***Part Two***

Buffy stared at the door once Spike had left the room. "You're crazy," she muttered as she turned away. She paced the floor for over ten minutes stopping only when she heard a knock at the door.

"You in there, Buffy?"

"I'm here." She smiled slightly. "I didn't crawl out my window to escape if that's what you're asking."

He did not say anything else, but Buffy knew he was on the other side of the door. What in the hell was she doing going to the Bronze with Spike? What would Angel say if he saw them there together? She stopped walking at that thought and found herself standing in front of her closet, the dress Spike had chosen still somewhat askew from the rest of her clothes.

"I'll be down in a minute." She took a hold of the hanger, drawing it and the dress out of her closet. She heard Spike's retreating footsteps and sighed softly. She was probably making a mistake, but she had to admit that going dancing after patrolling did sound appealing. It was a way to burn up the energy she always had when done for the evening. She closed the blinds in her windows before changing into the somewhat skimpy black dress. She had sexier things, so she supposed she should have been glad Spike chose this dress over the others.

Fifteen more minutes passed before she finally descended the stairs, her blonde hair and pale skin offset by the black she wore. She entered the living room expecting to find him sitting on the coach or a chair in there waiting for her. "Spike," she called out when she didn't see him. She felt him rather than heard as he stepped into the doorway and she turned to face him, pushing some of her hair behind her ear as she did.

"Where," she started to ask but was stopped short by the look in his eyes. It was absolutely predatory and not in the evil sense of the word, she would not have hesitated to stake him if that was the look she saw. Rather it was predatory in the sexy sense of the word, the type that said he wanted to devour her with no vamp biting as part of the plan.

She shook her head and swallowed hard to clear her mind of those thoughts. She had never found Spike sexy. Revolting yes, sexy no. Then again, she had never let him kiss her before tonight either. "Where were you?"

"In the dining room."


"Because I knew you would look for me in the living room and I wanted to watch you for a minute."

"Oh," she said simply, realizing she should say something much wittier and insulting than that but she could not quite come up with a flippant remark. If he wanted to look at her, who was she to say she did not appreciate a guy finding her nice to look at? Okay, so he was not a guy, he was a vampire, and on top of that he was Spike. "Sorry I took so long."

"That's all right, pet, I could almost hear the wheels turning in your head debating over doing this. I almost expected you to be wearing what you were a few minutes ago, come down to tell me you had changed your mind."

"No. I mean, I have to go out to patrol anyway, and dancing will be good to do after patrolling."

"All right, so we're good to go then? You got your stakes and other stuff you need to patrol with?"

She shrugged into her jacket and nodded. "Yeah. Do you want some, too?"

"I suppose I should. I am going to be about as unpopular as you if I show up there with you tonight."

Buffy glanced at him as she flipped her hair out from being caught in between her back and her jacket. "You don't have to patrol with me."

"I know bloody well what I do and don't have to do with you, Buffy. Give me a stake, don't give me one. If you don't trust me not to stake you then we should just forget about this night altogether."

"Well, I might be an idiot, but for some reason I do trust you despite the little voice inside my head telling me not to. If you had wanted to kill me, you would have made your move by now."

"Maybe I just wanted to see if you would really dress for me."

"No," she said, offering him a wide smile. "You wouldn't want to get this dress dirty."

Instantly, Buffy knew she had made the wrong comment. Not because her comment upset or insulted him, but he was no longer looking at her with indifference. The predatory look had not departed his eyes, but his eyes had been focused on her face until now. She clutched her jacket and forced herself to stay still under his intense gaze.

"The jacket makes no difference, Buffy. And you won't be wearing it all night."

"Maybe I will," she offered as a challenge. He was right, if they did in fact go to the Bronze, she was not going to keep the jacket on to dance.

"I have seen the way you dance, love, and there is no way you could dance more than two minutes without shedding that jacket as quickly as you could."

"You've watched me while I danced?"

"We had best get going if you want to patrol and before I say something to lose my date for the night."

"I'm not your date, Spike."

"Whatever you say, Buffy."

"This is not a date." She locked the front door once they were outside and turned to find him watching her intensely.

"What's wrong with having a date with ol' Spike, Buffy? It's not like I'm asking you to marry me or anything. Call it whatever makes you feel more comfortable, but if I'm going to get up on that dance floor and make a bloody fool of myself, I'm going to call it a date."

She had gotten used to her dates with Angel being the two of them alone together that the idea of an actual date in public with other people around and watching was foreign to her. She could list a few things wrong with dating Spike, but for whatever reason he had chosen to call a truce with her. It might not last past tonight, but if he could do it so could she. If he expected her to let her guard down, he was crazy, but she could still have fun. And as he had said, Angel was not her boyfriend anymore.

"Fair enough, it's a date. But I have the right not to announce that to any friends I see at the Bronze."

"Wait a minute now, you don't think I have a bit of reputation on the line myself, taking out the Slayer and all."

"You came to me, Spike, not the other way around. Why do we have to go around telling anyone we're on a date?"

"I have no need to, but if another fellow asks you to dance I expect you to get out of it."

"I wouldn't do that, Spike. I mean, even if I'm not sure how real a date this is, I wouldn't go off dancing with some other guy when I was with you."

They were basically silent as she patrolled. They talked here and there, but nothing significant. Buffy heard the whole sordid mess about Drusilla and she had to admit she felt a little sympathy for Spike. It made sense, too, why he would not want her dancing with other guys if they were out together. She had never really pegged him as caring about anyone but himself.

She had assumed that the relationship he shared with Dru was out of necessity and convenience. They obviously had similar tastes in things that Buffy was not even sure she wanted to think about. She was no Drusilla, and it made her curious why Spike wanted to go out with her of all the girls he could go out with. There were girls around Sunnydale who would take one listen to his accent and one look at his Billy Idol like hair and bow at his feet. Perhaps he just did not like something that easy.

What was most impressive about their patrolling together was that he stayed out of her way and unless she asked for help did not interfere with her subject. Buffy was not altogether sure just how old Spike was, he was not as old as Angel or Drusilla were she knew that. But she did know that he came from an era where women were typically defenseless and men came to their rescue. She wondered if that was part of his reasons for having stayed with Dru, she was obviously not stable mentally and would need him.

She took a sideways glance in his direction, his hands in the pockets of his leather coat. He called himself "The Big Bad" and he certainly fit that image, complete with a scar over his left eye. They had stopped to take a listen, both having heard something when she turned to face him. She reached to touch the scar without thinking about what she was doing or why. "How did this happen?"

"A fight of some sort, I don't quite remember. Why, don't you like it?"

"No, I don't know that I could picture you without it, I was just curious." She should not have touched him, she knew it but it was too late. His hand was around her wrist and the tug she expected him to do removing her hand from his face never came. She opened her eyes and looked at him, she could have very easily gotten her wrist out of his grasp if she wanted to.

When her eyes met his he lifted her hand from where it rested against his cheek. Her fingertips against his scar were the last of her hand to be lifted away. His skin was cool to the touch, not warm like a human's, but she could still feel the difference between his skin and the night air against the palm of her hand. And then he was kissing it and it was not feeling so cool anymore. She started to tell him to stop as he changed. Her breath caught at the feel of his lips parting and the tip of fang grazing her skin. She was too startled by the gesture, having expected him to try and kill her not tease her to react beyond a slight trembling of the hand he was teasing. He drew back after a moment, returning to his human form and kissed her palm.

Buffy was not sure what to say, he still held her wrist, watching her. She was not sure what her face and eyes were telling him, hopefully they were letting him know she was startled more than anything. She refused to think about the fact that what he had just done had excited her. She had kissed Angel when he was in his vampire form, but it had been different, a kiss, nothing seductive. Spike's kiss and teasing of his fangs to her hand was seductive and her excitement had nothing to do with love which was different. She had boyfriends before Angel, but she had just been a girl and it had been before she was chosen, before she had known what love and making love was.

He slid his arm around her and drew her to him. She tested his hold on her wrist, tugging just enough to cause resistance. They both knew she could break his hold if she wanted to.

"Sorry," he whispered, his face hovering just above hers. "I couldn't resist."

Her mind was screaming at her to put a stop to this, but her body did not seem to be in sync with her mind. Her lips parted as her eyes fell closed and she merely stood there and waited for what she knew was to come next.

The kiss in her bedroom had been somewhat forced and Buffy knew Spike was holding back. Just what or how much she was not quite sure, but she had known, felt and sensed it. This kiss felt the same way, as if he were holding back, but the feeling was there and she knew that it was not faked or forced. He wanted to kiss her. His hand around her waist slid to the small of her back and lower to her bottom, her mind and body were again conflicted. Her body won its second round as she moved closer against him, bringing her free hand to his neck.

He released her wrist at the moment she moved to pull it away and the kiss was broken for a moment as they both looked at one another. Her mind was no longer in such terrible disagreement with her body, he kissed well enough to render her mind in agreement with her body to want more. Her hand went around his neck bringing her body flush against his.

He must have sensed she was not going to be bold enough to initiate the kiss again, because he did. The fingers of one hand found the back of his head, making their way through his spiky short, bleached blonde hair. Her other hand slid inside the collar of his T-shirt, her nails finding his skin as the hand that had been securely around her wrist moments ago found her ribs. His thumb grazed the underside of her breast, causing her to arch her back.

"Buffy," he said softly as he broke the kiss.

She tilted her head to find him watching her, his blue eyes intense, evidently watching her for something. A reaction or response to his calling her name she presumed. Instead, she just returned his gaze, waiting for him to talk.

"Before I do something real stupid, let's get to the Bronze. Unless you were of the mind to work off that after patrolling adrenaline in a more primitive way."

"What if I said I did?"

"Which? The dancing or the more primitive stuff?"

She smiled, drawing her hand from his hair. "Maybe I want both."

Spike was quiet for a moment, long enough that Buffy looked at him puzzled. "Both," he finally said.

"Yeah, you know, both. Maybe we could come up with some primitive dancing."

"Were you talking at the Bronze or privately?"

She rolled her eyes and stepped away from him. He sighed, sounding exasperated and Buffy smiled a little. "Let's go to the Bronze for a while, all right? Then we'll see about the private dancing later."

"Right," he said under his breath.

"Hey, you were hoping to get a measly kiss from me if you played your cards right, so don't go grumbling about my wanting to dance for a while."

"I don't know that I would describe your kisses as measly or meager, love."

"No? What would you describe them as?"

"Christ, as if you need to ask. And if you do, you have been kissing the wrong boys." She said nothing, just looked at him. "Oh all right, I normally don't bite when a girl is fishing for compliments. But just this once I'll bite. They're nice, sexy, definitely leave me wanting more."

"And so you object to going to the Bronze, dancing with me, knowing that the adrenaline will get pumping even more because?"

His eyes fell closed and he groaned softly. He was quiet for a long moment and Buffy wondered if he was internally counting to ten. "Because I don't bloody well feel like making a fool of myself tonight and have you deciding that kiss was enough."

Buffy thought on this. She was not that great of a dancer herself really. She just got on the dance floor and moved, but honestly she didn't care what anyone else thought of her. Spike obviously did. "Well, maybe we could come to some sort of an agreement?"

"Such as?"

"Well, come on now, Buffy, out with it already," he prodded when she was quiet.

"What if I didn't make you dance anything but the slow songs, but I could dance the others if I wanted to?"

"And I'm supposed to agree to letting you dance with other blokes because I'm feeling generous tonight? I don't think so," he scoffed as he stepped away from her to light a cigarette.

Buffy leaned into him, an arm going around his neck and her lips less than an inch from his ear. "Because I'm going home with you not them," she whispered before kissing his ear. She drew back as he started to cough, her comment and kiss having the reaction she had hoped for, he swallowed wrong as he was inhaling the smoke. She took the cigarette from between his lips, took a drag, and winked as she handed it back to him.

"All right, we can work out something I suppose. I don't have to be the jealous type I guess. So I don't have to dance but the slow ones, is that right?"


"But I can watch you, right?"

"As much as you can stomach watching, sure."

"I am not sure this is going to be a good idea, but I'm willing to give it a go," he said, falling into step beside her. "I have been known to have a bit of a jealous streak in me."

She placed a hand across his midsection and glanced around, her senses alert to the fact they weren't alone. "There's someone out here, Spike," she said calmly. So far she could not sense a threat to them, but she wanted him alert in case it came at him instead of her. Demons did not always care for one of their own killing their own kind and Spike had helped dust at least one vamp tonight.

"Don't worry, I feel it too, but thanks, love, for the warning."

She was about to comment on the pet names he seemed to develop for her all of the sudden and had used as often as he had used her given name tonight, but refrained. The night was going too well to ruin it by being petty and she knew he didn't mean anything by them. He probably called every girl he was not trying to kill by some sort of name. She shuddered to think of the kinds of names he had for Drusilla, pet and love seemed too tame for her.


Spike knew who it was and was surprised Buffy did not. He had sensed Angel's presence, which was the reason he had broken the kiss. He did not mind an audience, but he wanted it to be just the two of them should anything beyond kissing occur. He would not have minded giving Angel a show, it would have been justice as far as Spike was concerned but Buffy deserved better than that. And with the touching he had been getting away with, something told Spike more would have been allowed had he pushed it. But any woman who had their first experience with sex turn out the way Buffy's had deserved to know there was more than that. He was not counting on him being the one to show her, but things were certainly looking better than they had at her house. If he could keep her from seeing Angel, he imagined his chances would stay pretty good.

He moved behind her to stand at her left dropping his right hand in her left. He hoped she noticed that he had left her staking hand free. "Let's go then, eh? If they wanted to hurt us, they would have made themselves known by now."

"I suppose you are right," she said, glancing around them once again.

Wherever Angel was he was well hidden, Spike knew he was nearby but could not sense where he was. She did not remove her hand from Spike's, a surprise he welcomed. He could not help but smile wickedly as he tilted his head back, out of Buffy's view. Take that, Angel, my friend. Even with revenge no longer a factor, Spike could not help but enjoy knowing Angel was suffering. Angel would pay Spike a visit later, but if all went well, he would not leave Buffy's until tomorrow's sunset.

Spike did not normally have a wallet full of cash, but it just so happened he had come by some earlier in the evening so he could in fact treat Buffy as a date should. Of course, without the money he would not have suggested going to the Bronze to begin with.

"If you want to grab us a table, I'll get us something to drink." He released her hand then, placing his in the pocket of his coat. "Are you hungry? I could order us something to eat." Buffy smirked at him. "What? What'd I say?" He was unaware of anything he had said that could be construed as funny or offensive. Bloody hell, he had never taken a girl out really besides Dru, not in this day and age. It stood to reason that offering her something to drink and eat was customary.

"Nothing. Nothing at all, it's just strange that's all. I mean, you're really treating me like a date, offering to buy me food and everything. Normally you come here and steal my friends' money."

"Well now, I only do it because it's there and I'm not one to turn down an opportunity." He really had not planned on offering to take her out on a date, but if she wanted to believe that was his intention from the get go this evening he was not one to argue. It seemed to make her feel better. "So were you hungry then?"

"Sure. Order whatever you want, though, I'm not really that picky."

And before he knew it she had turned from him and was gone. Now what in the hell was he supposed to do? Order her food, yes, but what. Not being picky to a seventeen year old girl was clearly relative. He made his way up to the bar, got drinks for them both and ordered a few different appetizers based on the bartender's recommendation of the three most popular choices. He had passed on the onion that looked like a flower, onions and kissing did not mix and he hoped to be doing at least more of that tonight. Chances were good of the three he chose she would like at least one of them.

He remained by the bar for a few minutes watching the crowd and Buffy's reaction to the crowd specifically. The food would be brought to the table, so he took their drinks and made his way through the various people to Buffy. Someone he walked by was bleeding, the wound was fresh and Spike had to push back the hunger the scent awoke in him. It would not do to give into his desires this evening, not when he had fed more than enough before going to Buffy's house.

"Here you go," he said, setting the tacky red plastic cups on the tabletop. "Can I sit next to you then?" He noticed she had removed her jacket, so he would have won the bet had she taken it on how quickly the jacket would get removed once here. Spike suspected, though, had she actually taken the wager she would have suffered for as long as she could have just to win.

"Thanks. And sure," she said, gesturing to an extra stool.

"So our deal still stands then? I get the slow ones."

He watched as the question sunk in and she averted her gaze for a moment. He did not bother trying to follow her eyes as they looked around. She was not looking for anyone or anything in particular, just looking not to look at him for a moment. Perhaps she was a little shaken by that kiss in the alleyway, hell he was a little shaken and he had been kissing for a number of years now.

Buffy might be surprised at his inexperience before Dru had turned him, but it was not something he admitted to very often. And he was not all that sure that experience as a vampire nullified inexperience as a human being.


"Yes, our deal still stands, but I don't know that I'll dance more than the slow ones anyway. Whether you're a boyfriend or not, this is a date and I wouldn't do that to a regular date."

"Are you saying this is turning into a regular date?"

She met his gaze, her green eyes widened and then narrowed and Spike wondered if he had asked the question at the wrong time. He was going to give up, call it a night and go home if she came back with some sarcastic remark. He was trying to be nice, trying to be somewhat normal and respectful, trying to bring out a bit of the man he once was, but if it was going to get thrown back in his face he'd swear off Buffy Summers and go on a feeding frenzy for the rest of the night.

"I guess it is," she said propping her hand under her chin, her elbow resting on the tabletop.

He touched her forearm with the backs of his fingers. Kissing him outside in the dark where no one would really see was different than letting him touch her in here where anyone could see. But she did not pull back from his touch, so he left his hand there. "Well, if you really wanted to dance I would not stop you from doin' it."

"I know, and I guess that is why I would not do it. If you had tried to get all cavemanish on me and told me I could not even though it is something you do not care to do I might have gotten a little mad. It was your idea we come here after all."

"I know, which is why I said it. Honestly, when I was your age," he shrugged, and stopped talking.

"No, tell me. When you were my age what?"

"Well, unless a man and woman were betrothed or married, he was not guaranteed more than one dance on her dance card. If a gentleman was granted more than one dance, well, that was a fairly significant event. So the idea of a woman I am escorting dancing with others is not entirely foreign to me, but times have changed and there are some things that I am grateful to see no longer followed."

"That would be strange I suppose, to watch the world you knew come and go, to give way to a new one repeatedly. I mean, you were there for electricity, the telephone, radio, and wars. Lots of wars."

"Don't get all philosophical on me now, Buffy," he said with a light laugh. "But yes, I've seen a few things in my time. Sure. But so have you, if you think about it. I mean, we all do, things are always advancing."

"Were you married?"

He almost didn't get the sip he had taken down without choking at that question. "Excuse me?"

"You know, marriage, a wife. Did you have one?"

"No, no wife."

"No children either, I suppose."

"Hardly. I would have needed the wife to have those."

"Not necessarily. And don't tell me that men and women didn't have sex outside of marriage back then, because I know they did. We may not read about it, but it happened."

"Of course you're right, but no I had none of those either. I believed in love, a foolish notion perhaps, but I believed in it and believed a wife and children should come as a result of that emotion."

She frowned and Spike wondered what he had said that had puzzled her. "So where does Drusilla come into the picture?"

"Dru? Well, she caught me when I was down, when I'd felt a gutter was the best place for me. And I had a momentary lapse of reason. Her offer sounded rather appealing, I don't know that I regret it. I suppose if I truly did I would have walked out into the sun years and years ago by now. Rules sucked anyway and she gave me what I needed to be able to finally shirk the responsibility that came with living among society."

"There had to have been easier ways to go about shirking responsibilities than getting turned into a vampire."

"True, but again as I said, she caught me in a moment of weakness," he shrugged. "I have seen and done many things. I cannot say she necessarily did a bad thing. I am here with you now when I would not be otherwise, so I reckon she done me a favor."

Buffy grew quiet then and Spike himself had little more to say, at least not about Dru and the time she had turned him. There were plenty of other things he would have preferred talking about. The last few words had been meant as a somewhat flippant complimentary remark, but had come out sounding a little too sincere. He had grown to love Dru and she him, but she was not here and Spike realized that Dru had been right about his buried feelings for the Slayer all along. No wonder he had been unable to follow through with his plan to kill her.

Baskets of food being delivered to their table saved him from having to say anything more. He was curious to know, though, why she cared if he had been married. Even if he had been, his wife would have been dead long ago. He knew some vampires who had spouses who had remained faithful and loyal until their spouse died. Spike was not overly sure he would want to watch someone he loved whither away and die. But at one time he was a man who believed in love and marriage and the vows and promise that accompanied the institution and he imagined he would have been duty and honor bound to remain by his wife's side until the time of her passing.

Until now, the idea of having romantic involvement with a human since he had become vampire was a notion he had never entertained. As Buffy bit into one of the mozzarella sticks, he began to see Angel's plight more clearly now. Spike had been gone until recently, so he had never really appreciated the fact that Angel might be staying away for both their goods. The soul issue was just part of the problem. Watching the girl he loved age or die of an incurable disease that Angel would not be susceptible to would be difficult.

Whether it was good or bad, Spike was not afraid of it. Love scared the hell out of him. He and Dru loved one another in a warped sort of way, but Spike was not sure it was the love conquers all, survives all type of love. Well, obviously it was not or he would not be sitting here with the Slayer.

The food eaten, dances danced with only one done by Buffy without Spike and she had danced with a group of girls she knew from school. She had been dead on accurate that watching her dance was not a bad thing, it certainly did not lessen his need for her. He held her in his arms while they danced a handful of times, which left him oddly content. No matter what might happen after they left Spike could be content with what had already happened between them.

For her to let him hold her indicated trust, though he sensed she was conflicted about instilling trust in him. He had no soul to lose, true, but he could befriend her and then for whatever reason turn on her without the soul as a reason. He was coming back from the bar when he noticed her friend Xander had helped himself to a seat at their table. Both had their backs to him, as they were facing the dance floor watching the people dance as they talked.

Spike was not purposely being sneaky, but he was curious what Buffy would tell Xander about whom she was here with and if she admitted it was Spike how she explained it. He, unfortunately, could not get close enough to the table without making himself obvious.

So he did the next best thing, pretended he had not seen Xander when he approached the table. Setting their drinks on the table top, he accompanied it with, "there you go, love. I know you said you did not want anymore, but I figured what the hell why not splurge tonight and get you another one anyway." He placed a hand on her shoulder and his eyes finally rested on Xander, and he hoped he successfully looked surprised to see him. "Well, I guess Xander here can have it if you don't want it."

"He can have it, I don't want anymore tonight. But thanks. I'm going to go dance one last time. I'll see you tomorrow at school Xander if you leave before I'm back."

"No problem, hey, see you tomorrow," he said. Buffy stood and left the table for the dance floor while Xander took hold of the cup and brought it closer to him. "Thanks for the drink, Spike."

"Well, I didn't really buy it for you, but you're welcome."

"So you must be rebounding pretty severely to be hitting on Buffy, huh?"

"Hitting on her? I asked her to come here with me, nothing wrong with that. She seems to be having an okay time of it."

Xander's gaze met Spike's, neither man giving an inch in the stare down. Xander broke first, which pleased Spike in some childish way he chose not to dwell on. "Yeah, I guess she is. I can't say that I'm glad it's you showing her a good time."

"Well, it's a good thing I'm here to show her a good time and not you, isn't it then, Xander?"

"She's not over Angel yet, you know."

"I reckon she's not. I'm not him if you hadn't noticed."

"I've noticed, so has Buffy. There's a reason she doesn't care for you much."

"Didn't. I think that should be in the past tense. And I'm well aware that she didn't care for me, the feeling was quite mutual. That was then, this is now," he shrugged and took a sip of his drink. "She never staked me, though, ever thought on that. How many vamps has she not batted an eye about dusting and yet the Big Bad is still standing."

"I can't say that I understand Buffy's logic at times. I imagine it had something to do with you being friends with Angel."

"I am not friends with Angel. I was friends with Angelus. Two different souls," he said with a light chuckle at his pun.

Xander downed his drink, setting the cup on the table. "Just don't hurt her, Spike, or I'll come after you personally. She's already been hurt by one vamp, maybe she's a glutton for punishment to go out with a second one, but she isn't up for any of your games."

"And who says I'm playing a game?"

"Yeah, you never play games. I lost my girlfriend you know because you only days ago were all gung ho about getting your ex-girlfriend back. And now you're here with Buffy. Can you say rebound?"

Spike held his temper in check, the only reason being that this was a friend of Buffy's and he did not feel like getting her pissed off at him when things had been going well so far. "You don't know a thing about it. It's a date, surely you know what those are. I'm not asking to court her, go steady with her or marry her, it's just a date."

As he spoke, his eyes fell on Buffy and a clean cut looking college aged guy hanging around her. Buffy was dancing with her friends, but this guy was not having any of that. He looked fine, but Spike didn't like him and he liked him even less when he saw the guy's hands go to Buffy's waist. "If you'll excuse me, but I think I need to go rescue my date."

"I don't see her begging to be rescued."

Spike stood and pushed the stool underneath the table with his foot. "Look at her, Xander. Look at her face, her eyes and tell me with as well as you know her she looks pleased to have that sleaze ball's hands on her."

Spike didn't give Xander the chance to reply, merely grabbed Buffy's jacket and approached the dance floor. His senses already heightened because of the scent of fresh blood he had been tormented by all evening at the Bronze and now with his exchange of words with Buffy's friends Spike did not bother to fight off changing. It hadn't pissed her off or frightened her away earlier, it would not now. The dance floor cleared a small path for him, though none surprisingly seemed frightened of him hurting them exactly. Perhaps because he looked like a man - or vampire - on a mission rather than one out for mayhem.

Buffy outwardly seemed oblivious to college preppie's touch, but Spike could smell the anger on her. She was probably just going on with her dancing hoping he would give up and go away. Fat chance that. He placed a pale hand on college boy's shoulder. He smiled menacingly flashing a bit of fang as the guy turned around to face him. "You would do well to get your hands off my date. Are you ready to go about now, Buffy?"

"What," she asked, turning to face him. She took a step back when she saw him, but stopped at the one step.

"I asked if you were about ready to go," he prompted again.

Buffy glanced to college boy and shook her head slightly, whether she was irritated at him or at Spike Spike did not know. No one but Angelus had dared to try and touch Dru, so Spike was not overly accustomed to having to share his woman. He saw her retake the step she had taken away from him followed by a second in his direction and he changed again, though his eyes never left college boy. He could smell the fear on the guy and had he been more serious with Buffy that fear would have been justified. As it was, Spike had no right to kill someone for trying to dance with her, but he did have the right to put a stop to it.

He offered her a hand, which she took whether out of willingness or fear he was uncertain. "Is that a yes?"

"Yeah, sorry, I was not really paying attention."

He shook his head slightly and stepped in front of her. "No need to apologize, you were not at fault, Buffy." He spotted Xander out of the corner of his eye and kissed her lightly. He was surprised she did not pull back, but was not surprised that she broke it almost as quickly as it had begun.

"Not here, Spike."

"Not in front of your friends, you mean?"

"No, that's not it. Let's just go. I'd rather avoid getting into a fight tonight if I can."

"As if we'd lose," he whispered before dropping her hand. He slid his hand to the small of her back and walked with her off the dance floor and outside.

"Spike, I know we wouldn't lose, but it's hard to keep my secret if I get into fights at the Bronze."

"Ah yes, the anonymity factor." He turned her to face him, his arm at her waist as he drew her closer. "You act as if I could not protect you. Human form or not I could and you know it."

"I know, but it is not always easy for me to remember I am supposed to be a defenseless girl once the fighting starts. You know?"

It did not escape Spike's notice that while talking she had placed her hands on his chest. "You aren't upset with me for coming at you like that?"

"Well, I was a little, I mean, did you have to go all vampish on the guy?"

"He was touching you!"

"I honestly didn't notice, Spike."

"How could you not notice a man's hands on your waist and hips like this," he asked demonstrating. "Tell me you don't notice that?"

She thumped his chest lightly, but for Buffy even lightly carried some power and she laughed lightly. "No, of course I notice it, but we're out here, together and alone without a dance floor of people around us. I just wasn't paying attention."

"He had more than dancing with you on his mind that one did."

"Why did you change? I mean, I think just tapping him on the shoulder as Spike and telling him to get his hands off your date would have been effective. You can be pretty intimidating."

"Not nearly as effective, no, but I'm glad to know you think so. I had begun to believe you did not pay me much mind at all. And it is just habit you know. I get mad or jealous or feel threatened or whatever and I change. I smelled fresh blood all damned night and your friend Xander was mouthing off to me about how I'm not good enough for you. Apparently all of us vampires fit in the same category and because things didn't work out with Angel it means they couldn't work out with me. I was angry. It's instinct, what can I say. The fight or flight thing I guess and I wasn't going to run away tonight."

She avoided his gaze, her eyes focused on her hands at his chest. At least she hadn't moved them yet. "Come on now, love, don't be angry with me. It's not like I bit anyone or anything. I was controlled, a bit over the top perhaps to emphasize the point that you were with me, but I think the bloke got the picture."

"I'm guessing he won't try and dance with me again."

"Good, whether I'm your date or not. He's bad news that guy is. I could tell."

"Oh please Spike, you can't tell, if you could I wouldn't be here with you right now."

"Buffy, you know damned well if I was something more or different than what I seemed you'd know it, it's in you too, the ability to tell when things aren't what they seem. He wasn't. I don't know what it was, and I don't plan on sitting down to tea with him anytime soon to find out. It's not always easy to tell by what someone looks like to know what's inside of them, Buffy."

"Don't you think that I know that?"

"I think you realize good and evil isn't as cut and dried as you once thought it to be, but I think you're still learning a bit on what it all means." Spike's hand found her hair when she rested her head against his chest, where his heart would be if he had one to beat. Her hair felt smoother, silkier than he had imagined it to feel. "You getting tired then, pet?"

"A little."

"Let's get you home then. I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"You didn't embarrass me, Spike. I just don't like to be stared at, you know? It's one thing to kiss a guy in public, but it's another to kiss one that less than five minutes ago was a predatory demon most run away from."

"Well," he said, starting them walking back to her house. "I won't deny I have some very predatory thoughts running through my mind right now, but none involve the public and none involve you running away from me. Not unless you wanted to incorporate it somehow."

"Don't even go there, Spike."

He laughed lightly and kissed the top of her head. "No worries, pet, I won't go anywhere you don't want me to go."

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