Early March 2005
The rest of the Carnival had gone off without a hitch — if you didn’t consider a small armed insurgence by a bunch of idiots on the last day a hitch. Yeah, they’d wounded a few of the patrons and caused a right mess — but the slayers had been quick in their job and killed them all off before they could do any real damage, Buffy first of all, quick and savage and fucking perfect as always. He had a right mind to drag her to a corner, any corner, and shag her senseless against a wall after that: her fury made him hard and the way she ordered the bystanders to keep clear of the battle even harder. Somehow he did contain himself though, helping the witches patch up all the wounded instead and letting his lady take control of the situation.
(Later he let her take control of him, since she more than deserved some stress-relief after that… and what a night it was.)
Still, nobody could really count that little skirmish as too much of a loss. He had to give it to the demons organising the carnival: as soon as the tension broke, every single demon working in the carnival that was around immediately stopped all patrons, both human and demon, from taking part in the battle, effectively stopping it from escalating. He had to admit that he took a smidgeon of pride in his fellow demons at that, and at how fiercely they wanted to protect their struggles for peace.
All in all, Slayer Central buzzed with the cheer of festivities the whole day after the end of the carnival, the castle open to all of the funfair’s demons who wanted to join the celebrations. It was hilarious to see how uncomfortable many of the slayers and demons themselves had been at staying in such close quarters. That was, until Spike and Buffy proposed a tournament in the big courtyard to loosen everyone up, which worked just splendidly, if he did say so himself.
Not that he managed to catch much of it — somehow, he and his lady found themselves otherwise occupied in a dark corner, getting increasingly distracted, until they were interrupted by a very outraged, very flustered and closed-eyed Dawn that practically screeched at them to “just use your damn rooms already” instead of scandalising her “poor, sisterly eyes”. He’d long gotten past his little embarrassed phase and had been busy gloating about his and Buffy’s relationship for the past two weeks, but that little stunt put him back in his place. For some unfathomable reason, the idea of Dawn in particular catching him with his hand down Buffy’s trousers was too much even for him.
Not that he’d gone soft, or anything. He just had standards, and she was his Nibblet, and it was just weird and he’d stand by it, damn it.
As for Buffy, she’d been too mortified to touch him in public again — for all of twenty-four hours, that is, which was way too long for his taste. After that, they’d settled on a tamer ‘PDA policy’, as she insisted on calling it, but he couldn’t complain. Getting to snuggle with her on the couch on movie night, or hold her hand while eating, or give her the occasional kiss or grope while they sparred? Bloody heaven, it was.
And now, they were on one of their couple-missions, as Dawn was so fond of calling them, off to a little Scottish town where they’d found the nest of nasty demons they’d just crushed. After which she’d taken his phone, dialled Beck’s number, and unceremoniously thrust it in his hand with a very clear order of: ‘Call her and tell her that you’re staying for good — and why.’
His lady knew how to order him around, that was damn right...
“No, you tell him. … No, I said you! Come on, Beck, you’re the lady here, you’re best suited for this. … Yeah, ’course I’m just trying to flatter you into doing it. Is it working yet? … OK, OK. Thanks, pet. I owe you one. … Har, bloody har, pet. You’re a bloody riot. … Yeah, you too, Beck.”
Spike closed the call with a smile on his face and he felt Buffy walking closer to him, the scent of the blood of her latest, too-puny enemy strong on her.
“So, you finally managed to tell her you’re sticking around? That’s fantastic. Admirable, even. I’m in awe of your strength of character, sweetie.”
By then she’d fixed her Scythe back to the harness she carried on her back and her arms had slid up to circle his neck.
“Very funny, pet. You know how Peaches is — didn’t feel like breaking his heart by letting him know that I’m staying here for good.”
She scrunched her nose and he held her tightly to him. His irresistible, tiny, powerful woman.
“All things considered, I’m pretty sure Angel isn’t so distraught about you staying here.” He looked at her skeptically. “Well, yeah, so maybe the reason you’re staying won’t be his favourite in the world… and I'll have to call him soon, if Beck does let him know, sounds like the decent thing to do… but I think he’s enough of a grown up to deal with it.”
“See, love, that’s your problem right there. You give people entirely too much credit.”
She laughed and then kissed sweetly his lips, his jaw, his neck. He sighed in her hair.
“More to the point, honey… is this Beck of yours as in love with you as I think she is?”
He breathed out a chuckle but she looked at him with knowing eyes and he looked to the side.
“She’s jus’... infatuated, is all.” He shrugged a bit, trying to hide his discomfort. “We’re friends, and I care about her.”
She nodded, a faint smile on her lips.
“That why it took you more than two months and my direct order to tell her about us, and that you were really very sure you’d be staying here?”
He looked down but she stroked along his jaw until she raised his head by his chin. Her eyes were kind and he swallowed.
“Don’ really like hurting her, is all. She’s had more than enough pain in her life and she doesn’t have many friends.”
“Why do your friends always have to crush on you so hard, is what I wonder.”
He smirked at her eye roll and raised his brow in a teasing look.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about, pet.”
“You do, too. With you it’s all ‘Oh, it’s just Maria calling me for the tenth time today, pet, don’ worry about it,’ and ‘Oh, Maria’s having difficulties these days, luv, cut her some slack,’ and ‘Ah, Beck, that girl sure knows how to fire a guy up!’”
He couldn’t take it anymore and burst out laughing in her face, her brows furrowing in mock annoyance. He squeezed her to him instead of letting her go, going to laugh in the nape of her neck.
“Stop laughing at me! It’s true!”
“You’re a bloody riot,” he wheezed against her skin, her squirming making him hold her tighter still. He sighed against her, his smile widening when she relaxed in his arms and tilted her head to give him more access to her delectable neck. “And you, love,” he murmured between kisses that went up to her jaw, “are the only one who fires me up,” he ended with his lips on her ear. Her shiver made him feel all kinds of almighty.
“Sometimes, with the way you talk about her… a girl can get jealous.”
He could hear the perfect tease in her voice, so he kept smiling and kissing her skin until his lips were a hairsbreadth from hers, his hands cradling her beautiful, smiling face.
“Friends. Even good friends, pet. But can’t hold a candle to my love.” He ended in a whisper, looking at her eyes sparkle until she pressed her lips to his in a sweet, sweet kiss.
They sighed in each other’s mouths, happy and content and, Spike was getting surer by the day, both stupidly in love with each other.
Her smile slowly turned wistful and she moved one of her hands from his chest to cup his face.
“You know I’m joking, Spike. And I’m sorry you have so many friends so far from you.”
He shrugged, losing most of his smile and looking to the side.
“Way of the world, pet. But yeah, that’s why I didn’t fancy telling Beck sooner… not particularly happy about making a friend feel left behind.”
Buffy was silent for a while until he looked back up at her and saw that her eyes were a little sad.
“Do you ever… regret —”
“No, pet. You know I don’t. I love you, and yeah, I care about your band of uncultured little friends too…”
“Just because we don’t share your love for soap opera TV doesn’t mean we’re uncultured.”
“That’s exactly what it means, love,” he said with a little smirk, kissing her nose. Then he smiled at her, a little sadly. “I’m sorry to be so far from some of my friends. But it’s worth it, it’s so worth it it doesn’t even matter.”
“Except that it does,” she said with a sad smile of her own. She sighed and then perked up, pressing herself to him in an entirely too-delightful way. “Well, I guess I’ll need to go check on the slayers in LA soon. The poor girls went through such a horrible time, after all… only right that they’d deserve a visit from me to check in on them. And I might be convinced to bring you along, if you behave.”
“Oh, I don’t know, those slayers suffered enough already without one of your dreadful speeches on top of it…”
Buffy gasped and slapped him on the chest, squirming to get away from his arms, but he only laughed and held her tighter, raining kisses on her face until she stood still enough for him to kiss her lips, smiling throughout it all.
They kept on kissing, smiling against each other’s lips, until they both sighed and leaned back, their eyes warm and happy. Spike could almost hear her say the words, the magic words he’d been waiting to hear for a while now. He could feel it in the way she looked at him, the way she made love to him and even the way she fought with him, in the way she gave him her best and expected him to do the same. He could feel her love more and more every day, and he couldn’t wait for her to be ready to say it out loud.
For now, she just shook her head a little bit and looked at him with a smile.
“I love the way you care about your friends, Spike. But you should really have learned that keeping secrets from the ones you care about isn’t exactly respectful.”
Her voice was soft and kind but God if the words didn’t punch him in the guts. He closed his eyes and hid his face in her neck.
“You’re right, pet,” he mumbled against her skin.
“Of course I am,” Buff said perkily, petting his head, and he chuckled and then raised his head again. Her eyes were glittering with mirth as her thumb traced his jaw and then his lips. She looked so happy… “Spike, I have something to tell you.”
“Yeah?” She nodded, a little shy, and he felt his whole body thrum with energy, his whole face smiling widely. “What is it, pet? I don’t have something in my teeth, do I?”
“Spike!” They both laughed and he kissed her and kissed her through their smiles, leaving her flushed and breathless when he leaned back. He felt his chest almost bursting, his heart wanted to beat so hard. “Spike. Spike,” she repeated with a happy smile, “I love you.”
The words wouldn’t have meant the same, wouldn’t have had the same effect, without the certainty of her feelings for him that had grown inside him through the last two months. But as it was, it felt like the final opening of the final door, and he felt like now he really was utterly welcome in the home he always wanted to belong to.
“I love you too, Buffy.”
Her smile was dazzling and he could only kiss her, deeply and with all the passion he could muster. His hands slid up to her face just as her arms crossed behind his neck, both of them pressing their bodies closer and closer.
“I love you so much,” she murmured against his lips, never stopping their kiss, and he laughed from the joy of it, until she was laughing too and they stopped kissing, just holding each other tightly.
He was the happiest vamp in the world — the happiest man in the world. And he knew that his woman was the happiest in the world too, and nothing else could fill him with more joy than that.