Tears Of Crimson Regret
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Title: Just Pretending…
Author: BloodyTearsOfLife
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: All characters belong to the Joss, he just let’s me play with them.
Summary: A visit from the social workers and Dawn’s created a nice mess for Buffy to clean up, with the help of Spike of course. Takes place before ‘Tough Love’.Written for Ariel Dawn.

Chapter 6   Chapter 7   Chapter 8  

Chapter 6: Truce?

A/N: HUGE thank you to Copykween for listening to me whine and complain and for having extensive IM convos and helping rearranging this chapter. I really couldn’t have done it without you. And also to Ariel who’s reaction after working her beta magic on this was completely worth it.

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It ended up that Buffy stood staring at the stove with a grim look on her face while Spike watched her.

“Have no clue what you’re doing, am I right?” Spike asked with a smug look on his face.

Buffy pouted. “Mom and I never really got to that part. She always made the food, I was just the consumer.”

“Simple enough,” Spike said, moving away from the basement door. “We’ll do something easy, something you don’t have a chance of messing up. Then again, you do a good job of doing that regardless.”

“Oh bite me,” Buffy shot back at him.

“Would be my pleasure,” Spike drawled, raising goosebumps on Buffy’s skin as he brushed past her towards the fridge. He returned with eggs in one hand and butter in the other.

“You sure you know what you’re doing?” Buffy asked as Spike began to heat up some butter in a pan.

“Slayer, it’s cooking. It’s not rocket science.”

“I’ll show you rocket science,” Buffy mumbled.

“Promises, promises. Now come on, at least pretend to pay attention.”

Buffy hopped up on the counter next the stove and watched with apt attention as Spike began breaking eggs into the pan. Her eyes followed the movement of his arms, the muscles there tightening and loosening. She lost concentration of Spike’s cooking as her eyes continued up the smooth curve of his bicep, his shoulders, and then down that small indented line down his torso, finally coming to rest just below his belly button where there was the faintest line of dark hair that disappeared into his jeans.

No Buffy! Don’t be looking at Spike’s… anything. He’s a friend.

Pulling her eyes away, she looked back at the stove to see Spike give the eggs one last stir before shutting it off.

“Done? Already?” she asked. “That was fast.”

“Told you, it’s just eggs,” Spike answered, staring into her eyes, his own letting her know he was aware of what had just happened. He turned away from her and making sure she had a good view, he opened a cupboard and stretched up to grab plates from the upper shelf.

Buffy once again caught herself staring and turned away. Spike needed clothes, like now. She searched her mind for some distraction.

“The courthouse,” she blurted out.

Spike turned and lifted an eyebrow at her while he scooped out the eggs onto two plates, handing her the one with the bigger serving.

“Last night,” she started, “when I was following you. You went to the courthouse. Why?”

“So no accusations? No ‘what evilness were you doing’?” Spike asked back as he sat at the breakfast counter.

“Spike…”

“Bugger. Didn’t know if this loony plan of yours was for real or not. On the off chance that it was legit, I was securing papers,” he explained.

“Papers?”

“Yeah, papers. Legal documents,” he tried again when Buffy stared at him blankly. “Oh, I’ll go fetch ‘em. You eat. I’ll be right back.”

Spike was gone down the basement door before Buffy could tell him that she understood what he was talking about, she just didn’t realize he would have thought about it and tried to get them.

She had just sat down beside the seat that Spike had vacated when the basement door opened again. Spike tossed down a packet of papers in front of her and then made a beeline for the microwave, a bag of blood in his hands.

“I didn’t know we had blood,” Buffy commented.

“Mum kept it down in the freezer for when I stopped by.”

Buffy didn’t object or make a big deal about it; instead she pulled the packet towards her, opening it up. Inside was a certificate of marriage set, unsigned of course, and a few legal documents, mostly for Spike so he could be employed and married.

“So these are for real?” Buffy asked, scrutinizing the papers.

“Real enough,” Spike answered as he returned to the counter, mug of blood in hand. He poured a little bit over his eggs, Buffy scrunching up her nose. “Oh quit it. You can pretend it’s ketchup if it makes you feel better,” Spike added when he noticed her look.

“Right, ketchup,” she agreed and finding that it pretty much did look like ketchup, if she didn’t stare too hard. She cleared her throat and continued on. “How did you get these? I mean, I saw the guy, but how did you?”

“You haven’t noticed how so many strange things happen ‘round here and there’s no consequences? There’s a reason for that. Half the legal system here is demon pet. I know a bloke or two who work there and were willing to negotiate some papers for me,” Spike explained.

“I guess that makes sense, especially after the Mayor,” she mused aloud. “So we just have to sign these? And then we’re…married?”

“More or less. The guy told me to bring him the second copy, for the records. No doubt whoever is after the Nibblet will see if what she said pans out or not.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought about that,” Buffy mumbled with a frown.

“It’s why you always need a partner in crime,” Spike joked as he scooped up some of his bloody eggs.

Buffy turned back to her own eggs, prodding them with her fork. She glanced sideways at Spike before lifting a tiny portion to her mouth and eating it. She had to admit, it was better than anything she would have been able to make. As she started in on them with more enthusiasm, she missed the smile Spike gave her while he shook his head.

The two ate in silence until both of their plates were scraped clean. Buffy sat back, sated, rubbing her stomach as Spike took her plate and put it with his in the sink.

“Mmm…I think you should make breakfast everyday,” Buffy commented.

“Sounds like you’re askin’ me to be here every morning,” Spike challenged as he leaned across the counter towards her.

“No, that would imply I want you here. Which I don’t. I just want the nummies,” Buffy shot back.

“Well, I vaguely recall offering them this morning and being turned down.”

Buffy fought with everything inside her not to blush or even react to his words. Instead, the memory of the morning brought back Spike’s words that he’d last thrown at her before stomping out of her room. When Buffy glanced back at the vampire it seemed that Spike’s mind had followed her thoughts, his face had lost its teasing edge.

“Look Buffy, about this morning, what I said…”

“How about we just forget it?” she interrupted with a forced smile. “You know, truce, start all over?”

Spike, for a moment, wanted to say no. He wanted to make her face it. He knew he had hurt her. He could see the glimmer of pain behind her false veil of cheerfulness; but he could also see that she really didn’t want to talk about it because it hurt her more than she’d like to admit.

“All right then, a truce,” he finally agreed, not wanting to cause her any more pain.

Neither one were lost to the irony that a truce was what had first paired them up and they shared knowing smiles, both remembering Spike knocking out the policeman to save her.

“So, what’s on the list to do today?” Spike asked, coming around to lean against the counter.

Buffy gave him a shining smile and took his hand.

“It’s interesting you should ask…”

His elation that Buffy was willingly holding his hand, smiling at him, had him tuning out whatever she was saying while she dragged him down to the basement, his mind thinking up a lot of fun scenarios. It wasn’t until she let go of his hand that he began to comprehend her words.

“…move the boxes and start clearing the space.”

“Huh?” he asked, tilting his head at her.

Buffy then turned to look at him, hands on her hips, her lips pressed in a thin line. “You weren’t listening, were you?”

Spike could only offer her a guilty look.

“As I was saying,” Buffy began with a glare. “You’re going to need a place here. I figured the basement was the best. It has the least amount of light during the day. But it needs cleaning, and that’s where you come in,” she finished with a bright smile.

“Right, figures I get the dirty work,” Spike mumbled as turned towards the array of boxes.

“It’s not that bad,” Buffy countered with a roll of her eyes.

It wasn’t long though before Buffy was helping Spike move the boxes, easily working together. For once, it was nice to be herself and not have to worry about if she was doing too much. She remembered when they had helped Xander move that she had to watch how much she was doing so she didn’t make Riley feel bad. It wasn’t a good thing to be able to out lift your boyfriend, and he sulked at her that afternoon. But with Spike, she could do what she wanted and it didn’t matter, because she knew Spike could care less. He knew she was strong and let her do her own thing.

The buzz of the dryer had her turning back towards the laundry she had started earlier, moving the different loads and then began folding the clean one.

Buffy paused from her task for a moment, looking over at Spike to see how he was doing. The sight she face stopped her breath short. Spike was bent over, picking up one of the heavier boxes to move, the muscles in his back rippling with his effort. She was transfixed as she watched him, the hard lines of his bare torso sharpening, tightening as he lifted the boxes. As he finally positioned the box the way he wanted, Spike wiped his dusty hands on the seat of his plastered on jeans and then pushed back the curls from his forehead, Buffy watching his movements from start to finish.

It was then that Spike felt the weight of her stare and turned towards Buffy to see her looking at him, her eyes slightly glazed over. He smirked before starting a slow swagger in her direction, his cock already hardening beneath the confines of his jeans that rode low on his hips.

“You still ogling my goodies Slayer?” Spike asked, curling his tongue at her.

“N-n-no,” Buffy stammered, her cheeks beginning to redden. “I’m just taking a break, to uh, check your progress.”

She spun back around quickly, trying with all her concentration to get herself under control. She heard Spike stomp back over at the boxes, apparently not happy with her dismissal, his handling of the boxes not as gentle as before.

Oh my god, oh my god, Buffy repeated over and over in her head.

Why had she even brought up Spike moving into the house? Because it would be easier with him around? Because he made things simpler? Because she wanted him around? She didn’t even want to think about that right now. She couldn’t even keep her eyes to herself, for god’s sake! It was even worse when her fingers wanted to make with the grabby.

Spike is my friend, there will be no more ogling of Spike.

She could do this. Spike was in her life, he was her friend and that was it. He was a vampire and she couldn’t even think about being with him. They were doing this for Dawn and that was the end it, nothing more. There was no need to get caught up in something that could never happen. Not that she wanted it to happen. Despite the continuing protests of that voice in the back if her head, which for some reason sounded like her mother, that things with Spike would be different, she couldn’t let herself believe it. It wasn’t Spike’s fault that she reacted the way she did. She’d just have to control herself, just like he did.

“You uh, want some help?” Buffy offered as she folded the last of the clean clothes. See, she could be Spike’s friend. She just wished the dryer would hurry up so she could get some clothes on him, because the bare chestness? So not helping.

“If you want. Don’t make a difference to me,” Spike answered without looking back.

His coldness made her not want to help but as he took a peek over his shoulder at her to see what she would do, it helped make her decision for her. She had just reached his side when his soft snickering had her looking over at him.

“What’s funny?” she asked, hands on her hips.

“Nothing, just thought you looked right fetching with all the cobwebs,” Spike teased.

“Not like you’re looking any better!” Buffy shot back, making Spike’s hands fly to his hair.

“Yeah? Well, at least I don’t got a spider making a nest in my hair,” he commented, watching with growing amusement as a look of panic set on Buffy’s face.

“A spider?!? Get it off! Get it off!” she yelled, flailing her arms by her sides.

“I will, just hold still,” Spike replied, now laughing openly.

Buffy did her best to hold still as Spike plucked the spider from her hair, tossing it away, all the while laughing at her.

“It’s not funny!” she protested, her fingers combing her hair as she pouted.

“Bloody right it was! The big Slayer all afraid of an itty bitty spider.”

“I hate spiders. They’re creepy,” she said with a shiver as Spike continued to laugh at her. “Jerk…”

“Right, I’m the jerk, and here I was doing the honorable thing and saving your from the spider!”

“Fine, so you’re not a jerk…all the time.”

“Do my ears deceive me? Did the Slayer really admit I’m not all horrible?” Spike asked, his tone sarcastic.

“You watch it buddy, or you’re going to get what’s coming to you,” Buffy warned but couldn’t stop the grin on her face.

“See how nice it is when you’re not being a bitch?” Spike asked.

“Hey!” Buffy began to argue, but Spike simply stared at her. “All right, so I admit, I can be mean sometimes, but, but sometimes you deserve it,” she added.

“That I do. I can be a bastard sometimes, I know it. Like this morning, you didn’t deserve that,” Spike said, changing the entire mood.

“And you didn’t either,” Buffy found herself saying. “We both said bad things. And we both agreed to just forget about it. We made a truce.”

“Yeah, and how long is that goin’ to last?” he asked, taking a step closer as he brushed a lock of her hair behind her ear.

Buffy felt her mouth go dry as Spike’s hand trailed down her jaw, the feel of his cooler hand on her heated skin sending tendrils of pleasure through her. He trailed a single finger down the column on her neck, circling it around and starting up the other side.

Spike could feel her heart thudding underneath his fingertip, feeling it as it sped up under his caress. Her eyes were impossibly wide and slightly unfocused. He cupped his hand around her cheek, his thumb softly brushing across her lips, her breath hot against his skin. It wasn’t just her breath that was hot, it was all of her. As he took another small step forward, he could feel the heat radiating off of her.

She was like a deer caught in headlights as Spike slowly lowered his head towards her, her eyes fluttering shut as his mouth softly touch hers. Her internal cries that she shouldn’t be doing this were quieted as Spike captured her mouth again, increasing the pressure but still keeping the kiss light, stealing her breath away.

In sharp contrast to their previous kisses, these were soft and slow. It was as if Spike was taking his time to relearn every curve of her mouth, how many noises he could draw out of her. Kissing Spike was a lot like drowning in a sense. Everything else faded away until there was just one sensation, and in this case, it was the feel of his lips against her, his tongue dueling with hers, his moans echoing hers; there was nothing else that matter except that he kept kissing her, that he kept the rush of pleasure flowing through her.

It was as he released her to let her breathe that the world came crashing back to her and she fought the hold he had on her body.

“Spike, stop, please, you have to…” Buffy tried to say.

“Shh…I know you want this,” Spike whispered back as he tried, but failed, to keep her in his arms. “I know you want me.”

Buffy’s struggles increased until a well placed shove had Spike flying back into one of the boxes. She fought to gain control of her breathing. How had things gotten so far? It was like as soon as Spike laid a finger on her, her self-control, along with logic, flew out the window. This couldn’t happen, ever.

“You’re wrong Spike. I never want you,” she all but growled out. Her anger at her lack of self-control making her hands curl into fists at her side.

“Right,” he drawled with a snort, “You don’t want me, you just NEED me here, so I can cook the food and get Nibblet to do her homework and all the things you can’t do or don’t want to do. And all without anything in return. Honestly, why in the bloody hell would you ask me to be here when it’s so obvious you don’t want me here? That you can’t stand me to be here? That you always push me away?”

“Because I don’t trust myself!” she yelled back, her eyes wide at her admission.

Spike fell silent at that.

She didn’t give him a chance to say anything and ran up the stairs as quickly as she could, Spike right behind her.

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Chapter 7: Keeping It Simple

A/N: Thanks to Copykween for helping me work this chapter out when I felt it wasn’t right and to Ariel Dawn for helping with the last name. You two are the bestest!

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In her haste to get away from Spike, Buffy found herself missing a step and braced herself for impact. Two strong arms grabbed her before she could hit the wood steps and dragged her back down towards him. She began to struggle in earnest but Spike quickly immobilized her with his body, pressing her against the cool concrete of the basement wall.

“Let. Me. Go,” she ordered, her voice clipped, still trying to free herself of Spike’s hold.

“I don’t think so, Slayer,” Spike rasped against her ear. “Keep struggling, makes me all hot. Wigglin’ that gorgeous body of yours.”

Buffy could just imagine the expression on his face, curling his tongue at her, the smirk she wanted to smack off his face. While his words didn’t stop her fighting, the grinding of his arousal into her backside did. A low throb began at the apex of her thighs that seemed to beat in rhythm with her heart, the sensuous glide of his body against hers making it pulse and jump, her suddenly hard nipples chafing against the wall.

“Now, where were we? Oh yes, how you don’t trust yourself to keep your hands of my hot body,” he continued, still moving alongside her.

How could he think when he was doing that? She was having trouble forming a clear thought. All she wanted to do was feel. She could feel her own moisture pooling and the slow throb was becoming more urgent.

“So you don’t trust yourself?” he questioned.

“Yes, er, no. I mean…” Buffy couldn’t think, too focused on the pulse in her body that begged for release.

“Because you want me?” he prompted, with a subtle shift of his body. He’d maneuvered himself so a leg rested between hers, and he thrust it up against her core. As he felt her heat soak through his jeans, his ears caught the instinctive gasp she uttered.

“Yes, no, no,” she babbled, her hips pressing back down on the leg between hers.

“Tsk, Slayer, it’s not nice to lie,” Spike reprimanded, his voice going dangerously low. He drew one hand between her body and the wall, cupping her mound and applying the slightest of pressure. “Do you want this, kitten? Do you want me to make you feel so good?”

Buffy knew she shouldn’t. It would cross a line that she had vowed not to cross; but her body was singing to his touch and she really wasn't capable of logical thought. She just wanted to ease the tension that was filling her body. She knew there’d be consequences, but did she really care at the moment? No.

“Yes,” she whispered quietly.

“What was that, love?” Spike asked, as he nudged her hair off her neck and licked a path along it before blowing a cool stream of air across it that set her shivering.

“Yes,” Buffy repeated louder.

“Yes what?”

He wanted to hear her say it out loud, hear it from that luscious mouth of hers.

“Yes… I want you,” she finally let out on a breath.

Her pants were undone and Spike’s fingers were playing along her slit before she had time to take another breath. She was slick and he easily slid one slender finger into her, his thumb tapping on her clit in rhythm with her heart, catching her breath in her throat.

“That’s my Slayer,” Spike purred against her neck. “So hot and wet, squeezing my finger. You like this, don’t ya?”

“Y-y-yes,” Buffy sputtered. God did she.

His fingers pumped in and out of her, thumb swirling across her nubbin. Her blood pounded in her ears, eyes squeezed shut as she let Spike play her body.

“When you say you don’t trust yourself, what did you mean?” Spike questioned, even as his hand kept up a perfect tempo, his voice steady.

“What?” Buffy managed to get out.

“You said you don’t trust yourself. Did you mean with me, or did that also include the Bit?”

Buffy tried to think about it, but really, she was having trouble focusing.

“You either answer the question or I’ll stop what I’m doing,” Spike threatened.

“No!” Buffy shouted. “I mean,” she paused, again trying to make her brain function. When she had originally said it, it was because of Spike, but now that he’d put that out there… Maybe she’d also gone to Spike because she really didn’t trust herself to properly take care of Dawn. There was always that possibility that she would mess up somehow. She realized then that she counted on Spike to tell her the truth, no matter how much it hurt or upset her. He was the one person that she could always count on to tell her how it was.

“I think, maybe both,” she finally admitted.

“Slayer,” Spike started, his hand never wavering, “You know that I’d never let anything happen to Dawn, or to you. You know that. You know I’d do anything for you.”

Buffy opened her mouth to argue, only to have her words stolen from her when Spike slipped another finger inside her.

“I’ll catch you. If you fall, I’ll catch you,” Spike whispered into her ear.

Buffy knew it was true, and it scared her how much she wanted to let him catch her. She was the Slayer, she didn’t let other people catch her, she caught herself; but with Spike, she felt safe. She knew he would be there no matter what.

“Fall,” Spike commanded, curling his fingers inside and hitting that spot inside that had her screaming her release.

“Spike!” she yelled as the throb in her body exploded in a burst of heat, the world falling away and all that was tangible was Spike’s body against her back, his thumb still rubbing lazy circles on her clit, drawing out her pleasure. She couldn’t remember ever feeling more content than she did at that moment, and like Spike had said, he was there to catch her.

Spike was nuzzling at her neck, mumbling words of endearment, and she was comfortable to let him continue, until she felt the scrape of his teeth; it was enough to jar her out of her bliss and realize exactly what she had done and with whom.

Spike must have felt the tension that flooded her body, because he slowly removed his hand and stepped back, letting her turn around.

“I--” Buffy started but she couldn’t get the words out.

Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes still slightly glazed over and Spike never thought she looked more beautiful. Beyond that, he could see the internal fight happening inside her, whether to be mad, or embarrassed.

“Shh, pet,” he whispered, taking a tiny step forward to capture her lips.

His kiss was soft and Buffy found herself responding to it, the tension slowly leaving her body. It amazed her how easily Spike could calm her down; but then, it only seemed right since it was just as easy for him to piss her off.

“Spike, I--you--we…”

“What Buffy?” he asked when she fell silent, concern evident in his eyes.

“I’m just so confused,” she quietly confessed, staring down at the tiny gap that separated them. Suddenly the cement floor of the basement had never been quite so interesting.

“Why’s that?” he persisted, trying to catch her eyes.

“Other than the total and complete wrongness of this?” she reminded as she looked up. “Spike, we can’t, I can’t. It’s wrong,” she finally settled on with a frown.

“Why? Because you’re the Slayer, and I’m a vamp?” He took her silence for an answer. “Yeah, I think we’ve both been over this. How about I make it simple for you? I’m a man, you’re a woman; I want you, and you want me. Simple enough?” he asked through gritted teeth.

“You know it’s not that simple!” Buffy argued back.

“It is if you want it to be!” Spike shot back, running a hand agitatedly through his hair. “Look, you make it complicated because you let what everyone else thinks taint your view. Now, answer this question honestly, and without worryin’ about everything and everyone else.” He leaned himself closer to her, their noses almost touching, his hands on the wall on either side of her head. “What do you want?” he asked, staring her straight in the eyes.

What did she want? Wasn’t that the question of the year. Looking at his face, all she really wanted to do was suck that plump lower lip into her mouth until he made that noise that filled her with womanly satisfaction. Spike was still watching her expectantly and she tried to clear her head of thoughts of kissing him.

“What I want…” she repeated, finding it a little hard to think with Spike so close, her body still thrumming with the pleasure he’d wrought on it. “I want to be able to take care of Dawn,” she started and found the rest coming out without any effort. “I want to figure out a way to get rid of Glory. I don’t want to be worrying every second if I’m going to lose Dawn.”

“I’m gonna tell you now that you can only do so much. Gotta take care of what you can and let the rest work itself out,” he added with a shrug.

“You make it sound so simple.”

“That’s because it is. It can be.”

“Right, simple. I can do simple,” she mumbled.

Simple resulted in her reaching out and tugging him towards her, pulling that lip between hers, smiling when he groaned. Then he was really kissing her and it was a tangle of lips and limbs. Buffy finally let go to breathe, resting her forehead against his and staring into bottomless blue eyes.

Spike was right. Simple was easy; simple was good. Only she had a feeling that simple was going to get a lot more messy and complicated once they added the rest of her life to the equation.

“What?” Spike asked after a moment.

Again, it should have surprised her how easy it was for Spike to read her. Hell, half the time he knew what was going on with her when she herself didn’t know.

“Spike, this can’t be anything more,” Buffy added, feeling the need to clarify that. “There’s too much going on. Let’s just do what we need to keep Dawn and like you said, we’ll let the rest work itself out.”

“But you’re not going to deny this?” he prompted. “That there’s something between us?”

“I think that would be kind of pointless now. You okay with simple?” she asked.

For a moment, it seemed like Spike was going to start arguing but nodded his head instead.

“I’m good with my crumbs.”

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Spike had reluctantly let her go and they continued their tasks from earlier, sharing light banter as they worked. It was early afternoon by the time they’d managed to make the basement decent and habitable.

“Done! I almost thought it was going to be impossible,” Buffy commented, sitting down heavily on the cot they’d just finished setting up, as she surveyed the basement.

“Nothing’s impossible, Slayer. You should know that by now,” Spike added, sitting down beside her and turning to look at her. “What next?”

“Well, you need a shower,” she said, scrunching her nose at him. “You look like a dirt magnet.”

Spike’s jeans had mostly survived but his body and hair had a fine layer of dust and dirt.

“You gonna join me?” he asked leering at her.

Buffy gave him a ‘get real’ look and Spike pouted at her.

“Could make you all dirty so you need a shower,” he murmured, leaning in close to her. She pushed him back before anything could start and pointed her finger at the stairs, all the while shoving back the imagery his words brought to mind.

“You, shower, now,” she ordered.

“Yes, wife of mine,” Spike purred at her, before slinking towards the stairs and disappearing up them.

Buffy had a feeling she was going to like hearing those words from his mouth far too much, and that set a tendril of fear in her belly. Despite their earlier talk, she couldn’t allow herself to get too attached to Spike. He’d already wormed his way into her life, and it was farther in than she’d like. They’d do their pretending and it would stop there, or at least she hoped. Where Spike was concerned, nothing ever turned out as planned.

Shaking off her thoughts, Buffy grabbed Spike’s now clean shirt from the laundry and brought it upstairs with her. She set it on the counter before making herself a quick lunch. Sitting down at the counter, she nibbled on her sandwich as she flipped through the papers Spike had brought again. It still amazed her that he’d gotten a hold of them; she just wasn’t sure if it was because he wanted to help, or if he wanted to tie himself to her. While she could admit she trusted him, she was still sketchy about his motives sometimes.

Staring down at the papers, she couldn’t stop the flip-flop of her stomach. Was she really going to go through with this? Sign the papers and be Spike’s wife? It excited and terrified her at the same time. It was something that she’d never thought she’d be doing, ever. Slayers were born with a short expiration date and she’d only narrowly missed it the first time around. Her short life expectancy also pushed her towards the fake marriage. This might be the only time she ever got to do it. Albeit it was to Spike, but it almost seemed fitting.

Overhead, she heard the shower turn off and it wasn’t long before she heard the clunking of his boots walking towards the kitchen. Again, she wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted her when she turned around.

Spike walked into the kitchen, pants half done up, rubbing a towel through his damp curls. A few droplets of water still glistened on his bare chest, making their way down the lines of his body.

I definitely could get use to this, she thought with a dreamy sigh.

No! You can’t get attached! Just use him and lose him, her slayer side interjected.

“Slayer, you’re starting to make me think I’m losin’ my charm,” Spike said, breaking her from her thoughts, turning to see him already across the room.

“You? Have charm?” she shot back, trying to cover up her spacing out.

“You wound me, pet,” Spike said, pressing a hand to his chest as he suppressed a smirk.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Now put some clothes on.” She tossed the shirt at him, which he caught, his reflexes making it look easy.

“What, you don’t like me naked?”

“Will you just put your clothes on?” Buffy said, evading his question.

“Buggin’ you that much?” he asked, leaning back against the counter with a smirk.

“No,” she lied, only daring a quick glance at him. “But what if someone shows up? What you going to do then?”

“Give them a good show.”

“Ugh! What am I going to do with you?” Buffy muttered, as she buried her face in her hands, resisting the urge to look at Spike. Looking at him would only encourage him and make her want to do evil, wicked things.

“I can tell you what you could do,” Spike purred at her, pushing away from the counter towards her.

“Spike, could you focus for like, two seconds? We have important stuff to worry about,” Buffy reminded, motioning down at the papers.

“Fine, spoil my fun,” he grumbled as he did up his pants and slipped the shirt on.

“Fun will come later. Right now we’ve got to deal with this,” she said, frowning down at the aforementioned papers.

“You havin’ second thoughts?” he asked, brows drawn together.

“No, not exactly. I know we have to do this for Dawn. I just… This isn’t something I thought I’d ever be doing, you know? Slayer and all. It’s just… I don’t know,” she finished lamely.

“Well, let’s get a move on then,” Spike said, a pen magically appearing in his hands, scribbling his signature across a line.

Buffy gawked for moment at how nonchalantly Spike had signed the paper, like it wasn’t a big deal. Well, if it was so easy for him to do it, she could do it too. She snagged the pen as soon as he was done, signing the line across from Spike’s signature.

It was funny, she expected to feel different and all she felt was annoyed at the smug look on Spike’s face. He had known what he was doing all along.

“Jerk,” she mumbled.

“What was that Mrs. Thornhill?” he questioned with a smirk.

“Mrs. Thornhill?” Buffy repeated, looking confused.

“Always did say you were the bloody thorn in my side,” Spike teased.

“You just don’t know when to quit, do you?”

“Oh come on, that would take all the fun out of it.”

“Whatever. I’m leaving,” she said. It was no use getting upset. Signing the papers was something she had to do anyways.

“Leaving?” he asked, humor gone.

“Uh, yeah. I have to go to the Magic Box. Giles said something about new books and Dawn’s meeting me there.”

“I’ll meet you there,” Spike said, grabbing the papers as he walked towards the living room.

“Spike, you do remember it’s the middle of the day?” Buffy asked as she followed after him. “Kind of a flammable time for you.”

“That’s why I’ll take the sewers,” he explained while swinging on his duster, the papers already safely tucked inside.

“All right, but if you show up smelling gross, I’m sending you right back,” Buffy warned, picking up a blanket off the couch and handing it to him.

“Ta, pet. Twenty bucks says I beat you there,” he teased, pecking her on the cheek before opening the door and running out, blanket pulled over himself.

“Buffy Thornhill?” Buffy wonder aloud as she grabbed her keys and left the house, never noticing the blinking light on the answering machine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The bell jingled overhead as Buffy opened the door to the Magic Box. Everyone was already assembled at the table, flipping through books, looking up as she entered.

“Hey,” she greeted. “How goes the research?”

Buffy’s question was saved from answering by the stock room’s door opening.

“Bollocks. You beat me,” Spike swore as he closed the door and entered the room.

“And now you owe me twenty bucks,” Buffy shot back.

“Never shook on it. Owe you nothing.”

“What’s dead boy junior doing here?” Xander asked, standing up, breaking Spike and Buffy out of their banter.

“Yes, one would wonder what exactly you are doing here, Spike?” Giles said, also standing up.

“I’m with--” Spike started but was cut off by Buffy.

“He was checking out the demon haunts for me. I told him to meet me here,” she added quickly, and turned to address Spike. “So you find anything?”

“No, nothing,” Spike answered with a glare.

“You know? You’re kind of pathetic Spike,” Xander commented. “Running errands for Buffy. Doing anything you can to be near her. When are you going to wake up and realize that she wants nothing to do with you?”

“Well, Mrs. Thornhill, do you always allow your friends to talk so rudely to your husband?” a voice questioned. Everyone had been so focused on the argument that they missed the sound of the bell from the door.

Buffy’s eyes were wide as she turned to look towards the person who had spoken and found a short, stocky woman standing next to Dawn. Her hair was done up in a tight bun, glasses perched on her nose as she held her purse and clipboard close to her body.

Dawn gave a sheepish wave and smile.

“Mrs. Thornhill? Husband?” Xander repeated breathlessly, his face looking pale, those around him echoing his sentiments.

“Yes,” the woman answered. “Are you to tell me that Mrs. Thornhill,” she motioned towards Buffy, “hasn’t told you of her marriage yet?”

Her question was met with a thudding answer as Xander hit the floor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Chapter 8: A Bit More Complicated

A/N: Thanks to Copykween for doing a readover and to ArielDawn for helping with my grammar issues.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Xander!” Anya exclaimed, dropping to her knees next to her boyfriend’s prone body. “I swear Buffy, if anything is broken you’re going to pay for it. Do you know how expensive hospital visits are?”

“I’ll go fetch the smelling salts,” Giles said, moving towards the back room. “And a glass of scotch,” he added under his breath.

“Well Mrs. Thornhill, I must apologize. I didn’t realize my statement was going to cause such a reaction,” the woman said, although she didn’t sound anywhere near sincere. Her thin lips were pressed together and a look of amusement in her eyes as she looked up at the Slayer, which was odd for Buffy. The woman’s long gray-slated skirt made her seem even shorter, the flat black polished shoes she wore did nothing for her height either.

“And you are?” Spike prompted. A quick sniff told him she wasn’t a demon. He could still smell the starch from the crisp ironed lines of her perfectly matching suit top and the hairspray from her painfully tight pulled back bun.

“Ah, Mr. Thornhill I presume?” she stated, looking over the edge of her glasses but didn’t wait for an answer. “I am Doris Kruger, from Child Protection Services. I’ve been assigned to Dawn’s case. They felt she needed special attention and I’m beginning to see why,” she finished, her eyes roaming around the room.

“This isn’t what it looks like,” Buffy said lamely at the woman’s disapproving frown. “I uh, I can explain?” she added with a hopeful look.

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Doris responded as she began to write on her clipboard.

“What, what are you writing?” Buffy moved closer and tried to peer over the edge of the clipboard but not having much luck.

Doris made one last note, then pulled the board close to her body and rummaged through her purse. Finally she produced two white business cards and extended one towards Dawn and the other towards Buffy.

“Here is my card, with my direct extension. Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill, I’ll be expecting a call from you soon so we can set up a house visit. Dawn, you give me a call if you need anything. Wouldn’t want you to suffer,” Doris added with a pat to Dawn’s arm. “We’ll be in touch,” she promised towards Spike and Buffy before turning on her heel and walking out the shop door, everyone staring blankly after her.

The shop was quiet as everyone tried to process just what happened. Buffy herself was looking for the closet exit. She had never planned on letting the group find out. This really was a nightmare.

“I think I’d like to hear that explanation now,” Giles demanded of Buffy as he came in from the back, a glass of amber liquid in his hand.

“Giles? Are you drinking again?”

“Nonsense. Just a bit to tide me over. Now don’t change the subject, Mrs. Thornhill,” he said, emphasizing her name, sitting down heavily in a chair. “I think we’re all waiting.”

Buffy bit her lip, looking from Giles to Willow and found the red head looking just as expectant, a look of disbelief and betrayal in her eyes. Meanwhile, Tara was doing her best avoiding her eyes and Anya was still trying to rouse Xander. She could feel Spike and Dawn step closer to her, lending their support, Dawn grabbing onto her hand and giving it a squeeze.

The world really hated her.

“Giles, where’s the sniffy salts?” Anya inquired, breaking Buffy from her self pity.

“Oh, for heaven’s sakes,” he mumbled, tipping his glass and splashing Xander’s face with some alcohol.

Xander came to with a sputter, shaking his head like a dog.

“Why is it raining…alcohol?” he asked with a grimace, wiping it away with the sleeve of his sweater. “Anya?” Xander side whispered.

“Yes?”

“Am I dreaming?”

“No, because if you were there’d be less of them here and more of us--”

Xander cut her off by placing his hand over her mouth, Anya glaring at him.

“Okay,” he agreed. “Not dreaming. I just had a moment of mild hallucination, in which I thought I heard someone say Buffy was married to Spike. Which, ha ha, very funny, because why would I think of Buffy being married to Spike?”

“You’re doing that weird thinking out loud thing where I’m not sure if I should respond back or not,” Anya replied with a frown.

The fog around his head quickly cleared and he sat up with a start, peering over the edge of the table at Buffy, his eyes thinning to slits when he saw how close Spike was.

“Okay, okay, prank over. Ha ha. You pulled a good one. Now where’s the camera?” he asked as he stood, pulling Anya up with him.

“Isn’t there a hole I can crawl into now?” Buffy asked Spike quietly, feeling everyone’s eyes on her.

“Could always cause a distraction while you slip out the back,” Spike whispered back with a smirk.

“No! No! No whispery stuff!” Xander demanded. “Willow! I thought we said no more magic stuff.”

Willow looked stricken, her lower lip quivering in anger. “I haven’t! Ask Tara. I haven’t done anything except the spells on Glory.”

“Xander, Willow had nothing to do with this,” Buffy spoke up, coming to the defense of her friend.

“So no Willow. Tara then?” he suggested, Willow glaring at him.

“Xander, do shut up,” Giles ordered, his eyes never leaving Buffy. “Well then,” he prompted as the group fell silent again.

“I uh… You see… It’s…” Buffy felt her mouth dry up, her throat felt like sandpaper as she swallowed. This was worse than facing a nest of vampires on her own. In fact, she’d rather face a horde of vampires than explain to the group the situation, especially knowing how they were going to react.

“It’s my fault,” Dawn and Spike said at the same time when Buffy continued to remain silent.

The room exploded into sound, both Giles and Xander roaring into tirades about Spike, while the girls rushed to reassure Dawn it wasn’t her fault.

“Stop! Stop it!” Dawn screamed, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. “It is my fault.”

“No, it’s not, Bit,” Spike argued, moving around Buffy to stand by her.

“Yes it is! If I wasn’t here, none of this would be happening. There would be no Glory after us and you two wouldn’t be pretending.”

“What do you mean Dawnie?” Willow asked softly.

“Buffy and Spike are pretending to be together so I won’t get taken away,” she confessed in a small voice.

“So you shacked up with Spike? Oh yeah, that’s a brilliant idea,” Xander criticized.

“I didn’t shack up with Spike,” Buffy hissed back.

“Oh? Then what would you prefer I call it? Hitched? Tied the knot? Kiss of death?”

“Hey! I didn’t plan this,” the Slayer argued.

“You didn’t? Well gee, who would have guessed? If you didn’t plan it, then how did you come to… marry the blonde wonder?” Xander questioned with disgust.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s done and over with,” Buffy answered, giving Dawn her best ‘it’s going to be okay’ smile.

“And to correct you whelp, it’s more like I’m shackin’ up with the Slayer,” Spike added, smirking, thumbs hooked into the belt loops of his jeans.

Buffy turned and smacked him on the arm.

“So not helping.”

“Please do NOT tell me that means what I think it means,” Xander said, staring at Buffy.

“Spike’s moving in with us? Yay!” Dawn cried, hugging the vampire, her tears from earlier vanishing.

“Are you out of your mind?” Giles yelled at Buffy. “Not only have you tied yourself to a vampire, you’re also letting him live with you? I don’t understand how you could allow such a thing. If your mother were here--”

“Yeah, well she’s not Giles! She’s gone and I can’t lose the last member of my family!” Buffy exploded. “I just lost Mom, I can’t lose Dawn too.”

The mention of Joyce and her recent death was like a slap to the entire group, sobering them up, the severity of the situation finally settling in .

“I apologize, I didn’t mean…” Giles began quietly.

Buffy nodded her head in understanding, afraid to open her mouth and what would come out. Instead, she let Dawn curl into her side, the thought of their mother still difficult for the both of them.

“Buffy, we’re your family too,” Willow gently reminded.

“I know,” Buffy acknowledged. “But Dawn’s my sister. I just can’t lose her, not to Glory and definitely not to CPS.”

“I hate to ask the stupid question, but how does CPS fit into all this?” Xander asked.

“If they see Buffy as an unfit guardian, they will take Dawn away,” Giles supplied.

“Okay. Still doesn’t explain how Spike got into the mix or why.”

Buffy held up her hand and then pointed at Dawn. “That would be Dawn’s doing. She’s the one that told them Spike and I were married. Blame Dawn.”

“Oh, thanks a lot!” Dawn complained as all eyes turned on her.

“While I still don’t approve of it, I do understand why you are doing it,” Giles said with a sigh, draining the last of the alcohol in his glass, and from the looks of it, wishing the cup would magically refill itself.

With Giles’ blessing of sorts, the others seemed to grudgingly accept that it wasn’t something they were going to be able to change, though Xander still looked like he might put up a fight.

“I still don’t see what help Spike is going to be,” he argued.

“The plan is that if we present a united family, they’ll see that Dawn’s okay and leave us alone,” Buffy explained.

“Oh yeah, because Spike is such a family guy,” Xander commented with a roll of his eyes.

“Like you’re one to talk,” Spike tossed back. “I’ve stayed at your house, and I do remember your daddy dearest…”

Xander was up and across the room, fist raised, ready to throw a punch at Spike’s words. Spike stood waiting for the blow and when he didn’t feel it, he looked up to see that Buffy had intervened, grabbing Xander’s wrist and placing her free hand on his chest to stop his advance.

“No,” was all she simply said, holding onto him until the tension fled from his body. Carefully, she released his wrist but Xander continued to glare at her.

“Buffy--”

“Xander, please. For this plan to work, I need Spike,” she pleaded.

“Wait wait, you can’t honestly tell me you want Spike around,” he said in outrage.

“Of course I don’t want Spike,” Buffy sputtered. She heard a low growl from her left and turned to see Spike heading towards the stock room. The door slammed behind him and Dawn scoffed at her, arms crossed over her chest.

“And you call him the soulless one,” she sneered before running after Spike.

The door closed with a bang only to open two seconds later.

“And you know what else? Mom liked Spike a whole lot more than she ever liked Angel,” Dawn added, again turning back to the door and slamming it close, the wood giving a groan.

Buffy couldn’t argue against that, not after what she’d found out about the art gallery.

“And Buffy,” Anya began, “if there’s any damage to that door, you’re paying for that too.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Spike! Spike! Wait up!” Dawn yelled into the dark tunnel, trying her hardest to stay out of the bad smelling puddles. Her shoes were nice enough and she’d seen the disaster that was Buffy’s shoes after an adventure down here; no way was she letting that happen to her precious shoes.

“Nibblet, what in the bloody hell are you doing?” Spike growled from up ahead.

“Coming after you, you big dummy,” Dawn answered as she jumped over another puddle.

“You should just turn around and go back. Slayer will be worried about you,” he said as he waited for her to catch up. He couldn’t leave her on her own down here, who knew what kind of trouble she’d get into.

“She can worry then. She deserves it.”

“Not arguing with you there,” Spike mumbled.

“So where we headed?” Dawn asked after they’d been walking for a few moments, or more like Spike was walking normally and she was doing her best not to fall on her butt. The slick, wet surfaces weren’t helping at all as she slipped again, trying to avoid another deep puddle. Her recent stumble had Spike looking back at her, shaking his head.

“Come here you. Can’t have you falling and breakin’ something and with me being the one to blame,” Spike said, clasping her arm loosely in his.

“So…” Dawn began. “Where we going?”

“We aren’t going anywhere. I’m heading to my crypt after I drop you off at home.”

“I don’t want to go home.”

“Too bad, ‘cause that’s where you’re going.”

There was silence for a moment, Dawn doing her best to think of a good excuse for him not to leave her.

“But you can’t, you can’t leave me there,” Dawn finally argued, a look of triumph on her face, knowing she’d outsmarted him.

“And why not?” he questioned, eyebrow raised at her.

“Because you can’t leave me by myself. What if Glory shows up or something?”

Spike scowled, letting out a small growl. Damn if these Summers women didn’t know how to bend him over backwards.

“Fine then, you can come with me, ‘cause I’m not going back to your house.”

“But you have to! You said you were moving in,” Dawn whined, tugging on Spike’s arm.

“Nibs, things are a bit more complicated than you’d think,” he answered.

“Why? Can’t everything just be simple?” she suggested, her head tilted in a gestured not unlike his own. “It’s so much simpler.”

Spike couldn’t help but smile as his words came back to him from her mouth. This was probably the reason he liked Dawn so much. She understood so much more than the others gave her credit for, even if it was unknowingly. The way she trusted him blindly warmed him more than he’d ever admit. If Buffy was going to be a bitch about things, he wasn’t about to let Dawn pay for that. She raised an instinct in him that he hadn’t felt for a very long time, not since he was human and someone not unlike her had depended on him.

“Alright, how ‘bout we swing by Willy’s, grab some boxes to pack up my stuff with and head back to the crypt?”

“Only if you promise to tell me more scary stories on the way,” she negotiated.

He gave her his patented smirk.

“Deal.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike usually didn’t have moral scruples about things, but this might have been a bad idea. Many of his personal possessions were not appropriate for Dawn’s virgin eyes and he had to think quick to steer her away from areas that he knew would cause high amounts of awkwardness.

“But Spike, we can’t just leave all your stuff here,” Dawn tried arguing with him as he pulled her away from yet another area.

“Don’t worry about it. Just need to take the necessities. Not like I’m never coming back,” he placated.

“Not if I have my way,” Dawn mumbled, scowling, sitting down on the chest they had just emptied. He supposed it should have been pathetic, how what he needed barely fit into a box or two, if he wasn’t undead that is. Most vamps didn’t tie themselves down with too many earthly belongings.

Spike was pulled from his musings as he heard the sound of the crypt door above them quietly opening, the noise loud enough to reach his ears but not Dawn’s. He looked up at the floor, as if it would reveal who it was.

“Bit, stay put. Something’s upstairs,” he warned, looking back to see Dawn’s eyes wide. “If someone starts to come down and I don’t yell it’s me, I want you to run for the sewers. You got that?”

Dawn gave a tiny nod and he could hear her heart thumping away in her chest in fright.

Spike gave her a look that he hoped would reassure her and then immediately scowled at his behavior. There was a difference between looking out for her and being a complete ponce.

Shaking his head, he began climbing up to the ladder, stealthily lifting up the hole covering and snaking out, putting the cover back in place. Staying crouched down, he was assaulted from the side, rolling with the blow to finally surface with a tiny blonde astride him. He couldn’t help but note how familiar this position was becoming.

“Spike?” she questioned, fists still raised.

“No. It’s Casper, the bloody ghost.”

“What are you doing?”

“What did it look like I’m doing? Was checking who was in my crypt,” he answered curtly.

“No, what were you doing down there? Is there another level?” she asked, turning her head to look at the trapdoor.

“What’s it to you?” Spike asked, slitting his eyes at her. Slayer had never shown an interest in anything about him before. That in turn made Buffy suspicious and she stared down at him.

“Tell me.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to know.”

Spike gave a short bark of laughter at that. “Right, because the Slayer wants to know. Funny, I remember said Slayer saying she wanted nothing to do with me,” he fired back, bitterness in his voice.

Now it was her turn to back down, but only just a little. The resentment in his tone cut her to the quick. He stayed still, waiting for her to say something, his eyes never leaving hers.

“I… I…”

“I what?” he prompted. “Cat got your tongue? Or maybe your head’s too far up your--”

She went to hit him then, Spike’s reflexes the only thing coming between stopping her and a broken nose.

“You are such a--” she started, a sneer on her face, but Spike cut her off.

“Bastard? Asshole? Heard them all, doesn’t change a thing. Is it really that hard to admit?”

“Admit what?” Buffy repeated, his question throwing her off.

“Admit that you need me. That you want me,” he answered in a way that the answer should have been obvious. Buffy felt a lump in her throat at the expression on his face, such open yearning for her.

“I was… what I said was wrong.”

The words had barely left her mouth before Spike was kissing her. She gasped in shock and Spike took the opportunity to deepen the kiss, Buffy responding back to the kiss, her hands gripping onto the collar of his leather jacket. His kisses burned her from the inside out, the cold crypt suddenly becoming uncomfortably hot. Withstanding the blazing heat as long as she had breath for, she finally pulled back gasping for breath.

“Wait two seconds,” she breathed. “Where’s Dawn?”

Dawn popped her head up from under the trapdoor, a smile glittering her face.

“Present and accounted for!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

tbc…


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