What's the Magic Word?

They did this all the time, Riley realised; joked and discussed something silly in a serious way or flipped it over and did it in reverse. He couldn’t keep up. His Initiative friends joked, but in a straightforward way; girls, getting drunk, getting laid, and look, they were back where they started. Work wasn’t something that made the list of things to be funny about, ever, but here was Buffy regaling everyone with a tale about a vamp she’d staked who had kept topping her quips and buying himself five extra minutes of unlife, for all the good it did him. Tara smiled and Willow laughed and the only one who looked as confused as he did was Anya, pressed up against Xander, plucking plaintively at his t shirt as the conversation moved on – Riley wasn’t quite sure how – to the way vampires smelled.

“-always this musty, dusty, smell,” Buffy said. “I could understand it if they’d just risen but no, this guy was way past that.”

“We don’t all smell!” Spike protested. He stood up and walked over to Buffy, spreading his arms and raising his eyebrows. “Go on then; have a niff. If I smell of anything but Giles’ cheap, own brand shampoo and stuff, I’ll drink a brandy.”

“Like I’m getting close enough to you for that!” Buffy scoffed.

Giles rolled his eyes. “It was on special offer and if you must know, I bought it for you.”

“Rupert, I’m touched,” Spike said, swinging around and flashing Giles a smile.

“To stop you using my expensive, imported from England toiletries and oh my God –” Giles strode over and grabbed Spike by the shoulders, leaning in and sniffing his hair and neck. “You bloody git! You found them!”

Spike smiled up into Giles’ angry face. “Vampire? Highly developed sense of smell, remember. No place you can hide them, I won’t find them. In fact, I bet you I could pick each of you out blindfold just with one good sniff.”

“Prove it,” Xander said immediately. “Put your nose where your mouth is – okay did that come out sort of gross?”

“Yes, but we’re used to you,” Anya said reassuringly.

Spike reached up and undid Giles’ tie, sliding it free with a mocking lift of an eyebrow. “Care to do the honours?”

Giles pushed Spike away and snatched back his tie. “Why not?” he said, sounding as if he'd prefer to gag or strangle Spike with it. “Sit down.”

Spike sat on the wooden chair Giles used to tie him to, until it became plain Spike had no interest in running away, and blindfolded Spike with swift, dexterous fingers and a square knot.

Then, one by one, they walked up to him in silence and Spike unerringly guessed correctly, pulling the tie from his eyes with a mocking smile and handing it back to Giles - who took it gingerly, staring down at it as though he wanted to toss it away but was restrained by the fact that it was silk, expensive and probably a present from his mother.

The others trickled away after that until Riley was left with Spike as Buffy and Giles washed up, squabbling cheerfully over who got to dry.

“Well, that was fun,” Spike said softly. “Quite enlightening, don’t you think?”

Riley stared at Spike, lounging on the couch, blue eyes gleaming, legs spread blatantly, carelessly wide. “I already know about the way you things can smell stuff. Professor Walsh –”

Spike waved a dismissive hand. “Not talking about that. Talking about what you all gave away. Let’s see now. Four girls and three men, if you’re generous and include Harris in with the grown ups. Enough secrets to make it really interesting.”

Riley’s jaw set hard. “I don’t need to listen to this.”

Spike’s smile was relaxed and challenging at the same time. “Buffy smells of sex, smells of hunger. Being with you, it’s like she’s getting nibbles and she wants more than that to fill her –”

Riley walked over to Spike and bent over, his hands on either side of him, their faces close. “Shut. Up.”

“Fine.” Spike shrugged. “Let’s talk about you instead of bandying a lady’s name and all that.” His eyes dropped and he glanced up at Riley through his lashes, faux flirting in a way that made Riley’s gut clench with the need to do - something. Grinding his mouth against those pouting lips until they were swollen and hot seemed to have made it onto the list beside kick Spike so hard he bounced when he landed. Riley wasn't sure when that had happened but it bothered him so he shoved it down deep and buried it. “Want to know what I got from you, soldier boy?”

Through the open hatch, Buffy and Giles were talking, their backs turned, but to Riley they were moving in slow motion, their voices whisper soft, because all that he could hear was Spike’s voice, insinuating and gentle, pushing into him, forcing him open and wide. Spike’s hand came up and brushed across Riley’s groin, moving so fast that Riley might have missed it if he'd blinked at the wrong moment. He was hard and he knew it and now Spike did too, but it didn’t seem important. Important was what Spike knew and how loud he said it.

“Want to know what you smell like to me?” Spike’s face went serious, almost puzzled, as though he knew the answer was correct, because he’d looked it up at the back of the book, but he didn’t have the faintest idea how or why it was right.

Riley stood up straight, unable to bear being that close to Spike without touching him - though he still didn't know if he wanted to punch him or kiss him - and folded his arms across his broad chest in a security blanket substitute. “Food?” he said, striving for cool sarcasm.

Spike nodded. “All of you do, always, but you, you’ve got a label on you that screams, ‘bite me’. I’d be careful about that, in this town, if I were you.”

Riley’s lips thinned. Spike couldn’t know where he’d been going at night. “Why?”

Spike stood in a fluid movement and grinned, shedding the air of solemnity. “Because with you, I really think I could. Any time you feel like experimenting, just say the word, yeah?”

“And what word would that be?” Riley said, his voice tight and his heart pounding loud enough to almost drown out Spike’s answer.

Almost. Because late that night as he came, his body shaking and crying out for a relief his hand and Buffy's body couldn’t give him, all Riley could hear was Spike’s voice whispering, “Please...” and his own voice echoing it.

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