Word Count: 2,628
Walking into the kitchen one minute to find Buffy alone and then seeing Willow there the next was becoming a common occurrence in Lee's apartment. He wasn't sure what it said about him that he was getting used to the redhead appearing out of nowhere.
Today, however, Willow had come the normal way by flying since she brought her girlfriend. Lee sensed small amounts of tension between Buffy and Kennedy, but Buffy had never mentioned it and Lee not knowing the situation didn't ask.
It was hard for him not to ask. She'd been staying here for a few weeks now and it was hard some days to remember that it wasn't permanent, that he really had no business or right to ask her what the history was between the two slayers.
One thing he was having a hard time getting used to was seeing Buffy come back to his apartment from patrolling with Lexie injured. The injuries were rarely bad and she healed so quickly he had to look close the next night to see where they'd been. But knowing that she went out nights and could potentially get beaten to death bothered him.
A couple of times she'd actually woken him and had him help bandage a wound that she couldn't reach properly. He hated seeing blood on her, knowing it was hers and that there was nothing he was able to do to help her. This was her life. She'd been doing it for a decade, as difficult as that was for him to fathom.
He understood a dangerous job. He lived one every day, but the threat to most police officers was a gun. It happened, of course, a police officer was disarmed and pistol whipped with their weapon. Or beaten with their baton. But rarely.
Two weeks had gone by and the police had gotten no closer to finding the people responsible for the killings. Buffy, on the other hand, had come up with a lead via her dreams. It was perhaps intangible, but Lee trusted her enough to believe if she thought it meant something he should too.
He'd had her sit down with a sketch artist that they'd used in the past with Allison. Whether the artist thought Buffy was like Allison he didn't know. And he didn't care. Finally, they'd gotten a face to look for. The only thing was that Buffy hadn't been able to guarantee the man belonging to the face was the one in charge.
Lee had tried Allison, but she hadn't had anything to offer them. So, Buffy's lead was all they'd had and it hadn't produced much. Lee had expected that, since they were dealing with creatures that didn't frequent the usual criminal haunts.
Using a search engine Willow had developed that allowed them to scan obituaries and police reports provided to local newspapers with their criteria had helped. It had broadened the search from the Phoenix area so they were able to get a lead on the guy.
Kristian had been the vamp's name, he'd left a trail of death and destruction from Laredo west to Phoenix over about a year. Nettles seemed okay with the fact there was no body to bring to trial, just happy the job was done and the problem solved. The cases would remain open, officially unsolved, and eventually be forgotten when no new victims showed up. As it stood, the press hadn't seemed to make the jump from individual killings to serial killer.
It had bothered him more than he wanted to admit to watch Buffy go off with Lexie to take care of the vampire. She'd said they had to do it alone. He could understand that, but that didn't mean he'd liked it. He'd reported to Nettles after the fact that the killings would stop. That he had been able to stop her from doing. He didn't want her anywhere near Nettles.
That had been a week ago, and for now she was still here. Lee didn't like to think about the fact that could change at any moment. Once Buffy felt confident Lexie was comfortable on her own she would leave.
They had gone to dinner earlier with Allison and Joe as well as Willow and Kennedy. Lexie had joined them at a club for some dancing after dinner. Allison and Joe had gone home. And now the time of day Lee knew he would miss most when Buffy left was here. Bedtime. Weeks of sleeping with her, waking up when she had one of her dreams, and making love to her. The first and the last were enjoyable, to say the least.
The dreams weren't so pleasant. She assured him - as Kennedy had at dinner - that it was just part of being the Slayer. He could accept that, had to as it was a part of who she was. The part that bothered him was that neither Kennedy nor Lexie had dreamt of Kristian as Buffy had. So, that had to mean he was targeting Buffy somehow. And had known she was heading for Phoenix.
The fact that he really wasn’t equipped to protect her from beings like Kristian was his own issue to deal with. He knew that. There were people who didn't like cops, but rarely did someone go after a cop without provocation. Buffy had vampires and demons singling her out because of who she was, it didn't matter they'd never laid eyes on her.
And they did seem to target her. He'd listened as Willow talked with Buffy and as Buffy relayed information to Lee, or bounced ideas off of him. Buffy had been responsible for activating all of the slayers, she'd defeated an evil entity and changed the balance of things. There seemed to be a bounty on her head more than the other slayers.
He'd gone to bed, letting Buffy spend some time with Willow and Kennedy without an outsider. And he was, even if he was becoming familiar with the things they dealt with he was no expert. And he hadn't gone through the things they had. He suspected Kennedy felt a little of that, too, but it was different.
He listened as the three women talked in hushed tones. Occasionally they'd erupt into feminine laughter, shushing one another apparently afraid they'd wake him. He listened in amusement with a smile. There were so many things she brought to his apartment that he hadn't realized he needed before now. Laughter being one of them.
She did other things, too. She picked up flowers when out buying groceries more than once. He couldn't recall ever having fresh flowers - or any flowers - in his apartment before now. And food. He had food, good stuff, and someone not just to cook for him but he could cook for, too.
He apparently dozed off, because he'd lost track of their laughter and talking. And she was here now beside him. He opened his eyes.
"Did I wake you?"
"No," he murmured.
"Did we keep you awake?"
"Willow and Kennedy said to thank you for the use of your couch."
"Tell them they're welcome, I know you're glad they're staying here. I wish I had more than a rollaway to offer them."
"Yes," she said with a smile, kissing him. His arm went around her about the same time she skimmed his calf with her foot.
"I can understand why Kennedy might be jealous."
"Why?" she asked.
He shrugged, rolling onto his back, propping an arm behind his head. "You and Willow," he turned his head to look at her. "You've been through a lot together, shared a lot."
"We're best friends."
"But it's more than that. Xander, too. The three of you, you've faced death together, saved the world. You've lost loved ones, grieved with another. That's a bond that's hard to compete with."
"Well, no one's asking you or Kennedy to compete with us."
"No, but it's innate I think. And jealousy is a natural feeling when someone obviously knows your significant other so much better than you. It's different than dealing with an ex, because your paths don't cross. Or not as often. The fact that the person has that experience with your partner isn't so in your face. The past, something you as the newcomer can never experience with them."
"Not exactly. A little envious maybe, but I was really talking about Kennedy. Willow's a woman, into women, not another guy."
"Am I your partner?"
"I'd like you to be," he admitted.
"Here in Phoenix?"
"If that's agreeable with you, yes. Distance would be hard, especially since I don't think either of us can afford to fly to see one another very often."
"I do like it here. It's not exactly like California, but it's warm and sunny."
He chuckled softly, grazing the top of her head with a kiss. "Definitely a reason to move here."
"Can there be two of you here?"
"Sure, she might prefer it actually. We could get breaks, time off. There's more for me to think about. Giles, the others in London."
"On the other hand, I don't think there are castles in Phoenix."
"No, but there are ranches. A few might be available for a song."
"It's a thought. Giles is happy to be in London, though."
"And he'd have to be here with you?"
"Well, no, but I like having him with me for reference and stuff. And he's Giles, he's always been with me."
She scooted on top of him. She tucked some hair behind her ear with one hand, stroking his chest with the other.
"But reference and stuff could be done via email and conference calls."
Hands mirrored one another as they checked on the readiness of the other. She sank over his length, taking him inside of her and he groaned softly.
"And I think I deserve the chance at a life outside of slaying."
"No argument there," he murmured, his hands sliding to her hips as she took him deep inside again.
"There's always the idea of you coming with me."
"I think they have police officers there."
He chuckled and she leaned toward him, her breasts brushing against his chest as she gripped his forearms with her hands. It was times like this, when she didn't concentrate he was mindful of just how strong she was.
"Kiss me," she whispered.
A hand moved from her hip to her head, drawing her to him to do just as she asked. He'd grown to love the intimacy of kissing her. It wasn't the most intense of their lovemaking sessions, but he sensed she wanted something else anyway. She seemed just to need him this way, proof that she really had this in her grasp.
She cried out, biting his lower lip as she rode to her release. He rolled them so he was on top of her, chuckling softly. "Your friends are going to know what we're doing in here."
She laughed, kissing his shoulder and neck. "I don't care," she said before stifling another groan by biting his neck. She rode another release, biting and sucking at his skin there. It'd probably been twenty years since he had a hickey. He'd always thought they were kind of childish, but realizing that it was passion - her passion - that had her giving him one was a turn-on. Enough of one that he was right behind her, finishing on the wave of her second release.
She stopped sucking and began kissing and licking the spot. He groaned softly, even fresh off an orgasm she could affect him that way.
"Sorry," she whispered, biting his earlobe.
"No reason to apologize."
"It's going to be visible."
He shrugged, kissing one of her breasts. "He'll deal with it. It's not like I'm a traffic cop, pulling people over." He nipped at the underside of her breast. "Besides, they're not illegal."
"You would know."
"I would at that."
She grew quiet, he nuzzled against her breast. He liked this part, the closeness after sex. She didn't turn from him, didn't prompt him to move off of her right away. She seemed to enjoy the afterplay as much as he did.
"What's wrong," he whispered, nipping the skin at her breast. He sucked a little, much as she'd been doing, but knew there'd be no mark there in the morning.
"Can I say something without freaking you out?"
"I don't know, that depends."
She laughed softly. "Okay, it's two things really. I'm not only falling in love with you but I want to figure out how this can work."
He wasn't sure what to say, how to respond. Love. He wasn't expecting that from her.
"You don't have to say it back or anything. That's not why I said it. I promised myself a while ago that I wasn't going to close my heart off anymore. I told you about Riley and Spike, how badly I hurt after Angel left. I didn't even give myself the chance to love someone again. I won't do that again. So, I'm not going to hide from my feelings."
"I can say falling in love with you and not feel like we're rushing things."
"Well, you moved me in with you. If that's not rushing things…"
"I was trying to be nice."
She giggled as he rolled beside her.
"Did it work?" he asked.
"Yeah, I guess it did. I'm not used to someone being nice to me just for the sake of being nice. Especially after the way we met."
"There's something about you, I don't know how to explain it. I knew you'd done nothing wrong. And I may question Allison at times, may be a little rough on her but I trust her for the most part. That's why I'm rough on her. I need to make sure she'd stand up in court if it ever got to that point."
"Come to London."
"I have to go back. Soon. The case is done, Lexie's fine. I need you to see what I do, what I'm working for. It's different than just seeing Lexie. You have vacation time or something, right?"
"Yes, I've been working like a dog for years."
"Then take some and come visit me."
"Buffy, I can't just up and leave."
"Well, I know that. I just meant, plan on coming. If it's a couple weeks or next month, that's fine."
"It's not every day I get invited to see a real castle."
"And I'll do you better than just seeing one. You'll stay in one."
"Better enough to be tempting?"
He brushed the back of his hand along her body. He loved how she felt, how she reacted even to the barest of touches. "It's not the castle that's tempting me, Buffy."
"You are a sweet talker."
"Just stating the truth. If you think that's sweet, then more points for me."
She turned onto her side, sliding her foot between his legs. "So, you'll come?"
"I think we already got that part out of the way."
"That's me," he said with a chuckle. "And, yes, I'll check with work tomorrow to see about getting some time off. I'm not involved in anything pressing at the moment, so maybe I can arrange it sooner rather than later."
"Okay," she said, sliding an arm around him. "Good night."
"Good night," he said, kissing the top of her head. He ran his fingers through her hair as she settled against his chest as she usually did. He'd fall asleep soon, but she'd brought up something he hadn't really given any thought to.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com