I woke up slightly when Dawn got up and left for bed, but not too much. I was very comfortable, not to mention warm. Course, that was ’cause of the Slayer who was snuggled up against my side. I wonder if she knows that she snores? Not too loud, mind you, just a little sound that a human probably wouldn’t even pick up. It’s cute. Of course, I’m prejudiced. I think everything Buffy does is cute. Like the way she wrinkles her nose when she laughs. Or how she stuck her tongue out at me that one time. Bloody hell, this must be love. I don’t know anything else that can turn me into such a poofter. Soon I’m gonna be giving Peaches a run for his money. But, for now, I think I’ll take a nap…
My eyes involuntarily opened a crack when Buffy moved. Oh, great, I thought. Here it comes. I waited for the “Get out, Spike” that I was sure was coming. I quickly re-closed my eyes, hoping that she would let me stay if she thought that I was asleep. However, I was totally unprepared for what she did do. I felt a gentle hand begin stroking my hair. The Slayer was practically petting me, not that I was complaining. I was really glad that I hadn’t had it slicked back for once. She kept tangling and untangling her fingers in the curls that showed up whenever I forgot my comb. Was I enjoying this? Hell yes! Not to mention that I was starting to go to sleep, she had me that relaxed.
She managed to lay me down across the couch, her hand never leaving my head. When I was flat out on the couch, she headed upstairs, leaving me wondering what the Hell had just happened. Had I been dreaming? I opened one eye, only to see her coming back down the stairs carrying two thick blankets and one sheet. She tossed the blankets over the curtain rod so that they completely covered the window. Oh, so that’s what she was doing. Then she laid the sheet over me, tucking me in. She rubbed my side gently with one hand while tucking the sheet into the couch with the other. I felt myself drifting off again as she continued with her gentle touches. This time, I didn’t fight it.
I woke up a few hours later when my body started warning me about sunrise. I tried to get it to shut up, remembering the blankets that Buffy had put over the window, and I managed to get back to sleep for a few moments. Then I was awakened again, but this time the method was slightly more enjoyable. Buffy sat down on the new coffee table and began rubbing my back, sort of like you would if you were trying to wake up a baby. In an instant, I was purring and arching my back against her hand like a happy cat. I couldn’t help it, it was instinct. Vampires like that sort of thing, okay? Buffy giggled.
“Spike,” she whispered. “Wake up.”
No way, I thought. If I show you that I’m awake, you’ll stop doing that, and I don’t want you to stop.
“Spike, please? I have a little job I need your help with.”
Oh, the dilemma. Help a beautiful woman, or keep lying here and doing my cat impression? Hmm. Bloody Hell. Damn Victorian era chivalry.
“I’m up, Luv,” I mumbled into the pillow. “What do you need help with?” I sat up and looked at her. She’s so cute in those damn sushi pajamas.
“Do you know how to make pancakes?”
“Pancakes. You know, the things you eat with syrup?”
“I know what bleedin’ pancakes are, Luv. But why are you asking me…”
“Come with me, I’ll show you.”
I slowly extracted myself from the couch cushions and followed her into the kitchen. The whole time, I was wondering what the big deal was. I mean, pancakes aren’t exactly hard to make. But, I’d forgotten who I was dealing with: Buffy Summers, kitchen impaired. The kitchen was a mess. There were bowls scattered around and a bag of flour had apparently exploded all over the sink.
“Bloody… Slayer, what the hell did you do!?”
She looked at me sheepishly. Damn, that was cute. “I was about to make pancakes, when I realized that I don’t know how to make pancakes.” Suddenly, she almost looked as if she was going to cry. “Mom knew how to make pancakes.”
“Hey now, Buffy,” I said, keeping my voice quiet so she wouldn’t notice that the mention of Joyce had caused me to choke up a bit as well. “You know better than anyone that your Mum’s in a better place now.”
“I know,” she said quietly, and then she surprised me by stepping closer and hugging me tightly. “I just miss her. So much.”
“Yeah, I understand, I miss her too.” I slipped my arms around her and rested my face against her beautiful golden hair. “It’s hard, you know. Losing someone you love, I mean.”
She looked up at me, her green eyes glistening with unshed tears. She knew that I wasn’t just referring to her mum. Then she hugged me tighter for an instant. Very tight. As in, if I’d been human, she’d have cracked my ribs. “Spike?”
“Can you make the pancakes for me?”
I chuckled. “Sure thing, Luv. There hasn’t been a breakfast food yet that I couldn’t tame.”
She smiled and I swear that something melted in my heart.
Ok, so pancakes are easy, right? Wrong. At least, they’re not easy when your cooking companion keeps bugging you. I was trying to stir the bloody batter, and Buffy kept coming up behind me and tickling my ribs, then laughing at me and jumping out of the way before I could hit her with my spoon. We were both covered in flour, and the kitchen was an even bigger mess than before, if that was possible. Oh, bugger, here she comes agAIN!!!
Buffy jumped back, giggling, and this time, I managed to hit her with a well aimed glob of pancake batter. “Ewwww! Spike!”
I chuckled. “Quit poking me, and I won’t do it again.” Went back to stirring. Now. Where did I put that vanilliAAAA! ICE! ICE in my PANTS! I dropped the bowl on the counter and began an impromptu dance around the kitchen, trying to rid myself of the handful of ice cubes that the Slayer had dumped down my jeans. “God! Ah! COLD!” I was still hopping around, trying to dislodge the last cube from my butt, when Dawn came in.
“What’s all the… noise..” She froze in the doorway, taking in the strange sight of a vampire doing a jig in her kitchen while her sister was laughing so hard she was using the sink for support. A big grin spread across her face as I finally fished the last piece of ice out of my jeans. She walked over to me, and patted me on the back. “She used to do that to me ALL the time.”
I snorted and threw the piece of ice to join the others in the sink. Buffy quieted down a little and came over toward me. “Sorry…”
I shook my head. “Nuh-uh. I’m not speaking to you right now. Excuse me.” I pushed past her to get the bowl and pour the batter (it was mixed well enough, damnit) into the frying pan.
Buffy and Dawn exchanged a look, and Dawn came over to me, leaning against my side as I poured the batter and watched the pancakes cook. “Come on, Spike… She was just playing with you.”
“Playing is one thing. Dropping a person’s body temperature is another thing entirely. I must be at sixty degrees now.” Vampires are cold blooded, so I wasn’t exaggerating, much. The ice had dropped my body temperature to a very uncomfortable low.
Dawn wrapped her arms around me and rubbed one hand up and down on my stomach, and the other on my back. “I’ll warm you back up.”
Buffy walked over and hugged me from behind, resting her head against my back and allowing her hands to join Dawn’s in rubbing my stomach and sides. “I’m sorry..”, she whispered into my shirt.
I melted. I knew they could feel my muscles go limp, almost to the point that they were the only things keeping me upright. “Oh.. ok. You’re forgiven.” I flipped the pancakes as Dawn left me to go get plates. I expected Buffy to move as well, but she just kept hugging me, and rubbing my stomach gently. I purred. “Don’t you want to get drinks or something, luv?”
I felt her shake her head. “You smell good.” Oh, so that was her nose that was nuzzling my back. Ooh. This is good.. Stay awake, Spike. Stay awake and don’t burn the pancakes. I took the pancakes up and stacked them all on a plate that Dawn had brought me. Unfortunately, in order to move any further, I would have to get Buffy off my back.
“Uh.. Luv? I got to go to the table, now.”
“You have to let go.”
“No I don’t.” She started walking toward the table, steering me from behind with her face still pressed against my back. “See?”
Dawn, who was sitting at the table, giggled. “You guys look like you have four legs.”
Buffy waved with one of her hands, then went back to having it wrapped around my stomach. “And four hands, too.”
I chuckled. “Only two of which are doing anything.” I put the pancake plate on the table.
“Ok. I’ll do something.” She started tickling my stomach again.
“AH! Slayer! Quit!”, I laughed, shaking her off. “Come on, luv. It’s too early for another tickle fight.”
She gave me a pout, and then grinned. “Yeah. Later then.”
I nodded without thinking, then froze. “Later?”
She smiled, and sat down to breakfast. “Later.” Dawn nodded in agreement.
I sat in one of the other chairs and munched on a pancake absently. Later. Someone help me.
After breakfast, we went into the living room to watch TV again. Wound up putting on a movie. I was out voted. I wanted to watch Independence Day. But Dawn and Buffy were in a cartoon mood. So that’s how I wound up watching Toy Story 2. The movie got to the part where Woody and the Roundup Gang are about to leave, and the two Buzz Lightyears and the other toys are in the air vents trying to find him. Woody was playing with Bullseye and Jessie, and they started tickling him. I didn’t notice that Dawn and Buffy chose that moment to exchange an evil grin. If I had noticed, I would have run for the nearest closet.
“Oh, Buffy,” Dawn said, snuggling closer to me and putting a leg over my leg. I didn’t think anything of it. She’d done that before.
“Yes, Dawnie?”, the Slayer replied, moving closer to my other side. Now I was beginning to think that something was up, but ignored my instincts. For the first and last time.
“Remember what we decided to do ‘later’?”
“Why, yes. I believe I do.”
I started to get up then, only to be knocked onto my back and pinned by both sisters. “Oof!” I looked at them imploringly. “Now.. Come on, girls.. There’s no need for this..”
Buffy grinned. “But yes. I believe there is need. Lots and lots of need. Right, Dawnie?”
Dawn mimicked her sister’s look. “Lots.” She looked down at me. “And it is.. ‘later’.. Isn’t it?”
Buffy gave a vehement nod. “Oh, yes. Much ‘later’. Perfect timing, actually.”
I glanced from one sister to the other and sighed. “Bloody hell. Get on with it already.”
Buffy laughed. “You heard the man.” They attacked.
Twenty minutes of laughing and squirming later (on their parts as well as mine, since I’d managed to fight back a little, this time), we were all on the floor, between the TV and coffee table, panting and giggling. Dawn was the first to recover enough to get up. She grinned down at us. “I’m goin’ to my room to call Janice, ok?”
Buffy nodded, still panting to hard to say much. Dawn disappeared upstairs. Buffy rolled over a little, so she was snuggled up against me, and draped an arm across my stomach. She sighed happily. “Thank you.”
I cocked my head down and looked at her. “For what?”
She smiled and hugged me. “For helping. For taking care of Dawn. For making pancakes. For helping me remember what it’s like to be happy again. For everything.” She rested her head on my chest with another contented sigh.
I didn’t say anything. I was too shocked. The last time she’d thanked me… When was that again? Oh, yeah. After the Hell Bitch tortured me. Nearly a year earlier, and a lot longer from her point of view. And this… cuddling. Deliberately cuddling with me. I’m not complaining, you understand, just trying to figure this girl out. I guess it took something as normal as a tickle fight to make her realize that I’m not just a vampire. God, I love her. My arm snaked around her of it’s own accord and returned the hug. “You’re welcome, luv,” I whispered, planting a soft kiss on the top of her head. “Anything you need me for, I’ll be here. Anything.”
She sat up slowly, pulling me with her, and then released me and got to her feet. She paused, turned back to where I had just managed to stand up, stood on her toes, and kissed me on the lips. A lingering kiss, this time. Not a peck like the first time. She pulled back after what felt like forever, but was probably only a couple of seconds. Smiled up at me. “I know.” She turned and headed for the kitchen. “I’m gonna start cleaning up now.”
I stood there, in shock again for the second time in ten minutes. She kissed me. She KISSED ME! My knees felt weak, my hands were shaking, and I was vibrating from a purr that I couldn’t control. Maybe there is hope after all. Maybe.. Wait. Where’d she go? ‘Cleaning’? Uh-oh. “Uh, luv? Wait for me…”