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Chapter Notes: This story began in my head when I watched Buffy and Spike playing cards at her 21st birthday party.
Chapter One: One Question
‘Bloody hell, Slayer, you can’t take off just one ear-ring! That‘s cheating.’
‘Oh, so taking one bootlace out of one boot, isn’t?’
‘It’s strip snap. Whoever looses takes off one thing they’re wearing. I offered to take off my pants just now, remember?’
Buffy glared and hastily looked round to make sure no one else had heard, but they all seemed busily occupied, as they had done for hours now.
‘Be quiet! Someone will hear.’
Spike cynically raised an eyebrow and shuffled the pack. ‘Oh and we mustn’t let anyone know about us, must we? Can’t offend their dainty sense of morality. I suppose you stripping naked in front of me won’t get their attention?’
‘Huh! I won’t be stripping. I can beat you at anything, Spike. Including cards. Just because I don’t know how to play poker doesn’t mean - ’
‘You’re going to beat me, are you?’ He reached up to tentatively touch the bruising round his eye. ‘Reckon you’ve already done that, pet.’
Buffy flinched. She didn’t want to remember punching him almost senseless the other night. ‘I meant I intend to win. Deal the cards.’
She watched, fascinated as his long fingers shuffled and cut the pack, then dealt them out swiftly on the floor between them. There was something about his hands - god, it was getting warm in here - whenever she caught sight of them, she could recall how he used them on her body - and inside your body, too, a little voice whispered hotly and she felt a flood of fluid between her thighs.
He looked up sharply, nostrils flaring and she knew he’d smelt her arousal. His lips twitched slightly, then he looked alarmed and uncomfortable and she giggled as she watched his erection swelling under the denim of his jeans. That must really hurt, she though proudly. Good!
‘Are you sure you wouldn’t rather play with Dickhead over there,’ he drawled.
‘His name is Richard,’ Buffy hissed, picking up her cards. ‘You know damn well it is.’
‘Buffy swore! Buffy swore!’ he teased. ‘You have to pay a forfeit. Take off something right now.’
‘That’s not part of the game!’ she grumbled, but at the triumphant look on his face, she grudgingly took out the second ear-ring and giggled at his cross expression.
‘OK, strip snap isn’t going to work - at least not here where it‘s so public,’ Spike said regretfully. ‘Come round to the crypt tomorrow night and we’ll play it properly.’
Buffy concentrated on the cards she was holding. She refused to meet his sapphire blue gaze because she knew she would dissolve into a messy puddle if she did.
‘Oh, I don’t know, Spike. I might be busy,’ she said airily, wishing her voice didn’t sound so squeaky.
‘Oh, I promise you will be, Slayer,’ he drawled, reaching out to touch her bare ear lobe. ‘You’re going to be very busy doing just what I tell you to do to me. You’re going to work your socks off. You’re going to - ’
He leant forward and whispered - ‘take my cock in your mouth, run your pretty pink tongue along it, suck it until - ’
‘Let’s play something else!’ she broke in before she surrendered and flung herself on top of him and damn everybody else in the room. It was her party, after all.
His lips twitched as I tried not to smile, then, ‘Okay - whoever wins a snap gets to ask a question.’
Buffy stared at him suspiciously. ‘What sort of question?’
Spike shrugged innocently. ‘Oh, anything at all, Slayer.’
‘And the looser has to answer?’
‘Oh yes. And truthfully.’
The cards slapped down on the floor - then ‘Snap!’ Spike’s hand shot out and covered two aces. ‘Mine. Right - ’ he looked at her tense body, knew she was expecting something really difficult, ‘Are you having a nice birthday?’ he said gently.
He could see her visibly relax. ‘Yes, thank you. It’s been great.’
Ten more cards fell, then ‘Snap! My turn again.. Ummm - Do you enjoy being the Slayer? ’
Buffy looked at him sharply, but his face was bland, his eyes shadowed by the dark lashes that were ridiculously and annoyingly thick for a man.
Did she enjoy being the Slayer? Faith had enjoyed being one. So had Kendra.
‘I enjoy...I enjoy helping people,’ she replied slowly. ‘I think....I think I like the power, but all the rest of it, the killing, the dying!, never having a nice, normal life like other girls my age - not so much!’
She picked up the cards and let them run through her fingers. ‘I’m twenty-one today, Spike. Let’s face it, the likelihood of me seeing thirty-one is remote. I want to stay around long enough to see Dawn become independent, but everything else - ’
She shrugged and glanced round. Time seemed to have stood still this evening. She hadn’t meant to speak so freely to Spike. He had that effect on her sometimes. He was looking at her now, and she had the feeling he could read her mind.
Twenty-one. In all the fuss, Buffy hadn’t really thought about the figures. Some girls of her age were married and mothers by now. Married! That was a joke. And as for motherhood - well, she’d long ago realised that wasn’t on any agenda she could think up.
She found herself returning Spike’s gaze and for a minute, she could see in her imagination a little boy with bright blue eyes laughing up at her and a little girl with long blonde hair and dark eyebrows.
But they were only in her imagination and she knew that’s where they would stay.
‘Play again,’ she said, breaking the spell. The next two cards laid were a snap. Hers. What on earth could she ask him? Then, without thinking, she heard herself say, ‘ Do you ever regret being a vampire?’
Spike’s hands stilled on the cards he was holding. ‘Difficult one, luv.’
‘You said anything. If it’s too hard for you, of course.....’
‘William was a nice enough bloke, but weak. Always trying to help people who didn’t want to be helped, getting pushed around by friends and family, always falling for the wrong girls.’
He paused and Buffy was about to say, ‘Nothing much has changed then!’ but something - the look in his eyes, perhaps, the tension around his mouth, stopped her.
‘William would probably have married some sweet, ineffectual, plain young lady, who was about to be left on the shelf and desperate to have a husband, any husband. She wouldn’t have understood him, but he would have loved her because she was his wife. They’d have had little money, lived in gentile poverty and raised a brood of children, one after the other, and most of them would have died before their second birthdays.’
Buffy put down her cards and, without thinking, reached out to take his hand. ‘But they would have been happy, wouldn’t they? They’d have enjoyed raising the children left to them.’
Spike looked at her strangely. ‘Happy? Well, pet, who knows.’ He paused again. He realised that he spoke about William as if he was someone he’d once known, not himself.
But William had been him and for a few seconds he wondered what a son of his would have been like, what it would have felt like to hold a daughter in his arms and know that his blood would run through their children’s veins for centuries to come.
He shook his head to break the mood. ‘Dru rescued me from all that. She gave me eternity, love, passion and, even though I hate to say it in present company, she gave me another family.’
‘Angel and Darla,’ Buffy whispered.
‘The Mick and his lady love, that’s right, Goldilocks. Never liked him, but as people say, you can choose your friends, not your family! So, to answer your question, no, I’ve no regrets. I’ve seen things, done things, met people, lived life to the full and regret nothing. I can’t say I’m too happy with the chip in my bonce, and I may be only a stake away from dust, but - ’
‘If you had a soul you’d regret.....’ Buffy started to say.
Spike laughed. ‘A soul? Bloody hell, Slayer, give us a break, I’ve seen what a soul has done to Peaches. So have you! What on earth would I want one of those for?’
And Buffy laughed. She didn’t know what had made her think about that. Spike with a soul. Big joke.
But as he dealt another hand of cards and she glanced affectionatly round the room at her family and friends, and wondered exactly what they’d be all be doing the following year.
Xander and Anya would be married, hopefully Willow and Tara would have resolved their problems and be back together, Dawn would be a year older - and more sensible.
And Spike - she glanced at the vampire and knew that soon she was going to have to sort out her feelings for him - one way or the other.