***Part Five***

Spring semester was done, Adam had been defeated, Riley had gone back to Iowa for summer break, and Buffy was getting more deeply involved with Spike. No one knew, whether or not they suspected Buffy did not have a clue. A few weeks ago she cared, now she did not so much. Spike understood her in a way that no one else could.

At first they had done little more than have sex. Buffy was still uncertain what it said about her that she let Spike do and say the things to her he did. She did not think about or mind them when they were doing them. Afterward, though, when she was back in her room she was plagued with guilt and uncertainty about the path she had started on.

The first night in her dorm room when he had bound her wrists with the scarf had just been the beginning. He had even convinced her to use his handcuffs on him. She marked him up pretty badly whenever he was cuffed. And he liked it, and a part of her liked it because she continued doing it. Once, when he had been on top of her, her cross had fallen back to its place at her chest. She felt it and knew that it was burning him because he was lying flush against her. He stopped her from moving it and he had seemed to like it, the pain. He had liked it when she ran her mouth along the burn mark in the shape of her cross as well.

She had been unable to stay away from him, though. Like a fly to a spider's web, she was caught in whatever spell he had cast on her. When she was with him, all she wanted to do was touch him. When she was away from him much of her time was spent thinking about him and what they did, looking forward to what they would do next. How she had gotten through the last few weeks of the semester and managed to pass she had no clue.

Lately, though, it had been more than sex. Spike and Buffy had secretly worked together to defeat Adam. No one else could have known if their plan was going to go off without any problems. Adam had to be convinced that Spike was a vampire out to get his chip removed and the Slayer out of the picture so he could start on his path of death and destruction. Somehow over the past few weeks, they had become more than just lovers, they had become friends. Spike helped her study a few times, and he had made her study too despite her mind being on other things.

Buffy could talk to Spike about things she could never with Willow. So why was she still hiding from everyone the fact that they got along? She was not ready to call him her boyfriend. They were sort of in a holding pattern and neither seemed to want to broach the subject of what they were doing. Spike was afraid, Buffy realized, that she would flee if he pushed her into putting a name to their relationship. And Buffy, well, she was afraid things would change. She was afraid to admit that she had grown to like him.

Her friends would not accept him. They would think he had done something to get Buffy on his side. And he had, by simply proving himself time and time again with actions. He had given her small gifts; a flower here, a card there, a box of chocolates once. None of the gifts had crossed any real line.

He still talked of getting the chip removed, but Buffy suspected that if it was taken out while he might begin feeding on humans again he would be less violent than he had been pre-chip. She had nothing to base this on, knew he could be fooling her, but she did not think so.

The chip had changed Spike, had made him more human. Buffy did not fool herself into believing that he was human. Even Angel admitted to missing the warmth and the taste of fresh human blood. He told her recently it was harder now since he had fed off her. While she had nothing to compare it to, Buffy likened it to eating canned ham instead of a fresh one. Sure, it was the same thing, but it just was not as tasty from the can.

The fact of the matter was Buffy thought she deserved this. She deserved to have someone in her life, someone to share things with. She had not minded having to abstain with Angel, it was his presence in her life that meant something. Knowing they absolutely could not was a bit of a downer, but had he not broken up with her she knew it could have worked.

Willow had Tara and Xander had Anya, surely Buffy deserved somebody too. As much as she had tried to convince herself Riley would make her happy, deep down she knew he would not. There would come a time when he would expect her to give up slaying, as if it was a job that she could walk away from. Not to mention the longevity factor of Slayers, in that there was not a life expectancy past twenty-five for her. She would never do that to a human, leave them a widower so young. The fact that Spike had an eternity to live without her, as Angel did, did not bother her as much for some reason, both had seen human friends and family die for several years now.

Riley would never accept her past relationship with Angel and would expect her to cut off all contact with him. That was something Buffy was not willing to do. They had been through too much together, good and bad, to just cut him out of her life. He was as much a part of what made Buffy Buffy as her hair or her eyes were. Yes, he was in LA and they talked infrequently, but Buffy knew he was always just a telephone call or a bus ride away. Angel knew the same was true in reverse. He had and would always have a piece of her heart and soul.

The Initiative was gone, but another division like it would pop up sooner or later. Hopefully, the things Riley had seen and gone through with Buffy and the Scoobies had opened his eyes to the reality of what Professor Walsh had been messing with. She had no idea if he would be back in Sunnydale without the Initiative.

She hoped he would, she liked Riley and he was not responsible for the Initiative's secret plans. But if he was no longer involved with the Initiative and she was no longer in Psych class, what did they have left in common? Buffy never told him about the possibility of her being pregnant, and she never had to because she was not. He would have gone all noble on her if he had known the possibility existed and it would have complicated things even more.

Her night done, Buffy returned to 1630 Revello Drive ready for a hot bath and bed. It was strange to be home again. Nine months of dorm life had given Buffy a sense of freedom she enjoyed. She missed her mom, but she liked the independence.

At least she did not have to crawl through her bedroom window anymore since her mother knew what she went out to do. She did use the back door, though. Her mother had asked her to, not wanting the neighbors to wonder why Joyce let Buffy stay out until all hours of the night. Buffy was not overly certain what difference which door she came through made, but if it made her mom happy she would use the back door.

Her senses picked up on something, a presence and she waited a minute to see if whoever it was would show himself.

"It's late and I'm tired, who are you and what do you want?"

No one answered her and she took hold of her stake, ready for action. Vamps did not commonly follow her home, but it had happened a time or two. She turned around, stake at the ready and frowned.

Spike emerged from behind one of the trees, looking tall, blonde, sexy and a little scary in the moonlight's shadows. "Spike you scared me."

"Slayer," he said simply, shoving his hands in his duster coat's pockets.

"What are you doing back here? Why didn't you tell me it was you?"

"I assumed you'd figure it out. I didn't mean to scare you, love. In fact, I planned a bit of a surprise for you. I was hoping you'd investigate a bit, but I got you weren't in the mood for some harmless fun."

"I'm sorry," she said softly, putting the stake away. "Did I hear you say something about a surprise," she queried with what she hoped was a pretty pout.

"I did at that. Are you sure you want to see it," he said, tilting his head in a gesture Buffy had come to recognize as his being uncertain. He always seemed so confident, but now that she knew him better she recognized little things he did that betrayed his uncertainty.

"Sure," she said and followed when he turned, disappearing behind the tree stealthily. She hated that he could do that, just appear and disappear. She wondered sometimes if, like Angel, he would one day disappear from her life entirely. "So, how long have you been waiting for me," she asked but was stopped short by the scene before her. "I guess a while," she said softly. "Spike, this is amazing."

"Yeah, well, I had a little help."

"Help? Who," she said still taking it all in. One of those citronella torches was lit and near it was a blanket.

She would have commented on the fact he had put an open flame within reach of anyone who happened along but did not think now was the time for sarcasm. On the blanket were several small tea candles in votives. She glanced at him when she noticed them only to see uncertainty in his eyes. "Who helped you," she asked softly her eyes back on the blanket. There was a bottle of wine, some flowers and a boom box playing some instrumental music she did not recognize. When she looked at Spike she pictured hard rock and heavy metal not chamber music, but it suited the setting.

He cleared his throat lightly. "Uh, your mom."

"My mom," she repeated in disbelief.

"Yeah, had to get some ideas for the little gift and have her let me know what time you left so I'd know about what time you'd be done. I knew asking Willow was out of the question and your mom wasn't going to go around blabbing to anyone what I was planning."

"Oh," she said, taking a seat on the blanket, drawing her knees to her chest and her arms wrapping around them. "I actually wasn't thinking about that. I mean, I wouldn't care if you ask Willow."

"You wouldn't?"

"No," she said simply and for the first time in a long time she did not try and figure out what it meant or worry what would come as a result. "So why did you do this? I mean, not that I don't appreciate it."

"I just figured you could use a break from just coming home and going to bed, or coming home to me and my bed. I know we don't always go right to it, but I thought it was time you realized that's not all I want from you."

"I do."

"This is for you," he said, handing her a box. She opened it to find an assortment of hand dipped chocolate strawberries, a combination of milk, dark and white chocolates.

"You're sweet." His head lifted from the spot on the ground beside her he had been focused on and she smiled slightly. "What? Can't I say something nice to you?"

"Well, yeah, sure, of course you can, I just don't know that I've ever heard sweet used to describe anything about me."

She took one of the chocolate dipped strawberries and moved so she was kneeling in front of him. She fed the strawberry to him, pulling the stem away once he had bitten through it. She leaned closer, her mouth finding his, tasting the strawberry and chocolate as she kissed him. "Definitely some sweetness."

"Keep that up and my plan to just spend the evening with you will be spoiled."

"You think?"

"I know," he said with a light laugh, kissing her. "My turn," he said, picking up a strawberry. This one had been dipped in white chocolate. "Joyce said you had a soft spot for white chocolate, but I wanted to give you the chance to taste them all." He teased the tip of the strawberry over her lips and laughed lightly when she tried to bite it. He was quick and drew it away before she got her teeth on it.

"No fair. I didn't tease you."

"Not my fault, pet, that you didn't think about it," he said teasing her again. "Because I did." He smiled wickedly as she groaned in frustration, the taste of the chocolate on her lips now. Finally, he fed it to her, slowly, still teasing her as he drew it in and out of her mouth. She let him, obviously she could have bitten it as soon as he had put it in her mouth. But the look of desire that came to his eyes when she closed her mouth around it or swirled her tongue around the tip was priceless. "Good?"

"Delicious," she said softly. "So are you telling me my mom is aware of the fact you are out here putting the moves on me?"

"Well, I don't know that she suspects that, no. I just told her I wanted to do something nice for you. Trying to woo you and all."

"Is that what you're doing?"

"Well, um, sort of, I mean, we've been getting along, out of a bed as well as in one. It seemed about time."

"And the open flamed torch is in case I took offense and wanted to get rid of you real quick?"

"Yeah," he said with a light laugh. "Something like that. Or just to keep the bugs away."

She shifted on the blanket, sitting so her back was against his chest. She felt his cheek pressing against the side of her head, the coolness of his body against hers and a scent that was distinctly Spike. Her head fit into the crook at his shoulder where it met his collarbone and she reclined comfortably against him. She drew another strawberry out of the box and looked at it. "Thanks," she said softly.

He kissed the top of her head and she sighed, eating the strawberry, tasting the bitterness of the dark chocolate. "Any time, pet."

"You better watch how many of these you buy me. You won't like me if I've eaten one too many and weigh two hundred pounds."

"Yeah, well, I don't see that happening, but it wouldn't stop me from liking you, Buffy."

"You say that now."

"I say that because I know, Slayer."

"No vamps at the cemetery tonight."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I was surprised, figured there'd be some action."

"You can have some right here if you want. Not the slaying, staking kind but I'm sure we could come up with something."

"My mom's upstairs and knows you're out here."

"I can be quiet and discreet."

"I know you can be discreet. But quiet? I don't think either of us has ever been quiet, Spike."

"No, I suppose you're right. You know I was thinking something the other day."

"What's that," she asked, tilting her head slightly to look at him.

"Well, we're running around like we have to hide what we're doing."

"I don't know that we're running around exactly, but go on."

"You might not like it. My idea I mean."

"Go on."

"Well, I was thinking, what if we put the idea of getting an annulment out of our heads and actually gave this whole thing a go."

"You can't be serious." He was quiet, which made her uncertain. "Are you?"

"Well, we've proven we can get along. I'm not saying we have to go all out and set up house together or anything, but why not actually try and see if it can work. Come out of the closet. Admit you're with me."

"So, like a boyfriend?"

"Yeah, I guess. It just seems sort of stupid that we have to sneak around like we do, hide from your mother, when legally we can do whatever we want."

"I kind of like it."

"I know you do, but I'm growing tired of it. I don't know from one day to the next if you're going to wig out on me. Up until tonight, you've given me every indication that what we're doing is to remain a secret. Yet tonight you said you wouldn't have minded if I had bothered Willow for some help. It's all a bit confusing and I hate treading on water not sure if I'm going to sink or swim from one moment to the next." He leaned toward her, his arms going around her waist and kissed the side of her neck. "Waiting to find out if you were preggers was torture and I really don't like the idea of having to go through that again with some other bloke. I had no reason to get jealous then and it bothered the hell out of me."

"I didn't like it either. Thank God Giles had that idea of the blood test, I would have spazed for a month not knowing for sure."

"I know, I watched you remember? You didn't talk much about it, but I knew it was on your mind."

"You know, when I was with Angel we talked about that, whether or not I wanted children. He seemed surprised that I was willing to be with him. I honestly never gave it much thought. I mean, what kind of life could I give a child anyway? Oh excuse me, honey, I know you're teething or sick with the flu and vomiting all over the place but I need to go slay some vampires."

He chuckled lightly. "Yeah, being a mom does not exactly seem to fit into your life."

"So I guess that means it's good I'm with you."

"Well, I'm not here to be your method of birth control, Buffy."

"I know you're not. But I like that the chance isn't there."

"We're getting off the subject here, love. Or is that intentional?"

"What? Of my being your girlfriend?"

"Yeah, that. I'm bearing my heart to you here, Slayer."

"Still no husband and wife stuff, though, right? I mean, this is just a trial period type thing. If we find it doesn't work or can't work, we get the annulment?"

"Yeah, I'll grant you the annulment. But you have to promise me, pet, that you're not going to sabotage things because I've just agreed to that."

"I wouldn't. I think you know me better than that. I didn't exactly jump in with both feet right away with Angel either. I'm just not that rash when it comes to getting involved with guys."

"Except Parker."

"Yeah, except him. I learned, though, that just wasn't me. I mean, I realize we aren't in love or committed but have been having sex. I at least knew you and knew you weren't going to treat me like he did."

"I could have."

"You could have, but by the time we got to it I think I knew you wouldn't. I was a little bummed you left that next morning, but I knew why you did. And you left your shirt behind."

"Oh, and you figured out I left it behind for you?"

"Yeah, I did, I guessed anyway especially when you never asked for it back."

"Do you still have it?"

"Yeah, it's in my room."

"Good. When I come visit you tomorrow night I want you to wear it for me." He nipped the side of her neck, sending shivers down her spine. "Nothing else."

"Oh you do, do you?"

"Yeah, I've wondered what it would look like on you since that day."

"I don't think Mom would appreciate my walking around in just the shirt."

"She's going to LA in the morning, didn't you know that?"

"No, I didn't know she was leaving in the morning."

"She told me tonight, I think she likes knowing I'll come by to check on you and the house."

"Fool that she is she thinks I'm safe with you."

"You are safe with me, Slayer. I would work through the pain in my head because of this bleeding chip if I had to."

She looked up, pushed away from leaning against him and kissed him, deep and slow, lingering at his lower lip before she drew away from him. "You know, Riley asked me something a while ago that I never really thought about until now. I guess I should ask you the same question."

"What's that?"

"Does it strike you as weird or strange that Angel sired you? And now we're," she paused, "together. We weren't when Riley asked me the question. It was the day after he saw us kissing by that mausoleum."

"Angel was not truly a relation, so no. Dru is actually the one who started it, Angel just finished it. I spent about twenty-five years with him and then he was gone. Other than briefly a couple of years ago, I have not spent any time with Angel since his soul was restored. I mean, if I had gone after Darla, yeah, that would have been strange. Why? Do you feel strange?"

"I don't know. I admit I have wondered what he would say about it."

"What can he say?"

"Nothing, nothing at all, which is why I try not to think about it. He broke up with me, he left me not the other way around."

"I'm guessing he did it in an attempt to let you lead something akin to a normal life, the Riley type boyfriend, college, maybe even the sorority thing girls do and all that."

"That's just not me."

"I never claimed it was. You need something that Angel and I are able to give you, that balance of darkness to your light, bad to your good, strength to match your strength, and someone who can accept you for what you are. That would be difficult to find in a human. You were lucky that Riley even had a concept of demons and vampires and your world."

"I know."

"Took you long enough to realize it. Christ, I thought you'd never see it. Especially when you'd shrink from me after we had sex."

"I only did that when we did something different."

"Yeah, I know, because it doesn't fit into your image of right or allowable. I hope I'm changing your mind somewhat on that."

She kissed him again, turning as she did, drawing him to her as she lay down on the blanket. "Yeah, you are, or I wouldn't be thinking of doing this in my backyard knowing my mom is home."

"She's probably sleeping by now, she's leaving early she told me. And besides, you wore a skirt for me, it makes it easier."

"Well, it wasn't for you, I mean, I didn't plan it or anything."

"Oh shut up, Slayer, and let me believe you dressed with me and some illicit sex in mind."

"Oh well in that case," she said, pushing his duster over his shoulders and off. "I dressed with exactly that in mind."

"You catch on quick."

"I'm a fast learner, what can I say," she said, watching his hands as they unfastened his jeans. There were times that she loved sex with him like this, spontaneous and unplanned, clothes merely moved out of the way. She liked knowing he wanted her so much that he would take her on a sarcophagus or in his Desoto or a shower stall at her dorm or upstairs at the Bronze or any number of times he had taken her merely because he wanted to and could.

It was exciting in a way she could not possibly explain to anyone else, she had stopped trying to explain it to herself even. She vowed as he entered her she would no longer feel guilty about it. It was hard to feel guilty about something that felt so good.

***

The little candles had long since burnt out when their appetites had finally been satisfied. Spike lay on his back beside Buffy, one arm underneath her with the other on his chest over his unbeating heart. His jeans remained unfastened, but he had pulled them back around his waist so if anyone happened to walk back there he would not be entirely exposed. Not that he particularly cared, but Buffy might. She had said earlier she was ready to go public with their relationship, but he would believe it when it actually happened.

The torch was still going strong, working its mojo to keep the bugs away. Buffy had just finished feeding him another strawberry, this one dipped in dark chocolate. "Keeping the white ones to yourself, love," he queried with a light laugh as he licked his lips. He peered up at her and realized she had been about to kiss away the strawberry juice until he had licked it away himself.

"Yeah, you didn't really expect me to share those with you, did you?"

"No, and I don't mind. They were a gift for you. I'm not a big chocolate fan anyway."

"Oh God, how could you not love it?"

"Just not a part of the vampire diet I guess. I'm growing fonder of it the more I taste it on your lips, though."

"Is that right? There's an interesting lip gloss flavor."

"Nah, I'd only want the real thing. Real chocolate on you."

She moved on top of him, sliding lower along his body until she was even with the waist of his jeans. Apparently, she had not been satisfied. "And what if I wore it while doing this," she whispered as she pulled his jeans down along his hips and took him into her mouth.

"Now who's not playing fair," he said hoarsely, both hands moving to her hair. She had never done this before, she had come close a time or two but had always stopped short of actually doing. Maybe he should look into buying her more chocolate if this was the result.

She was obviously uncertain of herself, but that did not hinder her from making an effort. Hell, she could have been horrible and he still would have been aroused merely because it was her doing it. Something told him this was something that Spike was able to claim for his own.

He did not last as long as he would have liked and she moved to lie on top of him once he had finished. His fingers ran through her hair unsure of just what to say. He could feel her heart beating against his chest and wished for once that he had a heartbeat for her to hear and feel. He would like for her to know just how she affected him. His body obviously let her know that she pleased him, but she was missing out on the more subtle signs.

"I'd say thanks, but that would seem rude."

"You don't have to thank me."

"I don't, but somehow I need to tell you how good that felt."

"I'm glad. I've never done that before, so it could have been terrible."

"I don't think anything you would do to me would be terrible, pet. After everything we've done, you've let me do no questions asked you question whether or not I'd like something you'd do to me?"

"Well, since you put it that way," she said, shifting so she was beside him instead of on top of him. Her head still rested against his chest. "How can I argue with that logic?"

"You can't. It's as simple as that."

"So will you stay with me while Mom's in LA? A house, a bed, no creepy sarcophagus."

"You don't like my crypt, love?"

"Well, I figured, you know, we could make a weekend of it."

"You're taking this step in the boyfriend direction pretty seriously, aren't you? Inviting me to spend an entire weekend with you. Are you doing this in an attempt to drive me away? If I spend too much time with you I'll get fed up over something and go?"

"No, I just hate being home alone," she said and Spike understood how difficult it must have been for her to admit.

"Sure, I'll stay with you then."

"I'm not scared or anything."

"I didn't say I thought you were. You don't have to explain yourself to me, pet. I said I'd stay with you."

"Maybe I'll invite Willow and Tara and Xander and Anya over, do the cooking dinner bit and everything."

"Need I remind you what happened the last time you were set on cooking dinner? You were attacked and I was nearly killed."

"I'm not going to cook Thanksgiving dinner and I don't think Xander's digging up any old missions. So we should be fine." She kissed his chest before she sat up and looked at him. "I figure if we're going to come out, privately instead of publicly is probably best. Let them hear it and see it and then get used to it before they have to see us somewhere like at the Bronze or something."

"You really think they're going to react that badly?"

"Spike, up until a little while ago you were hell bent on killing us or causing us pain and suffering. So yeah I think it will take them a while to accept it. Not to mention they don't like the fact you won't grant me the annulment."

"Point taken, Slayer, I have not been an upstanding Sunnydale citizen."

"That's an understatement."

"And what if they don't come around?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. It's my life, and I have to do what makes me happy. I have to do the right thing for me."

"And you think I'm the right thing?"

"I don't think you're the wrong thing. At least for right now. I mean, look, you're one hundred twenty something. That's your vampire age, add onto that your real age and you're like one hundred forty. I'm nineteen. I can't predict my future and I don't think you can either. Mine or yours. I might not be alive for more than five or six years, if the past is any indication."

"You'll live longer than that, Slayer. I believe in you, in your skills and your ability. You're a survivor. You've got a support system like no other Slayer I've ever heard about has ever had. That's going to work to your advantage."

"I hope you're right," she said somberly.

Spike pulled her toward him as he sat up and re-fastened his jeans. He kissed her, pushing back her hair as he broke it. "We shouldn't be talking about this depressing stuff. If you're done with our little picnic, let's get the blanket inside and I'll let you get to sleep."

"Yeah, I'm done. You don't have to go."

He stood and offered her a hand to help her up. "I know I don't have to go, but you need your rest. I can tell you are tired, Buffy. We're going to have a busy weekend if I'm spending it with you alone in your house."

"You know she invited me to go to LA with her."

Spike paused briefly as he bent to pick the blanket Joyce had given him to use. He sensed this was important and so he waited for her to continue.

"It would have been nice to see Angel, I haven't in a while. Since Thanksgiving, in fact, now that I think about it. And we fought," she said and Spike could detect the bitterness in her voice.

"Why don't you go then?"

"Well," she said, putting out the anti-bug torch. "I realized I didn't want to see him. I mean not go to LA for the sole purpose of seeing him. And that's what it would be. Mom will be busy with her gallery stuff all weekend. I don't really have many friends left in LA, they've all moved on."

"Why are you telling me this, pet?"

"I just thought you might like to know I'm staying here with you. That I'm not going to LA to see Angel."

"Well, I do, but I do get why you'd want to see him."

"Thanks," she said simply, picking up the box of strawberries. "We didn't drink any of the wine."

"I didn't think we'd drink it anyway, honestly, just seemed like the nighttime picnic thing to do. Setting a mood and all."

"I'm not a big drinker anyway."

"I know." He placed his hand at the small of her back once they were ready to go inside. "Give it to your mom. It's a good vintage, at least that's what I was told. I'm not a big wine drinker myself."

"No, I don't guess you are. Wine's not very big baddish."

"Exactly. See you get it now. Image is everything."

"And you don't think being seen with the Slayer will ruin your image? You told Angel he was my lap dog, remember?"

"Yeah, well, I'm not your lap dog and I'm not worried about it. I'm a different person and no one would mistake me for being like him. Other than falling for the same girl perhaps. But that's as close as we get to being alike."

"You've fallen for me?"

He drew her to him and kissed her. "I'm getting there, Slayer, yes. I wouldn't waste my time on another human. Chip or no chip, I could arrange to seeing you dead if I really wanted you that way."

"You say the most romantic things sometimes, Spike."

"Yeah, not very endearing was it? But you brought up my being concerned what others in my world will say. I don't think many will be too surprised honestly. If for no other reason than because you were involved with a vampire once already."

"Yeah, I guess I do have a bit of a reputation that way, don't I?"

He laughed lightly. "Just a bit of one, yes." He walked her to the backdoor and followed her into the kitchen, setting the blanket on the island there. "I'll come by tomorrow around sunset then. If you change your mind for whatever reason you'll have to come to the crypt and let me know."

"I won't change my mind, Spike. It's either come out or break it off. I'm not sure what exactly we're doing, but I don't want to end it."

"All right," he said, his arms going around her. "Good night then. And thank you again for," he smiled slightly, noticing her blushing. "All right, I won't say any more. Thank your mom for me then," he winked. "Do you need me to bring anything?"

"No. I'll take care of everything. Thanks. I'd let you stay here tonight, but I don't know how Mom would feel about it."

"I don't want to stay in a guest room, pet. So, it's best I go home."

"Speaking of homes and staying in guest rooms as opposed to sleeping together. Don't you think maybe it might be time for you to look into getting a real place to live?"

"Why's that? My crypt's not good enough for you?"

"Well, if you were to get something close to campus maybe I'd have an excuse to tell Willow she can room with Tara. I think she feels she has to stay my roommate because of the best friends thing."

"Let me get this straight. You want to live with me? Is that what you're suggesting? You'll forgive me for being a little suspicious, but we just got to telling everyone about us. This seems awful fast."

"Well, I didn't say it would be a real living together situation. It might be roommates."

"Yeah, like we could do that, Slayer. We can hardly keep our hands off each other now."

She blushed and he smiled slightly that he could make her do that. "Well, just think about it. We wouldn't have to worry about my mom or a roommate that isn't Willow if she decides to room with Tara anyway." She shrugged then and Spike realized this had to be difficult for her.

"All right, pet, I'll think on it. I guess living in a crypt for a living, breathing human isn't exactly their ideal. You'd want a kitchen with a stove and all those modern gadgets."

"Yeah, all that stuff."

He leaned down and kissed her. "Let's see what happens, pet, with your friends learning about us and after that how we handle everything. Then we'll talk about it again. I wouldn't pick a house or apartment without you with me anyway if that's what we were going to do."

"Well, I wouldn't care, just so long as there was somewhere for you to be during the day."

"Right. I know that jig, Slayer. Girls say they don't care but yet they do. I'm not falling into that trap. We'll talk about it again."

Her arms went around his neck and she kissed him, clinging to him when she broke away. "All right. You're being too logical about this."

"Bloody great," he said with a low chuckle. "Just trying to watch out for you. You need your rest, pet. Good night. Off to bed with you. Pleasant dreams and all that good stuff. I'll see you after sunset tomorrow."

"Good night," she said and he turned and walked away.

Spike paused in Buffy's front yard before leaving the neighborhood entirely. He was trying to figure her out, trying to figure out just where the trick was. Was he being taken? Was this her idea of a joke? Was she playing him? While all of these things were a distinct possibility, Spike could not help but realize that allowing herself to get this close to Spike was beyond Buffy. At least as some form of retribution or punishment. She might have taken her watcher's advice and come to some sort of neutral agreement with Spike, but she would never have given him her body as she had.

The one night stand with Parker aside, Buffy was not one to just jump into bed with someone or to use sex as a tool or weapon. Oh sure, she was attractive and sexy as hell and could use that as a means to an end, but this went above and beyond flirting. Now she was talking about living together? Spike was not sure how exactly he felt about that. Angel lived above ground like a human, Spike had lived in places here and there like that but an apartment or a house, that was something permanent.

There was too the problem of paying for it, furnishing it and everything else that not only would she expect but she deserved. He decided a call to Angel was in order. That mansion they had lived in was still vacant. Perhaps Angel would be interested in letting his grandchilde and his ex-girlfriend live there. Spike was not too sure that would fly, but it was worth a try. Otherwise, dear lord, he would have to get a job or earn money somehow.

He placed his hand to his head, his fingers running along the scar above his left eye as he pondered all of this. He would wait and talk to her at length about this if once the Scoobies knew about them and whatever their reaction she continued to feel this way and want this. Spike wasn't so sure that meeting with some criticism from her little gang of helpers she would continue on this I want to be happy' path she was talking about tonight. He hoped she did, but he was not about to get his hopes up. Whether he liked to admit it or not, William was still inside of him and Spike wasn't sure he could take another gut wrenching heartbreak. Chip or not, it would not be good.

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