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"Late!" Fred shrieked from the bathroom the next morning. “Oh, we are so late! I won’t even have time for a toaster waffle.  You - ”  she gestured wildly.  “You’re not even dressed!”

“I got something better than a waffle.  Wanna see it?”

Spike sat on the edge of the bed, rumpled and naked and wrapped in a sheet. 

He curled his finger towards her.

“Morning, kitten. Come, let's have a look at you.”

"We so do not have time for this," she scolded, one hand on her hip.

"Oh, she doesn't have time for me!" he exclaimed in false shock. "The honeymoon is over,” he pouted. 

Then he began to smirk.  ”Suppose I say please. Like you said please, last night. Would that do it? Please, Fred.  Oh, yeah, baby, oh, please…”

She walked over slowly, watching him with amusement.

He spun his finger. "Turn ‘round."

She pursed her lips and rolled her eyes, but did as he asked.

"Fresh and pressed you are. Saucy little work clothes, hair all blown out, and shiny pink lips in such a pretty scowl," he clucked his tongue at her and reached up to undo the top button of her blouse. "Want nothing more than to rumple you.”

Her top teeth caught on her bottom lip and she inhaled sharply. "You're not going to get dressed at all, are you?”

He grinned devilishly and continued his exploration of her. "Is it my imagination or do those skirts of yours go farther up your thighs every day? You don't wear stockings, thank God. Mmm, look at all those miles of bare leg to climb up. Sweet little knobby knees." He cupped his hand on the smooth underside of her thigh and gripped the muscle there as if testing its strength, rubbing slowly, deeply, rough fingers kneading upward steadily, inquisitively.

"My knees aren't knobby,” she corrected him huskily, running her fingers through his tousled blonde hair.

Spike rumbled in the back of his throat, like a large purring cat and the sound of him growling for her caused a surge of fire in her blood. 

“How you balance in those heels of yours is a wonder. But you stalk like you mean it, baby. All that’s missing’s your whip.  Might have to bring one home, see what you’d do with it.  What you'd do with me.  Show me how I've been a bad, bad, boy.” His tongue curled over his teeth and Fred felt a fresh flood of heat.

“Most of the time I’m trying not to fall,” she admitted with a blush.

“S’alright, love.  If you’d fall," he pulled her to the bed and she gasped.

“You’d always catch me.”

"Always.  Straddle me, like this.  Right, let’s part those gorgeous, milky thighs, hmm,” he said and helped her put action to words. "That's my good girl. Now what do I have here?”

He pressed his lips against the pulse at her throat and collarbone, causing her breath to falter. Dizzy with his strength, the thought flashed through her mind how much natural impulse he'd acted on in his life when his hunt and her blood meant a battle of survival. Even given that power, that inclination, she knew he would never, ever pierce her skin for it. 

Unless she wanted him to.

All she could do was press herself closer to him, urging him on. But, oh, how he loved to take his time.  He grazed his nose around the gauzy cotton of her blouse and teased her nipple hard through her bra. His one hand rubbed her right buttock and the other held firm against the small of her back.

Languid heat spread through her like the after taste of liquor. "Mmm," she sighed and dropped back into the security of his hands. “Spike…”

"Ah, there she goes," he noted with pleasure. He carefully folded back the hem of her skirt and she felt his hand reach around to massage the moist mound of her panties with strokes careful and insistent.

"Thought I'd convinced you to stop wearing these.”

She giggled. "I've got to give you some kind of a challenge.”

"No, you don't," he replied, his voice catching, breaking.  

Her eyes flew open.

How quickly she could forget this about him.  Hands so strong but his heart stayed vulnerable still. Something hurt that had never fully healed lay barely buried behind his eyes, which now watched her both tentative and hopeful.

“Hey,” she whispered, cupping his cheek, rubbing his jawbone with her thumb.  “I’m right here. Not going anywhere, okay?”

These moments of uncertainty made her want him even more, to be everything for him that he had missed. She kissed his forehead and cheeks until his troubled expression passed and his stroking of her resumed.

This is my power, she thought with a rush, I can make it all better for him.  Me.  I can kiss him and make any dark thoughts disappear.

"Challenges are for wanting what you can't have," he continued quietly, moving back into her heat. "Is that what you are?" He slipped his fingers under the elastic of the thin wet cotton. "Something I can't have?”

“No,” she groaned, moving into his fingers and closing her eyes to concentrate on his touch.  “You can have me, you can, you do.”

"For always?" his voice cracked soft and searching, probing, like how his hands probed with sweet need under her skirt.

"Yes," she breathed.  “Yes, please.”

"God, Win, love this, love you.  How we are, what you do, fucking hell, you’re so good, so very good…”

Mouths open, eyes closed, still they found each other and Fred couldn't kiss him enough. Kisses so far gone from cute or sweet or dear, but deep and hungry and necessary as air. He guided her onto him and both hands went to her lower back, supporting her while he eased her backward until she felt suspended in midair, her calves squeezing against his hips, heels pinching his flanks.

"Every time I see you peeking out of your skirt, balancing on these beautiful coltish legs of yours, all I want is to have them wrapped around me.  Wanna watch you, just like this.  Bring you to the edge and watch you shatter for me, over and again.” He paused.  “Trust me, baby?" 

She nodded and he eased her back farther, slipping in at yet another angle, while his hands eased her pelvis rhythmically down against his. One arm bracing her back, the other lifted her shirt, flipped her bra open, and massaged her breasts. The hand continued to stroke down her ribs and abdomen until it settled right above where their bodies joined.

He rubbed her rhythmically and continued to rock her onto him. "I've got you just where I need you to be, just where you belong, just where you fit.  And how you fit…God, that’s it.  My sweet, good girl, Win, God - yes.  Just like that…”

Every time, he filled her completely and all of her depended on him inside of her. He had everything in control, he knew her body better than she did, and there was nothing left for her to do but give in to him, embrace what he gave to her, squeeze and finally let go with a shivering, shaking, body quaking moan of release and pleasure that finally rose into a scream.  He wouldn’t stop moving, wouldn’t stop giving her everything he had until he had wrung every last cry of release out of her.

In one agile twist, he picked her up and pressed her down to the bed and gave himself into her, once, twice, and trembled with the force of it. He lay with his head cradled against her chest.

"We'll call in today," he muttered with gruff authority, a perfect compliment to the soft circles he licked in outline at her heart and throat.

"Again?" she asked lazily and wrapped her arms and legs around the angles of his hips.  Spike made sure they called in sick to work quite often.

"Not yet," he said, not speaking about work at all but about him twitching with life against her belly. He pulled her even closer so that their two sets of lanky limbs fell into place against each other. 

"But soon enough."

 

***

 

“Buffy!  Don’t tell me you’re already in Los Angeles!”

A wake up call via international Giles - not the preferred way to be roused in a Heaven Sent Bed.  From how she felt, she imagined he must be calling her at daybreak.  What a shock to discover that she’d dozed through most of the morning and the bedside clock read 10:45am.

“Huh?” she grunted.  

He paused.  “Surely you’re not still sleeping.”

Thousands of miles away and no longer her Watcher, but the guy could still scold her and make the guilt stick.  Some kind of super power there for sure.

“I’m up,” she said more clearly, leaning forward so that she wasn’t lying to him.

“Up and in California then?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Buffy, that trip hadn’t yet been approved.”

Now she sat bolt upright.  “I didn’t know it had to be.  Giles, I’ve been in England with you, in Spain with Faith, you sent Xander to Africa - all on Slayer Search 2004.  We go, we look, we retrieve.  Pass the inflight peanuts.”

“Yes, but that’s not what you’re doing,” he said impatiently.  “You’re investigating.  Completely different budget category.”

“Budget?” she echoed with a start.  “Since when do we have budgets?”

“Since always,” he sighed, that edge of barely patient explanation creeping into his voice.  “You’ve missed our last six meetings about them.”

Oh, yeah.  She knew she’d blown off a few of the past Watcher Council conference calls, but six?  Along with the meeting requests had been some attached forms they were supposed to review, something about expense reports maybe? Probably?  No big, they were all still in her email. Somewhere.

As though reading her mind, Giles then asked, “Buffy, when was the last time you checked your Watcher mail account?”

“Um, you know, I really don’t use it all that much ‘cause I got this invite-only deal to this awesome new one called Gmail, so…”

“Buffy!” He rapped out. “Your Watcher account was never designed for socializing.  It’s how we transmit vital information between multiple parties in various countries in the least amount of time possible.”

She raised her eyebrows.  “This from the former librarian dude who said letter-writing’s a lost art.”

“I still am and it still is,” he replied tightly.  “I’ve had to…adapt, albeit reluctantly, to technology in favor of convenience.”

“Great!  Does this mean I can start texting you now?”

“Absolutely not.  About this investigation.  What notes do you have so far?”

Buffy gaped at the phone.  “Giles, you know I just touched down yesterday, right?”

“Yes.  Plenty of time for you to conduct all your necessary interviews at Wolfram & Hart, compile your notes, and make your report today.  You should be able to return this evening by the latest.”

“Whoa!” Buffy jumped out of the bed.  “Giles, I barely got through dinner with Angel yesterday.  Ask me how many notes he gave me for my investigation.  Go ahead, try me.”

Giles heaved a monumental sigh.  “I dread to.”

“None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.”

“Buffy, there’s an entire list of individuals to interview listed in this report:  Wesley, Charles Gunn, Winifred Burkle, Angel, Spike - dear Lord.  I thought they all had offices at Wolfram & Hart.”

“Maybe once upon a time, but except for Spike and Fred, they’ve all bailed on Angel.”

“Due to Wolfram & Hart’s reputation, no doubt,” Giles muttered bitterly.  

“Sure, let’s go with that,” Buffy blew her hair out of her eyes.  She really didn’t want to go into the blowup of Angel’s forgetting spell right this second.

“Anyway, they’ve scattered to the winds,” she continued.  “Tracking them all down and getting them to talk with me might be right up there with trying to get my cashmere back from Dawn.”

Giles paused.  “Perhaps we’ll have to try a different tactic then.” His voice sounded grave.

“What do you mean?” she asked slowly, starting to feel suspicious.

“Buffy, this would’ve been so much easier had you simply read your mail and attended our meetings!  Suffice to say, rebuilding the Watcher’s Council has been tenuous at best.  With Quentin gone, along with most of his investments, the Council’s finances are limited.  Severely so.  With so many Slayers needing training, guidance, housing, education, even medical care, our resources are stretched extremely thin.  At the same time, we need Watchers.  We can’t assign one Watcher to twenty girls, they simply wouldn’t receive the attention they need.  So we must recruit - no easy task when the Watcher employment package we offer is so - ”

“Sucky?” she filled in.

“I was going to say spartan, actually.  When I became a Watcher, it meant responding to a vocation.  There simply aren’t enough called to the task.  Hence the need to hire outside our sphere.”

“And no idiot not from a Hellmouth is gonna do this gig for free,” Buffy realized aloud.

“Not when they know the dangers, such as an entire Council blown to bits by a madman.”

“Combat pay can’t touch that,”  she agreed.  She slumped into one of her hotel room’s easy chairs, her thoughts spinning.

“Hence the need for funding, for budgets, and for proper documentation.  We have a group of investors who’ve indicated interest in our cause.  However, they have additional requirements in mind.”

“Like…”

“Slayers are valuable, Buffy.”

She blinked at the phone.  “No duh.”

“No, you misunderstand,” he replied impatiently.  “Our investors are interested in Slayers as…as a commodity.”

Buffy was back on her feet.  What?”

“They envision sending Slayers to battle, whether it be to stem activity in Hellmouths, in the jungles of third world countries, on 24/7 patrol through active cemeteries or to paranormal sites in any part of the world.”

“Screw that,” Buffy spat, her heart racing.

“It wouldn’t be much of a change from what you’ve already done…”

“Oh, no - except for the lack of any of my choice in it.”  Buffy started to pace now.  

“It sounds extreme only because it’s new and different,” she heard Giles trying to rationalize.  “They recognize and appreciate your power.  They only wish to protect it.”

“How?”  Buffy’s mouth went dry.

“For a start, by making it a capital offense to kill one of you.  For any reason.”

“Capital,” she stammered.  “Meaning…”

“Punishable by death.”

Not Spike.  Not dead.  Not again.

She felt panic rise like bile in her throat.  “Giles, but, but… the Council couldn’t just sentence someone to death and have that be it…”

“Of course not,” he chided her gently.  “There would be an inquiry and a trial.  I imagine in a case such as Leah’s, the information would overwhelmingly be in favor of those who protected themselves against her.”

“But a trial.”

“Indeed.  Buffy, all lives are valuable, I know you understand that, perhaps better than most.  By investigating her death, you’re giving this young woman a voice, perhaps one she never had.”

She sat on the edge of the bed and worried a hangnail with her teeth.

“Giles, this bites.  I don’t want to be a commodity.  I’m not grain.”

He sighed again into the phone.  “I don’t care particularly for it, either.  You’re certainly more akin to gold, in my estimation.”

She smiled faintly.

“I hate all of it,” he said flatly, his voice more strident.  “I’d dearly love to tell the moneybags to kindly shove their funding where the sun won’t shine.”

“Yeah Giles!” she cheered, slapping her hand on the bed.

“But I can’t.  They’re the only investors we have interested and we’re down to Quentin’s last few accounts.  One crisis and it could collapse the entire organization, leaving all our Slayers abandoned.”

“Great,” she smirked ruefully. “So I get to tell the guy who burned up in fiery torment - helping us stop the last apocalypse, by the way - that self-defense doesn’t quite cut it according to our new board of mis-directors and that he better dust off his best inquisition leather.”  

“I wouldn’t necessarily lead with that but if the interviews don’t go as planned, you may need to play that card.  Buffy,” his voice went gentle.  “I am sorry to relay all this to you by phone.  I know it’s a shock.”

“Shock, awe, the whole doomsday package, but I’ll deal,” she swallowed hard.  “I always do.”

“Do your best to speak to them all.  I’ll buy you as much time as I can.”

The line went click.

Spike on trial, me as character witness, I could be his champion for once. 

Right, like they’d really let a vampire walk free?  He’d be as good as dust.  

But maybe…if he worked for the Watcher’s Council, they’d give him a pass.  

Would he do it?  Would Fred follow him or would another deal with another kind of devil be too much for her?

I’m dooming him to die…

I could still save him!

God, is this what Angel feels everyday?

 

“Hey, room service?  Could I order some breakfast?  Pretty much the whole menu would be awesome, thanks.”

Tomorrow she would have to redirect her mission.

Today she needed to fortify and plan her attack.  

With waffles.