***Part Seventeen***

Author's Note: Lyrics are AC/DC's Ride On from the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheep album. I realize AC/DC may not strike most as a slow song band but in my opinion Ride On is one of the most seductive songs I've ever heard. Granted, I'm not much of a dancer, but the beat (not the lyrics) sure conveys to me seduction and sex and all that lusty good stuff. Bon Scott's voice does help no matter what the words are saying for this tune.

After a bit of discussion on the matter Spike agreed to share the master bedroom with her. Since they would not actually be sleeping at the same time Buffy reasoned nothing could happen between them. Buffy suspected he accepted because of her sleeping problems and while it bothered her she had to convince him she was glad he finally agreed.

Her clothes would remain in her old room and she would dress in there. She had rolled her eyes at that stipulation, but had agreed. It was probably best they not see one another naked if they wanted to remain pure for the time being. She wanted to ask him how long this sabbatical was going to be for but did not want to put any pressure on him. Or get severely depressed that he might have months in mind rather than a couple of weeks. She had to bear in mind that he had embarked on a journey no other vampire had ever gone on before. Pressure from Buffy was the last thing he needed.

Buffy was looking forward to having someone sleep beside her. It had been a while and she could not remember what it was like. In truth, she had never gotten used to sleeping with Riley. She had always felt dwarfed by him, like he might smother her or that he was trying to keep her at bay. And it was not as if she and Spike did not kiss. Lots of make out sessions were not of the bad, though it left her severely frustrated some nights. Him, too, she knew so she did not take offense to it or take it to mean he did not want her.

Spike was sitting on the queen sized bed, his right ankle crossed over his left as he paged through the latest issue of Rolling Stone. Buffy watched him as she took down and brushed out her hair. She had done everything else to ready herself for bed in the bathroom or her bedroom.

"Spike?"

"Yeah."

"Is everything okay?"

"Sure, why wouldn't it be?"

"You've just been quiet since I got back from having dinner with Xander and Dawn. You're not mad I went are you?"

"No."

"Did something happen while I was gone?"

"No, pet," Spike said and Buffy could sense that he was getting frustrated with her interrogation.

She set her brush down on the vanity and walked the short distance to the bed. She sat on the edge facing him. "I mean because you'd tell me, right? You'd tell me if something was wrong or if you were having a real bad day?"

"I'd tell you if something was wrong that you could help with, yes."

"Okay," she said, moving to the other side of the bed to get under the covers. "I guess that's something." Her first night of actually sleeping with Spike and she was a little nervous about it. What if she finally gave him what he wanted, for her to welcome him into her bed for sleeping not just sex and he decided to leave? Did he know how big of a risk she felt she was taking by doing this?

"I've been trying to think of a way to apologize to you."

"To what? Why? We're not going to go through this every day. Are we?"

"No, not about that," he said glumly. "I called Angel while you were gone."

"You did? Was he there?"

"Yes. Why shouldn't he have been? I guess he could have been out helping people and all that stuff."

"I suppose you didn't hear."

"Hear what?"

"Well, I only heard it second hand, so I don't have all the details. But Connor was abducted and taken to a hell dimension. He came back as a teenager and apparently thought Angel was evil, responsible for things. I don't quite get what. Anyway, last spring Angel disappeared. No one knew what happened to him, though Wesley suspected. He's the one who called me and told me."

"You're kidding me?"

"No, I'm not. I hadn't heard he was back," she said with a frown, wondering why Wesley had not told her.

"Well, he's obviously back and he seemed fine. No worries, pet."

"Okay. Well, that's good. I should call and tell him I'm glad he's all right. Tomorrow," she said softly, getting comfortable under the covers. "So what do you have to apologize for?"

"You're just loving this aren't you?"

"Well, a little," she smirked. "But I'll try not to be so obvious about it."

"I should have believed you. By now I should know that if you say something happened it did. If anything bizarre can happen, it would to you."

"Come again?"

"I called to tell him about the soul. Like you said he might be of help or at least be able to impart some wisdom on me as far as dealing with the guilt goes. How to get it to stop," he trailed off.

"And," she prompted, not wanting him to dwell on the guilt more than he had to. She really should talk to Angel if she was going to help Spike through this. She needed to find out what she should do and say. When he had come back from hell he had had his soul in that dimension for one hundred years or so, so Buffy had never had to help Angel through this.

"I told him about your coma, about the experience you claimed to have had while in it."

"Oh great. Does he think I'm crazy too?"

"I never said you were crazy. And no he did not think you were," Spike said in a tone that made Buffy look up at him. "He said it happened."

"He did?"

"He did. He said he remembered the night. Remembered how fighting you made him feel. Said you could have killed him, had the upper hand and didn't do it."

"Glad I'm not the only one."

"Listen, I can really do without knowing you two get off on fighting each other."

"Oh Spike," she said, placing a hand at his shoulder drawing her body up to his. "Like you don't get that way when it's us? I could tell in the training room at the Magic Box you do. Besides, I get that way with you now."

"Maybe it's not me, but my kind."

"You don't really believe that."

"No," he grumbled.

She slid her hand from his shoulder to his neck. Drawing his head down lower she kissed him, her lips parting their tongues meeting. He rolled on top of her, the bed's quilt serving as a protective barrier between their bodies. "I've slain countless vampires, Spike, it's not your kind." Her hand moved through his dyed curls, her eyes focused on his. "I love your hair like this."

"Do you?"

"I do. I like it longer. The curls." He rolled his eyes and she laughed shifting underneath him. "They're cute."

"Just what I want to be, cute."

"I can cut it for you if you want. I like it, but I like you the other way just as well."

"I was thinking about that. Dying it I could do without help, just needed to buy the stuff to do it. Getting it cut would have required me dealing with people and I wasn't ready to do that yet."

"Sure, we can do it tomorrow when I get home from work."

"Thanks."

"Don't mention it." She drew his mouth towards hers once again. "Enough with the talking."

Buffy glanced at the clock when Spike drew away and slid beside her on the bed. "I've never in my life kissed someone for over an hour."

"Excuse me, pet, and not to sound entirely conceited but I don't recall my performance being of the quick variety. I realize it's been a while and all."

"I said kissing, just kissing." She was still slightly out of breath, her lips tender. Her body was thrumming from Spike's gentle ministrations. He did not touch her anywhere suggestive and what he did touch was through the quilt. She ached for him, places in and on her body alive like never before. She did not get how he could just move beside her as if they had spent the last hour discussing algebra instead of exploring each other's mouths and necks so thoroughly. The fact he did not breath, his heart did not beat, was frustrating at times like this. Her heart was going a mile a minute and her breathing was slow in returning to a normal, non-aroused state.

"Can't say I have either." He turned his head to look at her. "Could get used to it I think though. With you."

"Yeah," she said, giving him a smile. "With you." She wanted to reach over and touch him but was afraid to, afraid it would be her undoing and she would beg him to do more than kiss her. She could do this. She loved him, it was not about the sex. It was just that the sex with Spike was always of the good variety and after months of lacking goodness she wanted to feel good. She groaned softly. No, no, no this was exactly the mindset that got her into this mess to begin with. No more sex just to feel good.

"What?"

"Nothing, just don't like where my mind was going is all. I liked it."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. That's definitely a nice way to be put to bed every night."

He rolled onto his side and tucked some hair behind her ear. "Good. No more bad ways of going to bed, pet. I won't hear of it." He traced a finger along the side of her neck down to her throat. "Did you say good night to Nibblet and get all the bedtime primping and rituals done?"

"Yeah," she said, her eyes wide watching him intently as he touched her. His finger despite being cold was making her burn. Her eyes fluttered closed and she let out a low moan when his finger traced along her pulse point not once but twice.

"Then get some sleep."

"Aren't you going to get under the covers?"

"I think it's best if I don't. I don't need them anyway."

"I know, I just," she shrugged trying not to be too demanding about all of this. "It's fine." She kissed him and smiled at the fact her lips were still sensitive. He had made parts of her body ache before, but never her lips.

"Night, pet."

"What are you going to do while I sleep?"

"Read, watch some television, call Giles when it gets to a time there that's respectable."

"Wow. Calling Angel and Giles."

"Calling Angel was for me and my peace of mind. Calling Giles is for you. You asked me to, and I'll tell you Peaches found it amusing I was willing to do it."

"Well, you can't blame him after all the crap you gave him about me."

"I don't want to be like him, Buffy. I didn't do this to be compared to him."

"I know that, Spike," she said softly, snuggling against him. His arm went around her waist as she positioned her head against his chest. "Tell him I say hi and that I miss him."

He kissed the top of her head. "I will," he whispered.

Soon Buffy was asleep. Spike remained beside her. She had turned so her back was against his chest and his arm went around her possessively as he stared at the wall. A light knock at the door brought him out of his mind's wandering. He had not been thinking of anything in particular, just zoning enjoying having Buffy near.

He stood from the bed as careful as he could not wanting to jar Buffy and disrupt her sleep. He opened the door and stepped outside, holding a finger to his lips so Dawn would not talk too loudly. "What's up, Dawn? Buffy said you were in bed."

"Well, she said good night, but I was online for a while talking to Janice."

"You can do that? I mean talk to each other on the computer."

Dawn smirked. "Yeah. I thought you were more hip than that. I'll show you sometime if you want me to."

"And just who would I have to talk to on a computer? I barely have anyone to talk to on the telephone."

"Oh right, you have a point. But I'll still show you. You never know when you might need to use it."

"Thanks, I might just take you up on it. I suppose if I'm going to try and get some sort of a job I should know about things like computers. But I'm sure that's not why you came knocking on the door. Did you and your friend have a squabble or something?"

"What? Oh no. She asked me to go away with her and her parents this weekend."

"Well, Buffy's sleeping I'm not going to wake her up for that. Can't you ask her in the morning? You go to school together."

"I was just hoping I could give her an answer tonight."

"And you thought I would give you the okay?"

"Well, you can. I mean, when Buffy was gone you gave me permission to do stuff."

"Well, this is different. Buffy is here and I've been gone for a while. If I'd been here all along I would do it, but I know your sister will want to talk to Janice's parents and all that. Which she couldn't do tonight anyway."

"Please, Spike."

"Do you want Buffy mad at me?"

"No."

"Then don't ask me to do this, Nibblet. If it were up to me I'd say yes but I'd want to talk to her parents, too. I'm not going to call them at this hour. I may stay up all night, but most people don't."

"Will you talk to her about it tomorrow morning first?"

"Is there something you're not telling me? You haven't been running off without permission again?"

"No. It was just the one time like a year ago. Why can't you two get over it?"

"Because you of all people, being who your sister is, should know better."

"Then to what? Go out with a boy who actually seemed to like me? I didn't invite him into the house or anything like that."

"You parked with him. Not to mention lying to your sis."

"Yeah, God forbid I actually wanted to get kissed at some point."

"By a vampire, Dawn."

"Hello? Didn't know he was a vampire until later. And besides it's good enough for Buffy."

Spike felt his temper rising, not at Dawn necessarily but just that she still seemed so na´ve at times. He raked a hand through his hair, shook his head and took a deep but unnecessary calming breath. "Buffy can defend herself and Buffy knew what Angel and I were before getting involved with either of us. Neither of us wanted to use her as food."

She let out a frustrated groan and stomped her foot on the floor. "You are so unbelievable. I screwed up. Once. It's bad enough Buffy works at the school I go to so she can watch me there."

"She's not there to watch you and you know it. Would you rather she be flipping burgers and doling out milkshakes?"

"No!"

"I'll bring it up to her in the morning, but what she says goes. I'm not going to have you playing me against her or playing me because I have a tendency to be softer than she is. She's in charge."

"But you're living here, too. You're older than she is."

"I just got here a few days ago, Dawn. And I'm older than her in unlife terms, but it's not quite the same. You're clutching for straws, Nibblet. And it makes me wonder just why you're so anxious to get an answer tonight."

"Well, you're like my dad now."

"I appreciate the sentiment, Dawn, but you've already got a dad."

"But he's never here. You are."

"And I'm glad to be here, but that's not what I'm here for and you know it. If Buffy's not here then I don't mind you coming to me. But you going away for a weekend is her decision to make not mine."

"Fine," she said, raising her voice.

"And I won't have you raising your voice waking up Big Sis either. Go to bed now, Dawn."

"You're no fun anymore! All you do is sit around here and mope."

"I'm not moping," he protested. "I just want things to go right for me and for Buffy, I'm not going to do something I know will set her off, Dawn. Now go to bed. Another argument out of you and I won't mention it to her first in the morning."

She folded her arms over her chest in a gesture that Spike assumed was to represent defiance. She looked so very much like Buffy like that just then, despite the difference in hair color. "Fine. I'll see you in the morning."

"You will at that, Nibblet. Bright and early."

"Yeah yeah. Night," she said not moving from her spot just yet. Spike held his ground as well, afraid she might sneak out of the house. It would not be difficult for her to do, Buffy's bedroom was next to Dawn's and obviously Buffy had managed to escape her mother's notice for quite some time. Finally, seeming to realize that Spike was not going to move she turned to go back to her room.

"Remember, Nibblet, I hear better than humans."

"Like I could forget that."

"Just a friendly reminder."

He watched as she closed her bedroom door and sighed softly. He did not want to be a dad, did not want to be in the position to be a dad-like figure especially not to a sixteen year old girl. He had his own life to put on track, but he could not stand the thought of hurting Dawn in any way. Maybe it would be good for him, knowing someone besides Buffy needed him around, wanted him around, and that someone else knew of his past, knew what he had done to Buffy. She seemed to have forgiven him, too. Spike could not detect any fear or apprehension in her when she was near him.

It was still too early in the night to call Giles and now that Spike had gotten out of bed he did not want to return there just yet. He went downstairs, found his pack of smokes, grabbed a bottle of beer from the refrigerator and went out to the back porch. Just one cigarette and one beer and he would go back to bed. He was tempted to go to Willy's and see what information he could find out that might pertain to Buffy's dreams, but there was so little to go on.

Buffy had given vague descriptions of the girls in her dreams, but nothing helpful. She could not even tell where the girls were. Of course the fact that she had never been out of the Southern California area might limit her abilities to recognize other places. He had a sinking suspicion that Buffy's comatose experience had nothing to do with the Watcher's Council and had in fact been brought on by him. Someone, or something, wanted both him and Angelus gone, out of the way, and had gone to great lengths to try and get the Slayer to do it. But why? And perhaps more importantly at least for now who?

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