Word count: 2800
Genre: Semi-spicy domestic fluff. Contented Spike alert.
Summary: Ten years after their rush job of a wedding, Buffy and Spike try to find time to celebrate. It's harder than it sounds.
A/N: Although it's not necessary to read the previous stories, this is the next installment in the Ring On It 'Verse series. It began with a small wardrobe change on the morning of the final battle of the Hellmouth, and led to an un-sought-for transformation, namely that Spike has a heartbeat. AU from Chosen. The whole series can be found here on AO3. Previous seasonal_spuffy posts are With This Ring, Under My Skin Prologue, and Under My Skin.
More A/N: This very obvious story idea did not occur to me until earlier this week. It is unbeta'd, so let me know if you notice anything weird.
This whole month was not going according to plan.
First, one kid had gone down with the flu, then the other, and then Spike — who always managed to be the biggest baby of all, like any other guy. Buffy herself felt a little unsteady in the tummy region, but she focused on nursing her family. It's not like she was a stranger to late nights keeping people out of danger. Then there was a tiny apocalypse and she'd had to hop a plane to Belize, firmly leaving Spike behind despite his best efforts at persuading her otherwise.
“I'm feeling much better,” he lied, overcome by barking coughs in the next breath.
“That cough alone is reason enough to stay home. We'd never be able to sneak up on the bad guys with you hacking away like that.”
He pulled his ratty flannel robe tighter around himself. The robe was a dead giveaway. He only wore it when he felt crummy. “The lozenges usually work a treat...”
“Uh uh, mister. Get some rest. Order some chicken soup from the deli. Hang out with the kids on the couch. I'll be back before you know it.”
“Oh, I'll know it, Slayer,” he said mournfully. “'Every second of it. 'S not the same when you're away.”
“That's sweet. But just think: you can watch TV round the clock with your little darlings, if you want.” She smiled expectantly and nodded at him encouragingly, nudging him when he didn't nod along. “C'mon Spike, I know you'll be able to find a silver lining with the warden gone. You always do.”
He sighed. “Spose you're right, pet. It's just that we had plans, and it's all gone sideways.”
Plans? Buffy tried to remember. Oh, right. Their anniversary was in a couple of weeks. No, ten days. With everything else that was going on, it sounded like … work.
“You know, we don't have to celebrate on the exact date. We can move it to when you're feeling all better and the world's been saved. K?”
His look was reproachful, but he waggled his head in the universal sign for “I guess”.
“We can do something quiet that day — just us. I'll make it worth your while,” she promised with a hip bump.
He perked up at that, before dissolving into another coughing fit.
So, because of germs, she'd had to ride off to war without their usual full-body goodbye kiss.
This month sucked.
After the battle was won and she was washing tacky demon gunk out of her hair in the hotel shower, she felt a familiar pang. She missed the silly, messy kisses of her babies and their sticky little hands clasped around her neck and patting her cheeks. Abigail was already almost too big for those kinds of clinging displays of affection, but could still be nudged into them with a little silliness. Clara's wispy curls would feel so sweet buried against her face. She took a breath against the intensity of her yearning and finished up with the shower.
Wrapped in a towel, she called home. They talked everyday when she was on the road, but today she was calling on the late side.
“All sorted, sweetheart?” asked Spike, in lieu of hello.
“Hey. Yeah. The day is saved. I'll be home tomorrow. I miss you guys.”
“We miss you, too. Me especially. In fact, was just lying here imaginin' your thrilling heroics,” he said, his voice pitched low.
Her yearning took a little detour.
“Mmmm. Does that mean I'll get a hero's welcome?” she asked. “Are you sure you're up to it?”
He sputtered. “Oh, you have no idea.”
“Pretty sure I do.”
After she hung up, she realized that he hadn't coughed once during their conversation. Very promising.
She'd been thinking about ways to make their anniversary/reunion special. Last month she'd invested in some appropriate lingerie and stowed it behind the canisters of whole grains in the pantry, the only place she could think of that he wouldn't be likely to sniff it out.
The thing was, sexytimes were all very, very good, but to really get to Spike's happy place she was going to have to come up with something romantic. Capital “R” Romantic. It wasn't really her area, unless you counted moonlit demon hunts as romantic. Which she totally did. But Spike had a whole arsenal of Romance at his disposal. He knew the secret messages sent by flowers. He could rattle off poetry in several languages, including some demon ones. He even knew how to whip up a little dinner for two that looked like it was meant for adults. So she was going to have to really stretch to find a gesture that would wow him. And a new axe wouldn't do, because she'd tried that last year, and while he seemed to like it, she could tell he thought it was a “work” gift, even if it did have “B + S” worked into the place where the blades were joined.
She asked the flight attendant for a ginger ale to settle her stomach. She told herself that it was silly to be nervous about this. It wasn't like she was going to let Spike down by not making some grand gesture. He was the grand gesture maker in the family. All she had to do was let him know he was loved.
He met her at the airport, just outside baggage claim, and she melted into him, pressed flush from knee to shoulder, cheek to cheek. When his lips found hers, her foot lifted off the ground into a point.
“You seem better,” she said, when they broke apart enough to look at one another.
“Am now. Let's get you home and I'll show you just how much better.” He smiled one of his devastating smiles and picked up her suitcase, waiting for her to shoulder her Scythe bag. They laced their fingers together and headed for the doors.
“Who's watching the girls?”
“Dawn and her beau took them on an outing. Said they'd give 'em dinner and all.”
“I can't wait to squeeze 'em!”
“Oh?” He tried to pout at her, but ended up grinning instead.
She rolled her eyes. “Okay, yes, I can wait, I guess. I'll just have to find something else to squeeze in the meantime.” She flexed her fingers in the air to demonstrate.
“Imagine we can find something that'll serve.”
They stowed her gear and themselves in the car. Spike leaned over and ran his thumb down the side of her face. She nibbled the fleshy place below his thumb. He grunted and pulled her closer. They were breathless when they finally hit the road into town.
“Happy anniversary, by the way” he said, once they were underway.
“I didn't forget, you know. Happy anniversary to you, too. I'm glad I made it back today.”
He nodded amicably. “It's been pretty good, hasn't it? This marriage lark? Not too boring, is it?”
“Boring is definitely not the word I would use for our life,” she said, settling her hand on his knee.
He sucked in a breath and Buffy was happy to see that his pelvic region very obviously did not seem bored.
“Maybe it's just as well that the kids are going to be out for a bit,” she said. “We did plan on a private celebration, after all.”
“Yeah,” he breathed. He drove just a bit faster.
He pulled into the garage and turned to her as they undid their seat belts. He looked intently into her eyes.
“You're the most amazing woman there is and I'm the luckiest bloke in the universe to share my life with you,” he said. That talking thing was definitely his department, she decided. Good thing she had her own way of getting her point across.
Buffy climbed into his lap and ran her tongue along the side of his neck. He arched into her, causing her to lean into the steering wheel. The horn blared, once. They froze, then shrugged. He opened the driver's side door and keeping a firm hold on her hips, swiveled out of his seat and stood, taking her with him. She wrapped her legs around him and he moved one hand to support her backside, the other to her lower back, holding her tightly to him. By unspoken agreement, they left her stuff in the car and headed for the door that led to the kitchen, mouths slanting together. He balanced her against the door and fumbled with the key while she wriggled and tried not to whine with frustration. The door swung open and he stumbled inside still carrying her. They pinballed through the kitchen, stopping to steady themselves against the refrigerator and kiss one another more deeply. Spike ducked his head down to nuzzle her breasts through her shirt while she clutched the top of the appliance and groaned.
“Might not make it to the bed,” he murmured. He spun around as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Dining table?” he suggested heading for the darkened room.
“Sure,” she panted, trying not to drive her heels into his haunches. “Just hurry.”
The lights snapped on and Buffy threw an arm up against the sudden brightness and noise. She flinched at a loud popping sound. Then she saw Xander, holding up a foaming champagne bottle.
She stared at the other people crowding the room. Everybody she knew was standing in her house, which was festooned with balloons and streamers. A large cake, with “10 Years of Bliss” emblazoned across it, was taking up the space on the dining table that 10 seconds ago she thought her back would be on by now. Faith, she noticed, was laughing her ass off.
Spike loosened his grip and she slid down his body to stand next to him. He nudged her to stand slightly in front of him, still gripping her hips. She plastered on a big smile and whispered out of the side of her mouth.
“I thought you told everybody the party was on hold.”
“As did I,” he muttered back.
Abigail and Clara rushed up to them, wreathed with smiles.
“Mama!” they chorused.
She knelt down to envelop them in a hug, and felt her annoyance fade. Little Clara was just as sticky as she had imagined she would be.
“Were you surprised?” asked Abigail, seriously.
“I sure was,” she replied. She kissed the tops of their heads. She closed her eyes, breathed in their scents and just...basked.
When she looked up, she saw Dawn mouthing “sorry” at her.
She sighed. Might as well make the best of it. She glanced at Spike, who was shaking hands with Giles and looking resigned.
“We helped, mama!” piped Clara.
“Auntie Willow was kinda bossy,” added Abigail.
“I can imagine.” She felt their foreheads. “All better?”
“We've been at school all week, mama! You know that!” Abigail said.
“We're going to go play with the kids now,” announced Clara. They tore off to the other room, where Buffy could hear the pounding of tiny Converse-clad feet. So much for quality time.
Dawn handed her a glass.
“I tried to talk her out of it, but you know how she gets,” she said. “It probably wouldn't have gone so far if things were going better with...”
“Yeah, I know. Thanks for trying. It's my fault for not setting her straight years ago. You'd think she'd have figured out that Slayers have enough surprises on the job. We don't need 'em on our days off, too.”
Dawn reached over to button up one of Buffy's shirt buttons that had come undone somewhere between the airport and the dining room.
“True. Plus, didn't mom always say that surprise parties should only happen at the end of a day spent at the spa, when the honoree's outfit and hair are absolutely perfect?”
“I'll drink to that,” said Buffy. She took a sip and looked askance at the glass. “Blergh.” She put the glass down.
Willow bounced up to them.
“Hey, Buffy! Welcome back. This is great, isn't it?”
“Well, I was definitely surprised. Is this your doing?”
“Yeah, Spike told me he couldn't organize a party, what with being sick and you off fighting the good fight and everything. He asked me to contact everybody. So I did. I sent out an e-mail and asked for help and we set it all up for you guys!”
“Wow. That was awfully...proactive of you, Will.”
“Thanks!” Willow beamed.
“I owe you one. When you least expect it.”
“Told ya,” said Dawn to Willow. “I'm gonna go say hi to Vi.”
Willow's smile faltered. Buffy sighed.
“Actually, it is really nice. The timing could be better, but we wanted to celebrate with everybody. Eventually. And now we are. I'm just a little tired.”
“Plus that was a championship cock block you pulled off,” said Faith, coming over and clinking glasses with Willow. “Kudos. Really.”
“Oh, god. It was, wasn't it?” said Willow, paling. “I'm so sorry, Buffy.”
“It'll be fine,” said Buffy
“Yeah. Ten years in, rugrats and all. Love will find a way.” Faith's mouth twisted a little before breaking into an honest-to-god smile. “Wanted to say congratulations. I'm happy for you guys.” She hesitated and then leaned in to give Buffy an awkward one-armed hug.
“I'll get you some cake,” said Willow.
Faith pulled back and gave a little chuckle. Buffy reached out to touch her shoulder, making eye contact.
“Thank you. That means a lot.”
“Okay, well, don't mention it. I, uh, gotta get another one of these,” Faith said, holding up her glass.
Buffy looked around the room and was pleased to see so many of her near and dear. Angel was scowling at Spike, while Cordelia threw her head back and laughed. Giles was deep in conversation with Fred and Lorne. She was even happy to see Andrew, who was explaining something — in great detail — to Xander.
She was one lucky Slayer.
She moved around the room, accepting congratulations and chatting. After a few minutes, Spike appeared at her side.
“Red wants me to give you this.” He held out a plate of chocolate cake, its thick, fudgy frosting glistening. She hesitated. “Shall I feed it to you, like it was our wedding again?” he asked with a smile.
“I barely remember how it went,” she said.
“A little like this.”
He took a forkful and held it up to her mouth. She opened for him, and he touched the fork to her tongue. She closed her lips around it, watching his eyes dilate as he pulled it free. She swallowed and so did he.
Then she bolted for the bathroom.
“Oh god. I remember this now. How could I have forgotten?”
Spike held her hair back while she knelt in front of the toilet, her breathing returning to normal.
“Suspect it's nature's way of keeping the species going. You feeling better?”
She nodded. He helped her up. She rinsed her mouth in the sink and straightened her hair. When she turned around, he was looking at her like she'd just fallen back out of heaven.
“Surprise? It looks like were gonna have a baby. Which I didn't know until now, by the way. I can't believe this one doesn't like chocolate, either. Maybe it's not mine?”
He chuckled, his eyes soft.
She continued. “Well, my original plan involved some pretty spiffy lingerie, but I guess this will work.”
She took a deep breath. It looked like she had a few grand gestures in her, after all. She patted her belly and shrugged.
He opened his mouth to speak. There was a knock on the door.
“Mama? Are you sick now, too?”
Spike closed his mouth and opened the door. A worried-looking Clara stood there, Abigail hovering behind her.
“Nothing of the sort, sweetheart. Your mum's healthy as a h.... Well, she's fine as frog's hair, that's what she is.”
Clara did not look convinced. “Mama?”
“I'm fine, baby.” Buffy scooped her up and settled her on one hip. Abigail came closer and Buffy curled an arm around her shoulders. Spike hugged them all from behind. Buffy smiled to see most of the guests were already gone.
“I was just thinking how nice this month is turning out.”