Spike was surprised to arrive at the Magic Box before Buffy for their nightly patrol. It was three days since she’d first joined him on patrol, and she was regaining her footing quickly. Not that he expected anything different; slaying was in her blood. Staking vampires was as instinctual to her as drinking blood was to him. It was just part of who they were.
Striding in through the back door, Spike was glad to see only Giles in the shop. He’d had just about enough of the Scoobies and their disapproving glares. Besides, he had a bone to pick with Giles, and he’d rather not do it in front of the others.
“Seems Buffy’s running late,” Giles informed him. “She and Dawn spent the day at the mall doing some holiday shopping.”
Spike completely ignored him. “What else haven’t you told her?”
“I beg your pardon?” Giles asked, looking thoroughly confused by the abrupt change in subject.
“Have you told her anything at all about her life before?”
Giles glared at him, not liking his tone. “I don’t see how that is any of your concern.”
“It wouldn’t be any of my concern if you didn’t send her off with me every night. What, you think we just walk around in silence? You think she’s not asking me all sorts of questions.”
Giles obviously hadn’t thought of that. He’d assumed if Buffy had any questions she’d direct them to him, and he’d decide how much truth to tell her. “What has she asked you?”
Before Spike could respond, bell over the shop door rang, and Buffy, Xander, and Anya walked through. Noticing the tense body language, Buffy walked over to stand next to Spike. It bothered Giles to see that Buffy clearly felt more comfortable with Spike than anyone else. Maybe, it hadn’t been his best idea that they spend so much time together.
“What’s going on?” she asked, looking up at the two of them. “Did something happen?”
“It’s nothing, pet. Just havin’ a talk with your watcher,” Spike assured her.
“Okay, well, I’m sorry I’m late. The mall was a zoo, and it took us forever to get out of the parking lot.”
“No worries. I’m sure the whelp’s terrible driving didn’t help.” He ignored Xander’s protests to the contrary. “All set?”
Buffy said good night to her friends who watched her exit with Spike’s hand on the small of her back, leading her out the back door.
“They’re chummy,” Xander observed, not sounding at all happy.
“Yes, quite,” Giles agreed, sounding as bothered as Xander.
Hours later they’d only come across a handful of vampires. It was still relatively early, but Spike decided it would be best to walk Buffy home and finish the night by himself. Buffy wasn’t too happy with the idea, but she didn’t argue. Truth be told, she was worn out from the hours she’d spent shopping all day. Dawn had dragged her from store to store in search of the perfect Christmas gifts for their friends. Fortunately, their time and effort paid off, and they were able to find something for everyone.
Buffy had even suggested they buy something for Spike, which was obviously unexpected from the look on Dawn’s face.
Rounding the corner of Revello, Buffy felt Spike stop suddenly like he’d heard something. She hadn’t heard anything, but didn’t have time to wonder because in the next second Spike took off running. She ran after him, as they neared her house she heard what he must have seconds before, a girl screaming.
It was close to two in the morning, everyone in her house should have been fast asleep by now. Running up the front steps and through the open door, Buffy and Spike looked around to see where the screaming was coming from.
“Willow! Help me!”
They flew upstairs, and Buffy peeked into Dawn’s room before following Spike into the master bedroom. Dawn was flat on her back on the floor with a demon on top of her while Willow lay unconscious against the wall. Spike threw the demon off Dawn, crouching down to make sure the teen was all right. Buffy didn’t hesitate, looking around for a weapon while delivering a series of powerful punches and kicks to the demon’s head and midsection.
“Go lock yourself in your room,” Spike ordered Dawn, making sure she was out of the room before turning to help Buffy. She saw his face shift for the first time since her accident, and it didn’t faze or frighten her one bit. He threw the demon backward, straight into Buffy who hopped onto its back. Thrown off balance, the demon didn’t have time to lash out before Buffy snapped its neck, dropping to the floor with a thud.
“Buffy?” Dawn called out from her bedroom.
“It’s okay, Dawn. You can come out now,” Buffy called back.
“Thank God you came home early,” Dawn cried, running into her arms. “I was asleep, and then I heard Willow yelling, so I came in here, and that demon was attacking her.”
Willow groaned from her spot on the floor, reminding them of her presence. Slowly regaining consciousness, she opened her eyes and sat up against the wall. “What happened?” she mumbled, still disoriented.
“That’s what we’d like to know,” Spike replied harshly. “Why the hell was a Turba demon attackin’ you?”
Willow looked insulted. “It’s not like he told me before he chased me into the house.”
Spike didn’t look satisfied with her answer, and Buffy wondered what he was thinking. She was the slayer. Demons probably attacked her home pretty often.
Buffy saw Dawn off to bed while Spike dragged the body out of the house. She was standing in the kitchen with two hot cups of tea when he came back. He was reluctant to sit with her, but finally relented after she pouted—couldn’t let perfectly good tea go to waste.
“Why don’t you stay here tonight?” she offered.
“Don’t think that’s the best idea, Slayer.”
“Why not? We have no clue why that Turban demon attacked. There could be others.”
“Turba,” he corrected. “And you’re perfectly capable of handling it on your own.”
“I know that, but I think Dawn would feel a lot safer knowing we’re both here in case something happens.”
Buffy knew she had him when she mentioned Dawn. He got this protective look on his face and nodded. She couldn’t help the twinge of jealousy that he was staying for Dawn and not her.
“Hey, Buff,” Xander greeted, entering her house as she walked down the stairs. “Are you aware that your front door is broken?”
“Demon.” She turned to yell up the stairs, “Dawn, Xander’s here!”
“Demon?” Xander asked, following her into the kitchen.
“Yeah, Tur-something or other. Coffee?”
Xander nodded, and she poured him a cup. It was good to see Buffy moving around so naturally in her house only a little over a week after her accident. “Everyone okay?”
“Willow took a nasty blow to the head, but other than that everybody’s fine.”
“Morning,” Dawn greeted, bounding into the room. She rushed around the kitchen, grabbing a banana and a bottle of water. “Buffy, I think Spike left his duster here last night,” she said, noticing the item draped over one of the bar stools.
“Spike was here last night?”
“Actually, he’s still here,” Buffy said, nonchalantly taking a sip of her coffee.
“He’s what?” Xander’s eyes practically popped out of their sockets.
“Shh!” Buffy scolded. “He’s in the basement, probably still sleeping.”
Xander sat there gaping until Dawn pulled on his arm. “C’mon, Xand, I’m gonna be late.”
Xander allowed Dawn to lead him away from the kitchen, out the front door, and into his car. He didn’t speak until they were well on their way to the high school. “I know Buffy’s not herself right now, but what was she thinking letting Spike stay at your house all night?”
“What’s the big deal? He slept in the basement.”
“That’s not the point! He’s a vampire, Dawn. Why can’t you Summers women remember that?” Xander asked, exasperated.
“Spike saved my life last night, Xander. He’s my friend, and he cares about me. So what if he’s a vampire?”
“So what?” He laughed humorlessly. “So what, she says. Vampires are evil, you know that.”
Xander stopped the car in front of the school, turning to look at Dawn. She gazed back at him, an expression of pity on her pretty young face like he was the one with the problem. “Spikes not,” she told him with conviction before stepping out of the car.
Buffy waited around impatiently for Spike to come up the basement stairs. She sat down to watch television, but soon became restless. Willow was still locked in her room, probably nursing a bad headache, and the house was eerily quiet. Buffy went from room to room, looking for tasks to busy her. After washing the dishes, making her bed, and taking a shower he still hadn’t emerged from the basement.
Spotting a hamper full of dirty laundry, Buffy decided it was as good a time as any to do a load of wash. It was pure coincidence that the washing machine was located in the basement. She quietly made her way down the basement steps and found Spike passed out on the cot. A sheet hung dangerously low on his slim hips, his naked torso exposed to her wide eyes.
Blushing, she averted her gaze and moved to the washing machine. Now, that she was this close to him, she wasn’t so sure it had been the best idea to go down there. He’d see right through her flimsy excuse and probably be angry that she was invading his personal space. For whatever reason she was drawn to him, but the feeling was very clearly not mutual.
Turning away from the machine after she had started a wash, she jumped back, releasing a small yelp at the sight of Spike sitting up against the wall watching her. He chuckled at her reaction.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Sure you didn’t.” He fished in the pocket of his discarded jeans for his pack of cigarettes. “You always do your laundry when somebody’s sleeping down here?”
“No! I mean, I don’t know. Maybe, I do.” She looked down sheepishly. “I was bored upstairs by myself.”
He lit his cigarette, uncaring whether or not it bothered her. “Nobody home?”
“Dawn’s at school, and Willow’s still in bed.” Buffy walked over to his cot, gesturing to the space next to him. “Can I?”
Spike nodded, pulling the sheet tighter around his hips as she sat down. “Red’s not doin’ so well after last night, I take it?”
“Red? Oh. No, I guess she’s not. She must’ve hit her head pretty hard.”
Spike scoffed at that, but didn’t comment.
“You don’t like her.”
Spike exhaled a cloud of smoke. “’S not that. I’m not fond of her messin’ around with the magic is all.”
“I met a woman at the Magic Box. Tara, I think her name was. Who is she? I was getting the sense she’s not fond of Willow and magic either.”
“Not that I’m privy to the inner goings-on of the Scooby gang, but I believe that had to do with a memory wiping spell Willow cast a couple weeks ago. We all lost our memories for a while there. Tara used to live here with you girls, but she moved out that night.”
“Do you…do you think Willow had anything to do with me losing my memory?” Buffy asked, her eyes trained on the pillow she’d taken into her lap. Her fingers clutched at the pillowcase nervously.
Spike put his hand over hers, stilling her fingers. “No, I don’t. This time it wasn’t magic.”
She wasn’t sure if that made her feel better or worse. If it had been magic, there might have been an easy solution, easier than say, waiting around for her memories to return.
Sensing her mixed emotions, Spike lifted her chin until their eyes met. “We’ll find out who did this to you, Slayer. And when we do, let’s just say I wouldn’t wanna be in their shoes.”
Buffy gave him a small smile. His face was so close to hers, it wouldn’t take much effort to reach up and kiss him. His lips looked so soft and inviting, and she wasn’t sure she believed that they’d never kissed. Not when her heart was pounding against her rib cage and her brain was screaming at her to just do it.
Spike cleared his throat, moving his hand from under her chin. The moment was broken, and Buffy could kick herself for chickening out. She needed to know why she was feeling what she was feeling toward Spike when their relationship, if she could even call it that, was so strained.
“Looks like I’m stuck here for another couple of hours,” Spike said, breaking the silence. “Think you got any blood leftover in the freezer?”
Blood. Vampires drank blood. Why hadn’t she thought of that? She jumped off the cot, wetting her lips. “I’ll check while you…ya know.” She gestured to his state of undress before turning and practically running up the stairs.
Buffy arrived at the Magic Box ready to fill Giles in on the demon attack from the previous night. The shop was empty except for Anya at the cash register. Buffy couldn’t help but notice that almost every time she’d been in the shop, Anya was at that machine.
“Hey, Buffy,” Anya greeted. “Giles is downstairs taking inventory. He asked me to let you know he’ll be up when he’s finished.”
“Thanks.” Buffy was grateful for the chance to speak with Anya privately. “Anya, can I ask you something?”
Anya beamed. “You sure can! I’ve been told I’m a very honest person.”
“Okay, well, I wanted to ask you about Spike.”
“Go on,” Anya prodded impatiently.
“About Spike…and me. Is there a ‘Spike and me’?” Anya didn’t seem to understand what Buffy was asking, so she added, “Like are we more than just patrolling buddies?”
“You’re asking if you and Spike have had intercourse?” Buffy blushed, but nodded. “I highly doubt it. You’re a little uptight and refuse to admit what any woman with eyes can see—that Spike is quite physically attractive."
“I am? I do?” Buffy just could not connect her feelings and desires with what Anya was telling her about her past. She was having trouble ignoring them after only a few days of knowing Spike, how could she possibly have done it for years?
Giles chose that moment to emerge from the basement, closing the door behind him. “Ah, Buffy you’re here. I apologize for making you wait, but I haven’t been keeping up with inventory as I should.”
“It’s fine. It gave me a chance to talk to Anya. Privately,” she added, looking pointedly at the other woman.
“Why don’t we have a seat? I’d like to talk to you about Spike.”
Buffy almost laughed. If only he knew she’d basically spoken the same exact words to Anya only minutes earlier. “What about him?”
“Xander has brought it to my attention that Spike spent the night at your house.” Giles waited for Buffy to respond with an explanation. When she didn’t, he continued, “I’m sure you’re unaware, but Spike shouldn’t be a welcome overnight guest in your house.”
Buffy furrowed her brow in confusion. “Why?”
Giles had to remind himself that Buffy couldn’t remember all the terrible things Spike had done to them over the years. She only knew the Spike who helped her fight demons every night. “Because,” Giles started, choosing his words carefully. “Because Buffy, Spike is a killer. It isn’t safe to have him in your house while you sleep—for you or anyone else.”
“But I thought Spike has a chip in his head? Isn’t it impossible for him to hurt us?”
“And you trust him to patrol with me? And take care of Dawn?”
“Buffy, I think you’re missing the point here.”
“What is the point, exactly? That you’ll use Spike when you need him?” Buffy asked, as she stood her ground, her face hot with anger.
“Now, let’s calm down,” Giles urged her, not liking at all the turn the conversation had taken. “You don’t know Spike as the rest of us do.” He looked to Anya for help, but she was conveniently preoccupied with dusting the shelves. “He’s done bad things, Buffy. I’m only trying to look out for you.”
Buffy squared her shoulders. “Thank you for your concern, but Spike is not a danger to anyone. Especially, not Dawn or me. And I don’t need your permission to have a guest stay at my house.”
Giles sat back in his chair, stunned. Buffy couldn’t regain her memories soon enough, that was for sure. The attachment she was developing to the blond vampire was unsettling, and it seemed there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it.
Spike sauntered into the room through the back door, looking more smug than usual. He’d arrived at the tail end of their conversation, hanging back to catch the last of it. It was a welcome change to see Buffy standing up to her watcher in his defense, but at the same time it was a harsh reminder that this wasn’t the real Buffy.
“Rupert,” he greeted the other man. Giles ignored him, giving Buffy one last look before retreating behind the counter.
Buffy let out a breath. For some unknown reason she felt like she’d just done something wrong. She had no idea why. She was a grown woman with her own house, and Giles had no right to tell her how to live her life.
A hand on her shoulder pulled her from her internal debate. “Everything okay, Slayer?”
She turned, gave Spike a tight smile, and nodded. “Yeah, let’s go.” She shot one last tense glance at Giles before leading Spike out of the shop.