"I know you want everyone to know that you cooked. Hells, I want everyone to know that you cooked! I just think that we should wait to tell them until after they've eaten." Xander studied the stubborn look on his lover's face.
"Please, Baby..." Spike's expression went from stubborn to stunned in less than a second.
"Spike, are you okay?"
Blink. "You called me 'Baby'."
"Uh... yeah. I'm... sorry?"
With a growl, spike launched himself across the kitchen and pinned his boy to the wall. "You'd better not be, Pet. That's the sweetest thing anyone's ever called me. It's the sweetest thing you've ever called me."
Hands wrapping tightly around the vampire's back, Xander grinned. "You think it's sweet when I call you a blood-soaked psychopath."
Squirming closer, Spike tucked his head into the curve between shoulder and neck and let his mate's heartbeat calm him.
Sigh. Pout. "I said, I've never been anybody's baby before. Means somethin', that does."
"Oh." Xander was stunned. He knew his vampire was a highly emotional creature, easily touched or hurt by a word from the right person, but it still took him by surprise to realise that he was the right person. That a word from him could cause such a reaction continued to amaze him.
He tried to find the right words again.
"Damn right it means something. It means I love you enough to put up with bloodbreath; demon entrails dripped on the carpet; being woken up at 3am on a work night cos it's the middle of the day for you and you're boooooooooored; even listening to you reminisce about 'the good old days' with Angelus and Dru without flinching... much. It means I love you more than anyone else in any dimension, enough to use a pet name I would have choked on this time last year, because I wasn't with you then." He sniffed. "And if you still want to let the Scoobies know who cooked the spaghetti sauce you'd better get back to it before it burns."
"I'm stuffed." Buffy grinned at Xander. "I don't know where you learned to cook, but you'll have to do it more often. That sauce was delicious!"
Giles nodded in agreement. "And those meatballs were delectable, Xander. You'll have to give me the recipe."
"Actually, guys..." Xander looked to his right and saw the gleeful look in his love's eyes. "Spike, you wanna tell them?"
"Dru's favorite meal, that was. Used to beg me to cook it, she did. But don't worry, I changed the recipe a bit. Didn't put a drop of blood in the sauce, well, only in mine, and the meatballs were nothing but pork and beef."
Spike looked around the table. Dawn winked at him, Willow and Tara were smiling their matching 'here he goes again' smiles, and Giles was frowning down at his plate. Buffy had turned a lovely shade of green, and Spike decided that his pet had been right. It had definitely been a good idea to let them eat first before telling them who really cooked. Anything that made the slayer look like she was ready to puke on her shoes was a good idea in his book.
"So, who wants dessert?"
Dawn grabbed the rest of the silverware and followed Spike into the kitchen.
"Do you still miss her?"
Giving himself a moment to think, he took the cutlery and loaded it into the dishwasher before closing the machine and turning it on. He should have known she wouldn't just ignore the mention of his ex, she cared about him too much, and wasn't that just too insane for words? The slayer's baby sister was making sure the Big Bad wasn't hurting emotionally. He shook his head in disbelief.
"Miss Dru? 'S'pose, sometimes. We were together for over a hundred years, Niblet, and that's a lot of memories. But would I take her back if she came knocking at the door? Gods no! The phrase "high maintenance" doesn't even come close to describing my dark princess." Dawn giggled, and Spike looked affronted. "What? I watch a lot of daytime TV. 'S not like I can go out and cause chaos and mayhem now, is it? Kinda combustible here, Pet."
"If you really wanted to you could find a way. You just enjoy being a pampered househusband." Dawn stuck out her tongue at him.
"Oi! Evil undead here, remember? Oh, the stories I could tell you!" Both of them turned instinctively to check that Buffy wasn't listening, and then shared a conspiratorial grin at the sight of the closed door.
"So, tell me why Dru made you cook spaghetti sauce. Did Miss Edith say you had to learn to cook it?" Dawn bit her lip to stop the laughter from bubbling up at his pained expression.
"Oh, that boy is in so much trouble! He's definitely getting punished tonight!" Leaning forward, eyes gleaming, Dawn was hoping to hear details, but Spike held up his hand.
"You know the rules, Niblet. I'm not allowed to discuss our sex life with you on pain of having said sex life put on hold indefinitely. He means it too, the git. Last time he withheld my 'privileges' for four whole days. Four days, Niblet! 'S cruel and unusual punishment, that is. I woulda bin right proud of him, I would, if he'd been doing it to some other bugger. So ixnay on the exsay ifelay talk, okay? And no, it was nothing to do with Miss Edith. This one was all Dru's doing."
Before starting the story, Spike grabbed a beer for himself and a soda for the little bit and then settled onto the stool next to her at the breakfast bar.
"Me and Dru had been in Venice for a couple of months and Dru had managed to get us invited to this fancy ball. We had costumes, masks, the whole bit, and we were gonna have so much fun. With everyone dressed up and looking unfamiliar, we knew we could pick and choose our meals, take 'em outside on to the balcony and then ditch them over the low wall into the canal under the window and not have the alarm raised too early. And then Dru went and tried the canapés..."
Spike paused to take a drink and Dawn leaned forward, eager to hear another story about her friend's crazy sire, the woman who had looked at him and seen something worthy of being preserved for eternity. She wished she could meet the vampiress, just once, to say thank you for making sure Spike was still alive, well kinda, long enough to be her friend and to fall in love with Xander.
A little unnerved by the wistful gleam in his young audience's eye, Spike took up his tale again.
"She took one bite and started cooing and spinning. The stars were singing to her, she said, telling her about all the pretty pictures the chef could paint on her tongue if she got him to cook for her. She wanted to take him home right then and there, and nothing I said was getting through, so we grabbed him and carried him off to the house we were 'borrowing'."
"He was quick, I'll give him that. Figured out what was going on straightaway, and even tried to bargain for his life. He convinced Dru that his talent for cooking came from the soul and that if she turned him nothing he cooked would ever taste good again. I think she believed him, cos she set guards on him and told him if he could cook her favorite meal she'd let him live. He was real cocky until he figured out she had no intention of telling him what her favorite meal actually was. She gave him a week to do it, and he did try, poor sod, but she got bored after three days and drained him."
"But now she'd developed a taste for Italian and she used to beg me to go find her another chef to cook for her. She always promised she'd keep this one alive or turn that one but it never worked. If she got too bored, waiting for them to figure out what her favorite meal was, she'd drain them, and the two she did try turning both ended up insane and dusted. I even offered to turn one for her, and you can bet I never made that mistake again! It took me a week to calm her down and get her to let me out of her sight. Kept screaming she did, about how I was hers until she let me go and I mustn't try to replace her with a new puppy."
"It took me a while, but I finally came up with a solution. I grabbed the head chef from one of the grandest palaces, but instead of just handing him over, I spent time in the kitchen with him, learning a few of his best recipes. Kept him alive a whole week by promising my princess something special."
"At the end of the week I served her up her favorite meal. If any of those idiots had bothered to think for a moment they would have known what it was. They were cooking for a vampire and they couldn't figure out that her favorite meal was anything with blood in it? They were too stupid to live. So I made spaghetti and meatballs. Blood in the sauce, and the meatballs..." Spike grinned at the wide-eyed girl sitting next to him. "Well, let's just say I was running out of places to hide the bodies."
The two residents of the kitchen jumped guiltily and turned to face the door. Xander was standing in the doorway, arms folded, with a you-are-so-in-trouble expression on his face.
"We've talked about this, Spike. We've even got a rule for it! No gruesome discussion of body parts during or after meals. What if it had been Buffy who came back to see what you two were up to? Somehow I don't think she'd appreciate you sharing certain recipes with her little sister, do you?"
"The Niblet asked me why Dru made me cook spaghetti sauce and I told her. And I also told her it no, it wasn't Miss Edith's idea."
Xander winced, then grinned weakly.
"So, you two are both in trouble, yeah?" Dawn looked from one to the other wickedly. "How do you decide who gets to be spanked first?"
Part Three coming soon...