Author’s Notes: furlough n. a leave of absence, esp. to soldier. I needed a title for the whole thing. It’s descriptive but unsexy. Do not let it frighten you away from reading.
Chapter 1: Footsie
Okay people, I know what you’re thinking. Rome: the parties and cosmopolitan excess, the shopping, the food and the hot Italian lovers. Skipping past the Coliseum while swinging bags and bags of mostly useless but to die for merchandise. All kinds of girly goodness, right?
Well, brace yourselves folks, Rome is not all hugs and puppies. It’s been mostly work — and really hard work too: bad radio, too much pasta, crazy traffic jams, juggling argumentative slayers, and Dawn’s persistent fondness for dark-eyed boys and Italian swear words.
The annoying cherry on top of it all is our pal Andrew, starring as the houseguest who won’t find his own damn apartment. It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t hog the bathroom and use up all my moisturizer. Andrew is such a friggin’ girl.
The only saving grace with him is that he can cook good old-fashioned American food. Well, that is, when he doesn’t burn it to frightening cinders in the pan. Thank God Italy is the country where high heels were born! Feeding the shoe fetish is the only thing that has kept me sane.
Dawn’s school is great and she’s having the time of her life but can I tell you the truth? The city just has too many damn Italians in it and they all speak Italian too. I mean –people, please– I’m ridding your fair city of despicable demon dreck and you don’t have the common decency to speak to me in English?
Nice enough looking guys though, but a little on the grabby side. Paolo was okay in bed, but he was no Spike, more like a hairy-chested, dark haired version of Riley. I ended it the second I made that unhappy analogy.
God, I am the shits at picking men.
I smashed a guy’s camera one day for taking pictures of me and Dawn. Well, I thought he was taking pictures. Call me skittish. I thought he was some psycho fuck with his own live on-line voyeur site. No way were photos of Dawn or me ending up on some weirdo’s wank-it webcam site.
It turns out he was some private stalker hired by Angel. Nice, like I needed that, a reminder of Angel’s undying weird obsession. Personally, I think he needs professional help. I would have preferred a garden variety pervert over that.
So I send out some of my people and guess what I found out? Angel is boning this blonde named Nina. I guess he’s bypassed that little curse-y STD thing because there’s no sign of tall, dark and soulless. Now if he could just stick to stalking his current girlfriend and leave me the hell alone, that would be aces.
I saw her picture. She’s okay looking, I suppose, but apparently she buys a ton of hair removal product. I mean, what’s up with that?
Anyway, I got a photo of Spike out of it. All I had after Andrew’s little covert ops among the enemy was his enthusiastic ‘Spike is alive!’ tap dance and glassy eyed homoerotic ramblings.
Apparently ‘loose lips sink ships’ is not an adage Andrew ever aspired to. When he finally got to Rome from LA he spilled the goods as quickly as a teacup made of lace.
After the shock of Spike being not totally dead wore off, Andrew’s not so private ramblings creeped me out. Digital photography was less creepy and harder to ignore.
Dawn stuck the picture on the fridge and told me I’d know what to do when the time was right. Can you believe that? Dawn can really be surprising.
In the picture Spike looks remarkably Spike-like, drinking in a bar with a gaggle of new people. I recognized Wesley. He really turned out nice. Loved the tortured stubble. Who knew Wyndam-Pryce would get hot, let alone sidle up to that bastion of evil, Wolfram and Hart?
Thus began my ‘should I stay or should I go?’ tango. Do my sacred duty and wipe the noses of these baby slayers in Rome or wipe Spike’s ass up and down the streets of LA? Okay, granted there would probably have been more smoochy and less wipe-y. The more I thought about it the more days passed and then doubt descended on my toned, yet conflicted self with unrelenting misery. Vacillation, thy name is Buffy Anne.
So yeah, shoe shopping looked better and better all the time.
I get this call from Giles and he says come to London for the weekend and bring Dawn, something about a briefing on the recently averted apocalypse. I know Quentin Travers went the way of the Dodo, but Giles still gets these hoity-toity types for surveillance; all Oxford educated Harris tweedy twits with pickles up their bums. Giles needs to spend more time with Althenea and those coven babes. They could loosen his metaphorical cravat.
So I say yes, anything to get away from Andrew and his ‘all you can slather’ weekend o’ facials. I get there and find Giles chatting with Spike, cozy as all get out in his office at the new Watcher headquarters. Did I mention the chatting?
It got a little intense after that. Dawn screeched and tackled Spike and Giles’ lips flapped incessantly. God, that man really needs to get laid. These two have a different vibe between them now, that much was clear. I guess they made some sort of peace.
Me? My mind blanked. I think I said ‘Spike’, but I’m not too sure. Mental paralysis is kind of all encompassing. I stood there staring feeling naked in my devastating silk blouse, teeny skirt and sling backs maybe a microsecond away from a bear hug when it happened.
He smirked. Spike fucking smirked at me. Like I could take that after grieving him dead for the good part of a year. Granted, I went on with my job of corralling and training those slayers while wearing stylish and obscenely unaffordable clothes.
Insert official name dropping here: I saved Donatella’s spring line from a demon saboteur. She was very appreciative.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, that smirk. I had to cover up my tightening nipples somehow, so I hauled off and slugged him one. Dawn yelled and Giles harrumphed and I caught that vicious gleam in Spike’s eye. The promising twinkle that said perhaps slugging him wasn’t the wisest choice.
Vampires. Violence. Long time, no nookie. You do the math. Giles practically dragged Dawn from the room, citing some Watcher widgets she needed to see and didn’t Spike need some time to ‘debrief’ Buffy?
Oh, Giles. Your parental doublespeak is endearing.
Dawn is a sweet girl, a great sister, well past the worst of her adolescence and a responsible and with it woman…but…go away, like right now!
Spike looks older somehow, or more tortured. I guess apocalypses do that to a person. Shit, who am I kidding? He looks nummy and lickable and ready to eat with a spoon and thirty toppings. And he had to fucking smirk at me? He will pay and pay dearly. There will be scarves and handcuffs and Cool Whip and maraschino cherries.
I am seriously pissed. “Do I get a hello?” He looks worried. I better play this up.
“I’m not talking to you.”
“Is that so?”
“You didn’t die and then you didn’t call.” Isn’t that just like a man? Arms folded in a huff. Oh no, that accentuates cleavage.
“Sorry to disappoint.” He steps closer to inspect cleavage Nirvana.
“I was only in Rome, Spike, not Outer Mongolia.” I sent Rona to Outer Mongolia. That chick had an attituuude… Jesus Buffy, focus, keep scowl on face.
His nostrils flare in that ‘I’m scenting your chromosomes way’. I am in deep trouble.
“Stop it with the nostrils, Spike.”
“Afraid I’ll whiff something interesting…Slayer?” Oh god, he hits me with ‘Slayer’. Okay, traitorous parts: listen up! Stop it with the yummy panty vibes, and I mean NOW.
“Aren’t you supposed to be debriefing me on the big event?” Nobody does disinterested bitch like me.
“Could do…want to hear how I saved the world, love?” Sometimes I just want to rip those eyebrows off his damn face.
“You got to slay a dragon? Shut! Up!” My mouth dangled with that revelation. “That’s actually impressive.” We started off on opposite sides of Giles’ leather sofa, but man, a good apocalypse tale is incredibly thrilling. Disinterested bitch girl left the building. Shit, I’m practically in his lap.
“Well, I held onto the bugger’s tail and hind leg. Angel did some slicing and dicing. It was a two bloke operation, but yeah, slayed a dragon; then spewed all hell spawn and sundry with greasy grimy dragon guts.”
“It’s a little known fact that dragon entrails are pretty much interchangeable with super glue. I sprayed the hordes with the guts and then left Blue Thunder to spank her god-like girly mojo on their asses.”
“A not exactly unlikable former god king.”
“Oh…and long story short…”
“I save the world…AGAIN.” Spike folded his arms triumphantly behind his head. There’s the smile I’ve been seeing in my dreams.
“You’re going to be insufferable about this aren’t you?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“All hail the conquering hero.” I roll my eyes right on schedule. I can tell he appreciated it.
“Chalk it up to good reflexes. Only got a middling of that awful offal on me, and then a good dousing of plain old demon blood and gore. Fists and fangs and backs to the wall. Got out by the skin of our balls, we did.”
“You loved it, didn’t you?” I’ll admit it; heroism looks good on him. Kinda glowy. God, Spike would know a better word for that.
“It was bloody fantastic! Right up your alley too, love.”
“Rub it in why don’t you?” Now that I’m hearing the nitty gritty I’m sorry I missed it. “I would have made an appearance had I known, but some kind of whosits in the spheres went cablooey — in a mystical cablooey sort of way. Giles was red faced for days. I mean, Mr. Reformed Council of Watchers? and he finds out from CNN. I thought that vein in his forehead was going to blow.”
“How d’you find out?”
“Willow and Andrew practically at the same time. You know, Andrew has the inside skinny on almost everything nowadays. Who woulda thunk it? Andrew puts away his triple-breasted plastic fantasy figures and becomes a viable part of the team. He’s scary capable now,” but strangely incapable of finding his own place.
“And just what were you fiddling with while LA burned, hmm?”
“LA didn’t burn…just the Wolfram and Hart building, right? Don’t tell me Brad Pitt lost his house too.”
“Nah, just Evil Incorporated…fall down, go boom. Kind of a skinned their metaphysical knees sort of deal. That’s how Charlie put it anyway, well, between sponge baths and flirting with his nurse. The conduit between the senior partners and our dimension is severed. With their demon army decimated and their mouthpiece dead, they’ll need to seriously regroup before they send in the second string. Now tell me girl, what were you doing while I was saving the world for truth, justice and–“
“Buying shoes.” He didn’t seem shocked by this information.
“It must have been horrible for you.” Again with the smirk. I forego slapping him senseless because I want to maintain some semblance of detached neutrality.
“Yeah. So many shoes…so little time. So what happened to your hair? Finally put ol’ Billy in the delete bin where he belongs?”
“I sacrificed my lovely locks for the world as we know it. Dragon fluids…super glue, remember? I had to shave it.”
Before I realize it I drag my fingers absently through his thickly shorn skull stubble. Spike closed his eyes to the rapturous sensation of my fingertips digging at his skull.
“Do I look pretty?” God, he can even pull off next-to-hairless.
“I knew it was brown.” I ignore his obvious trolling for compliments.
“Well, it does match my eyebrows and my…pelt.” His eyebrow twitched.
“Pelt?!” Euphemisms of the world unite! Time to stand up and get some distance.
“Kind of matches your pelt too Buffy, come to think of it.” Cue sexy smirk.
“Don’t think of it and don’t say that word.”
“What word? Pelt?”
“Stop it! There will be no talk of anything remotely pelt-like at all.”
“Can I whisper it?”
“Come on Slayer, no need to put up your tight ass façade, just you and me here, pet, and I know you love it when I talk dirty.” He stood up and –oh god– that’s prowl face.
“You know this for a fact, do you?”
“A fact. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the–“
“Stop looking at me like that.” Oh God, narrowing eyelids and tongue tapping, the double whammy.
“Sorry pet, it’s been a while. I can’t seem to stop staring.”
“Well, it’s weird and now I’m feeling all tingly.” Just back away slowly and nobody will get hurt.
“Tingly, huh? Tingly is good. Tingly has real strong possibilities.” Oh crap, the tongue curl.
“No, tingly bad. Besides, I’m pissed off with you. You were supposed to be dead.”
“Still am, love.”
“No, you know what I mean. Totally dead, dust dead, never to give me the tinglies again dead.”
“So you’d rather I stayed in that soddin’ hole in the ground? Would that have made you happy?”
“NO! I’d rather you told me yourself.”
“Yeah, um, about that–” Okay, that got him. Yeah, put your swagger in your pocket, mate.
“I heard it from Andrew, Spike. Andrew!” The memory of Andrew’s animated ‘Spike is alive!’ dance is forever seared on my retinas.
“Yeah, right. Um, there is an explanation. I had a speech, honest. I practiced and everything.” It had been a few months. Harmony praised his speech but he figured that meant it was total crap. There was something about letting her live–
“And you were in Rome, like, a month and a half ago?”
“I looked for you. Andrew said–“
“Fuck, Spike! When the hell do you of all people listen to Andrew?”
“Angel listened too.” A deliberate pout protruded his lower lip. Must…not…yield.
“I bet you two were brawling like toddlers this whole time, weren’t you?”
“Well, he was a little puppet man for a bit. Funny story, that–“
“Andrew said you were moving on, dating and…” a long and spiraling pause, “such.” Spike hazarded a sideways glance at her. The time had come to ascertain the degree of ‘suchness’ he had to deal with.
Okay, here it comes: slayer resolve, hands on hips, beach bunny blonde highlights hair flip. “Yeah, I dated: Colin, Paolo, Franco, the Immortal, Gary, Stig, and some other loser named Phil. I had dating needs Spike and I thought you were, you know, irretrievably dead; so don’t go getting all sulky on me over a few–“
“Stig?” Spike frowned. “He wasn’t a Howler demon, by any chance, was he?”
“Ew, no. Swedish.” Extremely blonde, no curls though.
“And the Immortal…uh, who was that?” Clueless was an art form Spike perfected over the years.
“Some smarmy supernatural shmuck: all silver chains, hair product and ‘Hey baby, I’m gonna live forever’. Nice posture, great connections but the prick took a cell phone call from some skanky wannabe model during dinner! Ugh. I couldn’t kick him to the curb fast enough.”
Spike’s mouth quirked in an unusual manner.
“Anyway, I can’t believe you were playing footsie with Angel all this time.” Rome would have been fun with Spike. It was, after all, historically significant in the romance and intrigue department.
“Footsie?” Spike’s eyes widened to frightening proportions. “No, there was no footsie involved…I…uh…who have you been bloody talking to?”
“Okay, I’ll admit it. You give good debriefing.”
Giles’ office looked like a small and intensely focused tornado passed through it. Papers spilled over the sumptuous desk. The furniture did a bit of a waltz as the reunited lovers moved around the room.
There wasn’t supposed to be any up close and personal interaction so soon, but one thing led to another. Spike’s face began to get that smugly satisfied ‘what a good boy am I’ expression. My fist just flew, like it knew its home. Spike caught it in his hand just before it landed on his much flattened nose. He held it to his mouth in an iron grip and licked my knuckles while nailing me with his icy blues.
Now, honestly, how am I supposed to have a defense against that?
“We need to fight some more,” I’m ashamed to say I whimpered those words.
“You can fight me all you want, pet. I’m easy.” I pierce him with a smirk. Okay, I think that was a gimme…like I need his repartee charity. Whatever. He pulled me into his arms.
“Shut up–” That first kiss wasn’t pretty. All volcanic tongues and clicking teeth and I growled first, and why the HELL did I stay in Rome after I found out he was back? That’s when the furniture started its little dance. Personally, I think Giles’ antique pieces were just scrambling for cover.
Who knew an oak desk was so comfortable? Giles’ collection of ball point pens? Less comfortable. They took a header off the north side.
“I had a dream about you, Buffy.” Spike spoke directly into my sternum. Hey baby? Kind of up here. I pull him up to my face.
“I merited one dream? That’s big of you.” Oops, the B word and he’s already nestled quite snugly between my thighs.
“Kind of a serial dream, love, been going on for a long time.” The slightest tilt of his pelvis…oh my god, think fast.
“Are we back in high school writing an exam we haven’t studied for?” The look on his face is priceless. That would be a ‘no’.
“Not bloody likely, pet.”
“Were they good dreams?” I could tell Spike a thing or two about dreams.
“Kept me going.”
“Show me?” I gave him a pout, one of the small ones. He seemed to enjoy it.
I never knew how erotic it could be to watch someone bite the buttons off a blouse. If I had any functioning brain matter at that point I may have protested mildly, but seriously? Who cares? I’m sure Giles has a cardigan around here somewhere.
Fare thee well, blouse. Spike better be careful. I could take out his eye with one of my nipples. Personally, I don’t want to know how he learned to open a bra clasp with his tongue.
“Buffy…” A muffled snarl from deep in areola country.
“Wha…” All my remaining strength is funneled into my contented kitten impersonation. Jesus, I’ve missed him. Um, where did his tongue go?
“Buffy. Giles’ office, remember? Don’t want to make a mess now, do we?” Shit and Giles was so proud of his new leather framed blotter.
My thoughts, if I had any useful ones, should have expressed concern over the prospect of Buffy juice on Giles’ swanky new blotter. I mean, if the situation was reversed and there was the prospect of Giles jui– ew…eww…ewww! God, there’s not enough ‘ew’ in the world for the rest of that sentence.
When the hell did Spike become Mr. Rational? And come to think of it, how can he manage an actual sentence with that extraordinary bad boy in his pants? My guy has some kind of talent. I am one lucky, lucky woman.
“I…hotel…room.” Overall, I was rather proud of that statement.
We separate with a groan and make like scurrying parlor mice trying to straighten up Giles’ office the best we can. How many damn pens did he have in this stupid container anyway?
When we hit the door the real trouble starts. Vertical surfaces are erogenous zones with us and why on earth did Giles pick out such a sexy door in the first place?
Before I realize it I’m climbing Spike like he’s Mount Everest and I’m Sherpa Buffy on a mission from God. This is nuts…gloriously, dangerously, sinfully nuts. So long rational, it’s been good to know you!
You better be ready for me Spike; I’ve done a bit of growing up.
I do a passable human tornado impression, twisting and pawing at his crotch. I’m so damn glad Donatella went for the micro mini this season. Nobody rips panties like my Spike.
We pause on the edge of something phenomenal, just like that first time so long ago. The look on his face is so beautiful, all need and knowing and giddy and fearful. I nudge his lips with mine. “Yes,” I coo and wiggle against him. Fuck, I think I’m dripping.
He licks his fingers before they disappear inside me for an urgent assessment of the situation and then again when he takes them out. I see my own secretions drip down the back of his hand.
I know what’s coming but that doesn’t take anything away from the sheer bliss of actually experiencing it, and not just for today. It’s not just to satisfy the lust bunnies that have grown to gargantuan proportions over time. Please, I do have some perspective. Living in a foreign country clears up all that cookie dough crap but quick. I know what I want and dig my fingers into his leather.
“Don’t let me push you away.” I am quieted by the sound of my own voice. Why couldn’t I have said that before? That was so much more rational than: “I’m not ready for you not to be here.” Not exactly top five in Buffy-speak there. I have tried to speak in a more clear and concise manner. The cryptic has not been so good to me.
We work as a team. Spike holds me wide open with his palms under my thighs. I look down, unbuckle his belt, open his jeans and guide that magnificent cock where we both need it. “Never again,” he snarls and tightens his jaw.
I can see his effort at restraint. Slow and deliberate. Not taking anything for granted. Never again. I bite my lip and arch my back as I meet his hips with my own restrained need on the first deep slide. It’s going to be over too soon and it won’t be pretty. Neither of us can take the glaring intensity.
At last I know what it’s like to be burned to dust by the sun.
Can you hear me, Spike? I’m not letting you go.
I nuzzle my face into his trying to bypass the tears, but they’re coming — like spring, they are coming. I remember our hands joined in flames, but not burning. I still feel it. His beautiful, bounteous soul saved the whole world that day. And me too. Someday I’ll tell him the truth of what he gave me that day. Now I just want to give that same gift to him. I start with tears and the truth.
“I love you, Spike. Please, please believe me. I love you.”
“…Those new training rooms are really cool, Giles…” Dawn’s voice floated down the hall.
“You know Dawn, your upper body strength and agility is improving at a tremendous rate.” Always a gentleman, Giles let Dawn loose on their training equipment.
“Well, what can I say? I live with Buffy. The heavy bag is my close, personal friend.”
“Well, what do you think?” Giles turned the doorknob to his office and pushed. His effort was met with an urgent slam and an unrestrained grunt.
“Still debriefing!” I squeak in a too high shrill voice, barely suppressing a moan.
“Get a room, YA BIG PERVS!” Dawn pointed her remark into the G rated side of the door.
“Oh, good lord, my gran’s Waterford crystal is in there…” Giles blinked in astonishment. He quickly cleared his throat in a characteristically defensive maneuver. “Um…yes…Dawn, the cafeteria makes a delicious steak and kidney pie.”
“Yes Giles,” Dawn linked her arm with his offering support. “Come with me. I think you need some sustenance.”