Spike chugged back the bottle of Tequila he'd nicked from the party. Why was he letting some smart-mouthed little teenybopper get under his skin?
Because it takes your mind off Dru, you pathetic whinger.
"This is all your fault, Dru. You know that? Here's to you, you sodding rotten beautiful bitch."
He polished it off, flung it behind him and pulled the tape off another bottle.
* * *
"Mind if I cut in?"
Buffy looked up. Angel, with his arms around Cordelia.
"Sure," said Parker, checking with Buffy, "If that's okay with you."
"It's fine," Buffy shrugged and explained, "Really. He's like a brother."
"He was her brother," Cordelia said, taking Parker's hand. "They were steps for three years, she didn't tell you that?..."
Buffy and Angel embraced, her breasts flattened against his bare chest, and suddenly she couldn't hear anything but his breathing.
"You okay?" Angel asked her hair as his hands slid down her back.
Buffy inhaled sharply, closed her eyes. Why did he love to torture her? "I'm good. You?"
"Been all right." Hands slid up to rest on the tie of her bikini strings. "What'd that creep want?"
"Who?" Oh. Right. Spike. "Oh. Nothing. He's a client of my dad's--"
"It's okay, Buffy, you don't have to lie. Cordy told me all about it."
"Excuse me while I kill Cordy."
He chuckled. "Are we back to that again?"
"No," she whispered. "We're not back to anything. This is about confidences."
"I'm not gonna tell," he said. "Although, really not sure why you're protecting him."
She lifted her head. "What are you, jealous?"
He shushed her, eyes darting toward Cordelia. "Keep it down. And no. Not jealous, just... concerned. I didn't like the looks of him."
"Of course you didn't," she rolled her eyes. "But you're okay with Parker."
"He seems like a good guy, might treat you right. I wouldn't do him myself, but--"
"Shut up," she chuckled, and they fell into a comfortable silence for the rest of the dance.
* * *
"That's what I like about you," Parker said, sitting beside Buffy at the pool's edge. "You're not like the rest of them."
"I'm not?" Her feet scissored in the blue water.
"No. You're... different. I mean, you've got all the same luxuries, and the 'tude to go with. But... that's not all there is to you. You're not kiddie pool, you know? You're deep end."
Buffy smiled, charmed. "What makes you so sure of that?"
He took her hand. "It's like, I see the layers underneath. Some of them, anyway. I'd really like to see them all."
"My layers aren't all that interesting," she said, eyes on their interlocked hands.
"To me they are. I mean, like, look at the people you know. People you talk to. Like Oz. You know, he's a cool guy but I wouldn't have known that if you hadn't introduced me. Or, that guy earlier. Spike? Someone like Cordelia wouldn't be caught dead talking to someone like that."
Buffy felt a pang of guilt. I still made him leave. And why do I care? He's an ogre. God.
"Looks like the party's winding down," he noticed, looking up.
"Wow," she said. "I didn't realize how late it was."
"I really like talking to you, Buffy. I totally lose all track of time."
She smiled bashfully. "Me too."
"Oh! My god!" Cordelia sing-songed, coming back from walking Harmony to her car and pausing dramatically in front of Buffy. "It's still here!"
Buffy jumped up. "What is?"
"It." Cordelia looked ill, and pointed toward the driveway. "Go see for yourself!"
* * *
Buffy strode up to the black DeSoto, and opened the door.
Spike spilled out.
"What? Wha?" He blinked several times.
She helped him up, shoved him toward the driver's seat.
"What are you--" he looked at her. "Bouncy girl? Buffy? What are you doin' here?"
"This is my driveway," she said.
"What? No. I drove home. Got in bed."
"Maybe in some alternate dimension, but in this one you're still in my driveway."
He squinted. "You comin' to bed with me?"
She sighed in exasperation. As much as she wanted him out of her life, she couldn't let him drive home in this state. Plus, she was deep end. "I'm calling you a taxi."
"Taxi? Don't need no taxi, I got this car right here."
"And you are not driving it." She swiped the keys out of his uncoordinated grasp. "Where can I tell them to drop you off?"
"Nice cliff'll do."
"What. Street. Is your. House."
"Don't have a house. Dru's enjoying Captain Girlyname."
His forehead hit the steering wheel. "No house. No Dru. No life."
"Have I ever told you how sexy you are like this? I'm trembling with lust."
He turned his head slightly to eye her. "Knew you wanted me."
"Yeah, take me, Spike. Take me now."
"'f you insist--"
"Stop that." She caught his hand in mid-neck-pull and made a deep-end decision. "Come with me."
"We going to bed finally? Thank god." He let her pull him out of the car, hoist his arm over her shoulder and lead him toward the stone path.
"You're going to bed. I'm going back to my amazing new boyfriend."
"Boyfriend? That doe-eyed pillock tried defending your honor?"
His hot, sweet breath was in her face. She turned slightly. "If that means Parker, then yes."
"He's gonna break your heart."
"Thanks for that vote of confidence," she said.
"Serious, love. He's gonna sweet-talk you 'til you give it up, then move onto the next. Trust me, I know his type."
"You're just full of the insight tonight, aren'tcha?" She deliberately let him slip for a second. "Oops, sorry."
"I'll bet you are," he said, bending toward her, breath on her neck.
She exhaled sharply, staving off that annoying effect he had on her. "Just a few more steps..."
"Where you taking me?"
"The guest house."
"Ooh. Guest house. Fancy."
"Well, you won't notice the fancy. You'll see a pillow, and then you'll wake up and leave."
"Hey, where's your Pop, love? Harry, or Henry or... Hank, that's it. Where's Hank? I wanna ask him for your hand."
"You know way too much about me." She unlocked the guest house's glass door. "It's getting creepy."
"Looked you up, pet. Did a search. Wanted to find you." She dropped him and he stumbled onto the double bed, face missing the pillow.
"'Cause your name is Buffy," went his little song, slurred against the mattress. "Bouncy and fluffy..."
She shook her head, tiny smile curling her lips. "Sweet dreams, Spike."
"Hey, you need a cuddle, don't hesistate to... hestistate... heads of state..." He sang the rest, "to come in my bed... be nak-ed..."
"I'll be sure to do that," she said, sliding the glass door shut.
"What's goin' on?"
Buffy jumped at the voice behind her. "Nothing. Spike's crashing in the guest house. You wanna come inside?"
"Sure," Parker said with a smile.