As Angel yelped and the girls screamed, Spike went after Buffy.
He found her upstairs, sitting on her bed, head in her hands. "Buffy?"
Unable to look up, she did her best to muster some sarcasm. "Little bit of a buzzkill, huh?"
"C'mere," he said, and pulled her into his arms.
She sobbed softly against his chest.
"Wanker," he breathed, shaking his head.
"Such a wanker," she agreed with a pout.
"She'll prob'ly kill him before the night's through, if that's any consolation." Gently, he stroked her hair. "Maybe they'll kill each other."
"God, I didn't want her to know... I really didn't. I just..."
"I know. Shhh."
"But... I'm getting mascara all over your chest."
"Sod it. I'm washable."
She sighed, feeling comfortable and warm in his embrace. "You must think I'm a freak."
"Why would I think that?"
"Sleeping with my step-brother? That's kind of ew."
"Takes two, pet. And I don't think you broke any laws."
"I know, but..."
"Here," he said, rolling backward to get the box of Kleenex by her bedside.
"Thanks." She dabbed at her eyes. "My dad and his mom, they were only married two and a half years."
She didn't have to explain, but he knew she needed to get this out.
"I was fifteen, and suddenly I had this hot guy living in my house." She sniffled. "Maybe I just loved him 'cause I knew I couldn't really have him."
"Maybe. Or maybe you just loved him."
"Yeah," she said quietly. "I did."
He brushed a tress of hair out of her eyes.
"He started dating Cordy as a cover-up. She was his beard." She chuckled at that.
He took his cue, "And then when your respective folks split, he thought it was best he just stay with her. Not rock the boat."
Buffy nodded. "Cue sad theme song. God, somebody kill me."
"Not while I live," he said.
She smiled at him, new tears forming. He held her for a long while, until the sobs petered out and the last car pulled out of the driveway.
"C'mon," he said at last, taking her hand.
"Know I spied some kind of ice-creamish concoction in the freezer."
With a shy laugh, she let him pull her along.
* * *
"Want some?" she asked, holding up a spoonful of Starbucks Java Chip.
He took it in his mouth.
"Drippy," she said, and licked it from his chin, and teased his mouth open with her tongue.
When the kiss turned passionate, he pushed her to arm's length, and took a very deep breath. "No."
"No?" He didn't want her anymore?
"I said I wanted to do this right, and I meant it. Can't have you thinking of someone else."
Oh. "I'm not--"
He lifted her chin. "I'll still be here tomorrow."
She stared at him for a moment, and sat back on the couch. "Stop being so perfect. I might start to think you're not real."
"Thought you said I was too real?" He put his arm around her. "Now I'm not real at all?"
"Oh my god," she said, looking into her ice cream bowl. "What if you're not? What if we both died that day and this is some kind of..."
"Well, the Java Chip does lend weight to that theory." She took another bite, nuzzled into him and declared with mouth full, "Heaven rocks."
* * *
Buffy woke to the sound of her doorbell, and lifted her head from Spike's chest. He was asleep, mouth slightly open.
God, he'd held her all night. Perfect, perfect guy.
The bell chimed again. She got out of the couch and made her way, groggily, to the front door.
It was Cordelia. Standing there with red-rimmed eyes.
"Oh god, Buffy, I'm so sorry!"
Wind knocked out of her from Cordelia's fierce hug, she squeaked, "What?"
"I can't believe he... and you... God, I was so stupid!"
Cordelia Chase was crying? "It... it's okay..."
"No, it's not okay. My whole perfect relationship has been a lie!"
"I also hate you a little bit," she added, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief and barging into the house.
Following Cordelia through the hallway, she said, "It's kind of mutual."
Cordelia finally sat at the couch in the den. "How could I be so clueless? I thought I was number one in his life, I really did..."
Buffy sat down. "You are."
"It doesn't matter, it's over. He told me everything, and I..." She teared up again. "God, I'm so sorry I called you a slut and told everyone about your abortion. I was drunk, and stupid, and so mad at you for not being my mindless minion anymore."
"But why didn't you tell me?" Cordelia asked. "Like, before? Didn't our friendship mean anything to you?"
"Our friendship consisted of shopping and gossip and me telling you you were great. We never got... deep. I told you stuff on a need-to-know. You found out about the abortion and I had to tell you something." She looked at her hands. "At the time, what I was doing with Angel seemed like the worst thing I could possibly be doing. I was ashamed."
"But, I'm not completely heartless. I have feelings. I could've, you know, been there for you."
"I..." She said all she could say: "I didn't know."
She touched Buffy's hand and said sheepishly, "I'm really sorry."
"Yeah." Softening, she placed her free hand over Cordelia's. "Me too."
"This an estrogen-only zone or can I happen by?"
Cordelia regarded the sleep-rumpled Spike in amusement. "And how is Mr. Spike Tyson today?"
"Up for round two if there's call for it," he replied with a wink, and slipped through the back door, headed to the guest house.
Buffy was confused. "Okay... huh?"
"He didn't tell you?" Cordelia leaned in. "He punched Angel in the nose. It might be broken."
She looked after him. "Oh no."
She gasped. "Oh no, do you think Angel will tell my dad? Or, or sue?"
"Not after I told him he does that, I tell his mom alllll about his sordid past. I mean, you know I would never? For you? But he totally bought it. You know how mortified he is of her."
Buffy's jaw dropped. Cordelia was full of surprises today.
"Anyway," Cordelia got up, and nodded at the guest house; at Spike. "He likes you, Buffy. A lot. You're lucky."
Buffy blinked, suspecting she was hearing things.
"Hey, I'm not gonna say it again..."
Returning her friend's sly smile, Buffy then walked with her to the front door.
"So," Cordelia stuck out a hand and hazarded, "Eventual bygones?"
After a pause, realizing none of this even mattered anymore, Buffy shook on it. "Present bygones."
Looking unusually grateful, Cordelia let go. "And now I'll say bye, and be gone."
"See ya, Cordy." Buffy closed the door feeling she'd closed a sad, silly old book... and knowing that an exhilarating, wondrous new chapter was just waiting to bust open. Any second now.
With a giddy grin, she bolted upstairs to shower.