Part 4



There was a mouth on his cock.  Not warm, which meant either he was dreaming, or someone other than Anya was licking him from balls to tip, and then—


“Oh, very good,” he heard Anya saying as he tried to calm his racing heart.  “You made him scream. I didn’t make him scream, the first time I blew him.”

“Probably too nervous, luv.  Lucky bloke like him, having your sweet mouth on him?  Throat probably blocked up—you know, like when you’re torturing and get ’em hurting just enough, that they can’t hardly breathe?”

“Hm, true.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Thank you, Spike.  You’re very good at validation.”

“Aim to please, luv.  Got any more tricks I should know?”

Spike.  Kneeling between his legs.  Anya.  Kneeling next to him.  Both naked.  Both staring at his cock like it was a chocolate eclair.  He could almost see them salivating over it.

“Morning?” he squeaked.

“Hush, Xander, I’m trying to explain to Spike that thing I do with my tongue.  The curling thing?”

Oh.  That was a good thing.  But—“Wait, Spike?  You’re—”

Spike looked at him like he was nuts.  “Know how to suck cock, Harris.  Not the first time I’ve done it.  But every bloke’s different, a bit, an’ since I’ve got the inside scoop. . .”

Xander really wanted to go back to sleep.

Then Spike sucked him down, eyes on his, cheeks hollowing, doing that thing Anya did with her tongue that made every hair on his body stand on end.

Okay.  So maybe he didn’t want to sleep.

“Very good,” Anya applauded when Spike pulled back up.  “You made him blank out completely.  I love it when he’s like that; you can get him to promise the most interesting—”

“Okay!”  It came out squeakier than he wanted, but he could live with that.  “Okay, ladies, while my dick is very happy to be the center of attention like this, my mind is having some problems.”

It chilled him right down to his balls when Spike and Anya looked at each other, identical expressions of confusion and amusement marring their features.  “Xander, honey,” Anya started.  “If your dick is happy, how can your mind not be?  The two are connected.”

“An’ please don’t tell me I’m not doin’ it right,” Spike drawled, a bit of scorn and self-satisfaction making him look very much like Spike.  Except a girl.  Also, naked.  And pretty.  Ack.  “Benefit of havin’ had blowjobs before, pet, means I know what all the boys like.”  Leaning forward on his hands and knees, breasts temptingly framed by his arms and the length of his torso, Spike purred, “I’m a very talented cocksucker, Harris.  Very.”

Oh, god.  Spike.  Saying ‘cocksucker’.  The word slid along his body like Anya’s silk feather, leaving goose-bumps and anticipation in its wake before wrapping around his cock and—no!  He was a man, and dammit, he was going to talk before there was sex!  And, okay, there was something really wrong with that, but his mouth was moving so his brain thankfully went quiet.  He didn’t have enough blood to run both at the same time.  “I’m sure you’ve got a resume full of names and phone-numbers, Spike, but can we please temporarily halt the sex-a-thon for just a minute or two?  Please?”

“Hm.  Spike, what do you think?”  Anya glanced over at Spike, who was raising a single eyebrow at him.  “Should we let him go?”

“What kinda man wants to talk when he’s got two chits that look like we do in his bed?”  But that was rhetorical, because Spike was heaving a sigh and waving a magnanimous hand.  Like it was such effort to let Xander go for five minutes.  “Yeah, all right.  Be quick about it though, yeah?  Got a few tricks me’n Anya wanna try on you.”

Xander was never so happy to be alone in a bathroom before.

Accidentally banging his erection—ow!—into the very cold porcelain sink got it to go down enough that he could do normal morning things, like pee and brush his teeth.  The return of blood to his brain also brought some semblance of coherence.  Because yes, two gorgeous women in his bed promising to do things that would make him scream in the really, really good way did fluster him more than he could handle.

For one thing, it wasn’t supposed to occur outside his male, pornographic fantasies.  For another thing—the last time Xander had had this many women offering him their complete and undivided attention, it’d been that stupid spell to win back Cordelia.  The one where they’d tried to kill him, rather than share him.  So, yes, he felt it was completely rational for him to want to take a few moments to work out the preliminaries. Before he did something really stupid, and Anya got out the ax she kept in the spare room.

Besides.  Xander didn’t have sex to just have sex—no matter how insane he might be for turning it down.

Cleaner and in more control than before, Xander went back into the bedroom.  Anya and Spike were talking quietly on the bed, stretched out on their sides and looking incredibly comfortable.  Like they belonged there, both of them.  Not just in Xander’s bed, but in Xander’s life.

Much too weighty a thought before the impending threesome.

“Okay.  Minty-fresh breath assured—”

“Are you coming back to bed, or do we really have to do that talking thing?” Spike interrupted.  Bad Spike.  There was a whole speech writing itself in his head and Spike was interrupting!  “’Cause we’ve only got a few hours; don’t want to waste ’em yapping, the way Anya says you like.  Shoulda known you preferred talking to shagging, anyway.”

That was supposed to be a scornful dig.  Xander knew that, having been the recipient of many scornful and mocking digs in the past.  This time, though, Spike wasn’t sneering at him.  And his voice was decidedly mellow.  Odd.

“I’m not saying no, you two insufferable—wait, a few hours?  Why only a few hours?”  He heard this disappointment in his voice, but didn’t bother wincing.  Disappointment was perfectly justified, of course.  If there were two of them, it was going to take twice as long.  Or so his mind explained in perfectly reasonable terms.

“Because Larisha gave Giles some useful information,” Anya said in a bored voice. “I didn’t understand it, but Giles said that he did.  He’s probably bluffing just to make himself look good, but he said to come over to the Magic Box sometime this afternoon, he might have something done by then.”

Spike propped himself up on one arm and gave Xander a lingering once-over.  “An’ I don’t wanna get turned back till I’ve been fucked at least one more time, Harris, so get your bloody cock over to the bed so I can ride you.”

Tendrils of fire eating down his body, and oh, god, the totally matter of fact way Spike said that was hotter than any purring come-on he’d ever heard.  “Nyah,” he moaned, half way to the bed before his brain rebooted and reminded him that he wanted to talk first.

Glaring at the two girls so they stayed where they were—pouting and making big eyes at him the whole time—Xander sat himself at the top of the bed, leaning against the headboard.  Pulled a blanket over his lap to give himself a little bit of dignity. 

The blanket tented out obscenely.  Dignity laughed at him.

Skin seemed to be the better option, so Xander pulled the blanket off.  Thought about what he wanted to say.  “You made me lose my speech,” he accused Spike after a moment of mental groping.  After words, he was groping after words, so his hand really should stop moving now.  “It was about cheating, and fidelity, and Anya not eviscerating either of us.  Also about making sure that you were okay, not that you wouldn’t be because you’re a vampire, and you’d never admit it even if you weren’t okay, and—”

“Oh, for the love of St. bloody George,” Spike groaned, rolling onto his stomach.  He moved in a slinky panther-crawl until he was hovering over Xander’s body and whoa, kissing.  Nice kissing.  Without tongue or the all-consuming lust from the night before, just lips and a kind of pure sweetness that made Xander’s gut ache.  “Heard you two yapping yesterday,” Spike said quietly, when he finally pulled away.  “Knew Anya wouldn’t get pissy, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  An’ I’m fine.  Thank you for asking.”

No mockage.  No sarcasm.  No twisted little smirk that meant Spike was laughing at him, even when his voice said things like that in an incredibly sincere tone.  Just blue eyes looking up into his, and Spike had never really been able to lie with his eyes.  So he wasn’t lying, not even a little.  But since when did Spike thank someone?  Without being bullied into it?

“Spike, I mean it,” he tried one more time.  “I don’t want to do this unless all of us are—”

Then Anya was kissing him with that same sweetness that felt a lot like tenderness.  “I’m glad Spike had you for his first.  You’re very good at it.”

“What, you don’t want to have a go with me?” Spike pouted at Anya.  “Cause you know I’ve always had a thing for you, pet.”

Anya immediately started defending how much she wanted to sleep with Spike—“I haven’t practiced cunnilingus in almost a century, of course I want to make sure I’m still good at it, Spike,”—but Xander wasn’t listening to them banter.  Spike’s hand was on Xander’s thigh, absently petting.  In a non-sexual way.  Spike was also darting little curious glances over to him, and it took Xander a minute to finally figure it out.

Spike was trying to take care of him.  Sort of.  Okay, he could’ve just been waiting for Xander to stop blushing so hard, since Spike needed the blood somewhere else, if there was going to be riding.  But Xander didn’t think that was the primary reason—no matter what Spike told himself.  Spike was trying to be nice, to be. . . a lover.

And Anya was holding Spike’s hand.

Suddenly, Xander felt much better.

* * * * * * * *

Buffy scanned the Magic Box, oddly restless.  The super-duper-important training sessions Giles had planned for the weekend turned out to be a bust, since Giles was spending most of his time researching what had happened to Spike.  A few hours yesterday, barely an hour with her Watcher, and another half an hour with Riley today.  Not nearly enough for a healthy Slayer on the go—but that still didn’t explain the wiggy feeling in her gut.  A tremor in the force, Xander would tease her, if Xander weren’t buried nose-deep in a book.

Hey, maybe that’s why she was so disturbed?  ’Cause Xander reading without any quips or help-me-I’m-bored faces?  Pretty apocalyptic to this Slayer.  Buffy titled her head, thoughtfully watching Xander read a dry, dusty book on transmogrification.  No, she decided, that wasn’t it.  Xander sincerely reading was wiggy, but not wiggy snakes-in-your-belly-enough.

Tara was in the corner, distracting Dawn with pretty rocks that she’d assured Buffy didn’t cost a lot, if Dawn happened to break any.  Because Dawn would, and maybe Giles wouldn’t make her pay for them, but Anya definitely would, and—and maybe she shouldn’t think about it, because Dawn had this uncanny knack of knowing exactly what Buffy didn’t want her to do.  Riley was still in the training room, pretending he wasn’t sore and stiff by cleaning up.  Her poor boyfriend—he didn’t spar with her that often anymore, finally understanding that the Chosen one really was graced with the strength to stop vampires, strength normal men just didn’t have.  And she hadn’t pulled her punches enough.  Her frown came back, but well, she’d needed the work out, and he’d volunteered!

So, she’d make it up to him tonight.  Thinking about how was definitely something to put a smile on a girl’s face—but not enough to make the itchy-rolly feeling quiet down.  Drat.

Willow was curled up on the couch, muttering to herself while she paged through different books, the picture of studious helpfulness.  Of course, that would have been more impressive if Buffy didn’t instantly know the crinkly sound of glossy, treated paper being turned.  Casually moseying over, Buffy reminded herself to pay better attention to Giles’ lessons on being stealthy.  Or explain to Willow that she was allowed to look over her shoulder like that—hey, best-friend privileges!—without getting glared at.

When caught, go with a distraction.  “Entertainment Weekly?” Buffy mouthed, raising one eyebrow.  Spike wasn’t the only one to master that particular trick.

Muffling a giggle, Willow nodded and tilted the book so Buffy could see more than just the familiar layout.  Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt smiled in frozen happiness, and Buffy grin-frowned, adding an eye roll when she was certain Giles wasn’t looking.  Willow’s little obsession with happily married movie stars was getting just as freaky as Xander reading without protest.  Why Willow cared about people she was never going to meet, in a profession she was never going to be in—oooh, was that a new Dolce outfit?

“. . .not wearin’ pink!  Don’t care how bloody good you think I’m gonna look in it.  May be a girl, pet, but I’ve got sodding limits!”

“But Spike, it’s leather—”

Giles cleared his throat loudly.  “Children, if you don’t have anything useful to contribute, then do please be quiet.  This is an exceedingly difficult translation.”

Uh-oh, cranky Giles, and—that was it!  The reason for the wiggy feeling!

She didn’t let herself whip around the way she wanted to, even grinned an apology to Riley when he reentered the shop proper and mimed being quiet when Giles glared at her.  But her attention wasn’t on her boyfriend or her three oldest and dearest friends.  It was on the round table, where two girls sat, heads bent close together.  It looked perfectly normal, well, except the whole Spike as a girl, thing, but that was actually oddly normal too.  He’d still stomped around the room when he came in, sitting down only when Giles ordered him to.  Anya sitting next to him wasn’t that odd, either, since they occasionally had that ex-demon solidarity thing.  Usually right before something icky slimed her, but Buffy wasn’t bitter.  Much.  The memory-trading thing wasn’t any better, either.

But no, Spike and Anya sitting together and researching wasn’t that odd.  Spike and Anya discussing clothes was odd.  Very.

As casually as she knew how—which was very, she told the mocking voice that sounded way too much like boy-Spike—Buffy picked up a book and sat down at the table.  Flipping through the pages, Buffy scanned over words that were definitely not written in English and waited until Giles was distracted.

“So,” she whispered.  “What’s this about Spike in pink leather?”

Wow, Spike could still look incredibly hostile when he wanted to.  Almost snarling, Spike curled a hand over whatever they’d been reading, expression clearly telling Buffy to piss off now, you bloody stupid bint.  Or something as accented and ‘bloody’.

“I want to go shopping later,” Anya explained without preamble, although her voice thankfully quiet.  “And I want Spike to wear—give it to me—this.”

Huh.  Maybe Xander was doing the magazine-in-a-book trick. too, since he was so unnaturally studious.  His was probably Playboy, though, while this was definitely a fashion-mag.  “You want Spike to wear a pink leather mini-skirt?”  Anya had the weirdest fashion-sense Buffy had ever seen, even worse than Willow’s.  “Wait, how about this red one instead?  You like red, Spike.  But not with the white top.”  Looking Spike over critically, Buffy shook her head.  “Definitely not white, you’re way too sallow.”

“What?  I’m not—what the hell did she just call me?” he hissed at Anya.

“She said you have too much yellow in your complexion to wear true white.  And you do, which is why I was going to put you in the nice black tank-top on the next page.   The pink mini was on sale. . .but fine, if it’s red will you try it on, Spike?”


“What if I try to convince you?”

Buffy blinked.  No way had she just heard Anya sound. . . sexy.  Towards Spike.  Shaking her head slightly, she found the appropriate shirt—black with silver sparkles worked in, but not too garish.  “I like the cut of the shirt,” Buffy complimented.  “Oh!  If you use that new eyeliner you got, Anya, and that weird lipstick Dawn bought even though it’s not her color?  That’d be perfect for the Bronze tonight.  I could bear to be seen with you.”

Spike hadn’t lost his ability to make Buffy feel about three years old with just a look, either.  But this time, Buffy didn’t feel the need to hurl insults or just give in and hurl her fists.  She actually felt like, well, grinning.  Spike looked so young as a girl.  The lines in his face he utterly refused to acknowledge—despite her helpfulness in pointing them out—were smoothed away, and his eyes were bigger.  It made him look a little like Dawn—a pointy-chinned, innocent-seeming hellion.

“I am not wearing eyeliner.”  It was weird how Spike still sounded like Spike.  He was an alto now, but had the same scathing, derisive, really annoying dismissal: totally Spike. 

“Oh, please, Spike,” she scoffed, quieting when Willow coughed a reminder.  “Who was it that wore more eyeliner than his girlfriend did?  And I know you wore lipstick, don’t try and deny it.”  Hm, could she ask the one question she’d been dying to know?  “You know, since we’re all girls together. . . I’ve got to ask. How do you put on make up without a mirror?”

Spike had clearly not expected that response from Buffy.  Actually, neither had Buffy.  Why was she doing the conspiratorial girly thing?  He was still Spike in there, despite the new additions peaking out from under Anya’s borrowed t-shirt—figures Spike would choose something low-cut and really tight.  But she wasn’t treating him like Spike.  Did gender really make that much difference in how she interacted with others?

Weighty thoughts, and kind of disturbing—but then Spike was leaning forward, a wicked gleam in his eyes, a pose Buffy matched without once trying to remember where the nearest stake was, her usual response to that look.  “All in the practice, luv,” he whispered.  “Could probably teach you, if you wanted—and how to check it.  S’all fun and games ’till somebody’s laughin’ at you for having eyeliner run down your face.”

“That would be very useful, Spike,” Anya said, smiling warmly.  “Thank you.”

“Course, pet.”

Okay.  Maybe Spike and Anya discussing clothes wasn’t the cause of the wiggy feeling.  Maybe it was the way Spike leaned into the curve of Anya’s body, expression open and kinda relaxed and. . . friendly.  No, more than friendly.  They were grinning at each other in a way that looked almost like they were about to kiss.

Spike.  Kissing Anya?

“I’ve got it!”  Never happier for a distraction, Buffy turned towards Giles, who was skipping back and forth between the page held by his forefinger and the page held by his thumb.  “Yes, yes, it’s all right here.  How could I have missed it?”

“You found it?  But I wanted to find it!”  Willow started when everyone looked at her, avoiding Buffy’s gaze in particular.  “Um, I mean, yay?”

“Maybe you should tell us what ‘it’ is?” Xander asked, closing his book—which destroyed Buffy’s Playboy theory, because the pages settled together cleanly.  “And what’s involved with ‘it’?  There’s no blood, right?  Because watching Spike drink blood every meal is starting to do things to me.”

“Keep telling you, pet, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it,” Spike retorted.  Which was probably the lamest retort Buffy had heard out of the vampire, but after the almost-kissing Buffy wasn’t going to react to it.  “So, don’t leave us in suspense, Watcher.”

“And come between the insults flying about?”  Withering glare given to all three culprits, Giles lifted the book triumphantly.  “Larisha mentioned the moon, and I couldn’t understand since there is no mention of the moon whatsoever in the Dorishant Codex.  Because it’s in the Rishali text, not the Dorishant, how could I have missed something like that?”

Everyone seemed to be herding around the counter, so Buffy went too.  Working in the Magic Box was a lot nicer than constantly invading Giles’ apartment, but it was still new and a little awkward positioning themselves.  Buffy missed the ‘this is how you kill the monsters, Buffy’ table in Sunnydale High’s library.  That was a good table.  She’d been able to jump on it and everything!  But it was lost among rubble, now, and besides—she had a Giles to tease.  Leaning onto the counter, she made herself look as impish as possible.  “We’re very upset with you, Giles.  How could you have missed something like that?”

The glare he gave her glare wasn’t so withering, she noted smugly.  Nyah-nyah.

“Loosely, the translation in the Dorishant Codex reads: Twain become one by the shadow’s light, by Hestia’s Reach.”

Tara sidled next to her girlfriend, not really touching but close.  “Hestia’s Reach?  That’s a general r-reversal spell,” she explained.  “A kind of, um, reset button.”

“And shadow’s light usually means dawn,” Willow finished.  She and Tara had become really good at tag-teaming explanations over the summer.  “So what’s that got to do with a moon?  And didn’t we try Hestia’s Ban?  Or something like that?”

“We tried a similar spell, yes, but not this specific one—Larisha was the one who explained what ‘morian’ meant.”  Giles was on a roll now, picking up a scroll with his other hand and gesturing the way professors did against their big blackboards.  “But if you check the Rishali scroll, it does talk about what happens when the Gemini goes awry.”

“You mean it’s happened before?”  Spike’s eyes bugged out like a squished frog’s, indignant and annoyed.  “And it took you three bloody days to find it?”  He snorted contemptuously, glaring.  “Right, then.  Undo it.  Now.”

“Will any of you let me finish what I’m trying to say?  Without Larisha’s information, Spike, I would not have made the correct correlation and we would still be looking.  The likelihood of me discovering the connection on my own is quite small, so perhaps you should be thanking Anya for the contacts she remembered, instead of haranguing me for only three days of research.  And I can’t undo it now.  Not for another seven days, when the moon is dark.  Now, then.  If you have any other demands, insults, or interruptions, feel free to shout them to the void.”

Boy.  It was a good thing Buffy knew Giles was teasing right back, or she’d have to do something to hurt Spike.  No vampire was allowed to give her Watcher a coronary.  That was Buffy’s job.

“Seven days?” Spike growled.  “I gotta stay like this for seven more days?”

“Oh, suck it up,” Xander immediately retorted.  “We have to live with you for seven more days.  Think how we feel.”

“Actually, Xander, we should feel—annoyed!  Very annoyed!”  Anya smiled brightly at everyone, leaning into the arm her boyfriend half-raised, looking like some kind of Barbie doll, shiny-fake and depthless.  “Because Spike is interrupting our time to—”

“Do you two ever talk about anything else?”  Frustrated, Spike looked at Buffy.  Was he—was he grinning underneath that scowl?  “You should hear ’em!  Goin’ at it all the bloody time, never mind that I’m right outside the door.  And don’t listen to him blather about the walls being thick enough.  I’m a sodding vampire, and I can—”

“Oh, please, Spike like you were objecting when we—”

“You know, I think all of us would be just a lot happier if you didn’t finish that.”  Riley smiled—disarming, charming, and so debonair—at Anya before glancing at Buffy’s twisted expression.  He knew how much she hated when Anya discussed her sex-life in public.  Couldn’t Xander teach her some tact?  “Besides, Dawn’s here, and she’s—well, too young hear about that.”

“I am not!”

“I’m too young, Dawn,” Buffy said, taking her boyfriend’s side, figuratively and literally.  “And if I am, you definitely are, so in the interest of saving young ears, Giles, are we done?”

“Hm?  Oh, yes.  There’s nothing to be done until the dark of the moon, Spike, so if you really dislike living with Xander and Anya, then you could return to your own crypt.  And if you do not, please do shut up about it.  I’m surrounded by children, I don’t need your whining as well.”

Buffy was really glad she wasn’t the only one saying, “Hey!”

Riley nuzzled her head.  “We have plans for the rest of the day?”

“Nope,” she replied, happy to be back in his arms.  “Well, I do owe a certain guy a little R and R after the workout I put him through, but. . .”

The little smile he got, something that was so mischievous and naughty and yet so wholesome sent little tingles down her belly.  “I think my manliness could stand a little pandering.”

“Well, consider yourself—” What had Anya just told Willow?  And she was really going to owe Riley huge, because she was pretty sure she’d heard Willow say: “Shopping?  You guys are going shopping?”

“Spike’s too small to wear most of my clothes,” Anya repeated.  “So we’re going to go shopping the rest of the afternoon.”

“Yes, and do buy that delightful red leather mini skirt you were talking about,” Giles muttered, cleaning his glasses.

Oops.  She was going to have to work on talking quietly in front of Giles.  But later.  “Spike, you’re going to let Anya shop for you?  Just the two of you?  Where, it’s sunny out.  And who exactly is paying for this?”

“Yes, of course he is, just us, the mall is enclosed and we can avoid windows and mirrors, and Xander and I are both chipping in.  Why?  Did you want to come?”

“Oh!  We can make it a girls day out!”  Willow bounced, then paused, “Um, Xander, you don’t mind, do you?  If we steal your girls away?”

Buffy turned back to Riley, vaguely noticing that Xander was bright red and stammering—and so, oddly enough, was Spike.  “Do you mind, Riley?  If I go too?”

“Is this really necessary?” Riley asked, voice soft enough that only she could hear him.  “I mean, it’s just for a week.  And it’s Spike.  Do we really want to be going all out for him?  Um, her?”

“Well, I mean, he can’t go running around in clothes that are too big for him,” Buffy pointed out logically.  “And it’s not like we’re going to buy him expensive clothes, just, you know, stuff to slay in without tripping and maybe something to Bronze in.  Plus some jeans and stuff and—”

The look Riley was giving her wasn’t complimentary.  “You want to go to the Bronze with Spike?”

Tugging on Riley’s shirt, she backed them into the corner and tried to believe that vampire hearing wouldn’t be able to make out every word, Verizon clear.  “It’s—it’s kinda hard to explain.  I know he’s Spike—evil, annoying, blood-sucking vampire that hates us all and wants nothing more than to make our lives miserable—but. . .  But he was saving Xander, when this happened.”

“Spike?  Saving someone?”  Riley shook his head.  “Come on, Buffy, you and I both know that Spike doesn’t save anyone.  He probably just tripped.”

Three days ago, she would’ve said the same thing.  But Buffy had been the only one to see Spike’s expression the instant before he dived in front of Xander.  The split second of shock, horror, and then determination hadn’t screamed ‘die, white hat, die’.  “I know, and I don’t really understand why, either—”

“But you’re gonna do what you want to do,” Riley finished.  Grinning, oo, he was grinning!  That meant Buffy wasn’t in trouble.  “Although why that has to be playing dress up with the evil undead. . . ”

“Oi!”  A loud, annoying voice interrupted them.  “Just cause I’m evil doesn’t mean I can’t be pretty.”

“Which skirt do you want, Spike?” she called over Riley’s shoulder.  “The red or the pink?”  That got him to shut up long enough for Buffy to properly reward her boyfriend for being so understanding.  They were getting much better at ignoring Dawn’s ‘ewwww’s.  “I’ll stop by Victoria’s Secret,” she promised.  “Pick you up something special.”

“Oh, be still my heart,” Riley teased, pulling her into a hug.  It was warm and safe in Riley’s arms, something she still marveled at, even after so long into the relationship.  The slow thud of his heart under her ear was a sound she never tired of.

The rest of the shop seemed to catch her mood.  Willow and Tara were holding hands, smiling as they helped Dawn finish up her homework.  Anya was back in Xander’s arms, leaning against him the same way Buffy was pressed up against Riley—only back to front, not front to front—and even Spike. . .

Buffy blinked, raising her head sharply.  No way.  No way had Xander’s arm been around Spike’s waist.  And Spike had definitely not titled his head up to Xander, the same way Buffy did when she was asking for a kiss.

Nu-uh.  Not.  Possible.