The first time it's a thank you. People kiss out of gratitude, right? Especially when the idiot vampire who lusts after (loves? How can it not be love now, even from a vampire?) her enough to be tortured for her is lying in front of her, bruised and battered and utterly sincere, and for a split second she'll emphatically deny later, she thinks, I could love him.

So she kisses him far longer than might be proper (and even though this is far from sexual her lips haven't forgotten sloppy, obnoxious kisses over a year back and they crave them still), watches the wonder on his face for a moment, and turns swiftly to leave before she betrays too much.

And that's that. The gratitude kiss is underrated anyway. Conveys way more than thanks without becoming romantic (big no-no for evil vampires who might be in love with you). She's a fan.

And when Spike readily agrees to watch Dawn for her after all the horribleness with Tara, it’s easier than ever to press her lips against his. It’s conveying the seriousness of his task without cheapening it with words, and she likes that. Dawn gives her an odd look as she leaves, but she’s calmed by Spike’s murmur to her sister. “Just a thanks from your sis. Nothing to read into it.”

“Uh huh,” Dawn says doubtfully. “Hey, try giving her chocolate on patrol or something. She’ll be happy to thank you.” She drawls out the last words, loud enough that she must know that Buffy can hear.

Cheeks reddening, Buffy hurries off.

After Willow nearly gets herself killed and they’re back at the house, getting ready to go back to Tara, Buffy excuses herself for a few minutes to pick up Dawn. And while Dawn is downstairs, gathering her things, Buffy joins Spike on the sarcophagus. “You were right about Willow.” She’d nearly lost three people she cared about today, and now that she’s with him, she finds that she doesn’t want to let him-

-Well, she’s very grateful for his warning. Which might warrant a bit more than a chaste kiss, and so she’s suddenly exploring his mouth, letting his hands draw tentative designs against her skin as the kiss intensifies and he does something with his tongue that forces out an audible moan and forces her to yank him closer.

“Still here!” Dawn announces crossly, and they both startle and pull apart. “What’d he do this time, compliment your hair?”

“It’s very very nice hair,” Spike agrees, running a hand through it.

“You think so?” she says breathlessly.

“Guys!”

They part again, and there’s a goofy smile on Spike’s face that makes Buffy duck her head to hide a pleased grin of her own.

She sobers up by the time they reach the hospital, and when Glory finds them, there’s barely time to press terrified lips against Spike’s before she’s telling him that they need a getaway car, fast.

Of course he gets one with a little curtain concealing the back area.

Snuggling is kind of like hugging, which is less than kissing and can therefore last for much longer before it becomes something she should be ashamed of. And when Dawn joins them to curl in front of them both, it doesn’t count at all, not even when Spike’s hand is so far under her shirt that she has to bat him away before Dawn notices, not even when she’s letting him lave the side of her neck with gentle kisses as he calms her sister.

Dawn blinks at them, and Buffy pushes Spike away guiltily. “Don’t stop,” Dawn whispers, and curls up closer to them both.

But they have to anyway, because arrangements have to be made and…gratitude…toward Spike is something that’s bound to distract the Scoobies from Glory. So she squeezes Spike’s hand and ducks back out into the main area of the RV, and they’re making plans when Spike grabs a sword aimed directly at the top of her head.

“Thank me later,” he mumbles in her ear, and it’s so cocky she’d have laughed if she weren’t so occupied.

There is no later, though, not really, and thoughts of Spike are gone from her mind almost immediately. She has a mission, she has a breakdown, she’s completely driven by the loss of her sister, and when she asks Spike to join her while they collect weapons, it’s all business.

“When you say you love us all…”

Shut up, she tells the Spike in her mind, and tells the Spike watching her from the doorway to come in. And then she’s blown away by his kisses, her back against the wall, crying sobbing mewls as he nips at her neck and lower. “What…” she pants. “…doing?”

He pulls back for a moment, something fierce and proud in his eyes. “Saying thank you.”

“Oh.” She kisses him back, hikes her knees up to his waist, and when he grinds up against her, she bucks back wildly. His hands are swiftly moving toward places she needs them to be, now, and soon she’s gasping out her approval as she attacks him with hard, needy kisses.

It’s over too soon and not nearly soon enough, the urgency of their rescue outweighing any desire she might have to lengthen this particular expression of gratitude, and when she drops back to the ground (It’s going to take a few minutes before she figures out how her legs work again), she only allows herself a squeeze of his hand before she’s telling him that he needs to protect Dawn.

He knows, and she can see the sincerity in his eyes as he promises. “Till the end of the world.”

She doesn’t smile, but there’s a confidence brimming at the surety in his voice, and for a moment, she allows herself to consider what might happen if they all make it through this.

She’s sure at least that she’ll be able to be very, very grateful.


coalitiongirl is the author of 21 other stories.
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