nodded once. He could see the tension in her shoulders and hoped wildly that some divinity might enlighten him — because he had no idea what to tell her. “I… I want to be my own man. I don’t want to be… the one that looks at you like a goddess. Underneath you, with you as my salvation.”
He could feel his throat close more with every word and his eyes water even more when she raised her own again to his. He could see a tear-track along her cheek.
“And you just can’t imagine having a healthy relationship with me, can you?”
He swallowed hard but the knot in his throat didn’t go anywhere. That really was the point, wasn’t it?
“No, I mean, it’s fine.” She brushed her tear away with a jerky movement, her voice getting a tad firmer, her back straighter — building up her defences again, hiding her softness. “I’m not gonna force you into anything, you know. I just thought to try this — this thing everyone talks about, of being open with the people you — you care about, and trying for a healthy relationship. You know,” she said with a harder voice, “trying.”
Spike looked at her, desperate for some way to go back in time and erase the last few minutes.
“Buffy, I don’t —”
“You don’t want to try. I get it.” Her lower lip trembled for a second, but she bit it lightly and looked at him with sad but firm eyes. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I’ll get over you — get over it.”
His heart broke and he moved forward, stopping when she stepped back with a wary expression. His hands moved of their own accord towards her but he stopped himself before touching her.
“Buffy, please, listen.” She looked at him with the same weary expression but didn’t say anything; he exhaled a shaky breath. “I… I love being your friend. Your friendship…” He fought harder against the tears that kept prickling his eyelids, swallowing. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me, pet. Really can’t.”
“But… you don’t want anything more.”
Her voice was so heartbroken. This couldn’t be right, could it?
“I do,” he admitted in a whisper, feeling like he’d just lost a race against himself. “I do. Buffy, no matter how close we are as friends, how incredible and unexpected and so much more than what I’d imagined your friendship is — I’m in love with you.” He would have been almost proud of himself for not sobbing, at that point, if Buffy’s eyes weren’t filling with tears again. “I still am. But I, I’ve never…” He bit his lip hard, took a long breath, pretended it steadied him. “I’ve never had one. A healthy relationship. Never . Always been the one begging for more, for love, for…” He shook his head, exasperated at himself. “But now you, you and I — we’re so good — and I don’t want to ruin it, I just can’t. Please, please try to understand.”
She licked her lips once, looking at him with shiny eyes, and he felt his chest tighten till it hurt.
“I do,” she said, also in a whisper. He felt the tightness get less painful, if just a smidge. “I do, and I don’t want to lose our friendship either. It’s… it’s pretty amazing, this Spike-as-a-friend thing, to be honest.” She offered him a watery little grin and he couldn’t help but swallow and nod at her with one of his own. “But… I’d still like more, if you wanted to try. If… yeah, if you wanted.” She said that last bit looking down and his chest tightened again, even harder than before. “Maybe we could… think about it?”
God, when had her voice become so little, so tentative? When had Spike made her all small and hesitant and so bloody hopeful?
“Yeah,” he rasped out, before he could even think about the answer. When her lips turned up in a little smile he knew he’d said the right thing, to hell with his fears.
He nodded, swallowing again, offering her a small smile of his own.
“Yeah, pet, we’ll — think about it.”
She kept smiling at him for a few more seconds before exhaling a shaky breath and chuckling lightly, looking around at their reflections.
“Well, look at us. Big bad fighters talking about feelings in front of a bunch of gory-covered demons. Way to make with the scary hunter vibe, huh?”
He let loose a husky chuckle, his chest still tight.
“Couldn’t ever stop us, pet, not even in the middle of a heart-to-heart.”
They started walking, her resolutely looking at her reflections, him unable to stop looking at her.
“Well, someone did tell me once that my relationships with people I care about are what make me a stronger slayer. So maybe the demons should actually learn a lesson, here. I am all teacher-Buffy these days, after all."
Her tone had gone back to light and cheerful, even though he could still feel a bit of tension lingering on it. My brave warrior, always ready to give her best and try her hardest.
And then something clicked in his head, and he finally realised how stupid he was being. What was the point of all this caution when he wanted her — and she wanted him, and they both wanted it to be healthy and sane? Why wait for a perfect moment, for the time when he’d be all grown up and mature and past his horrible patterns in relationships, when all he could be sure about was the sodding present? He thought about Xander and his incensed speech to him and felt like he could kick himself in the face.
Buffy had stopped to look at her current reflection, so he found himself right next to her — and then he grabbed her arms, turned her to face him, and stepped a smidge closer.
"I've thought about it. Let's do it."
"You've — what?"
"I've thought about it, Buffy. Love," he added with just the slightest tremble, his eyes fixed on her widening ones.
"Didn't take you long..."
Was her voice husky? Was that excitement in her eyes? She licked her lower lip and he couldn't take his eyes off of the spectacle.
"Yeah," he answered, his voice thick. "You know me. Not much of a thinker, and I've already spent way too long overthinking this."
Buffy licked her lips again and he had to swallow. He walked her backwards until her back touched the mirror behind her.
"Spike… Spike, please don't start something if you'll change your mind in another thirty seconds."
Her voice was low and he managed to move his eyes to hers — which were locked on his own lips. He swallowed and stepped closer still, invading her space but stomping down the urge to completely press himself against her.
"Won't change my mind, pet." He licked his lips, feeling something inside roar in triumph at the way her eyes flared at that. "You wanna give us an honest try, yeah?" She nodded, fast. He couldn't help a smile. "I want that too, pet. More than anything. And maybe I'm not a big, independent vampire because of that —"
Her laugh interrupted him, low and incredibly hot.
"Spike, wanting love doesn't make you any less your own man than wanting friendship." Now she was looking him in the eyes again, her cheeks getting pinker — he really, really needed to kiss her.
He moved his hands to her waist, his thumbs caressing her over her t-shirt, her breath hitching slightly.
“Yeah. Yeah, you’re right, pet. And I’ve been a right pillock with this whole bloody mess… and I’m sorry.” Her hands went to his chest, making him feel like she could scorch him with her warmth. God, he’d missed all that heat. “I’ve just remembered that it’s the ties to our world that make us stronger. No need to fear them, right?” He moved one of his hands to cup her face, his thumb tracing her reddened, warm cheek.
“You reminded me of that once. Only fair I’d do that for you, too, Spike.” Her voice was a whisper and his name felt like a blessing on her lips.
“Do my best to make this healthy, love. Do anything, for you. For us,” he added with a stupid, excited little stumble in his voice.
“Yes,” she breathed, nodding, and God, her voice was as hoarse as his, and he couldn’t take it anymore.
"Buffy… love, please tell me I can kiss you now. Please —"
He didn't have time to finish the word — she'd already grabbed his face and dragged him down to her, her lips warm and sweet and oh-so-hot against his own.
And God, what a kiss. Spike’s mind was reeling — her tongue traced his lips, making him groan lightly in her mouth, until his own tongue went to touch hers, and then it was impossible not to press into her. His hand on her waist pulled her into him and then their bodies were pressed against each other, hands clutching, mouths hot and hungry in their kisses. She rocked against his hips and a moan left her lips — he devoured it, moaning as well, rocking against her and relishing every sound she made, every little noise that went straight down to his cock.
Far too soon she broke away with a gasp, but he couldn’t stop. He kissed her chin, her jaw, nibbled on her ear, and then he was kissing her again, eating up all her hot little noises, groaning in her mouth as well. He kissed and kissed her, his hand on her waist sliding down until his thumb could slip under the hem of her shirt. She shivered at that and then one of her hands moved up to his head, scratching lightly at the hair on his neck and making him groan again, a long sound, until she moved back again to breathe.
God, her voice saying his name like that. He looked at her hot, hot eyes, before tangling his hand in her hair and tilting her head so he could kiss her neck.
He groaned yet again against her skin while one of her hands went to caress his chest, finding his nipple and scratching it through his shirt. His cock jumped against his zipper and he shivered slightly and then went back to kiss her lips, because he could never, ever get enough of her.
And then someone sodding coughed at them.
He wouldn’t have minded continuing to kiss her — her lips! Christ, what a drug — but she broke away with a weak gasp that went straight to his already-hard cock. Her eyes were wide and she pushed his body fractionally away from hers but didn’t show any sign of wanting to leave his arms. He pretended to ignore how much he loved that.
He’d made her stutter. God, he should have done this sooner.
“This is a public place. There are children around.”
Spike moved his head enough to look back at that: the disapproving voice came from what would have looked like an ordinary old lady, if it hadn’t been for her dark green skin and large, toad-like features. She'd just climbed down the ladder from the mirror chamber and Spike could see a couple of small toad-lookalikes poking their heads through the trapdoor to stare at him and Buffy with adorably disgusted expressions. He repressed a frustrated groan. Demon-lady and her little spawn had no idea what kind of bloody revelation was going on here!
“Yes, uhm, of course,” came Buffy’s voice and, before he could protest, she slid her hands down to his, holding them while she moved the both of them down the corridor. His insides melted just a little bit. “We’ll, uh, get out of your way then, ma’am.”
Toad-lady just kept staring at them, shaking her head and muttering about ‘youngsters who don't know how to keep it in their pants’. As for him and Buffy, they resisted until the first bend of the path before bursting into giggles, and wasn’t that a hoot? William the Bloody, giggling and holding hands with a slayer, caught making out like a teenager…
He’d rarely been so ecstatic to be unliving, no matter how uncomfortable his jeans were at the moment.
“Well, that’s enough embarrassment for tonight,” murmured Buffy, a big smile still on her face.
“Oh, baby,” he whispered in a plaintive tone, crowding her again and relishing the pleased intake of breath she took when he went to nuzzle her neck. “I was just getting started with the public indecency…”
She shivered slightly when he softly nibbled her skin and then gave a heady little laugh. He decided that was among his top five favourite sounds in the universe.
“Come on, Spike,” she said in a ridiculous attempt at a stern tone. “I want you all to myself, no publicness, tonight.”
He immediately moved back, his eyes meeting hers. She was blushing furiously and her eyes were just a tad weary, but mostly he could see his own desire reflected in them. He swallowed and smiled slightly, testing the waters.
“You real about that, love?”
She nodded, tiny movement of her head, her smile turning shy.
“If you want…”
Did she just shrug her shoulders at him, feigning nonchalance, as if it wasn’t bloody obvious that he’d want her all to himself as well?
He crushed her to him again and kissed her until she groaned lightly in his mouth, and then kept kissing her more because he could never get enough.
The same coughing sound came from behind them, this time with a tinge of exasperation, and they broke apart with a little laugh. He didn’t waste time in conversation this time though, taking her hand in his and dragging her away, until the tunnel became one more little labyrinth of paths.
She didn’t let go of his hand as she took the lead — of course she did — and valiantly tried to return his attention to the various reflections this section offered. He saw right through her game, of course — she kept sending him looks , and blushing, and licking her lips whenever she caught him staring at her chest or her arse, and Spike was feeling like the best kind of drunk there was.
But they were moving quickly, he could see the same eagerness to be alone that he felt reflected in her eyes. So it was just a matter of minutes until they were out of the maze, out of the attraction, back in the midst of a crowd, back to the outside world. For a second, Spike felt his mind crowded with images of their old tryst — felt like she was one moment away from pretending she didn’t give him a second thought or even a first — but then he took a deep breath and reminded himself that it was different now. They were different now. She kept holding his hand and sent him a little smile that was half frustrated, half coy.
“Guess it’s time to get back to work, huh?”
He nodded, his eyes never leaving hers. Then he raised their hands and left a soft kiss on each of her knuckles, immensely enjoying the blush that rose to her cheeks.
“No reason not to enjoy the end of the night, yeah?”
God, he’d meant it as a sweet little nothing, but by the way her eyes flared, it must’ve felt like he was asking her in his bed in the next two minutes. Bloody wishful thinking, considering he was still semi-hard.
“All right. Get back to work, enjoy the rest of the night. Yes. I can do that, I know I can.”
God, how cute was she? He pulled her to him and lent in, ready to kiss her again, when Willow’s voice ruined the perfect moment.
“Spike, Buffy, there you are!”
Buffy jolted back, her eyes widening and turning to the witch that was wading through the crowds to get to them. But she didn’t move her hand away. Instead, she gave him a little smile and intertwined their fingers, squeezing his slightly. He felt like something more or less vital melted in his chest.
“I’ve been looking all over for you, guys! Where were you?” She gave Spike a grossed-out look. “And don’t tell me you were in that gigantic Doll House. I swear, not even Sunnydale ever stooped that low…”
“Uhm, no, we were, we were in the Mirror Maze, Wills.”
“Oh, isn’t that lovely? I haven’t explored it all but Goddess, those mirrors are amazing. You could see yourself, Spike, right?” He just nodded, a little shell-shocked, his whole brain concentrated on his hand holding the Slayer’s right under one of the Scoobies’ eyes. “Yeah, exactly, fantastic magic! I’ve been trying to figure it all out, but they’re all so secretive and —” Suddenly, Willow looked down at their hands, her eyes widening comically in half a second. “Oh! Oh. Well, uhm,” she hedged, her eyes skipping between their faces and their hands. Spike repressed the urge to let go of Buffy and scamper off - or hold her tighter and growl at the threat. “Uhm, I didn't mean to disturb you, if something's going on — I mean between you two — I mean, guys! Enjoy the rest of the night, everything's all dandy here! And —"
"Willow," Buffy broke in her crazy sputtering with a firm but gentle voice. Her fingers squeezed Spike's, making him feel a tad less uncertain. "What did you need to tell us? Is something happening?"
"No, no, nothing happening around here." Now Willow's smile had moved from panicking to very pleased, leaving Spike wondering what the hell was wrong with her. "Actually, that's what I wanted to report to you, boss mine. We're all good, witches and slayers — so really, you could take the rest of the night off! Maybe see some other attractions, or take the car to the hotel… I could take the other slayers there, later!"
Willow kept sending the two of them little grins and Spike felt his eyebrows rise, while thanking all deities of the universe that it took quite a bit more than that to make a vamp blush. Was the little witch trying to get him and Buffy alone?
"No, Wills, we'll stay here till closing time." He hardly had the time to feel disappointed because Buffy was already sending him a shy smile and there was absolutely nothing disappointing about that look. "I mean, this is our last day here of our shift, I don't want to tempt the fates and leave just two hours before the end of it."
"Oh, all right then. Probably good thinking, yes." Willow sent him another little grin and he just wasn't sure how to respond, so he sent an uncertain smile her way. She beamed. "Well, I'll leave you to the rest of your night, then. See the sights, play the games — enjoy yourselves, guys!"
And after another excited smile and wave at the two of them off she went, disappearing into the crowd around them again.
"So… that was awkward, huh?"
Spike chuckled, looking back at Buffy and her delightfully shy expression.
"Might say so, yeah."
"Did you mind it? I mean, are you OK with — I mean —"
"Love," he interrupted her, raising his free hand to cup her face and thrilling at the way she widened her eyes at his pet name. "I don't mind it. Nothing to mind. Just Red being her usual…"
He laughed and nodded.
"Yeah, could say that."
They stayed silent for a second, just looking at each other — and he really just wanted to kiss her — and then he remembered that he could, so he leaned down and gave her a sweet, soft kiss, not too short but never bloody enough.
"O-OK." Ah, her little stutter… "OK, OK, we can do this. Patrol the park, have some fun…"
"Enjoy the rest of the night," he added, his voice still husky. She whimpered and his cock got back to semi-hardness in his jeans.
"Yeah," she breathed. And then he kissed her again, because he could and couldn't stop himself and really didn’t want to. “Not fair,” she whined against his lips and he couldn’t help but chuckle against hers, until they stopped kissing and were just breathing each other in, forehead to forehead. “These are probably going to be the longest two hours of my life.”
He just chuckled again and raised his eyebrows at that, because of course they wouldn’t be — Buffy Summers had faced evils a tad worse than waiting for two hours for a proper snog, no matter how good he was at making her see stars — but it was a darn sweet thing to hear. He just smiled widely and gave her one last soft kiss before taking a step away. Her smile was the stuff of dreams.
“I think we’ll live, pet.” She pouted and it was suddenly almost impossible not to jump in her arms. “C’mon, we still got a few games I have to crush you at.”
Buffy scoffed and took his hand again when they started walking, which made his chest do its usual funny little thing times a hundred.
“In your dreams, Spikey. I’ll beat the hell out of your pretty little face and you know it.”
He affected a worried air.
“I thought we were trying for something healthy, here?” She actually faltered at that, her eyes widening in panic — but then he laughed and she let his hand go to punch his arm. “Ow! Just messing around here, Slayer!”
“Yeah, well, no messes. I want a mess-free night, ya hear me?”
He smiled at her but got more serious when he noticed that she was looking to the side, her pout just this side of worried.
“Hey, pet. I was just kidding, you know that, right?”
She nodded, shrugged, but kept her eyes to the other side of the busy path. He felt like punching himself a bit but settled for putting an arm around her shoulders and pressing her into him. She went willingly, pressing her cheek against his chest, and he leaned down to kiss her head, his chest fluttering again.
“We’re past that, yeah? All forgiven,” he whispered against her hair. They were walking very slowly by then and she nodded in his chest, making his heart feel all kinds of funny.
“Yeah. I know, I know.”
“Sorry for the stupid joke, Buffy.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said with the smallest sigh, her head leaning back a bit to smile up at him. “Just overreacted a bit.” She shrugged and he decided to let it go, just smiling back at her warmly. Then her smile became wicked. “I’m still totally winning at everything.”
“That’s my girl,” he chuckled, enjoying her beam at that — and then she gave him a kiss on the cheek and jumped away, racing him to the next game a few metres away. He couldn’t help the dumb, big smile that stretched his lips, and had a feeling he wouldn’t be able to for the rest of the night.