Buffy felt the air shift around her, felt the kitchen counter under her palms, and oh yeah, Spike -- driving into her from behind and suckling on her neck.
Spike blinked as reality hit. He was fucking Buffy in her kitchen. It was Dawn's birthday. Everyone was in the living room. He slowed his rhythm to a stop.
"Spike?" she asked breathlessly.
Was she going to stake him now? It would be kind of difficult from that position... "Yeah?"
"Spike, oh God." Her hand flew to her neck. "Oh God! Stop." It seemed reality had hit her too.
Still erect, he pulled out. She spun around and stared at him, eyes wide.
They tried to read each other, tried to figure out what had just happened. At once, their minds reached the same conclusion.
"You... idiot!" Buffy lunged.
Spike ducked and fended her off. "What? I'm not the one who enchanted the bloody thing!"
"You're the one who ate it!"
"Not the only one," he said smugly, savoring the last of her blood on his tongue.
"Well, you started..." she trailed off, catching a glimpse of his lower half and turning deep crimson. She spun to face the sink and ordered with a nervous laugh, "Pants! Pants ON!"
Spike was amused by Buffy's sudden embarrassment. It was in such opposition to the way she'd just behaved.
As he fastened his jeans, he saw his shirt... draped over the refrigerator?
Buffy straightened her clothes, then wet a paper towel to swab the shallow wounds on her neck and shoulder. Luckily, she could feel them healing already.
Willow appeared in the doorway. "Hi, guys," she said sheepishly. "Everything okay?"
"Just peachy," Spike accused, pulling on his duster.
Willow looked horribly guilty.
Buffy sighed. "We're okay. Is everybody... do they..."
"They have no clue," Willow confirmed.
"Oh thank God."
"Buffy?" Willow walked closer. "Did he... bite you?"
"Oh." She flung the paper towel into the trash. "It's nothing. It's fine."
Willow frowned at Spike, who immediately stared at the floor. "No inhibitions," she repeated to herself, and covered her mouth. "Oh, God! I knew it was dangerous, but not that dangerous!"
"Wait a minute," Spike said firmly, holding up his hand. "She was never in danger."
"It's true," Buffy insisted, hiding the marks with her hair. "No danger, Will. Promise."
Spike smiled. So now Buffy knew: chip or no chip, he would never hurt her... too badly. Nothing she didn't want, anyway. He quivered at the memory of her whispered plea: 'Do it; do it; bite me...'
As long as he unlived, he'd never forget those words, or the feeling of her tight channel quaking around him when she'd said them. And when he bit down...
"If you say so." Willow surveyed them. "Do you think you're ready for the cake part?"
"Yeah," Buffy said. "Do I look presentable?"
"You're good to go," Willow assured her.
"At least the cake is unscathed." Buffy shot a glance at Spike's bedhead. "Spike. Your hair?"
He tilted his head and gave her a cynical look. "Yeah. Wait here while I go check in the mirror."
Buffy sighed. "Come here." He obeyed. Turning on the kitchen faucet, she dipped her hands in water and tended to his hair. "There. You'll just have to be a little spikier than normal."
Spike was too touched by her affectionate preening to respond.
Willow helped place and light the candles, and Buffy carried the cake on a wide tray.
"Lights out!" Willow called.
When the birthday song was over and the cake was set down, Dawn sassed, "Took you long enough!"
"I had a little kitchen mishap," Buffy explained. "Spike helped, though."
Spike chuckled, turning it into a cough when Buffy glared.
"And you!" Dawn beamed at Spike. "I thought you weren't coming."
Buffy's thoughts involuntarily turned to that very event. At the moment he sank his teeth into-- Stop thinking NOW.
"Miss your birthday? What sort of monster do you think I am?" He kissed her cheek and passed her the yellow bouquet.
"The strangely not so evil kind," Dawn said, smelling the flowers.
Tell that to my bite marks, Buffy thought with a smirk.
"You should blow out the candles now," Anya said. "It's customary to blow them out. After the song."
Xander rubbed Anya's shoulder affectionately.
"I just had to complain first," Dawn said, setting the bouquet down on the couch. She inhaled and blew out all fifteen candles... which promptly lit up again.
Tara and Willow giggled.
"Ha ha, very funny," Dawn said, while the kitten jumped onto the coffee table, skittered past the candles and lit its own tail ablaze. "Oh my god, Pepper! Get her! Get her!"
Buffy dove for the kitten, but in a fraction of a second it was enveloped in flames and grew, morphing before their eyes into a tall slender creature in a floor-length tortoiseshell cloak.
"I KNEW it!" Buffy exclaimed, palm smacking the carpet where she'd landed.
Dawn hid behind Spike, who reached into the weapons chest. Pulling out a crossbow, he handed it to Buffy.
"Pepper?" Dawn asked, eyes wide.
The creature spoke with a thickly accented, crackling drawl. "Anyanka!"
"Whoa!" Xander jumped in front of his fiancée. "Whatever you want with her, you go through me first."
"Why would I do that? I do not know you," the creature said dismissively, and let its furry hood fall, revealing a hybrid human-feline face with the saucery eyes of a cat.
Anya peeked past Xander. "Oh! Hey Gelgor! It's... been a long time!"
Eyes never leaving the demon, Xander asked over his shoulder, "What is it?"
"It's the demon Gelgor of Everwhere," Anya answered.
Tara whispered to Willow, "Isn't that a Neil Gaiman book?"
"No, that's Neverwhere," Willow whispered back.
Anya walked past Xander and approached Gelgor. "So, how've you been?"
"I've been trapped in the form of a common housepet, how do you think I've been?" The demon's amber eyes flashed.
"Right. Well, I know the feeling! I'm trapped in the body of a mortal girl 'til the day I die and decompose in the ground," she said conversationally as Xander winced. "No getting out of that one!"
"So I've heard," Gelgor said. "I am sorry for that."
"Oh, it's okay. I've adjusted." She linked her arm through Xander's.
"Ah yes, the valiant boyfriend."
Xander piped up. "Listen, Grizabella--"
"So, trapped in a cat, huh?" Anya spoke loudly over her fiancé and shot him a withering look.
The demon waved her taloned hand in a grand gesture. "I had a little disagreement with someone who turned out to be a sorcerer. Cursed me to my cat-like state forever... Or so he thought."
"She can turn back and forth at will, usually," Anya explained to Xander, and added quietly, "And she's capable of much more if you get her angry."
"Should I slay it?" Buffy asked, eying Gelgor suspiciously.
"No!" Anya said. "She used to be a friend of mine."
Buffy relaxed her grip on the crossbow. It was somehow difficult to kill demons they knew. Spike, for instance. But that wasn't the point... "Is she evil?"
"Who is this child?" Gelgor said, pointing at Buffy. "I do not like her."
"Most demons don't," Buffy retorted.
"She's the Slayer," Anya said.
"How very droll! A housepet in the house of a slayer," the demon declared with a chuckle.
Anya knit her brow. "How'd you get out? Of the cat."
"Ah, lucky break." Gelgor swayed from side to side as she continued. "Everything was in balance and out of balance at once. Magickal energies... came to a head, so to speak." She glanced at Spike. "I was hoping the witches would keep me, of course, as they'd provide what I needed to escape eventually. But this worked out just as well."
Anya frowned. "Magickal energies? There was no magick here tonight. Plus you need sex and bloodshed, everyone knows that!"
Buffy's eyes widened.
Xander blinked. "What? And Dawn, cover your ears!"
Dawn rolled her eyes.
Anya counted off on her fingers as she spoke. "The demons of Everwhere need blood, sex, fire and magick to be transformed from an accursed state."
"Like I said." The demon revealed a hideous row of gnarled teeth. "Lucky break."
Xander looked around the room. "Well I know we didn't make like the Red Hot Chili Peppers."
"Yeah!" Anya nodded indignantly, then frowned at her fiancé. "What?"
"Is there... something we should know?" Xander asked the other guests.
"Who wants cake?" Buffy announced cheerily. "Gelgor? Cake?"
"No, thank you. I only eat children."
Buffy stopped and stared, horrified.
"I'm just kidding, dear." The demon laughed, and pointed. "Gotcha!"
Unamused, Buffy looked to Anya.
Anya nodded with pursed lips. "She's a kidder."
"Well, I must be going. I'm simply itching for a tall glass of Vintage Cuvée." Gelgor turned to Willow. "Thanks for the freedom, dear."
"Hey, don't just thank me..."
"And you, too." She tickled Spike's chin and made a sound close to a purr. "Very nice..." her eyes lowered to his crotch, and back to his face, "...legs. Thanks for the view."
"Don't mention it," Spike said guardedly, not moving a muscle.
Xander stared at Willow and Spike. Willow... and Spike? No way. Couldn't be.
"It was good to see you again, Anyanka."
"Same here," Anya said. "Take care!"
Gelgor glided out the door, and Anya locked it behind her.
Dawn stood there, glowering, and stomped a foot. "Why is NOTHING ever NORMAL around here?!"
* * *
"Dawnie," Tara said. "I'm so sorry about the kitten. We can get you another one... One that's not a shapeshifting catmonster from Neverwhere."
"Everwhere," Anya corrected.
Dawn smiled. "Thanks, Tara. But Buffy's right, we just shouldn't have animals here."
"Wait a minute. Did I just hear a 'Buffy's right'?" Xander asked, cleaning out his ears.
"Only this one time," Dawn grumbled.
In the kitchen, Buffy was arranging Spike's flowers into vases. The little note that came with her bouquet -- the one that said 'All my love, forever, Spike' -- was tucked into the front of her dress. She wasn't sure what she was going to do with it, but she wasn't about to leave it lying around.
Willow sat on a stool at the island. "I am so sorry, Buffy."
"It's not your fault," Buffy said. "It was your peach. Spike had to go and steal it. The crook."
"But you had some too -- right?"
"No," Buffy said, looking her squarely in the eye. "I just said, Spike take me I'm yours, guests and little sister be damned. Of course I ate some! Why do you think it happened? Because I'm hopelessly in love with Spike?" She laughed.
"Actually," Willow said, standing, broaching the subject carefully. "The spell was very specific."
"What do you mean, specific?" Buffy asked warily.
"It only works with someone you have strong romantic feelings for."
Stilled, Buffy stared at Willow for a good minute. She looked down. "Oh." Then, "Are you sure, because--"
Buffy took a deep breath, and another, and started to hyperventilate.
"Oh Buffy, are you okay?" Willow put an arm around her friend.
"I, I'm, I think I'm gonna be sick."
"Okay, it's okay. Let's get you to a toilet."
"Okay," Buffy breathed, holding onto her friend for support.
Spike emerged from the destined powder room. "You alright, Buffy?"
Buffy's breathing slowed as she looked at him.
Willow decided she should leave them alone. "You'll be okay here?"
Spike shifted. "I was just getting ready to go."
"Spike," she said.
"Yeah?" He looked into her eyes with unabashed adoration.
And finally, it hit her. Everything she'd been denying. Everything she'd tried to reason away since they'd become so close, and since he'd proved himself to her again and again.
She rested a hand on his arm. "Stay?"
He blinked, and took a deep breath, nodding. Fireworks burst in his brain. As casually as he could, he answered, "Alright."
The space between them closed and their lips touched, their fingers weaving through one another's hair.
"Hey," Dawn said, leaning against the hallway doorjamb with her arms crossed. "Get a room, why dontcha."
They tore apart guiltily and turned to the smiling birthday girl.
Dawn said nonchalantly, "I told you she'd admit it sooner or later."
Buffy's brow rose, and Dawn sauntered away.
Spike, who appeared to be on the verge of a spontaneous jig, took Buffy's hands in his and said coolly, "Smart kid."
Buffy smirked. "You think I have something to admit?"
He tilted his chin. Baby likes to play. "Well... yeah."
"I admit nothing."
"You will," he said, moving in on her ear. "Even if I have to bite it out of you."
Buffy shivered, eyes rolling back. "Uh," she whimpered, and gently pushed him away. "Stop. Guests. Still guests."
"And what do you plan to do with me when they're gone?"
"Mm," she shrugged, taking his hand with a smile and leading him out to the living room. "Maybe bite you for a change."
He inhaled sharply.
How could he possibly face guests now?
Buffy filled the tub, watching a thick layer of bubbles rise.
A cool hand brushed against her hair. "Why do I smell peach?"
She smiled at her lover. "Just a little gift from Willow."
"Really," Spike said with a wicked grin.
She nodded. "A little less potent this time, but..."
"Just potent enough."
Growling, Spike swept Buffy into his arms, and stepped into the tub.
She giggled as they sank down into the aromatic bath.
His eyes shifted from blue to sapphire, and Buffy gasped in arousal when he pulled her close. "Better watch out, baby," he said, fingertip sliding down her neck.
She whimpered involuntarily.