"Burn, baby, burn." With a flick of his trusty lighter and a drag of minty freshness, Spike savored the high of nicotine -- and narrow escape. "I love the smell of anarchy in the morning. Don't you?" He turned his attention from the rumbling, flaring, window-crashing blaze to the girl unzipping her boot on his car's tailfin.
She held a stake to her ankle and zipped it up. "What?"
For the unlife of him, he couldn't remember what he'd just said. That fleeting glimpse of her calf coupled with the stake-tuck was somehow more erotic than anything else he'd seen that night. He cleared his throat. "Some night, huh?"
"Reflect fondly, make more hilarious 'playing with fire' puns..." She snatched her bra out of his coat pocket. "Talk at all."
As she turned away to put it on, a proud smirk curled his lips. She could play Never Happened all she wanted, but he'd branded her with an indelible mark: Spike was here. First.
That's right, he'd plucked not one but two ripe cherries off this prickly little maneating vine, and she'd liked it. He couldn't have Hallmarked a better way to say 'fuck you, Angelus' -- only he wasn't all that keen on bragging about it now. Why dash his chances for future frolic, should he suddenly crave another helping somewhere down the... Oh hell, he'd see her tomorrow if she'd let him.
"...rescue my undies too? Black? Shiny? Matches the bra?"
"What? Oh... Right, those. Didn't see 'em." He stuffed her knickers deeper into his back pocket and looked pensive. "Another casualty of the night, I expect."
Yeah, along with my butt virginity and my sense of reason... Rubbing her arms to stave off the pre-dawn chill, Buffy shrugged. "No big. So long as I don't run into a really short policeman on the way home. Or, y'know, a really tall vampire." She looked out into the expanse of dark desert. "Or a pack of inquisitive coyotes..."
Spike frowned at his car, scratched his neck. "Look, why don't you--"
"I think I saw a bus stop down the road," she said quickly over him. Sleeping with danger was one thing, but accepting a ride home from danger was ...well, she had to draw the line somewhere. "So, um... bye."
"Right. Yeah." He nodded. "See you around, then."
"Better hope you don't."
"You better hope..." He trailed off, unable to keep up the charade. "Who are we kidding? We can't go back to the old cat and mouse now."
"Speak for yourself!" Did he honestly think he was the cat? He was so not the cat. "Mouse."
He smirked, flicked his cigarette away and stepped toward her. "Fine. I can't go back."
"I can't believe that," she said.
"Why can't you?"
"Um, how 'bout 'cause you live for killing slayers? Just off the top of my head."
"But I don't want to kill you anymore."
"Well, you should!"
"You're not like the others," he said in a new, more meaningful way.
She exhaled a bitter chuckle. "True. I'm way sluttier."
"Yeah," he agreed with a fond grin, and was promptly slapped. "Ow."
"That was one time only, okay? For all I know that whiskey was spiked with some kind of slut-making potion, or -- oh! The jukebox!"
"The jukebox," he echoed levelly.
"Possessed! By a demon!" She snapped her fingers. "Not a demon, a ghost! Duh, hello, this is a ghost town! Ghosts everywhere!"
"Ghost in the machine," Spike said, squinting. "You'd think it would loop the Police."
"Well, he's obviously a ghost who prefers Journey and, and cowboys and -- and casual sex! That's it, he's out to revive the early '80s."
"A jukebox-possessing ghost whose evil plan is to bring back big hair," he summarized.
"Obviously! We were sorcelled."
"Yes! See? Not our faults. Now we can go back to wanting each other dead."
"Are you cold? You're trembling."
She heaved an exasperated sigh as he took off his jacket. "Will you please stop with the chivalry!"
"Fine." He whipped it back on and unchivalrously shoved her against his car to kiss her breath away and grind into her warm, naked, still slippery center.
So not fair -- he knew hip-pinching was her kryptonite. Buffy moaned into his mouth, coiled her legs around his, bucked and shimmied and got embarrassingly wet -- then came to her senses and pushed him off. "What are you doing?"
"Proving it wasn't a bloody ghost got us horny for each other, for one."
"Spike! This ...thing between us died in the fire! I have to believe that, or else..."
He tried to read her. "Or else what?"
Hugging herself, she shut her eyes. "Just go, Spike."
"Let me take you--"
"No! God! I can't be driven home by you!"
"It's just a sodding carpool! It doesn't mean anything--"
"It means everything!"
"So you can conjure up a world of excuses for what happened inside, but you can't come up with a single justification to hitch a bleeding ride? I'm already going that way--"
"I don't have time for this."
"Right, you've got that sixty-five mile walk ahead of you. Better get started. Do you even know which way to go?"
Was it really that far? She pointed at the dirt road beyond the town. "Thattaway?"
He gave up. What the hell did he care anyway? He was a soulless vampire feared the world over -- it was time he acted like it. "Enjoy the hot desert sun. I hear it's a blast."
"Can't wait!" As she heard him storming to the driver's side, she looked around at the selection of cars left by the vampires she'd killed. Maybe she could hotwire one. Maybe one had a manual on hotwiring. Or a jacket, she'd take a jacket. Why hadn't she listened to her mom and put one on before she left?
She could always sleep in one of the cars and be warmed by the enormous bonfire until the sun rose... But then, as Spike so helpfully pointed out, hydration might become an issue. As might breathing.
He rolled down his blackened shotgun window and saw her there, shivering. She noticed him and walked off.
Taking a hard breath, Spike stared ahead. He was not going to ask again. He was not going to ask again. He was not going to-- "Oh, for bloody's sake."
As Buffy marched forward, convincing herself that this walk home was nothing compared to the trials she'd been through as a slayer, she heard the passenger door click and slowly creak open.
She stopped in her tracks and sighed. She was cold. She was filthy. She was exhausted. And if she didn't accept his offer, she would probably pass out at half a mile.
Taking a seat beside him, she slammed the door shut. "But no funny business."
"Wouldn't dream of it." Suppressing a grin, he searched his pockets, the floor, the seat.
"Keys." He bent down to check her side, forcing her to raise her ass. His chin grazed her thigh. Her skirt rode up.
The next thing Buffy knew she was mashing her pussy on his face and begging for more tongue. She had to -- it felt like a creamsicle melting on her skin.
Rolling his tongue straight up and down her warm center, making her shudder and squeal, he yanked at her boot zipper, the one with the stake inside. It tumbled out, he tossed the boot into the back seat and licked her from ankle to knee.
"Oh. God!" Arching and landing on her shoulderblades, she forced his head back where it belonged. "Lick it, lick it more. Please, please, just one more time!"
"Suck me off after. Let me shoot on your face."
Shoot? On my...? "What?"
"Your tits. Can I come on your tits?"
"Um... sure. Whatever. Just... Yeah. Right there. Oh god."
Just as she resigned herself to another round of brain-numbing bliss, there was a flash of light -- followed by a not-so-faraway screech of brakes.
She clamped her thighs around his head so he kept going, encouraged further when she wiggled about and gasped, "Oh my god. Oh, my GOD!"
Except that she was actually referring to what she saw in the cracked side mirror -- a van barreling down the winding dirt road. "Oh my god, stop! Stay down!"
"Stop or stay down? Which is it, baby?"
She whapped him on the head. "My friends are here."
Jesus, did slayers come with LoJacks now? "Quick, help me find the keys; I'll dash us out of here, they'll never know it's you."
"And let them think I'm dead?" She bent over the back seat to grab her boot. "They drove all the way out here, there's no way I'm--"
"You can call them later from the motel," he said behind her, running one hand up her inner thigh.
"Mo...?" She turned around in his grasp.
"You, me?" Voice rumbly and seductive, he kissed her neck between each amenity: "Plush bed, hot bath, Chinese take-out, cable TV?" He flashed her a boyish grin and walked his fingers to her hips. "What do you say, Slayer? I promise I won't bite... too hard."
She hesitated. For far longer than she should. As ideas went, it was brilliant...ly stupid. "I can't, Spike. I can't just run away with you and forget the world!"
All he'd put her through and her hair still smelled like daffodils. "Sure you can."
"No! I can't! I have to save the world from your insane girlfriend and her demented sugar daddy! Remember them?"
He let her go. "Kill the mood, why don't you."
"Yeah sorry, but reality bites. And for me there's no easy way out." The van rattled to a halt behind them. "Just, please get down and stay down 'til we're gone? Come on, I saved your life, it's the least you can do."
"God forbid your friends think you shagged another one of us."
"Yeah, yeah. I'll play dead." Spike sighed and whipped his jacket over his head. "You play Pollyanna to your heart's content."
"Thanks, I will. Oh joy, it's the entire gang." They had fanned out across the lot, staring helplessly at the fire. "Sometimes I wish I had less friends."
"Could be arranged -- Ow."
"Shut up and stay down."
"What? No 'drive safe'? No 'happy trails'? No goodbye quickie?"
"Every time you open your mouth I regret this more."
"You mean like just now, when I opened my mouth on your--?"
"To speak. When you open your mouth to speak."
"Buffy?" Willow's panicked voice. "Buffy?!"
"Well, what are you waiting for, Slayer? Stop your grieving chums before they throw themselves on the pyre."
"I'm going." She took in a deep, nerve-calming breath, let it out. "Here I go."
He squeezed her knee. "Don't fret, Buffy. Everything's going to be just fine."
His eyes were twinkling again. "It will if you stay down! God."
"Night night, cowgirl." He returned to his hiding spot. "We'll always have Journey."
"Shush!" Well, on the upside, this wasn't the worst time for her friends to arrive. Could have been a little more awkward if they'd arrived, say, during the anal sex.
"Let's search the cars!" shouted Xander.
Now or never. Smoothing her hair and dress, Buffy got out of the car, wishing for a miraculous pair of undies. And a tissue.
"Buffy!" Giles said, and then came the competing chimes of, "Thank god you're all right!", "Are you okay?", "It's Buffy!" and "Oh, look. She's not dead."
"Alive and kickin'." Just don't ask for a demonstration...
"What happened?" asked Willow as Xander chastised her with a stern, "We have been worried sick about you, young lady. What have you got to say for yourself?"
"I'm sorry? One thing led to another thing and..." She dodged both of their hugs. "I'm a little-- in dire need of a shower. And a, ow, extra-strength morphine drip."
"Jeez, what kind of fight went on in there, Buff? You look like you've been batter-rammed."
Spike couldn't contain his snort.
Buffy faked a hacking cough. "Ha! You could say that. Hey, how'd you guys know I was here?"
Willow nearly frothed with enthusiasm, "Giles beat it out of this Robert Smith-wannabe who was bragging about killing you! We knew he hadn't, because... well first off, he was wearing black lipstick."
"Oh my god!" Buffy laughed, sincerely this time. "Could you deal with that Scissorhands hair?"
"Ugh," Cordelia contributed, "Dippity Don't."
"You should have seen Giles though," Willow said. "He was really commanding!"
"Yes, well..." Giles stuttered modestly.
Xander got to the point. "Vampire Robert Smith said that Spike showed up. Naturally, we bugged."
Buffy opened and closed her mouth. "We hashed it out for a while. It was touch and go..." Lots and lots and lots of touch...
Giles stepped forward, took off his glasses. "Did he uh, perish in the fire?"
She obstructed Spike's window by standing in front of it. "Yeah. I-I think so."
"How many others?"
"Total?" She shrugged. "A lot. Felt like a thousand."
"Good show, Buffy," Giles said, staring at the fire.
"Hickory roasted Spike," Xander said with a savoring inhale, and Buffy frowned at him. "What? Too soon?"
Oz raised his hand. "Is anyone else thinking 'old West ghost town, kinda awesome'?"
Xander raised his. "That and 'wish I'd brought my cowboy hat and a big bag o' marshmallows'. Eh, hindsight's twenty-twenty."
"I've always wanted to see a ghost town," said Willow, lowering her hand. "I had no idea there was one this close to us."
"No one knew," proclaimed Giles. "This is a dead zone."
"Oh, yeah," Buffy said. "Total discrimination against live people. They had bouncers that could hear you breathe and smell your sweat from miles away! So unfair!"
"Sorry, by 'dead zone' I mean that it's built upon a mystical blind spot of sorts."
"Oh. Right. That too."
"I'd read about this place but assumed it was a myth..." He recited under his breath, "'A half day's journey from the mouth of hell.'"
Buffy perked up. "What about Journey?" She heard another snort and coughed again. "I think I've got the black lung."
"A mystical blind spot?" inquired Willow.
"It can't be seen or scried or discovered by any means of magick. It could have been here for another hundred years, going on just as it was if Buffy hadn't found it. How did you find it?"
"The usual way. Pure dumb luck. No magick required."
"I guess that's why nobody's come to put out the fire," Willow said. "No one can see it."
"Also, ass end of nowhere," Xander pointed out.
Buffy gestured at the boarded-up firehouse. "But, I'm sure the ghost firemen are gonna rev up their ghost firetrucks any second now."
"We should call someone when we can. Seems a shame to let the whole town--"
"'Kay, we found her," Cordelia said. "Can we go now? It's cold and creepy and smells like burning sewer out here."
"Good point," Buffy said. "Go ahead, I just need to grab my stake. I was gonna rest in this random car, but, here you guys are." She reached into the car, and Spike passed it to her.
But then he caught her hand and ever so softly kissed it. Like some kind of... gentleman.
Blinking, face flushing, she yanked her hand away.
"Rough ride, huh?" Xander said.
"Huh?" She spun around, heart thumping.
"'Rough Ride At The Red Spur'." He pointed at the flaming sign he was reading, complete with an illustration of a vampire riding a mechanical bull. "The fangs are a nice touch."
"Take away the fangs, add shoulder-length blond hair..."
"You... rode the bull?"
"It's a long and humiliating story."
"It's a long way home," Xander said.
"Was it as rough as advertised?" Oz wondered.
"Rougher." She patted the DeSoto door. "But, strangely liberating."
Spike smiled to himself as she walked away.
"I'm glad you guys came," he heard her say. "I wasn't looking forward to hoofing it."
"We've always got your back, Buffy. You know that."
"I guess it's not such a lonely world after all."
He watched her in the side mirror. Holding her dress down as she stepped into the van, she cast a glance his way before the doors slid shut. She couldn't see him, but he read her expression loud and clear: Some night, huh?
Spike pulled her underpants out of his back pocket and found his car keys dangling from the lace.
Inhaling her scent as he stuck the keys into the ignition, he began to hum. "Hmm-mm sweet perfu-ume..."
The van disappeared into the distance.
He draped her lucky knickers on his rearview mirror, revved the engine, spun out and sang as if it were still playing at full volume:
"For a smile they can share the night, it goes on and on and on and oooon..."
THE END... or IS IT?
(Hint: It's not. Read the Epilogue...)