|Part:||4. The One Who Knows|
Swing! (Batter, Batter)
Spike’s frustration builds as the weekend trip to the Little League tournament continues.
Warning: Absolutely, under no circumstance, should you do what Buffy does to Spike in the next couple of chapters! Always read and follow the directions and safety precautions on all sex-toys before using them!! This is a work of fiction and Spike is a vampire, not a human, so I'm not applying the same rules to him. In the same vein, using Ben Wa balls for extended periods of time is probably not a good idea either – again, Buffy's not a normal human, this is fiction, real life rules are not applied. Have fun but be safe!
Music Referenced: Swing! Trace Adkins http://youtu.be/bmzmHffY6l4
Some photographs courtesy of FreeFoto.com
|Thanks:||Thanks to YOU for reading! Without you none of this would mean anything! Giant thanks also to Anona for betaing most of this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the very last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
8pm that same night, Saturday October 1st, 2011:
“You have got to be bloody kiddin’ me,” Spike snarled at the harried clerk behind the desk at the Torrance Travelodge.
“I’m sorry, sir,” the young, pimply-faced man said again. It seemed like he’d been saying it a lot tonight. “But that’s all we have. We can bring a rollaway bed into the room to accommodate the additional…”
“Not the bloody point. We made the soddin’ reservation a week ago,” Spike interrupted him.
“Yes, I see that, but, they didn’t get the late check-in marked and, since you didn’t check in earlier, the rooms you reserved are gone. I just don’t have any more rooms. I can’t give you something I don’t have,” the young man said again.
Spike looked at Buffy, fuming. “Let’s go down t’ the beach. This place is a bloody roach motel anyway,” he suggested bitterly.
“But Papa!” Dani whined. “Everyone’s staying here. The whole team … almost all the teams are here. If we go somewhere else we might miss something important.”
“What the bloody hell could we miss? Being attacked in our sleep by giant roaches? Being lulled t’ sleep by the sound o’ eighteen-wheelers on the road ten feet from the room? Bed bugs?” Spike snapped back.
Dani looked up at him with big, blue, sad puppy-eyes and stuck her bottom lip out in a pout. She’d learned the puppy-eyes from Billy – he was the best at them. The pout was Annie’s best weapon. Dani took the two and blended them into a lethal combination.
“Bloody hell,” Spike moaned, looking at Buffy for help.
“It’s only one night,” she pointed out, shrugging. “We can probably fight off the giant roaches…”
Only one night!? he thought angrily. She’d been killing him all soddin’ day and now, when he’s so very close to being alone with her, she says ‘it’s only one night’? Might as well be a soddin’ year as far as his naughty bits were concerned.
“You’re a big help,” he groaned.
“Papa, pleease,” Dani pleaded, tugging on his arm.
Spike sighed and looked back at the clerk. “Fine, give us the soddin’ double with the rollaway. But I want a bloody voucher for a full breakfast for…” Spike counted heads, “five … no … seven,” he amended, adding in JJ and Xander. “And not those cold, stale pastries you call a ‘continental breakfast’ either. I want a full, hot, red-white-and-blue, Uncle Sam, American breakfast.”
“Yes, sir. That’s not a problem,” the young man agreed, happy to finally be done with this nightmare.
“And, I got a news flash for ya. No one on the bloody continent would be caught dead eatin’ two-day-old, discount pastries for breakfast.”
“I guess that depends on which continent they mean,” the young man pointed out with a genial smile as he handed Spike two room key-cards and the vouchers for breakfast.
“He’s got a point,” Buffy agreed. “There are probably some continents that would think stale, cold pastries were a delicacy … like … India. Mom always said there were starving people in India that would be happy for our wasted food.”
Spike snorted and took all the papers and keys from the clerk. “India is not a soddin’ continent, Slayer.”
Buffy frowned and looked at Annie. The girl shook her head, confirming Spike’s statement.
“Well … it should be,” Buffy defended as they started walking. “And, if it was, we could send them our stale pastries and some coffee to wash it down with. That way the people there could be well-fed and hyped-up on sugar and caffeine. Then companies would be forced to relocate their call centers back to the States. Can you imagine an Indian hyped-up on sugar and caffeine trying to tell you how to fix your computer? No way anyone here would ever be able to understand them, no matter how often they repeated whatever gobbledygook they were trying to say with that funny accent. It could fix the whole economy of the United States with that one, simple humanitarian gesture.”
Spike stopped walking and looked over his shoulder at her. “Your mind is a scary place, Slayer.”
Buffy smiled brightly. “Thanks. I don’t know why all those Harvard idiots can’t figure this stuff out. It’s not that hard, really.”
Spike laughed, shook his head, and started walking again. “Reckon they’re just daft. All them classes and whatnot probably rotted their brains. Lucky you didn’t go t’ college and get your brain turned t’ mush like that, pet.”
“Lucky,” Buffy agreed, still smiling.
“Ya know, the bits could go stay with Harris and the whelp,” Spike suggested to Buffy as they began unloading the van.
How could one night away from home require so much luggage? Spike was starting to feel like an overworked, sway-back pack mule. He shuddered to think what would be needed if they’d planned to be gone a week.
“No way!” Annie protested. “Uncle Xander snores! It sounds like a freight train running through the house – and that's from two rooms away!”
“And JJ will cover up your head with the covers and fart on you!” Dani added.
“I’ll go,” Billy offered.
“You don’t mind the farts, then?” Spike wondered, cocking a brow at his son.
Billy shrugged. “I fart back.”
“It’s a fart-a-thon. How very Y-chromosome-y of you all,” Buffy observed, shaking her head. “I think that’s something we can forego this trip.”
Spike sighed as his last hope of getting Buffy alone crashed and burned.
Nearly two hours later, the kids had all had baths and were finally, thankfully, asleep. Billy and Dani were sleeping in one of the double beds, Annie was sleeping on a rollaway the hotel staff had crammed into the small room, and MacKenzie was snoozing in a travel crib they’d brought with them.
Thus far, no giant roaches had been seen, so Buffy took the opportunity to close her eyes and let the hot water of the shower pour over her aching body. It had been a long day out at the ball park. The kids had played a total of four games since that morning, and cheering for them seemed every bit as exhausting as playing – maybe more so. The Slammers had won three of the games and lost one. It was a double-elimination tournament, so they would play on tomorrow. Yippee.
The water felt lovely as it roamed over her skin and she let herself get lost in it, imagining Spike’s hands and mouth in its stead. The little Ben Wa balls inside her danced as her muscles contracted and shuddered around them. She hadn’t realized how difficult it would be on her to tease him all day. Her body yearned for him, her pussy walls throbbed in need of release, her whole body tingled in desire. But, his torture wasn’t yet complete … so that meant hers wasn’t either. She had a plan. She was going to stick to it … even if it killed her. It might.
Buffy smiled when she heard someone try the bathroom doorknob. It was locked. “Ocupado!” she called out over the din of the shower.
“Sod ocupado, Slayer,” Spike growled through the closed door. “Open up.”
“Thin walls and children…” she pointed out as she started to lather shampoo into her hair.
She could hear Spike growl again, a low rumble that seemed to vibrate the foggy air in the room even through the closed door, and send her senses reeling. Plan, Slayer … remember the plan, she admonished herself.
After a moment, she heard something metallic scraping against the doorknob and then the door opened. Buffy leaned her head under the spray of the shower to get the soap out of her hair and eyes, but before she could finish, Spike was there.
How had he gotten undressed so fast? He pressed Buffy’s back against the wall to the side of the shower controls, and captured her lips, soap and all, with his. Hot water rained down on them, his body was hard and demanding against hers, his lips hungry. He devoured her mouth and slipped his tongue between her lips to taste her. His hands traveled down her body like the water, smooth and silken, over the hills and valleys of her wet, soapy skin.
Buffy moaned against his mouth, her body thrumming with just as much need as he felt. Her hands began at his slim hips and traveled up the masculine ‘V’ of his torso, over hard muscle and soft skin, to his shoulders. No matter how many times her hands traversed these roads of muscle and sinew, it never got boring. No matter how many times she saw the hard lines of his body, the aching need of his manhood, it never got old. He was a classic, a work of art – like the Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David – something that you could gaze upon for eons and never, ever get tired of.
She loved seeing his undeniable need and desire for her. The cock-ring surrounding his cock and balls only seemed to magnify his manhood. It gave her a thrill that ran down her spine like fiery-ice, and the plan of another night and day of torture began to burn in the flames.
“Buffy, need you … love you,” Spike murmured against her wet skin as he broke the kiss and trailed his mouth down over her jaw to her neck. His fingers glided over her hip and slipped between her folds. Dampness that had nothing to do with the shower covered them with slick nirvana.
“Always so wet for me…” he muttered, moving his mouth down further, over her collarbone, and down further still.
“Always so hard for me,” Buffy replied, grasping his stiff shaft in her hand.
Buffy lifted one leg, wrapping it around his like a snake, and Spike’s finger slid inside her. She gasped when he touched the toys in there, rolling their hardness against her G-spot and over her trembling sugar walls.
Spike’s thumb rubbed against her clit as he pushed the Ben Wa balls around with a single finger inside her. Buffy’s hips jerked against him and she gasped, “Yes…” against his shoulder as the water continued raining down on them.
“You’re a naughty Slayer,” Spike purred against her breast as he teased her pussy gently. “Need a right good thrashin’, you do.”
“Oh yes,” Buffy agreed, writhing against him as she stroked his wet cock in her fist. She wished to God she’d brought the remote control for the little vibrator strapped to his cock in here with her.
“Need my cock buried in you. Need it fuckin’ you right into next week, you do,” he continued before sucking her hard nipple into his mouth and nibbling on it with his teeth.
“Yes…” Buffy confirmed, jerking on his shaft faster.
“Need my cum shootin’ in … coverin’ you, filling you. So bloody hot, you are, Slayer. So tight, so wet … Pussy like silk: slick and soft and so bloody sweet.”
Buffy’s body began to shudder, her muscles tightening as she approached the edge of ecstasy. Her back arched into him, her hips jerking uncontrollably against his hand. She was only a moment away from flying over the edge when Spike … stopped, pulled away from her and backed up.
Buffy clutched at him, pulling him back … just another second was all she needed. Spike, pried her hand off his shaft and stepped out of the shower, dripping water all over the floor in large puddles. Buffy finally opened her eyes, her chest heaving, gasping breaths tearing from her throat. “What…” was all she could manage.
Spike smirked at her and grabbed a towel. “Let me know when you’re done so I can get a proper shower,” he said calmly as he wrapped the towel around his waist. “And no touchin’ without me,” he warned, leering at her wet, naked body. “That body’s mine.”
With that, he turned, opened the bathroom door, and went back out into the other room, leaving Buffy standing gape-mouthed and quivering with need.
“Bastard!” she snarled as she pulled the shower curtain closed, turned the water to full cold, and stepped under the icy spray. She’d let him turn the game around on her and she hadn’t even seen it coming. She was slipping. He would pay for that.
Buffy came out of the bathroom a while later dressed in a long, pink nightshirt that announced: ‘I love you, but if the zombies chase us, I’m tripping you,’ in fancy script lettering on the front. She had pink and white flannel PJ bottoms on under it. She was still drying her hair with one of the less-than-absorbent hotel towels.
“All yours,” she purred to Spike as she started for their bed.
As they passed each other in the narrow space between Billy and Dani’s bed and Annie’s rollaway, Buffy grabbed his arm. “Don’t you dare think you can go in there and jerk-off, either,” she whispered, barely loud enough for Spike to hear. “If this body is yours, then that one is mine,” she informed him, poking a finger into his bare ribs.
Spike flinched at her bruising stab and rubbed at the spot a moment. He smirked and pulled her back with him to the bathroom, pressing her inside and closing the door. “What did ya have in mind doin’ with it, Slayer?” he asked in a low rumble near her ear.
Buffy shivered but kept her cool. That cold shower she’d taken had helped a bit with that. “You’ll have to wait to find out. But you have to behave or you won’t get the reward.”
“And what’s the reward?” he wondered, close enough for Buffy to feel his breath on her damp skin.
“Screams … all night long,” Buffy promised.
Spike pulled back and cocked a brow at her. “Whose?”
She smirked and shrugged one shoulder, then ran a finger down his sternum, over his six-pack to the top of the towel around his waist. “You’ll have to wait and see, won’t you?”
She pressed her hand against his cock through the towel, cupping the length of it against his body. It twitched under the pressure, reflexively jumping up to meet her touch like a trained poodle leaping for a treat.
“Mine,” she announced in a possessive growl before she pushed him away and slid past him, out of the bathroom.
“Bloody hell…” Spike murmured looking after her. He took a deep breath and pushed the door closed. He and Pavlov’s penis needed a cold shower.
Spike walked along a narrow, pine-needle covered path beneath tall evergreens. The few patches of sky above that he could see were blue, but down here under the thick canopy, the light was dim, as if twilight were falling. He moved silently along the padded trail, which snaked through the dark forest around tree trunks as wide as a small car, and boulders just as large as said cars.
The giant rocks that littered the forest had been softened with a thick growth of lichen in shades of green, yellow, and orange. The air was fresh and cool, and the evergreens made it smell like Christmas. The sound of a brook or stream tumbling gently over rocks somewhere to his left added to the peaceful ambiance of the forest, as did small birds that flitted gracefully from branch to branch, and sang like nightingales in the dim light.
He was just starting to wonder where he was supposed to be going when he saw a soft light flash ahead and to one side of the trail. He hurried forward to get a better look, but it faded before he got there. He walked around the wide trunk of the tree it had been near, but found nothing. When he got back to the trail, he saw it again, on the other side of the path, and he heard Buffy’s laughter ring out and join in with the song of the birds, melodious and gleeful.
Spike hurried forward, toward the sound and the light, but both faded before he reached them. “Buffy? Luv?” he tried, turning in a circle. “Come out, come out wherever you are…” he sing-songed.
Buffy giggled again and he caught a glimpse of something golden before it disappeared behind a boulder. He went the other way around the rock to cut her off, but she’d disappeared again. “C’mon, luv … no fun playing hide an’ seek all night.”
Buffy’s laugh made Spike jump as it suddenly came from right next to him. He lurched back and turned at the sound. A tiny, Barbie-sized Buffy was hovering a few feet above the ground, a set of translucent, fragile faerie wings shimmering on her back. She wore a sleeveless, short, emerald green dress that swirled around her when she moved, almost like it had a mind of its own. Her long, golden hair was adorned with a crown of flowers in pinks, purples, and mauves.
“Are you a troll?” Buffy-faerie asked Spike, hovering above him. Her wings shone as they fluttered at her back, keeping her airborne.
“Bloody insultin’ that is,” he answered, moving closer to her.
Buffy giggled and her wings seemed to quiver with the sound, pulsing with bright, golden light. “An ogre then?”
Spike cocked a brow at her. “Not bloody likely.”
Buffy-faerie lifted higher in the air, out of his reach, and darted around a tree, only to appear again behind him only a second later. “A goblin?” she guessed, her eyes wide.
“Goblins are short, got pointy ears, and work in banks,” Spike informed her, turning around to face her again. “Didn’ you see ‘Harry Potter’?”
“Oooo … a selkie then! I’ve heard tell of your kind!” Buffy-faerie gushed, ignoring his comment about goblins. Her eyes were wide and gleeful, proud of identifying the creature she’d found walking through the fae forest.
“And what ‘ave you heard, then?” Spike wondered as he watched her. Buffy made a lovely faerie. Her wings were like those of a dragonfly: translucent and delicately woven, like an intricate spider web. The light they cast over her made her whole body glow golden and her glossy hair shimmer and shine when she moved. Her legs were toned and shapely beneath the short dress, which now he realized was made out of some sort of lacy grass that moved in layers of soft fringe over her curves.
“Selkies are very handsome in their human form,” Buffy-faerie replied knowingly.
“That fits then, doesn’t it?” Spike agreed.
“And they have great seductive powers over human women,” Buffy-faerie continued.
“Mmmmm, and faeries too, I reckon,” Spike added, pursing his lips and sucking his cheeks in to highlight his cheekbones and strong jaw.
Buffy-faerie giggled again. Her laughter rang through the forest like sweet, silver bells tinkling in a soft breeze. She flitted around Spike, moving faster than even he could see. Her blurred form would stop every few seconds, stay still long enough for Spike to turn to face her, then dart away to another position.
“Do you think I’m pretty?” Buffy-faerie asked when she stopped finally, half-hidden behind a nearby boulder. She batted her lashes at Spike coquettishly, and dipped her head so a veil of her golden hair fell over one eye.
“Gorgeous,” Spike confirmed, his voice a deep, husky growl. He began moving towards her in a slow, predatory saunter.
“Do you mean to seduce me?” she wondered, effortlessly flitting to the other side of the boulder and peering out at him.
“Most definitely,” Spike assured her, altering his course.
“But how ever will you catch me, selkie?” Buffy-faerie wondered, flittering higher, out of his reach.
Buffy-faerie moved in a blur and was suddenly right in front of Spike. Before he even realized she’d moved, she had touched a small kiss on the tip of his nose. In the next moment, before he could react, she darted away in another blur of glittering light. “Selkies may be handsome and fair … but they can’t fly,” she called down to him, grinning wickedly.
Spike smirked up at her. “No, but vampires can,” he revealed as wings sprang from his back. They were dark and bat-like, but made from the same glittering faerie magic that the rest of her dream was constructed around. They were thin and fragile looking, as if woven from fine, black silk, and they shone, rich and glossy in the dim light.
Dream-Spike morphed himself into a vampire-faerie to match Buffy’s size. His clothes morphed into nothing more than a loincloth made of the purest-black raven feathers he’d ever seen. The feathers shone with indigo-blue and rich violet highlights in the glow of Buffy’s wings, leaving his chest, legs, and feet bare. He tested his dark, sparkling bat wings. They fluttered gracefully, lifting him off his feet effortlessly.
He gave her a victorious, lecherous, almost predatory, look and darted forward. Buffy-faerie screeched in surprise, but her laughter rang through the forest as she fled, leaving a trail of shimmering, golden dust-motes in her wake.
Spike’s basso laughter joined with hers as they darted around trees and boulders, skimmed over the babbling creek, and sent small birds fluttering up from the trees in surprise.
Buffy darted to her right around a giant Sequoia. Spike, only a few inches behind her, went left. He caught her as she circled the tree, intent on doubling back on him. Buffy squealed in surprise when she nearly smashed into him, and pulled up just in time to avoid a head-on collision. Spike grabbed her upper arms and pressed her wings back against the trunk of the giant tree, stilling them, and captured her lips with his in a ferocious kiss.
Buffy wrapped her arms around her captor and returned the kiss with just as much ferocity. Tongues battled for dominance of the kiss, tasting and tantalizing the other, while lips crashed together with a fierce hunger.
Buffy could feel the muscles in Spike’s back and stomach as they tensed and undulated with the beating of his delicate, dark wings. She pressed her body against his harder, reveling in the strength of him and the rhythm of his straining muscles.
Never breaking the kiss, Spike floated them away from the tree. Buffy’s wings were freed from the encumbrance and they began to flutter, matching Spike’s gentle rhythm. They turned in a slow circle in the cool, still air, dark entangled with light. Spike’s hands wandered down her sides, over the soft fringes of flowing green grass that was her dress. When he found the hem, he slipped his hands against the golden skin of her thighs, then around her to cup the globes of her firm ass.
As they floated high above the ground, glittering dust-motes erupted in a plume of sparkling light around Buffy. Her faerie-lights were joined with twinkling raven-black stars that flowed off Spike. As they turned in a slow circle, touching, kissing, and straining to pull the other closer, the sparkling snowflakes of opal and onyx mixed and mingled into a cloud of magic around them.
Buffy bit down on Spike’s bottom lip with her teeth, drawing blood in her fervor. Spike pulled back, startled, licking at the blood and staring at her in lecherous surprise.
“Looks like I’m gonna ‘ave to tame you down a bit, faerie queen,” he rumbled, touching a finger to his bleeding lip.
"Faeries aren’t that easily tamed,” she lectured him before giving him a wicked smile and darting away.
Buffy zipped out of the cover of the thick woods into a meadow of brilliant wildflowers. The lush carpet of blooms was in a rainbow of colors only possible in a dream. Purples, blues, and pinks mingled with yellows, oranges, and reds in a pattern of random, breathtaking beauty. Beneath the colors lay a blanket of green in every hue from chartreuse to emerald to deepest forest green.
Spike chased her as she giggled and flew in random patterns over the dreamy, color-wheel of flowers. She taunted and teased him by slowing down just enough for him to get nearly to her, then darting away again in a completely different direction. Spike growled and lurched to a stop more than once, changed directions, and continued his pursuit.
When Buffy floated down close enough to touch the rainbow of flowers, they came alive. Hundreds of brightly-colored butterflies fluttered up, detaching themselves from the matching blooms they’d been perched upon. Buffy flew over the meadow in a curving, serpentine pattern, trailing her fingers over the flowers, and sending clouds of brilliant butterflies soaring into the air.
Spike was engulfed in a rainbow of fluttering wings. They tickled his bare body, grazing against his skin as gently as, well … butterfly kisses. It tickled and tortured him all at once, and he wasn’t sure whether to try and fly out of them or just stay and enjoy the feeling.
The choice was made for him when Buffy appeared right in front of him amid the horde of flitting wings. Hundreds of the butterflies had landed on her dress of grass and she looked like she was clothed in nothing but the flying flowers. Careful not to press her body against his, Buffy leaned just her head over and captured Spike’s lips in a gentle kiss. Her mouth rivaled the silken delicacy of the butterfly wings against his skin and sent shivers of bliss down his spine.
Spike moaned and returned the kiss, keeping it soft with light nibbles on her lips and teasing licks of his tongue. The sensation created by the cloud of wings coursing over his body, the barely-there breeze from the fluttering butterflies, and her sweet kiss on his lips was one of the most surreal things Spike had ever felt. It was as if he were being kissed everywhere, or nearly everywhere, all at once.
His cock jumped and stiffened under the feather loincloth and the additional sensation nearly sent him over the edge. The soft feathers caressed the sensitive skin of his hardening member as his lust literally grew to new heights.
“Buffy, need you…” Spike moaned against her mouth. “Never needed you or wanted you more.”
Buffy’s fingers tickled down his chest to his abs, dancing over the hard lines of bone and muscle. The butterflies followed her touch, gliding over Spike’s skin like so many downy feathers. Her hand found his cock, now standing hard outside the veil of raven feathers, and the butterflies followed her.
Spike gasped when her hand wrapped around him and the butterfly wings kissed all that remained uncovered by her small, hot hand.
Buffy pushed on his shoulder and Spike began to fall from the sky, his wings going still as he fluttered down to the carpet of flowers like a leaf falling from a tree.
As they flitted down, bodies prone, Buffy above Spike, the butterflies that covered Buffy’s green dress began to flutter away. As they did, they each took a blade of the grass that had been covering her away with them. By the time Spike’s winged back touched down in the soft bed of wildflowers, the dress, and the butterflies, were gone.
Spike’s hands closed over her breasts as she settled atop his hips; his cock was trapped, hard and yearning, between their bodies. The sun glinted off her silken hair and gossamer wings with flashes of fiery brilliance, framing her face with radiance. Buffy’s hands roamed over his torso, his pecs, his abs. She teased his nipples with gentle strokes of her fingers and they grew as hard as his cock beneath her touch.
Spike’s thumbs roamed over her pebbled nipples, sending shock-waves of pleasure coursing through her.
“Buffy … please, luv … need you, love you. So beautiful you are. Can’t … can’t wait another bloody minute,” Spike pleaded as he teased her breasts with gentle touches.
Buffy’s back arched into his hands and she lifted her hips, reaching between them to guide his hardness into her. So much for her plan. What was the saying? ‘The road to Albuquerque is paved with solid plans’? Something like that. She could live with that.
Suddenly a raven, which stood as large as the two faeries, and who was quite bald, appeared next to them on the ground. “Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp!” it squealed at them, looking rather put-out in its grotesque, pallid skin.
They both stopped moving to look at the ugly creature. “What the bloody hell…” Spike muttered, looking from it to Buffy.
Buffy looked just as confused. “Ummm … maybe it wants its feathers back,” she mused as her hand touched the feather loincloth that Spike still had on.
“Fine. Take ‘em and run along!” Spike offered, waving a hand at it dismissively.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp!” it shrieked again.
“I thought ravens ‘cawed’ like … crows,” Buffy mused.
“Maybe naked ravens chirp,” Spike postulated.
“Oh, look!” Buffy said, ignoring the raven, and pointing at a perfect circle of glittering purple mushrooms that had sprung up from the ground around them. “We made a faerie ring! I always wondered how those were made.”
“Chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp!” the raven yelled again, bobbing its head up and down in time with each warble.
Suddenly, Buffy was gone from atop Spike, her faerie weight no longer pinning him to the ground. “Bloody hell,” he moaned, punching the ugly, naked raven square in the beak.
Spike woke up when the chirping alarm clock bounced off the wall and smashed to the floor, emitting one last wheezing, electronic chirp before dying.
“What time is it?” a sleepy voice called in the darkness.
“Six,” Buffy’s equally groggy voice replied from next to Spike.
“Should be against the bloody law t’ get up this early,” Spike moaned, reaching for her. The naked faerie body was gone – what he got was a handful of sleep-shirt.
Buffy leaned over and kissed him good morning. “Sorry, baby…” she murmured against his lips as her hand tracked down his body to his raging hard-on. “Tonight – I promise screams.”
Spike groaned in exasperation and frustration.
Suddenly the bathroom light clicked on and the bedroom area was bathed in a soft glow before Annie closed the door behind herself.
“Don’t take all day in there,” Buffy called to her eldest. “Got a lot of people here that need to go.”
Spike pulled Buffy down atop him “Maybe a quickie while she’s…”
“Spiike…” Buffy moaned, laughing lightly. “Dani and Billy are in the next bed.”
Spike looked over at them in the dark. “Be quiet as a churchmouse, we will, … they won’t hear – can’t see in the dark,” he urged her. “C’mon, Slayer,” he pleaded.
Buffy kissed him again before pulling from his embrace and standing up. “We have to get going. First game’s at nine. Three hours to get this horde clean, dressed, fed, packed up, and moved out. Up and at ‘em, faerie boy.”
Spike smirked at her and yanked her back down atop him. “Call me that again and I’ll show ya how untamed a faerie can be,” he warned, his voice rumbling tantalizingly against her neck.
“Mmmmm… faerie boy, faerie boy, faerie boy,” Buffy teased, giggling.
Spike growled against her and began tickling her sides. Buffy jerked and shrieked, trying to get away. They were still wrestling, tickling and taunting each other, when Annie came out of the bathroom a few moments later.
“You guysss…” she moaned. “Stealth, remember?”
Spike released Buffy and grabbed Annie’s hand when she came within reach, pulling her down with them. Buffy began tickling her as Spike rolled off the bed and roused the twins with equally ruthless abandon. If he had to be up at six a.m., then the whole soddin’ world should be up with him – it was only fair. The shrieking children should accomplish that fairly quickly. When the baby began to wail at the top of her well-developed lungs, he felt satisfied that his mission had been a monumental success.
Twelve hours, an ocean of sodas, enough hotdogs to fill a kennel, and a gallon of SPF 50 later, the weekend tournament was drawing to a close for the Sunnydale Slammers. They were playing for the championship and the ability to move on and play in the state-wide tournament. It was their third game of the day. They were all tired from their day in the sun and wired from winning their previous two games. It’s slightly possible that drinking sugary, caffeine-laden sodas could’ve contributed to the wired feeling, as well.
Xander and Spike, along with a few other enthusiastic moms and dads, stood against the tall chain link fence behind home-plate as the game came down to the wire. The bottom of the sixth inning had the Slammers behind by one run – this was their last chance. They had to score one to tie and go into extra innings or two to win; otherwise it would be over.
Spike took it as a good sign that the Slammers were at the top of the batting order as they began the sixth, and last, inning. Their best, most reliable hitters would be up. Dani was back to hitting clean-up, meaning she hit fourth; JJ hit third. Both youngsters had been hitting well during the weekend tournament, but now the pressure would be on. Could they handle it?
The first batter, a tall girl with arms and legs that seemed to have outgrown her torso, drove a base-hit grounder right over second base and out into centerfield.
One on, no outs.
The second batter was a husky boy: the coach’s son. Spike had seen him slap the ball pretty decisively in the past. If he got all his weight behind it and connected, the kid could hit it out of the park. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the fastest base runner, so if he didn’t hit it out or drop it between outfielders, he could be thrown out at first pretty handily. On the other hand, he was a fairly reliable hitter and was good at advancing the on-base runners.
The coach’s son smacked a grounder. It cracked off the bat like a rocket. Unfortunately, it bounced in the infield dirt once and landed right in the mitt of the somewhat surprised shortstop. The shortstop tossed it to the second-baseman, who stepped on the plate then rifled it toward first for a double-play. Ok, well … it’s Minor League ball played by seven to nine year olds, maybe it wasn’t actually rifled towards first. It could be that it was tossed, bounced once, and rolled to the first-baseman. In any case, it got there in the split-second before the not-so-fast runner did. Out.
Two outs. No runners on base.
JJ stepped up to the plate. Although JJ was actually two months younger than Dani and Billy, he was taller and thicker than either of the twins. His heavier build didn’t mean he was slow, though. In fact, he was pretty fast – along the lines of a really fit linebacker: big and strong. Years of playing on the same soccer team as Dani, as well as practically growing up with Weckerly kids and competing with them in every game the three of them could imagine, had given him plenty of physical activity and practice. JJ was strong and fast and he had a good eye. He wouldn’t be hitting third if he weren’t good.
“Ok, don’t worry about it!” Xander encouraged his son from behind home-plate. “You can do it, just keep your eye on the ball, wait for your pitch, and follow through,” he advised.
JJ watched the first pitch go by. Ball. He swung at the second, but it went foul. Strike.
“Shake it off,” Xander continued from behind him. “Wait for your pitch, eye on the ball, follow through…”
JJ swung at the next pitch. Foul again. Strike two.
“Watch it all the way to the bat,” Xander reminded his son. “You can do it. Don’t chase the pitch; if it’s outside, let it go.”
The brunette stepped back into the batter’s box, his face a mask of intense concentration. JJ shuffled his feet, digging his cleats into the clay, and readied himself for the next pitch. He knew it was a perfect pitch as soon as it left the pitcher’s hand. His heart sped up and his body tensed, and in a split-second he swung with all this strength. The ball smacked off the bat perfectly, flying over the heads of the infield and landing between them and the outfielders. He dropped his bat and sprinted for first. He got there a full five seconds before the ball did. Safe.
Two outs. Tying run on first.
Dani fiddled with her batting gloves. She’d been wearing them since yesterday, and was getting used to them, but they were still new enough to feel a little odd. She swung her bat in enthusiastic practice swings as she stepped from the on-deck circle to the plate.
She took her place in the batter’s box and went through her ritual. She adjusted her helmet, scuffed her feet into the clay, swung her bat back and forth over the plate a couple of times, raised the bat behind her and checked to make sure her elbows were up. Finally, she looked at the pitcher.
It didn’t escape her that she could win the game for them. If she could hit a homerun like she had to get them to this tournament, she could win the game and they could go to State. Her stomach flinched nervously, her heart raced, and her breathing became shallow and quick as she waited for the pitch.
“Breathe!” Spike advised from behind her. “Relax and breathe! No pressure!”
Dani almost snorted but she didn’t have time. The pitch was coming. She froze.
“Steee-rike,” yelled the umpire from behind her.
Dani backed up and stole a glance at her dad. “Relax,” he advised again, speaking calmly. “Don’t think about the bloody score, just play the ball. Wait for your pitch – just like practice.”
Dani nodded and took a deep breath, but wasn’t entirely successful in calming her nerves or forgetting the score.
The pitcher threw two balls in a row and Dani did start to relax a bit as she stepped back up to the plate. It wasn’t just her that was feeling the pressure – that pitcher was feeling it too. Somehow knowing that made her feel marginally better.
She swung at the fourth pitch but only caught a bit of it. It careened off her bat and slammed into the fence behind the catcher, making Xander, Spike, and the other parents standing there flinch back.
As Dani stepped back into the batter’s box and went through her routine, Spike and Xander continued to call encouragements to her, as did her teammates and coaches. The other team chanted and heckled her, but Dani didn’t really even hear them anymore. She heard her dad behind her. He was talking calmly, telling her to just hit like in practice, keep her eye on the ball, and don’t chase pitches outside her strike zone.
Dani took a deep breath and focused her eyes on the pitcher, her bat held at the ready, knees bent, feet planted, elbows up.
The ball left the pitcher’s hand a moment later. In a split second Dani knew that it was going to be a strike and her muscles tensed for the swing. She held her breath. Her heart pounding in her ears was all she could hear as the ball hurtled towards her. She could win the game for them. She could be the hero. That amazing feeling of walking on air could be hers again if she just hit this ball as hard and as far as she knew she could. The best day of her life, which had come only two weeks ago when she hit her first homerun, could be replaced with this day.
“Steee-rike!” she heard the umpire yell. “You’re out.”
She looked around in shock and horror. The catcher had jumped up in victory, holding the ball in his hand. She had missed. She hadn’t even touched it. The other team had run out to swamp the pitcher for striking her out and saving the game. Dani still hadn’t moved away from home-plate, she hadn’t actually started breathing again.
Suddenly, all the sound seemed to engulf her: the other team screaming in joy, her teammates walking out of the dugout telling her ‘nice try’, and saying something about a ‘wicked curve ball’ and ‘we’ll get them next time’.
Dani felt tears sting her eyes and her burning lungs reminded her that she needed air. She blinked her eyes trying to hold the flood of disappointment back and took a deep breath. JJ clapped her on the back and she was caught up in the flow of her teammates as they formed a line and slapped hands with the other team. It was like a dream … or a nightmare, really. How had she missed that pitch? How could she have completely whiffed? How could she have struck out in the most important game of her life? How could she have lost the game?
There was a trophy presentation after the game. The players on the winning team got trophies and t-shirts. The second-place team, the Slammers, got smaller trophies, while all the other teams received participation medals.
After the ceremony, the Slammers returned to their dugout. Dani’s teammates gathered up their gear, and dispersed into the crowd, heading for the parking lot with their families.
“Need help?” JJ asked when Dani dawdled behind changing out of her cleats and into sneakers.
“No … I’ll be right there,” she replied as she fiddled with her shoelaces.
JJ shrugged and headed out of the dugout to show his dad the trophy he’d gotten, leaving Dani alone.
She looked at her own trophy. Second Place. She frowned and tears once again threatened her eyes. How could she have struck out? How did she miss that ball? Dani really didn’t remember any of the ceremony, all she could remember was the ball coming at her and then being called out. She must’ve been at the award presentation – she had the stupid second place trophy to prove it.
“Second place is somethin’ t’ be proud of,” Spike said as he came into the dugout.
Dani snorted and rolled her eyes. “Who finished second in last year’s World Series?” she asked him.
“Not fair – I don’t rightly remember who finished first,” Spike replied, shrugging. He sat down next to her and picked the trophy up off the bench at her side.
“You did your best, pet, that’s all that matters,” Spike assured her.
“No I didn’t. I missed. I whiffed, struck out! I lost the game!” she pouted angrily.
“Oh, I musta been watchin’ something else, ‘cos I thought this was a team sport,” Spike chided her. “You didn’t lose the bloody game. The team lost.”
“But if I had just hit the ball, we could’ve won. I let everyone down,” Dani groaned, her blue eyes once again swimming with tears.
“You’re lookin’ at it all wrong, Grasshopper,” Spike contended gently. “Every player on the team ‘ad the chance t’ win the game. Any one of them coulda hit a homerun during any of the six innings, yeah? I saw plenty of ‘em strike out. Just ‘cos you were the last one to strike out doesn’t mean you alone lost the bloody game.”
Dani blinked her tears back again. “But … if I’d only…”
“Yeah, and if that little girl with the freckles could lift the bat, she might’ve gotten a hit, and if fat-boy could run faster than a bloody turtle, they wouldn’t’ve gotten a double-play, and if …”
Dani sighed heavily, stopping him.
“There’s plenty o’ blame t’ go around, pet. Not fair for you to hog it all. I think you lot did brilliant. Look at how many games ya won.”
“I wish we could’ve won one more,” Dani admitted, frowning.
“Yeah, well, wishes and horses, pet.”
“Huh?” Dani furrowed her blonde brows and looked at her father like he’d lost his mind. “There were no horses…”
Spike laughed. “It’s a sayin’: ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’”
Her confusion deepened. “What does that even mean? Why would beggars want to ride horses? They stand near the freeway exits with signs like: ‘Hungry. Please help’. If they had a horse, the horse would be hungry too – plus I think the cars would scare the horses.”
Spike looked up to the heavens a moment for inspiration and a helping of patience. Finally, he looked back at his tomboy daughter and explained, “It’s an old saying, pet. It means … wishing don’t get ya anywhere. Hard work and practice are what count. So … we’ll work harder, practice more, yeah? And next time we’ll win one more game.”
Dani pursed her lips and nodded solemnly. “How did I miss that ball?”
“Bloody pitcher got lucky, is all. Don’t reckon Barry Bonds could’a hit that curve. Don’t know how the prat managed it. If that’d been a fast ball, it would’a been outta here,” Spike assured her.
Dani sighed, took the trophy from Spike’s hand, and looked at it. She had a couple of soccer trophies, but had never gotten a baseball one before. “I guess second place is better than last … or not being here at all,” she finally admitted.
“Reckon that’s true,” Spike agreed.
“JJ hit really good,” she continued, still looking down at the trophy.
“Yeah, he’s right fast, too,” Spike confirmed. “Bloody surprisin’ that is, considering Harris couldn’t outrun a one-legged, epileptic zombie.”
Dani smiled a little and nodded. “You shouldn’t call Charlie fat, though. He tries really hard and … he’s a good catcher and he really can hit.”
“Charlie? That the turtle then?”
“Don’t call him a turtle, either,” Dani chastised, scowling up at her father.
“Right … no fat turtles. Got it,” Spike agreed, nodding.
Dani sighed. “I sure wish…” she stopped, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She was gonna say she wished she had been able to be the hero of the game again. She really, really loved having everyone cheering her when she’d hit that homerun and won the game before. It had been the best day of her life. But wishing didn’t ride hungry horses … or something.
“What do ya wish, pet?” Spike prompted after a moment.
Dani gave him a small smile and stood up. “I wish you’d teach me how to hit curve balls so next time I can knock it down that stupid pitcher’s throat.”
Spike smirked and pulled her into a hug as he sat on the bench. “I reckon we can do that, pet. I’m proud of you, ya know. Ya went down swinging – no shame in that. I’ve gone down swinging more than once … mostly to your mum,” he half-joked.
Dani laughed, wrapped her small arms around his neck, and pressed her head against his shoulder. “Thanks, Papa. I love you.”
“I love you too, Danielle Dawn. We’ll get ‘em next time, no worries.”
Next: Spike and Buffy finally find some alone time!
Swing! Trace Adkins
out to the ball game.
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