Talking Buffy into going to the Bronze the night before last had definitely been a good thing. She had really enjoyed herself and Spike had gotten Willow and Tara to volunteer to babysit Scott so that he could do something nice for Buffy on Valentine's Day.
He had gone out the night before while Buffy patrolled to see to gifts for Buffy and was feeling pretty proud of himself. He had ordered flowers and a balloon which had been delivered earlier today and had bought one of those boxes of chocolates shaped like a heart. It was more difficult to buy a gift for Buffy than it ever had been for Drusilla. His box of chocolates that he bought for her birthday the year before had gotten him laughed at by Niblet, but Valentine's Day was about chocolate and roses so he had decided on both.
He was showered and ready before Buffy was due home. He dressed in a pair of black trousers and a royal blue silk patterned shirt that brought out the blue in his eyes, at least that is what he had been told. He had to hope those who had told him that in the past were telling the truth, he did not feel like looking like an idiot tonight. He slid into his black dress shoes and searched his closet for the nice black leather belt he had to go with the trousers. He felt like a pansy dressing like this for a girl that was not even his girl, a girl who was very possibly pining after another guy.
"How do I look, Red?" Spike asked once he was downstairs. Scotty was still asleep up in his crib, so Spike just left him there. As cool as he found his time with the baby to be Spike had learned to let sleeping babies sleep.
"Wow, Spike, you look great." He noticed the glance that Tara gave Willow and snickered.
"Thanks, Red. Good enough to bring you back to this side of the playing field?"
"Well, considering it's not me you're after I can say no to that pretty easily."
"Thanks," he grumbled and pulled a comb out of his pocket. "You're all set with little one, right? You have Buffy's cell phone number and everything?"
"Yes and the number of the restaurant you're taking her to."
"We'll be fine, Spike, really," Tara said softly. It was the most Spike had heard her say in a while.
"I know, just making sure."
"Well, we're fine, so just sit down and relax. Buffy will be home from school any minute."
"How about if I go out back and have a smoke?"
"But then you're going to smell like smoke."
"Yeah, what of it?" he asked, cocking his head as he regarded her.
"But, well," Willow said flustered, "this is like a date, right? I mean, you're taking Buffy out on a date."
"I didn't ask her to go out on a date, no. She doesn't even know we're going out."
"But you think it's a date, you're hoping it's a date, right?"
"I was hoping, yeah," he admitted.
"Then no smoking or you'll taste like an ashtray if you get with the smoochies. You don't want to kiss Buffy for the first time tasting like that."
"I've already kissed her more than once. Thanks to you," he added with a low laugh.
"Yeah, well, unspell-induced smoochies should be done right."
"Bloody women," he said, taking a seat on the couch. "Why do you have all of these rules?"
"They're not rules, Spike. It's just," Willow shrugged and glanced at Tara.
"Etiquette," the other witch said.
"Well, last I checked vampires did not need to adhere to human etiquette rules."
"Last I checked vampires did not play house with the Slayer and her baby," Willow said her voice deadpan.
"And who else is going to be here for the baby during the day? Her father's paying for her classes and stuff, but he refused to pay for daycare. The prick," Spike said bitterly. He had apparently made Willow realize that she had little to tease him about because he was here out of a bit of necessity if Buffy had hopes of graduating from college and getting a job that paid a decent wage.
Buffy rushed through the door and paused at the living room. "Hi guys," she said, offering Willow and Tara a smile.
"Hi Buffy," Willow said, accompanied by Tara's a little slower in coming, "hello."
"Wow, Spike, you look great. Do you have plans tonight?" she asked with a frown.
"Yeah, dinner plans."
"Oh," she said, and the bright look in her eyes a moment ago disappeared.
"With you, Buffy," he clarified.
"Yeah," he said, standing from the chair. "Go shower and put something nice on. Willow and Tara are babysitting for us tonight."
"Oh, but it's Valentine's Day, you shouldn't make them babysit on Valentine's Day."
"That's why they're babysitting, pet. Go on now," he encouraged sensing she really wanted to but was trying to be nice. "And we won't be gone too long, so they can have the rest of the night to do all those romantic things."
"Okay," she said. "Be right back," she said bounding up the stairs.
"Wow, she seems much better today."
"The other night made a huge difference," Spike admitted. He hated talking about Buffy behind her back to her friends. He was never sure what was exclusive to him and what was not.
"Good, I'm glad we did it then."
"Spike," Buffy called from upstairs.
"Get up here, right now."
"Your whelp's going to wake and start crying if you keep yelling at me like that, Slayer, you know he doesn't like it when you yell," he said, winking at Willow and Tara as he made his way toward the stairs. He knew why he was being called upstairs.
"Is there something wrong, Buffy?" He asked ascending the stairs slowly, enjoying being difficult. He had to have his fun somehow.
"Wrong?" she asked from her bedroom.
"You called me up here," he said finally walking to the doorway and she threw her arms around him. "What the bloody hell, Slayer?"
"Thank you, Spike," she whispered before kissing him. He was stunned and in the back of his mind filed away the fact he needed to thank Willow for stopping him from taking that fag break a few minutes ago. Her kiss went on longer than he had expected it to, nothing sisterly about her lips parting and her tongue sliding along his lower lip. Too soon, though, she broke the kiss.
"You like it then?" he asked when they stopped kissing. He walked into the bedroom and took in the arrangements he had put in there for her. A dozen red roses was on her dresser and a Mylar balloon with a pig on it was next to her bed. He had bought it thinking of her stuffed animal chum.
"They're beautiful. Really," she said, walking toward the closet. "Do you want to help zip me up," she called over her shoulder.
"I can get Willow or Tara if you would prefer."
"Spike, I think we're sort of beyond my being bashful around you. Certainly about you seeing my back."
"Well," he said, clearing his throat and lowering his gaze to the roses on her dresser. "That was a little different, pet. I really didn't see all that much, was too focused on how in the hell I was supposed to help you breathe when I don't do it myself." He ran a non-polished fingernail along one of the rose petals, smelling their sweet fragrance from where he stood. He had a brief vision flash of that rosebud trailing along flesh. She smelled as nice as the roses did, of vanilla and something he had not identified yet.
"You didn't have to do this you know."
"I know, but I wanted to. You deserve it." He watched as she shimmied into a black linen sheath dress that clung perfectly to her every curve. God, she was beautiful, he realized as he stepped toward her to zip up the dress. She had filled out because of the baby. Her clothes still fit her, but she filled them out better than she had before. Not that she had filled them out badly, but there was definitely a difference.
His hands fell to her hips and he stood there. She did not move either. He was tempted to push aside her hair and kiss the back of her neck, but Scotty chose that moment to start to fuss. Spike had picked up on subtle movements since coming up the stairs with his enhanced hearing, but now he was up to a all out fuss. That put any plans he had on making a romantic overture at the moment on hold.
"I'll get him, you finish getting ready."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. I'll get him set to go for the witches."
She turned around then and kissed him lightly. "Thanks."
He left the room via the door that connected her room to Scott's and set about getting him ready for Red and Tara. He came into the hall holding Scott at the same time Buffy came out of her room holding the vase of roses in her hands. "What are you doing with those?"
"Showing them off. A girl doesn't get roses every day, especially this girl," she said, offering him a smile and tucking some hair behind her ear. She was acting almost shy and Spike found it charming. He loved everything about her, loved that she could take charge of any situation even if she was uncertain about what to do. But he loved this side of her most. She might consider it a weakness, but Spike thought it was her strength; it was what made her human.
Willow opened the door just as Spike and Buffy started down the stairs. "Hi Willow," an all too familiar voice said. It was a good thing Spike had quick reactions because he would have walked into her otherwise as Buffy froze on the stairs.
"Uh, Riley, hi," Willow replied nervously.
"Is Buffy home?"
Spike had to give Buffy credit for being quick to recover. He could smell the fear on her, though, and for that he wished he could kill her Army man. Of course the prick had to pick Valentine's Day to come back. Spike looked over Buffy's shoulder to the doorway and did not see any flowers or anything in the bloke's hands. Score one for the vampire, Spike mused to himself. Too bad she loves him and not you, moron, his self replied.
He placed what he hoped was a calming hand at her shoulder before she continued down the stairs. "Riley, hi," she said as she got to the foot of the stairs.
Spike could not help but chuckle at the surprised look on Riley's face when he deigned to glance at Spike standing there holding a baby. "Finn," Spike said evenly.
"What is he doing here?"
Buffy set the vase on the table in the foyer. "Actually, we were going to dinner. Did you need something, Riley?" she asked. Spike noticed her voice sounded a little forced and stopped to look at her, making sure she was all right before taking the little one into the living room. She seemed lost in thought, focused on the roses rather than Finn or Scotty, but she seemed fine.
"I, well, yeah," there was a brief pause. "Are you going out on a date with Spike?"
"Yeah, I am," she replied without pause, startling Spike and Tara, too, evidently judging by her reaction to the Slayer's reply.
Spike had settled on the floor with Scotty, fixing his blanket like he always did before placing the tyke down. He was able to sit up now for a few seconds at a time and loved to be sat up on the blanket with Spike lying on the floor. It probably had something to do with finally having his head above someone's Spike guessed. Tara joined him on the floor, picking up and shaking a set of toy keys. Spike did not put it past her to pick up on his apprehension; she was a perceptive witch.
"Can I come in? We need to talk."
"I don't know. That's up to Willow and Tara and how long you plan on talking."
"They're babysitting you nitwit," Spike said from the living room. He glanced at Tara, saw compassion in her eyes and smiled at her appreciatively. It was good to know he had someone on his side.
"My son," Buffy said simply, and Spike released the unnecessary breath he had been holding.
"You have a son."
"I do. I guess you can go ahead and come in," Buffy said and walked into the living room.
"You look nice," Riley offered.
"Thanks. You look good, too. The jungle agrees with you apparently. So what brings you back to Sunnydale?" Spike did not think Finn looked good, but that was probably just his jealousy coming out to play. A year's worth of jungle work had left Finn looking tan and rugged. The rugged part Spike could manage, but the tan part well that was just impossible. Scotty had had enough of sitting up by now and Spike laid him on the blanket.
"When aren't there demons in Sunnydale?"
"Well, I've been tracking a Suvolte demon and I tracked it here to Sunnydale. I was thinking you might want to suit up and join me on an op. There's rumor of a nest here in town, which is probably what it's looking for."
"You came here on Valentine's Day to ask me to go on a military operation with you?"
"Well, yeah, I figured you'd be up for it," Riley said and Spike scoffed softly.
"You figured I'd have nothing else to do you mean."
"No, I didn't say that."
Spike glanced in Riley's direction, noticed the soldier looking at the baby on the floor and felt his human face slip away. It was the demon's instinct to protect what it considered to be his, territorial things demons were, and Scotty was Spike's. He expected Buffy to say something to him, fearing he would give something away but apparently she understood it was not intentional on his part.
"You let him play with your son like that?"
"He does it all the time and Scotty loves it." As if on cue, Scotty giggled and cooed at Spike's bumpy face and yellow eyes. His feet kicked out and his little hands, one balled into a fist, waved in the air excitedly.
"I don't believe you let that thing near your baby, Buffy. What are you thinking?"
"You know, Riley, it's really none of your business, is it? But Spike has lived here since Dawn died." She smiled at Spike, Scotty and Tara, but it was a sad smile. Spike smiled back knowing this was difficult on her, the last time she had seen Finn her mother and sister were still alive and she had no idea she was pregnant. Tara was still sitting there holding the toy keys, looking nervous and trying hard not to.
"He lives here? You live with him?" Riley was across the room in an instant, pulling Spike up off the ground by his shirtfront before Spike had a chance to react. "You son of a bitch. Did your little plan work out for you then? Did you get some good pity sex off her?"
"Riley," Buffy shouted.
"Don't talk about Buffy like that, White Bread, and mind the shirt," Spike said evenly. There was nothing he could do against Finn physically.
Riley turned his attentions to Buffy. "He did it on purpose, you know. He wanted to get into your pants, that's why he brought you there that night, Buffy. I caught him here going through your dresser drawers, sniffing your sweater. If he fooled you into thinking there was another reason behind his taking you there that night, he's lying."
"Put him down, Riley," Buffy said, placing her hands over Riley's and prying them off of Spike. "So Spike forced you to pay some whore to suck your blood? Spike did that? I don't think so. And I won't let you come into my house over a year later and disrupt my family."
"Family? You call this freak show a family? You've got a vampire lover, two lesbian witches, the Slayer, and a baby. Is Angel back in town living here, too? Who the hell is the father? Xander?"
"I'm not even going to stoop to answer that. You come in here casting stones at me after you cheated on me with whores?"
"I did not cheat on you."
"You were paying women to spend time with you, Riley. Letting people I deal with see my guy pick up whores. And you didn't even give us a chance to talk it out. You gave me an ultimatum and left."
"Because I thought it was what you wanted, Buffy."
"And you expected her to what? Be sitting here knitting you a sweater waiting for you to return?" Spike asked, smoothing down his shirt. At least Soldier Boy had not ruined it, good thing too that, it was a damned nice shirt.
"Spike," Buffy said softly.
"No, luv, let me talk to the fool. You come here looking for her help with a demon. Where the hell were you when she needed your help? When her Mum died? When she had to sacrifice her sister in order to save the world? Mr. High and Mighty off doing his government work, you left here knowing the danger she was in. I'll bet you didn't give her or Glory or any of it one bit of thought until your little escapades brought you back here."
"Spike," Buffy said again.
"I've got it under control, Slayer," he hissed, he was not going to reveal anything about Scotty. "You are fucking unbelievable, mate. Just waltz back in here because you need her help. No bloody word from you since Christmas before last. She's moved onto better things."
"Back to fucking vampires."
"Shut your soddin' hole," Spike swung at him. "Jesus Christ," he swore, clutching at his head at the pain that shot through him, but at least he had connected well against Riley's jaw. Riley was clutching his jaw in a similar fashion to the way Spike was clutching his head.
"At least I don't pay them." Buffy said. Spike did not need to be a vampire to feel and sense her anger. She was brassed off big time and it was emanating off of her loud and clear. Even Scotty seemed to sense it; his big hazel eyes were wide watching the goings on in front of him.
Willow moved to Spike's side and helped him to sit down on the couch. "Thanks, Red," he said, grateful for the help. The headaches could be blinding sometimes.
"I think you've upset her enough, Riley," Willow said from her spot next to Spike on the couch. "And you're scaring Scotty." Sure enough, he was starting that scrunching of the face thing he did when he was about ready to cry to beat the band. That sound always broke Spike's unbeating heart.
"He doesn't like yelling," Spike added under his breath.
"So you're letting this thing raise your baby?"
"He," Buffy started to say and glanced at Spike. Spike felt Buffy take his hand and lace her fingers with his. She squeezed his hand gently. He was surprised at her touch, but it was a pleasant surprise. They had touched and embraced many times over the past year or so, but never in front of others. "He's not a thing, Riley," Buffy said.
Riley did not say anything for a while and Buffy's grip on his hand tighten. Spike watched Riley who was looking intently at Buffy's hand interlaced with Spike's. He started to say something and then stopped. "I just figured you'd like to be in on the action," he said softly. "Bring him along if you want."
Spike almost felt sorry for the bloke. It could have been him here with the baby the past five months. Spike did not know why he was feeling sorry for him because here was the end of Spike's little fantasy. Finn was not a man to walk away from the responsibility of a baby. Spike had told her several times over the past year to try and get word to Riley. She never had.
Spike could see Buffy's conflict clearly on her face. She had been looking forward to dinner, Spike had too. An evening alone with Buffy with no baby, no friends, and no slaying; he should have known it was too good to be true. And for the briefest moment upstairs he had sensed she would not have been put off or insulted by an advance on his part later in the evening. Not that he just had sex on his brain, but months of holding her and sleeping with her when she came to him for comfort left him wanting her. "It's up to you, pet. We can go change into civvies if you want to muck around with demons in honor of St. Valentine and Cupid."
"Are you sure you don't mind? I mean, you got Willow and Tara to babysit and everything."
"They'll be able to babysit another night." He brought her hand joined with his to his lips and kissed the back of it. "I know your mind would be on the demon and I'd rather not play second fiddle to a demon hunt."
"You are a demon, Spike," Riley interjected.
"Do you mind, Soldier Boy, this is a private conversation."
Buffy's eyes followed Riley as he turned to face Tara who was sitting on the floor holding Scotty on her lap, patting his back gently. Scotty had never actually started crying, but his lungs were still working hard at taking calming breaths from his excited state of moments ago. "Maybe we can get takeout on the way back," Buffy suggested hopefully.
"We can do that, luv, whatever you want. You don't mind, Red?"
"No, it's fine. Tara and I weren't going out or anything, just a quiet evening to ourselves."
"Are you sure, Will?"
"I'm sure, Buffy. Go, if Riley's asking for your help, he must need it. I'm just sorry you won't be going to dinner."
"Like Spike said, some other time."
"Yeah," Willow said, glancing at Spike. The witch held his gaze and seemed to apologize to him. "Some other time."
"All right then, let's go get changed," Spike said wanting to get on with it if they were going demon hunting with Buffy's ex. The sooner they were done, the sooner they could get back and Finn would be out of her life again. Until the next time he came gallivanting back into town on the trail of a demon.
"Are you going to wait for us or should we meet you somewhere?" Buffy asked.
Spike grimaced with a tilt of his head. "Come on, luv, let's go find you some commando gear."
He joined Buffy in her room once he had changed, closing the door behind him. He wanted to give her a couple of minutes alone, but suspected she would want some of the comfort she turned to him for before going downstairs. Instantly, her resolve crumbled, the strong front she had been putting on downstairs gave way and she was in Spike's arms, tears rolling down her eyes. He whispered what he hoped were soothing words to her and shut the door joining Buffy's room with Scotty's nursery so that no sound would carry downstairs.
"It's okay, pet," he whispered his hands running along her back, smoothing down her hair. He kissed the top of her head, knowing his shirt was going to be more than slightly damp when she finished crying.
"No, it's not. I can't believe he just came here like this. And he didn't even come back to see me, but because of some military operation."
"Do you want him back, Buffy? Do you want someone so insecure about where he stands with you that he has to go out and do the things he did?"
"No," she mumbled against his chest. She sniffled loudly and Spike reached for the nearest thing for her to wipe her tears with, which turned out to be one of Scotty's undershirts. He sniffed it to make sure it was clean, which it was. It smelled good, like the infant laundry detergent she insisted be used for Scotty's laundry. Of course, everything about babies smelled good, well the stuff that went onto them anyway. "Here," he said softly, placing the undershirt in between his chest and her face.
"Thanks," she said, taking it and wiping her eyes. "You must think I'm an idiot, but I just never expected to see him like this."
"I don't think you're an idiot."
"I had it all planned out in my head, what I would say, where I would say it even and in my plan I didn't sound like an idiot."
"It's probably better this way, pet."
"How can you say that?"
"If you tell him you know he'll ask you to marry him."
"And that would be a bad thing?"
"Do you want your son raised by parents married out of necessity or convenience and not because of love?"
"I didn't think so, pet. If ever I have come across as big a proponent of true love and all the goodies that go with it as I am, it's you."
"But how am I supposed to tell him?"
"I don't know, Buffy. Do you want to tell him? It seems to me if you wanted to you would have before now."
"I just didn't know how or how to find him," she shrugged. "I didn't want to tell him over the phone."
"I know," he said, kissing the top of her head again.
"You're so good to me, Spike."
"Only because I love you."
"I know," she said softly and placed her head against his chest again. The crying had stopped, there was no more sniffling and she did not balk about his declaration of love.
"Let's get you out of your dress then and into some demon hunting clothes."
"Are you sure you don't mind? You went through all of this trouble, the flowers, the balloon, the candy."
He took her chin in the palm of his hand and brought her head up from his chest. He met and held her gaze, her eyes looked so sad. He hated that she was being exposed to more pain. "I do mind," he answered truthfully. "I wanted to give you a nice day. But I know you wouldn't enjoy yourself knowing there's a demon running around. I already changed, so let's do it."
"We can do it another night. The dinner. I like the sound of it."
"I thought you might."
She kissed him lightly, not nearly long enough for Spike, but she had initiated it so he would take it. He would take whatever crumb of affection she offered him, even if it was meant in friendship. "Thank you. Maybe we could rent a movie? Something action packed and worthy of the Big Bad?"
"That's not very Valentine's Day like."
"Well, neither is going out on a demon hunt, but it beats getting death threats from my demon possessed boyfriend."
"Is that the only memorable Valentine's Day you've had, pet?"
"Yeah, that's pretty much it. I haven't really scored too high on the keep the boyfriend around on mushy holidays test."
"Well, I've been around for more than one round of them, not just the mushy ones neither. Even helped you with the cranberries at Christmas, and in case you don't realize it, Christmas is not exactly a vampire holiday."
"I know you have, you've been great, Spike. I don't know what I would have done without you since Mom died." She turned around, presenting her back to him so that he could unzip the dress. She was silent while he unzipped it, so just the soft sound of the zipper and her breathing was heard. "I'm glad she didn't know I was pregnant, she would have been so disappointed in me."
Spike placed his hands on either shoulder and drew her back against his chest. God she felt good against him. He tried to push down his desire, but it was getting harder to do. At first it had not been too hard with her being pregnant and then after Scotty was born he knew she could not have done anything anyway. But now that Scotty was older and the medical reasons were gone he was finding it more difficult to hold back. He placed his mouth against her ear, his eyes drifting closed as he took in the scent of her. His lips parted and he had to force himself to speak in lieu of doing what he truly wanted to do, take her earlobe in his mouth and suckle it until he rendered her weak in the knees. "She would not be disappointed in you, luv. Don't even think that. She's looking down on you proud that you have a son to love."
Buffy tilted her head, pressing her ear against his lips and sighed softly. "Thank you," she whispered.
"Don't mention it," he whispered, giving into temptation just a little and kissing her earlobe. She made a soft keening sound in response and he had all he could do to remember Soldier Boy was downstairs waiting for them. He wanted to hear more of those noises, but when he had all night to enjoy doing the things that caused her to make them.
"Maybe if it doesn't take too long to find this thing we can still do dinner. If it's not too late and Willow and Tara don't mind. Or maybe Giles would babysit again. He can't be doing anything tonight."
Spike inhaled and drew away from her. "We'll see how we're feeling when we're done. Takeout and a movie sound fine to me, pet."
"But that's what we always do; you were trying to do something nice for us."
"There will be other nights, Buffy."
"Do I get the roses and the balloon and the chocolates again?"
He smiled and shook his head slightly as he paused at the door. "You ask a lot of a man, but yeah, I think that can be arranged. I'm glad you liked them."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com