Spike broke down what he hoped was the last of the empty boxes. She was a nineteen year old girl who had lived at home and in a college dorm room, he had no idea how she could possibly have so much. Most of his belongings could fit in one of the boxes he had just broken down.
The house was two blocks from campus and would suit their needs perfectly. He had gotten it for a song because the previous owners were anxious to sell quickly due to a transfer. Spike had known the house was for them the minute he had seen the For Sale sign in the front yard.
It was a house he imagined most women dreamed of as little girls and when he had brought Buffy for a walk-through with the realtor he knew he had made the right choice. It was a newer house, but was Victorian style and offered plenty of space for the two of them. Willow and Tara were thinking about moving in. Buffy had made a similar offer to Xander given the two spare bedrooms upstairs, but Xander had quickly said no. Spike knew that Buffy hoped Xander would eventually get fed up enough with living in his basement, but Spike sensed that Xander's dislike and distrust of Spike would have to go away before Xander would live with them.
Buffy never asked where he got the money to buy the house and Spike never offered the information. Perhaps she did not believe it was any of her business. Spike on the other hand was not sure how she would react to how he had chosen to earn money. She had left him little choice when it came down to it. He needed to earn money fast and there were not many businesses open all night in Sunnydale. So, his choice was limited unless he wanted to work as a bouncer at the Bronze or another bar. The idea of dealing with dozens, if not hundreds, of college and high school aged students night after night just held no appeal for Spike.
He stepped outside onto the covered porch that ran along the front of the house and lit a cigarette. It was a star-filled night, the sky as clear as could be which Spike took as a good sign. He leaned his shoulder against one of the posts and regarded the turn his unlife had taken in the past few months.
He had not believed Dru when she insisted he had feelings for the Slayer, but now he could not deny she had been right all along. The eloping thing had been the result of a spell, but for whatever reason Spike had denied Buffy an annulment. He had watched as a human pursued her and had gotten inexplicably jealous the night the two ended up in bed together. As a result of that jealousy Spike had somehow gained the Slayer's favor instead of the human. And now here they were making a house together.
Joyce had not been thrilled about Buffy moving in with Spike. That night Spike had briefly given up on the possibility of their sharing living space together. Buffy had surprised him by telling her mom they were married. Until that night, only the Scoobies and Riley Finn knew of their marriage.
"Spike," Buffy called from behind him, startling him. For a human she had the stealth of a vampire sometimes.
"Sneaking up on me, pet," he said, taking a drag on the cigarette as he regarded her.
"I didn't mean to. I used the door from the study."
He chuckled lightly. "Didn't think I was so deep in thought I missed hearing the front door open."
"I just wondered where you had gone to."
"Just out here to have myself a smoke. All of the boxes are broken down. The garbage is waiting to be taken to the curb on garbage day."
"Yeah, awful bloody domestic. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep it up." He perused her freely, his gaze intense and curious. She seemed nervous and he was not sure why. Did she regret her decision before they had even spent a night together? "You all right, Slayer?"
"Yeah, it's just a little strange."
"What's that," he asked hesitantly. "Shacking up with a vampire?"
"No, Spike, that's not it at all. This was my idea, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember. Then what?"
"I don't live with my mom anymore. I mean, a dorm room isn't permanent, you know? I went home to Revello Drive and still had my room, my things were still there."
"You're not a girl anymore, pet. That's all. It's a right of passage, moving out on your own and all. And it's not like you're hours away or anything. You can go there whenever you want."
"I know," she shrugged and he cocked his head slightly, beckoning her closer. Wordlessly, she walked to his side and he placed an arm around her drawing her closer still. He kissed her temple, lingering a bit as he took in the smell of her shampoo, her perfume, the affects of their day of unpacking and putting things away, and the scent that was distinctly Slayer, Buffy Summers. A few dampened tendrils of hair tickled his nose and he drew away, sniffling as a result.
"I've been meaning to ask you, just where did you get all of this stuff, anyway?"
"Well, I've accumulated stuff over the years and some Mom gave me. Some dishes and things like that."
"So I have china now to drink my blood out of, is that it?"
"Yeah, something like that. She had a lot of stuff that were wedding gifts from when she and Dad married, and I guess she decided I should have them."
"As well you should, being her only daughter and everything, love." He glanced out from the porch to the street. "Are you going to patrol tonight?"
"I am tired from unpacking," she admitted and Spike knew she must be truly exhausted for her to admit she was tired. "And I've got to go to campus tomorrow to buy my books for the semester."
"Then take the night off," he offered. "I'll patrol for you. No sweat. You deserve it. Just have our bed warm and ready for me when I get back."
"Our bed. That sounds so strange."
"It does, doesn't it?"
"Do you think Willow and Tara are going to move in?"
"I don't know. I guess it depends on whether or not they think it will save them money, paying us rent instead of the dorm costs."
"I feel bad charging them."
"Pet, I know they're your friends, but this isn't letting them stay with us for a few days or a couple of weeks. They might very well live here until college is finished if they move in."
"And it's not like we're asking them to pay an exorbitant amount or anything."
"A what," she asked and Spike couldn't help but laugh.
"We're not asking them to pay an arm and a leg, sweet."
"Oh," she said, pouting slightly.
He kissed her, taking the extended lower lip between his teeth. "What are you pouting for," he asked when he broke the kiss. Their first real kiss at the house. They had been so focused on unpacking that they had taken little time away from it, not even for signs of affection like kissing.
"I hate that I sound stupid sometimes."
"You don't, Slayer. Not at all."
"I feel like I do."
"Why because you don't have a huge vocabulary?"
"Yeah, and just the fact that I have such a hard time in my classes all of the time."
"We're not going through this again, Slayer. I told you once a while ago that you're too hard on yourself. You're off saving the world when others have their nose in the books. If I have to hold your hand every step of the way for the next three years to see that it's done, you will graduate with a degree, Buffy."
"Yeah, and do what? I mean, it's not like the degree is going to do me any good. I'm the Slayer, no college degree required. I didn't even need a high school diploma."
He stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray he kept on the porch's railing. He was trying to avoid smoking in the house. Buffy had not asked him not to, but she did not smoke and he was trying to be considerate. On the cold days, he had already decided he would go down to the garage. He stepped up behind her, his arms going around her. His hands found hers, placing their joined hands over her abdomen. "Well, you mentioned once those tests you took in high school indicated you should be in law enforcement. That's why you're getting your degree in Criminal Justice, right?"
"Okay, well, who's to say a police force sort of like Riley's Initiative won't develop, specializing in preternatural beings. You'd have a leg up on anyone applying for the job. Hell, if the powers that be were smart, they'd put you in charge of such a thing."
"I don't think that's going to happen in my lifetime, Spike. It's a nice thought, and maybe one day you'll see it."
Spike grew quiet he did not think it was as unlikely as she thought. If the military knew there were demons and other beings walking around Sunnydale surely the police did, too. There were just too many unexplainable things around the Hell Mouth for them not to suspect something preternatural. "Maybe you're right, Slayer, but think about it as a possibility and maybe that will get you through the next three years. Your situation is not hopeless, predestined or not, there are things that you might one day be able to do in conjunction with being the Slayer."
"Thanks," she said softly, rubbing her cheek against his jaw before turning her head and kissing him there. He tilted his head away from her hoping she would continue to his neck. No such luck and he growled in a predatory like warning as she drew away. "I wonder what our neighbors think of us."
"What's there to think?"
"Have you noticed that some have children not much younger than me?"
"No, I hadn't paid them much attention. I've seen some of the little kiddies riding their trikes and bikes around. One boy was fascinated by the Desoto."
"You left it on the driveway," she asked curiously.
"No, pet, I'm not foolish enough to leave a car with every window blacked out even if it is behind the house. I had the garage door open and he saw it, his ball had come into the yard or something. Seemed like a nice lad. I don't think he noticed the windshield was blacked out, too."
"Oh good. I mean, I don't mind if they think we're quirky, but I'd sort of like to fit in if we can."
"Right. Us fit in? Sweet, need I remind you just what we are?"
"You know what I mean. It seems like a nice neighborhood, really. We were lucky you found this house and that it's a residential area rather than college apartments."
"Yeah, I thought you'd like that fact. So you really like it then? The house I mean."
"Spike, how can you even ask me that? It's great. Mom's jealous."
"Is she now?"
"Yeah. Not that her house isn't nice, but our bedroom is huge. And we have a whirlpool."
"Good for aching Slayer muscles."
"Exactly. I can't wait to use it."
"With or without me?"
"With, of course," she said, turning in his arms and smiling at him suggestively.
"Patrolling. One of us has to go," he mumbled before lowering his mouth, capturing her mouth in a deep kiss. They had gone days without making love, unusual for the two of them, and Spike was feeling a little randy. Kissing her like this didn't help. This was their first night in the house and he was going off patrolling. He was an idiot, but it had to be done. At least if he wanted to be able to keep paying for the furniture and everything they had ordered.
"Mm hmm," she mumbled into the kiss. Her hands skimmed his chest, one moving up and around his shoulder, her fingers toying with the nape of his neck. The other hand she was not being fair with, dropping it to the front of his jeans.
"Slayer," he said as he drew away, turning from her and the street as he felt his form change. "Not out here. Not after so long without."
"I was hoping you'd forgo patrolling, for a little while at least."
"The sooner I go, the sooner I get back and then we'll have all night together, pet."
"I do like the sound of that better," she said, her pout slowly dissipating.
"Getting me all hot and bothered before I go. Are you trying to get me killed?"
"No, just reminding you what you have to come home to."
"Like I could forget," he said, turning back to her his face back to its human state. "I'll be back after I've done the normal sweeps." He went inside to grab his leather duster and the normal weapons he used for patrolling.
"Okay honey," she called after him, her voice laced with sarcasm. He heard her and wished he had not. It was the first time she had used an endearment, too bad she was teasing him. "Hurry back. I better not catch you playing footsy with your secretary or anything," she said once he had returned to the front porch.
"Right like that would happen, Slayer. Need I remind you you're the boss, and I'm the, well, sidekick more or less," he said, kissing her lightly before descending the porch steps. "Keep that bed warm, love," he called, his back to her while offering her a slight wave of his hand.
Buffy returned indoors, closing and locking the front door behind her. They both agreed to use the downstairs door to come and go for patrolling. Once they had figured out whom and what their neighbors were about perhaps that would change, but Spike had agreed that it was best not to draw too much attention to themselves this early in the game.
She leaned against the front door and closed her eyes for a minute. She let the fact that she was standing in her home wash over her. How Spike had done it she did not know, but he had. It had not taken long after Buffy suggested they live together for them to decide to go ahead with the idea. If it did not work out for whatever reason, Buffy was not sure what would happen and hoped she did not have to find out. She could always go back home to her mom, but would feel weird doing that now that she had really moved out.
She had not been alone in the house yet and decided to take advantage of it now. She walked through the still empty dining room into the kitchen to grab herself a bottle of water. She took a handful of grapes and ate them as she looked at the kitchen. It was the one room that looked lived in so far. She had not used the stove yet, but there were dishes in the sink. Dishes, glasses, flatware, and food had been put away. The breakfast room to the left was furnished with a table for six and chairs.
She walked through the breakfast room to the sun room. The fact that Spike had bought a house with a sun room still amused her to no end. But it had a fireplace in it and looked out over their deck. They had already ordered the blinds without slats that rolled up and down to help keep the sun out later in the day. She doubted Spike would ever get to come out and enjoy this room during the daytime.
She returned to the kitchen and went to the laundry room next. Spike had thought of things Buffy just took for granted she realized as she saw laundry soap, fabric softener sheets, and bleach set out. He had also set up an ironing board, not that she ironed much but she imagined with time she would accumulate things that needed ironing.
The garage, basement, and a huge storage room were downstairs and aside from Spike's Desoto stood empty. It was a three-car garage and Spike had mentioned getting Buffy a car and himself a motorcycle. She had declined his offered car, but suspected he would do it anyway. She could not drive his Desoto, not unless she wanted to kill herself and if she was going to do this living together, domestic thing she would have to go grocery shopping and other things.
The great room had another fireplace in the center of the wall along the side of the house, overlooking the porch and their yard. She was not sure why any house was in need of two fireplaces, but it was about the only totally unnecessary thing Buffy had found about the house so far.
She had no need to go upstairs. The two bedrooms were empty, waiting for Willow and Tara to decide if they were going to move in or not. The bathroom that the two bedrooms shared remained empty, Willow and Tara could buy the type and color towels they wanted if they moved in. If they didn't move in, Buffy was not anticipating having overnight guests so she was not worried about furnishing that bathroom yet.
Spike talked about getting a pool table for the game room upstairs and a big screened TV. If Spike were any other guy, the big screened TV would be for watching football, NASCAR, or something. With Spike it was to get his daily fix of Passions. For now, the second floor remained empty, making do with their 17 inch TV in the bedroom. A stereo was in the great room, and both had agreed to no TV in the main room.
The house felt empty to Buffy and it was sort of depressing. Things were set to be delivered over the next couple of days, but she did not like the temporary feeling of a mostly empty house. At least their bedroom was furnished, which was probably the most important room for now.
She took a sip of the water and turned to enter their suite, the most disorganized rooms in the house. Spike had given her most of the space in the walk-in closet, but she had yet to get everything hung up and put away. She had her own computer, which Spike had bought for her when he saw the huge computer desk the study offered. How much easier it would be now to do papers and homework, no more competing with Willow for her computer. The study would also give them a cover as to just what Spike did for a living, should anyone ask he worked from home.
She had just taken a seat on the edge of their bed debating about taking a shower when the doorbell rang. Buffy glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand next to the bed and frowned when she realized Spike had not even been gone for an hour. She glanced at herself in the mirror wishing she had thought to take a shower earlier before walking toward the front door hoping it was Willow.
She turned on the outside light and opened the door. "Hi," she said, hoping to be friendly to the unfamiliar face. She had a dish in her hand, so unless she was bringing poisoned food Buffy gathered she was a friend and not a foe.
"Hi," the dark haired woman said. As dark as her hair was, her eyes were a light gray making for a beautiful contrast. "I'm Jessica Stiles. I live across the street and over one. We just moved in a few months ago and I remembered what it was like our first few nights." She extended the aluminum foil covered dish and Buffy took it. "It's a casserole. I hope you like it. I didn't go out of my way or anything, just made a little extra for our dinner tonight. There's some cookies wrapped in foil on top, too. I figured with all the unpacking you're doing you could use a little pick me up."
"That was nice of you, Jessica. Really. I haven't even thought about cooking yet. Thanks," Buffy said. Damn, this was one thing Buffy was going to have some difficulty with. She wanted her neighbors to like her, but she was nineteen and this woman was, like the other neighbors Buffy had seen so far, older. She just hoped she did not sound as stupid as she thought she did sometimes. "I'm Buffy," she paused and for the first time said the rest. "I'm Buffy Harrison. I'm sorry William's not home right now. He went out for a walk and to have a cigarette." She had not talked to Spike about what name she would use, but she preferred the neighbors know they were married then believe they were living together. Why she was not sure, but she did.
"Good for you, dear," Jessica said. Buffy's face must have reflected her confusion on what the woman was commending her for because she continued. "Not letting him smoke in the house. It's best to get him in the habit now of those things."
"Oh well, it was his idea. He's considerate. Would you like to come in? Most of our furniture hasn't been delivered yet, but I do have a table and chairs in the kitchen."
"Oh no. I need to get back and get the kids to bed."
"You have kids?"
"Yes three, two boys and a girl."
Children had never been a strong suit of Buffy's. She liked them, sure, but she had no clue about them. Being that she was the Slayer and at the moment her boyfriend/husband was a vampire it did not appear that she would need to have knowledge of children. Her scare after having slept with Riley was as close as Buffy had ever come to even thinking about them. "How old are they," she asked. It seemed the polite question to ask.
"Ten, seven, and two," she said smiling in what Buffy assumed was pride.
"Wow. That's great. We don't have any. Kids I mean. I'm still in school and everything."
Jessica glanced at her watch ready to leave. Whether it was because she truly had to get back home or because Buffy was boring her to tears she was not sure. "Listen, I need to get them to bed. If I don't get the two year old down ahead of the older two they argue with me about it being unfair they have to go to sleep at the same time as the baby. But why don't you and your husband come over tomorrow night. We can talk then."
"Sure," Buffy said a little relieved. "What time should we come?"
"Say eight o'clock?"
"Great," Buffy said relieved that she had said a time well after sunset. "That will be perfect."
"Okay, see you then. Good night, Buffy, welcome to the neighborhood."
"Thanks. Good luck getting the kids to bed," Buffy said before shutting the door. She took the dish into the kitchen, removing the wrapped cookies from it before putting it in the refrigerator. Spike ate food every once in a while, but not often and she assumed he would want blood tonight as he usually did after patrolling.
She took a bite of one of the cookies as she leaned against the kitchen's center island. She could do this, appear to be a normal married woman going to college. Sure she could, just so long as no demons trashed her house or Spike did not vamp out in front of anyone.
Spike closed the door of the warehouse behind him and pocketed his cash. It had been a very profitable night indeed for ol' Spike. He had managed to find a dozen Bezoar eggs before they had hatched. This was something Buffy had dealt with in high school before and she probably would not approve of him cashing in on turning the eggs in. They fetched him a fair price and the eggs were being destroyed. Wherever the Mommy Bezoar was did not concern Spike. He had been asked to find its eggs, nothing more. And he needed the money, damn it. Surely she did not expect him to wear a suit and tie and get a job selling stocks and bonds or life insurance.
He walked the short distance home, remembering to cut through to the back yard instead of using the front door. The basement entrance's exterior light was on unnecessarily but he smiled at her thoughtfulness as he entered the house. He made his way upstairs and was greeted by Buffy standing in the kitchen wearing the blue shirt he had left in her dorm room months ago. He was guessing she had nothing on underneath. It was a good thing he only had to deal with unhatched eggs tonight and no slimy monsters. He was clean and did not smell skanky.
"Hey, pet, I'm home," he said, closing the door that led to the basement stairwell. He shrugged out of his jacket and went into the great room to hang it in the closet by the front door.
"I was just getting some blood ready for you. I heard you coming up the stairs."
He entered the kitchen again and stepped up behind her, his arms going around her. She had taken a shower and smelled fresh and clean, no evidence of the hard work she had done that day. "Thank you," he murmured, finding the side of her neck. He released her when she moved against him.
"There are some cookies," she said, gesturing to the aluminum foil packet on a counter after she had put the cup of blood in the microwave. "A neighbor brought them by. She invited us to come over tomorrow around eight. I told her it was okay. They've got kids, so I can't imagine we'd be there too long. I can still patrol then."
"Sure. Sounds good. It was a lady then?"
"Yeah, her name is Jessica. Stiles was the last name. I don't think she said her husband's name."
"You're William, by the way. I mean, I figured they'd understand if your nickname was Spike, but it might sound funny if I said that was your name."
"Always thinking, Slayer. I guess I'd best get out of the habit of calling you that. As endearing as it is, some might wonder. I should have bought us a house surrounded by a mote or a large brick fence, so that we could live in seclusion and not have to worry about being anything but Spike and Buffy, vampire and slayer."
She took the cup out of the microwave once it had beeped. "We could sit at the kitchen table, don't you think?"
"Are you having something? Or is it just me and my nightly necessity?"
"I'm going to have some grapes," she said, pulling some off and putting them in a bowl. Spike watched as she sat on one of the chairs. She was definitely wearing nothing underneath the shirt on top. He had not gotten a good enough view yet to know if she wore bottoms yet or not.
"So anyone else call on you?"
"No, just Jessica. She seemed nice, but she's older. Her kids are ten, seven and two. I'll bet I'm closer to the ten year olds age than I am her age."
"Don't worry about it, Slayer. What does it matter? You're going to college, the house is two blocks from campus, and no one will question why we're here."
She pouted prettily as she popped a grape in her mouth and Spike wished he could kiss that pout away. "I know. I just hate feeling so young. Like I don't already just being around you, Mr. Century Plus."
"Yeah, yeah. So we're going there tomorrow night. And you're going to campus tomorrow to get your books and such, right? Anything else?"
"Some furniture is being delivered tomorrow. That's all that I know of. Oh," she said softly and Spike's head bobbed up in attention from drinking his evening's sustenance source.
"I sort of told Jessica my name was Harrison."
"Sort of, pet? You either did or you didn't."
"Ah, love, I don't mind, if that's what you're thinking."
"No, I just wanted you to know. I already felt weird, being so young. I didn't want them to think you were some perverted old man living with a college girl."
"Little do they know how right on they'd be," he chuckled.
"It's not funny, Spike."
"Well, we are legally married and all, so you didn't lie."
"I never changed my name."
"Right. Well, they don't need to know that. You could just say you are waiting to change it legally until you're done with college, want your records to be all in the same name or some nonsense."
"You think that will work?"
"Love, I think you're thinking too much on this. So you're a little younger than they are, I don't think they're going to treat you like they did Martha Carrier and burn you at the stake or any such thing. Just relax," he whispered, pushing back in his chair.
She took his offered hand and sat on his lap in the chair, one arm around her while the other sat laced with hers on a thigh. "I know," she said, resting her head against his jaw.
"Don't dwell on it, Buffy. You'll only screw up if you worry too much. They won't question it seeing us together. Well, unless they get to see one of our fights," he said sarcastically.
"Not like we do, Slayer."
"We do take it to extremes," she said coyly as she kissed him.
"Extremes are good, love. At least for us they seem to be. Who would have thought it?"
She ran a finger along his lower lip. "Are you done with your dinner then?"
"I am at that." He tilted the cup towards them so she could see it was empty. "Are we ready to move beyond the kitchen then? It's nice in here, but not nearly as cozy as that big bed in there waiting for us."
"I can only feel parts of you against me like this. Not nearly as cozy and I've thought of little else since your groping earlier this evening."
"I didn't distract your patrolling, did I?"
"Not at all, dusted a couple vamps and everything. I was in peak form."
She stood, her hand finding his and tugged, a not so gentle Slayer tug. "We'll see about that peak form bit," she said. "I hope they didn't wear you out. You said earlier we had all night, remember?"
"I did, did I? I guess I'd best follow you then. Got to keep up my reputation and all, wouldn't want to disappoint you so soon."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com