"I can't take this anymore," Buffy groused, sitting beside her Watcher on the training room couch. "How can I defeat someone I can't even find?"
"I know it's frustrating," Giles sympathized. "But until we get another visit from Glory, or a clue to her whereabouts, I'm afraid we're just..."
He sighed. "Yes."
"Well, I don't work that way." She stood up. "I can't be... a duck. I won't be a duck while she gets closer and closer to finding out who--" Aware that someone godlike could be listening in, she quickly amended in a harsh whisper, "which duck is the duck she wants!"
"Buffy." He stood and firmly touched her shoulder. "I assure you, we will find her, and before she finds that... duck. But you can't continue to drive yourself mad with worry, nor can you run yourself into the ground by training nonstop."
She began to protest, but he cut her off, hand in the air.
"At this rate, you'll be too exhausted to fight anyone. Now as your watcher, I insist that you take a break. At least for tonight. Go home or go out, whatever you prefer. Just do something relaxing."
Buffy exhaled and stared at the floor, trying to avert her thoughts from the one thing that seemed to relax her these days. "I can't..."
"At least try." He handed over her coat and bag. "Unless you'd rather pump Spike for any information he may not have."
"Spike?" Buffy crackled with a forced laugh. "No, no. No thanks. A lifetime of no."
* * *
"Yes! Oh god, yes!" Buffy twisted and writhed on her hands and knees at Spike's touch. "Oh god, oh god, yes..."
Spike bit his lip as he worked a finger in and out of her tight, slippery channel, his other hand flush against her pelvic bone.
At her throaty command for 'more', he let another finger in, and another.
Bucking backwards and wailing in release, she came into his palm. He held his hand in place, rubbing her clit softly as she spasmed.
"There," he soothed, his voice low and strained.
Whimpering, she slowly calmed beneath him.
After taking a deep steadying breath -- in through the nose, out through the mouth -- he gently pulled his hands from her body, and with pained restraint, he stood to gather her clothes. Singleminded tunnel vision. Give clothes to Buffy.
"Thanks," she said in receipt and wriggled into them as she lay there.
"Yeah," he forced out noncommittally, and watched her leave, again.
* * *
"All this getting nowhere is getting old," Xander complained, walking between Buffy and Willow as they scoured another residential block in search of Glory's lair.
"And I'm getting tired," Willow yawned as she trailed ahead, looking back at her friends. "I'm ready to--"
She bumped into a trio of teenage girls.
"--bail?" Willow squeaked. Not just girls. Vampires.
The Slayerettes tensed, then relaxed as they recognized the center blonde. Buffy, on the other hand, felt an odd twinge of foreboding.
Xander nodded, unimpressed. "Oh look, it's Harmony, with girl minions now. Trying to relive high school? 'Cause that's just sad."
"High school? You mean when you were a big geek and you were a big freak?" Harmony pointed from Xander to Buffy and smiled smugly. "Some things never change."
Feeling for her trusty stake and coming up empty, Buffy quelled her rising panic and stepped up. "Tell me, Harmony. Are you still under the delusion that I won't kill you?"
Harmony countered innocently, "Tell me, Buffy. Are you still getting hand jobs from my boyfriend?"
Buffy froze, eyes huge, mouth going dry.
"That's right," Harmony's voice dripped with venom. "I saw you, with Spike's hand between your legs." Her minions tittered behind her and she raised her chin. "Not that I care. You can have that loser."
"Please!" Willow sputtered in outrage, "Buffy would never do that with Spike!"
Eyes clamped shut against the truth, Xander chanted quietly, "Buffy, you didn't. Tell me you didn't."
"I--" Buffy started. "No, I..."
"Haven't told your friends yet?" Harmony's bottom lip puffed out. "Aw... Is the big bad Slayer ashamed of herself?"
All witticisms abandoning her, Buffy could only whisper, "Shut up."
"Is it my problem that you've got some sick vampire fetish and he's got some weird thing for slayers?"
"Shut UP," Buffy repeated, louder this time.
"It's not about you -- you know that, right?" Harmony went on patronizingly, "I mean, do you honestly think he could care about you? That he wants anything more than to brag that he screwed a--"
With a primal growl, Buffy lunged, grabbed the vampire by the ears... and twisted her head off.
Chattering to the very end, Harmony evaporated.
The other two got the message and ran, leaving the Scoobies alone with the pile of dust that was once Spike's girlfriend.
Gawking, Willow gulped. "Buffy?"
"She was lying," Buffy blurted out quickly. "Harmony -- she -- she's a liar, and she made it all up, I swear, that's not me! I would never--"
"Buffy," Xander shook her by the shoulders. "It's okay. This is a dream."
A sharp intake of breath, and Buffy opened her eyes.
She sat up in her bed and mumbled, "Hate that dream."
"Was it the one where you let her go," a voice began from her window, "or the one where you pop her head off like a big blonde bottlecap?"
Buffy hurried to the window and hissed, "How did you know that? I never told you--"
"You're not the toughest nut to crack, love." Spike emerged from the shadows, grinding a cigarette into the eave shingles under his boot. "Can I come in?"
"What? No you can't come in. You shouldn't even be here."
"But I am, aren't I?"
"Go away. I can't have you here."
Unfazed, he slid a hand through her hair. "You do want the full service, don't you pet? You truly satisfied with just the sample?" He chuckled. "I know I'm not."
She deflected his hand. "Then we have to stop."
"How many times are you gonna say that and expect me to believe it? I'm not buying it, Buffy, and neither are you."
"Dammit, Spike--" reaching out to shove him off the roof, she lost her balance. He caught her and leaned in close.
"Careful, love. Don't fall."
"I don't fall," she said defiantly. "Not anymore."
Closer. "Sure about that?"
His lips touched hers, and she wasn't sure of anything. Soft, deep, melty kisses that obliterated all else. But then he broke away... and his demonic face was grinning back at her.
Gasping, Buffy woke up.
"I really, really hate that dream," she pronounced to her empty room.
* * *
"Good show, Estrus. You'll make your daddy proud someday." Spike patted the vampire roughly on the face before stuffing a wad of bills into his shirt pocket.
"Thanks... I think." Estrus scratched at his stump through his pinned shirt sleeve and squinted at his sire. "So you really think this'll work? That it'll kill the Slayer?"
Spike pursed his lips. "It'll work."
"But I still don't get it--"
"Why don't you let me do the thinking?" he interrupted curtly. "You've done your job and taken my cash. Now get the hell out of here and spend it."
"Okay. Well uh, see ya, Spike. Pleasure doin' business." He shuffled out and closed the door behind him.
"Thinks I can't plan," Spike grumbled, throwing his cigarette to the ground. "I'll show her."
* * *
"Die, die, die!" Buffy yelled as she pummeled the demon beneath her.
"Uh... I think it's dead, love."
Buffy spun around, still astraddle the deceased in question. She sighed. "Great."
"Or do you need some help killing it some more?"
"I don't need any help from you." She got up and quickly headed in the anywhere-but-here direction.
He followed. "You sure 'bout that, love? No kinks you need sorted out?"
"Leave me alone!" she hollered. "And stop following me!"
He stopped in his tracks. "Oh, so that's how it's gonna be, is it? You come to me nightly to work out your frustration, scratch your itch -- Oh, I'm good for that, alright -- but not good enough to speak to, to look in the eye? Talk to like a friend?"
"We're not friends! You can't be my friend!"
"Why not? Look, I'm not asking for anything in return here, Buffy. Just a little civility."
"You don't want anything in return. Right."
"Hey! Do I ever ask you to return the favor? Do I ever expect even a bloody 'thank you'?"
Her wide eyes welling, she stalked away. "I can't deal with this right now."
"No, of course you can't." Shaking his head in frustration, he made his way home.
* * *
Spike awoke to the strangest feeling. A cold spill on his back. A warm weight on his haunches. The smell of night jasmine.
"Shhh," she hushed, and ran her oiled hands over him before bending down to position her chest at his tailbone. Making contact, she swooped up.
Spike stiffened, nerve endings sparking to life. Buffy was coasting naked across his back. Her body against his. Her warm, full breasts pressed into him; her pebbled nipples grazing his skin.
Had to be a dream. Only... it wasn't.
And it was incredible.
She whispered in his ear, "Turn around."
Well, he wasn't stupid. He obeyed.
And there she was, straddling his thighs, nude body glistening, brandishing a new oil bottle. She poured a generous helping into her hand and tugged the sheet down, smiling as his cock sprung diligently to attention.
He gasped in surprise, shuddering at her hot grip.
Sliding both hands over his receptive shaft, she settled into a building rhythm. Up, down, up, down, up, up, up up-up-up-up...
"Buff--!" he choked, and his come shot into the air in erratic spurts.
Some dribbled down her hands, but she kept pumping until nothing more emerged.
He blinked away his aftershock and trained his eyes on her, hoping she wouldn't disappear.
She gave him an unreadable smile, dismounted, wiped her hands on his sheets and slipped her clothes back on.
Propping himself on his elbows, he waited for her to speak.
When she was fully clothed and flipping her hair over her jacket, she said tersely, "There's your thank you. We're even now."
And she turned and walked out.
Spike stared open-mouthed at her wake, and down at the mess she'd made. With an anguished sigh, his eyelids fell closed.
Outside the crypt door, with the sun on her face, Buffy paused, a deep frown worrying her features. She turned her head slightly, but refused, absolutely refused to look back.
Marching forward, she felt a curious constriction in her gut; a nagging sensation of guilt.
That she'd hurt someone she cared about.
* * *
"Mrs. Mopeypants. Paging Mrs. Mopeypants. Please respond..." Dawn implored, nose pinched.
"What's your problem anyway?" Dawn sauntered into her big sister's room and sat on her bed. "You've been all Sad Girl for the last few days."
"I thought I was Mrs. Mopeypants."
"Same thing," the younger Summers said. "So what's your deal?"
"My 'deal' is none of your business." Sensing Dawn's inward wince, Buffy made an effort to turn her bitchiness down a notch. "It's a grown-up thing, okay?"
"God. I'm not a child, you know."
"Yes, you are," she corrected. Thousands of years as mystical key not included...
"Hello? Teenager now? Translation: no longer a child?" She crossed her arms. "Don't you even remember being fourteen? Or have you forgotten already?"
Just a year before she was called. Buffy softened. "I remember."
"So tell me. Is it a guy?"
Her brow wrinkling, she whispered, "What?"
"You've been seeing someone, right? A-and something happened, like he dumped you, or--"
"Excuse me? Nobody dumped me. I have not been dumped." Buffy waved her hand around for extra-clear emphasis.
"Okay, okay. Yeesh. Just fillin' in the blanks."
"So you dumped him? What'd he do to deserve it? Did he cheat on you?"
"No, nothing, and no, because I haven't been seeing anyone."
"Is it that cute doctor from the hospital? Or someone from school? O-or," she gasped, "you're not having a secret affair with Xander are you?"
She rolled her eyes. "You're no fun. At least humor me a little."
"My moping isn't here to humor you. Get out."
"Oh, come on, I'm just kidding," she pleaded. "Who is it? I mean the only other guy you know is Spike, and--"
Buffy's fleeting wild-eyed expression said it all.
"Oh. My god." Dawn muffled a giggle. "It's Spike?"
Buffy opened her mouth to object, but Dawn was already bouncing excitedly on the bed. "You and Spike? Oh my god!"
"There is no 'me and Spike', Dawn. And stop bouncing!"
"This is so cool!"
"Cool?" Buffy questioned in horror. "You think it's cool?"
"Well, he's cool. With the hair and the leather coat, and the way he talks... And you two are like, totally meant for each other."
"We are not meant for each other, Dawn. He's a killer, and I'm a--" different kind of killer?
"My sister and Spike!" She put her hands over Buffy's. "Oh my god. Is he a good kisser?"
Buffy's mind entered a tailspin. In all the time she'd been going to Spike, having this... whatever it was with him... they'd never once kissed. How could she explain this to a little girl? Or more importantly, to herself? "Dawn..."
"Wait." Dawn looked suddenly crestfallen. "You broke up?"
"No!" Buffy stressed, confused. "Yes! No! I mean... there was nothing to break up. We just had a... brief... understanding, and the understanding is over."
"I don't get it."
Buffy sighed. "Me either."
She accused suspiciously, "Was this your fault?"
"My fault? He's... he's Spike!"
Buffy looked down at her hands. "Yeah."
"So if you feel so bad about what happened, why don't you apologize?"
"No, Dawn. You don't understand."
"Okay, maybe I don't. But it makes sense to me. You feel bad, you can feel better. And he can too. Two birds, one brick."
"It's not that simple."
"Fine," she clipped in mock nonchalance as she stood up to leave. "Be Mrs. Mopeypants forever. See if I care."
A small smile threatened Buffy's lips. Dawn did have a way of simpling things up.
"Oh, by the way?" Dawn returned in the doorway. "Giles called. Said he found Glory."
"And you tell me this now?" Buffy shrieked, mowing down a path to the front door.