Title: Buffy and Spike Do Easy Living
Era/season/setting: Probably best read as all human AU, set outside of canon. 1930s New York City.
Summary: A Spuffy version of the 1937 screwball comedy, Easy Living, Buffy and Spike take the leading roles.
Author’s Note: This will obviously make more sense if you’ve seen the movie, but the point is to enjoy the two of them having some banter and indulging in some classic tropes. Most of the dialogue is from the actual movie, doctored up to sound more like them. Though there’s no specific mention of vampires or Slayers I have tried very hard to make it impossible to say they couldn’t be their normal selves ie Spike is never seen outside in daytime, etc.
Buffy halted outside of the automat pondering what she should do – if she should go in. True, she had solved one problem already tonight, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t have a hundred more to take its place. The number one that was on her mind, or more accurately her stomach, was her hunger. She looked at the two nickels in her hand and then glanced down as her stomach rumbled. Well, that settled it.
Buffy pushed open the doors of the automat and walked in. She picked up a tray and went looking for food that she could afford. As she did so she pondered the events of the day that had been so strange and yet so fortuitous. That morning she had just been minding her own business riding the bus to work when suddenly out of nowhere the most outrageous fur coat had been flung on top of her, completely ruining her hat.
While trying to find owner of said coat and perhaps give them a piece of her mind, she had run into the funniest tweed-clad man who had not only insisted she keep the coat but bundled her into his car and took her shopping for a new hat, one she never would have been able to afford on her own, furiously polishing his glasses the whole time.
Granted, that had been when the events of her day turned from good to worse as she was promptly fired from her position for being late, simply because her horrible boss Snyder couldn’t understand the ridiculously simple premise of a fur coat falling onto one’s head from a very tall building when one was not expecting it.
Of course, she had then been forced to break open the piggy bank given to her by her best friends before Buffy had moved to New York. Piecing through Mr. Gordo’s remains she had found nothing but the nickels currently in her hand, but a phone call had then taken her to the very strange place that she now got to reside. Taken her to the very strange Mr. Lorne who had shown her a suite the size of a small town and said things that she had not understood at all. Given the fact that she was overdue on her current rent and had zero money prospects or job, she had decided to take what fate had given her that day and live in this strange, ridiculous hotel suite that had four reception rooms. Why on earth anyone had need of even one reception room she was entirely uncertain. Nevertheless, she was now said person.
Said person, who was friendless in this town and penniless and desperately starving. It was true that she had managed to bargain breakfast into her new rent but that did nothing for her stomach right now.
Yet, while she attempted to get coffee and ended up with the last dregs and a wasted nickel, she heard a voice behind her.
“If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
It was a male voice. One with a British accent if she wasn’t mistaken, but she didn’t know any English people so she couldn’t be sure.
“I’ve seen a lot of things today I never would have believed,” she said in all seriousness, but also attempting to get away from the interruption.
“Yeah. Haven’t I seen you somewhere?” he asked, and she turned to look at him.
It was one of the waiters, or actually, they were called busboys, she believed. His blonde hair was a color she had never seen on a human being, but otherwise he looked quite unassuming, if not entirely adorable in his outfit. Still, the last thing that she needed was a man’s attention at this particular point in time.
“I don’t think so, I didn’t get to the Waiters’ Ball this year,” she rejoined, with a little sass.
“Oh, neither did I,” he was quick to reply.
“Were you at the Junior League dance?” she asked, playing along. “Were you at Miss Calendar’s on Thursday?”
“No, I couldn’t get away in time,” he said sorrowfully almost as if he were telling the truth.
“Oh, too bad. It couldn’t have been nicer,” she said.
“Really? Were you at Sunnydale Beach in February? I’m not normally one for the beach, but perhaps you were there?” he asked, apparently truly trying to figure out where he’d seen her.
“Were you in Cleveland for Christmas?” she asked instead. “There’s good hunting.”
“No, I couldn’t make that, either,” he replied, lifting an eyebrow and with that she knew the game was at an end, though she couldn’t help admiring the eyebrow at the same time.
“Well, I couldn’t make it either. So I guess we haven’t met,” she said, even though she had actually enjoyed their exchange.
Of course, then he had to go start talking about food she couldn’t afford.
“By the way, I hear the beefsteak pie is bloody good. Six nickels. And with three nickels
more you can get a grape-”
“Oh, shut up,” she said automatically, trying to ignore the saliva suddenly filling her mouth.
“Sorry, luv. I guess I thought part of my job would be to suggest things.”
“Yes, well, if you can suggest where to get the nine nickels, I might take your suggestion. Otherwise, don’t go around putting ideas into people’s mouths.”
Yes, she definitely was too hungry to be having any type of conversation with anyone.
“What’s the matter? Haven’t you any dosh?” His voice trailed off as he saw the look that she gave him.
Without another word he walked away, and she felt a little pang of sorrow watching him leave. It was the first genuine piece of connection she’d felt with someone since she’d moved to New York. But right now, she was more focused on her stomach than anything else and she had the tiny piece of quiche that she been able to cobble together with her meager finances.
She had just sat down and started to eat when suddenly, she heard his voice again from behind her.
“Listen,” he whispered.
“You again,” she said, too busily eating to pay much attention.
“You go over to that hot dish window…” he started to say.
“Hotchkiss window?” she questioned. “What’s the matter? You got something wrong with your teeth?”
“Don’t be daft. I said hot dish window. You go over there and pick out what you like, see, and I’ll go in back and work the gag. I’m allowed in the back.”
She straightened up and turned to look at him.
“Say, what are you trying to do? Land us all in the jug?”
“I’ll put the nickels in when I get paid and you can pay me back sometime,” he said with just enough of a smirk on his face that she immediately turned back to her food.
“I’m not that hungry,” she said hostilely.
“Don’t be a sucker, pet. That beef pie is to die for.”
“Suppose they see you?” she asked.
“Well, I’ll say the gag was stuck. Now, move it. I’ll meet you behind the beef pies.”
He walked away again.
She looked down at her quiche and thought about the fact that there could be a possible beef pie in her future. It wasn’t that hard of a decision, and today had really been a day for trusting and for perfect strangers to give her things. She was on a roll and she intended to finish it. She walked over to the hot dish window and there he was as promised. He opened the gag and the little window slotted open for her. She took out the steaming beef pie and smiled down at it happily. She took her tray back to her table to finish eating and it was delicious.
Well, it was delicious as little of it that she got. She had no sooner started eating when a perfect riot broke out behind her as all the windows popped open at once, and people started tripping on food and stealing each other’s trays.
While no stranger to a brawl, it wasn’t exactly something she was excited about joining and she kept trying to eat her pie, throwing the odd elbow in anyone’s face who tried to sneak up behind her.
In the midst of the commotion, she suddenly felt a hand grab hers and she looked up, startled. She wasn’t used to people sneaking up on her, even if there was clearly a lot going on. She was yanked from her new meal by the selfsame busboy who now looked like he had just gone three rounds with a prizefighter.
Somehow coming out the better. There was a cut on that same attractive eyebrow and she just knew it was going to leave a scar. She made a mental note to see if she could find some of those new-fangled band-aids to put on it.
“Come on,” he said.
They exited the automat together and ran a few steps before they slowly began to walk again and she suddenly laughed, completely comfortable for the first time in she couldn’t remember when. It was an odd feeling, one she wasn’t used to, but she liked it. She handed him her handkerchief to put on his forehead.
“You lost your job?” she asked, feeling somewhat guilty, but knowing it was entirely his fault really.
“Well, there wasn’t any future to it. Slave for twenty years and yet you’re still behind the nut salad,” he replied, suddenly so calm and easy that she felt like they were somehow perfectly in sync already.
“I know, but that’s awful,” she replied. “That’s terrible even. Have you got any money saved up?”
He smiled and it looked involuntary before he swallowed the look and replied.
He said the word as if he had never even heard of money before.
“Now, you see? When you’re working, you ought to save your money, and then when you’re resting you can eat,” she said, suddenly convinced that he had actually never heard of the concept before and it was up to her to educate him on the fact.
“Mmm-hmm. Like you,” he said somewhat sarcastically, but with enough amiability in his tone that she didn’t feel insulted.
“No, not like me. But when you’re hungry, no busboy is going to lose his job trying to feed you,” she said dryly.
“Yes, there’s something in that,” he agreed, and she caught his sideways glance of appreciation.
“More than something. Have you got a place to sleep?” she asked, unsure why she felt so responsible.
“Course,” he said.
“Where?” she questioned.
He mumbled so that she could not hear everything that he said
He did it again and she glanced at him in amazement but this time she caught a word.
“Huh. In the park.”
“Mmm-hmm. In the park,” he said quickly.
Buffy had been in her fair share of parks and she wasn’t about to let someone else sleep there if she could help it. It was dangerous.
“I think you’d better come up to the Lorne and we’ll talk it over.”
It was a rash decision but one that she did not regret in the slightest. She was not exactly a trusting person, but then again everything that had happened so far today had led her to believe that she needed to trust whatever had gotten her into these situations and, after all, he had just lost his job for her.
“The Lorne? Okay. You live at the Lorne?” he asked, sounding surprised
“Sure,” she said, shrugging.
“Then what were you doing in the automat?” And this time he sounded suspicious.
“Eating,” she said nonchalantly and hooked her arm through his casually.
“Oh,” he said just as nonchalantly and began to walk a little more briskly.
She was trying not to laugh and a quick glance at him showed he was in the same predicament.
“What do they call you anyway?” she asked, deciding that ‘adorable bus boy’ wasn’t really a good way to address him.
“They call me Spike,” he said, emphasis on the word call.
“You poor boy,” she answered. “Well, my name’s Buffy.”
“Poor girl,” he rejoined.
She elbowed him a bit in the ribs and they kept walking.
They chatted about the city as they walked along and she felt more and more at ease as they went. It didn’t take long for them to reach the hotel Lorne. She felt slightly strange bringing a man up to her hotel room, but then again it had been a strange day, she couldn’t reiterate that enough. Now all she had to do was not get lost in her own suite.
She began showing him everything including every reception room and the kitchen.
“Wait a minute. Just why did he want you to live here?” Spike asked.
“He said the lights in his tower were illegal and if I came and lived here it would be all right or something or other. I didn’t really know what he meant.” She really didn’t. “First bedroom,” she noted, showcasing it with a grand gesture.
“Swanky,” he said. “Are you sure he didn’t say anything else?”
She noted that he didn’t seem that impressed by the surroundings. They were certainly the most splendid she had ever seen.
“He said I should put in a good word for the place with anybody I met and you’re the first person I met, so I brought you right over. Look,” and she pointed out all the glass dividing walls. “You know, he did say something about telling somebody something or other, but then he said he shouldn’t mention names, and he was sorry or something, I don’t know.”
She knew she was rambling at that point, but she was beginning to get slightly nervous.
“Mr. Lorne. You know, I think the guy’s crazy.”
“No, no, no, no, no. What name did he mention and then say that he shouldn’t mention?”
“Well, he said…Guile.”
“That’s funny. My name’s Giles,” he said, his eyebrow going up again.
She really enjoyed watching it do that.
“That’s funnier still,” she said, remembering.
“That was it.”
“That was what?” he asked.
“That was the name he said,” she replied.
“Almost entirely sure.”
He looked like he wanted to explore the topic further but by this point they were at the washroom and the lady was still standing there presiding over her giant clam like bath. Buffy still wasn’t sure exactly what she was supposed to wash there or how and she explained the conundrum to him and he immediately stepped inside and started trying to figure out how it worked. She joined him, caught up in the fun of the quest.
“What the sod is it for?” he grumbled.
“Find anything?” she asked.
“Well, he said it was to wash in, but I don’t know what you’d wash in it.”
“An elephant,” he replied and she had to agree considering how big it was.
“Doesn’t she look silly standing up there with her hands sticking out?” she observed.
“I guess she doesn’t know, either,” he said.
“Doesn’t know what?”
“What it’s for,” he said, rolling his eyes.
He started playing with the levers on the walls that didn’t look like they were much more than ornamental.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Well, I thought for a moment that this might have something to do with it,” he grunted a reply.
He continued flipping switches and suddenly water erupted from everywhere dousing them both. She let out a shriek, suddenly cold.
“Turn it off. It’s cold. Turn it off,” she cried.
He tried but slipped on the wet tile and brought her down with him. She felt a painful jolt and was glad that she healed easily. He scrambled his way back up again and finally managed to turn it off.
“Elephants, huh?” he finally said, looking at the two of them drenched, her sitting there on the bottom of the bathtub. He began to laugh, and she couldn’t help but join him, even though she knew that her dress was completely ruined and it’s not like she had a lot of them to go around.
“Isn’t that what we are?” she asked, grinning.
A loud sound suddenly interrupted them, and she was faintly puzzled until she remembered what it sounded like.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“A buzzer,” she answered. “Oh, they shouldn’t find you here. Hide someplace. Hide.”
It was probably due to being cold and wet, but she suddenly panicked at the idea of having a man in her hotel room, one whose real first name she didn’t even know. The two of them slid around on the floor as they attempted to climb up the giant slippery walls of the wet slicked tile.
“I… I can’t get out,” he said, sounding like he was trying to oblige her but couldn’t help but laugh at the same time.
She managed to climb out on her hands and knees and then ran to the door, dripping wet, only to find the man who sold her the hat that morning, covered in clothing and jewelry. Mr…Wells, she thought?
“Oh, Miss Summers, it’s only me. Just take the fan,” he said, gesturing it toward her.
“Oh! Oh, hello,” she said, confused.
“Hello. Now, just pour yourself into these and fall in a faint. My dear, I want you to try these on, without any obligation whatsoever. After all, you know, you’re practically my discovery.”
He said it all so quickly that she didn’t think he was breathing as he spoke. Soon she was left dripping and holding a bunch of other clothing that she was slowly getting wet.
“All right,” she said just so that he would leave.
“Bye-bye,” she said.
When she returned to her guest, she found him staring at her, a look of amazement on his face.
“You know, there’s something awfully phony about this,” Spike said, gesturing at the pile of items in her arms.
“Are you just beginning to find that out?” she asked, having figured that out this morning when the fur coat landed on her head.
Naturally, there was no thought of him leaving now that he was soaking wet, not that she intended to let him do anything else but stay anyway. She issued him into one of the many reception areas and gave him a bathrobe that she found hanging in one of the closets and let him change. She slipped into another one herself and then realized that she was still ridiculously hungry. Well, there was really only one thing for it, and she knew how to beg with the best of them.
She rode down the elevator to find Mr. Lorne. Naturally, because this was the type of day that she was having, she found him talking to the very same man who had gifted her the fur coat and started off this entire insane trail of events.
“Hello, Santa Claus,” she greeted him with enthusiasm.
“How do you do? How are you getting along?” he inquired kindly.
She realized now that his voice sounded a bit like Spike’s and wasn’t that a coincidence?
Mr. Lorne rubbed his hands together, looking between them with what Buffy thought was a strange amount of satisfaction.
“All right. You know each other, eh? Well, well, well.”
“Yes,” she replied.
“You live here?” asked her strange benefactor.
“Yes. Yes, I do. Mr. Lorne made me a very special rate.”
“With breakfast,” Mr. Lorne interjected.
“Yes, one egg. That’s what I want to talk to you about, Mr. Lorne. I was wondering if I could have the egg now instead of in the morning?”
“You mean now?” he questioned.
“Don’t you think supper would be a better idea?” asked the other man.
“I don’t think I’m entitled to supper,” Buffy was quick to say, not wanting to do anything to jeopardize her new living arrangements.
Mr. Lorne spoke up quickly as if afraid of offending the man, which she thought was odd.
“Entitled. Is she entitled? You name it and we’ll whistle it up quick.” He yelled to one of the other employers. “Merl, Merl, take an order.”
Buffy listened with quiet astonishment as Mr. Lorne suggested she eat lobster and her fur coat friend nixed that for guinea hen and a salad with endive and beetroot. She had no idea what those things were, but she hoped she and Spike would like them even if they had to share.
She might have spoken up when they began discussing wine choices if not for the fact she didn’t want them to suddenly realize they shouldn’t be giving her this food, but they kept talking over each other and for some reason Mr. Lorne acted like the other man would be upset if she didn’t get the best kind of service just because they knew each other. While she knew he must have been rich to just give her a fur coat, she realized now he must be very important indeed.
Mr. Lorne ended the conversation with making the order for two and having it sent to her suite. Now she didn’t even have to share! She said goodnight to them both at her door and felt confused over what happened but chalked it up to the craziness of the day.
She brought it all in to Spike where he was lounging in one of the living areas, looking absolutely adorable with wet hair. He was just putting a flask of something from his lips back into his jacket. She noticed but decided not to say anything. She laid out the spread in front of him.
“What do you think about this?” she asked, spreading her hand over the display. “We don’t need any beef pie!”
“I’ll say,” he agreed. “I’ve got no bloody clue how you did this, luv, but I will not question it for one second.”
As they ate, she felt the last of her hunger leaving her and it was a glorious feeling. She was warm and comfortable and having a delightful time. She wasn’t sure they talked of anything that had actual substance to it, but on the other hand he never seemed to run out of things to say. At one point he even told her his real name. It was William as it turned out, but she liked Spike better and he seemed to be happier with that anyway.
“That’s one of the best suppers I ever supped,” he said, leaning back, though he hadn’t eaten nearly as much as her.
She wasn’t exactly queen of the grammar school, but that didn’t sound right to her.
“That’s not right,” she said, teasing.
“Yes, it is, too. Supped,” he said adamantly.
“It’s just like a fairy tale or something, except you don’t look much like Prince Charming,” she said.
He did that thing with his eyebrow and she intended to cause that to happen as much as possible from now on.
“You know, we used to have a chef years ago that could fix guinea hen just like that. That’s one of my father’s favorite dishes. Poor old father,” he said somewhat bitterly.
“Say, he must have been pretty rich at one time,” she guessed.
“Your father. I mean, to have a chef and all like that,” she replied.
“Oh. Oh, yes.”
Was it her imagination or did he hesitate when she said that?
“Has he been dead long?” she asked
“Who, the chef? No, I think he went back to Bulgaria or Romania or someplace.”
“No, no. I mean your father.”
“Did I say he was dead?”
“Well…you said, ‘Poor old father.’ ”
“Well, you don’t have to be dead to be ‘poor old father.’ You don’t even have to be poor. I suppose you don’t have to be old, either. Not so terribly,” he pointed out.
He leaned back on the couch behind him with his arms folded behind his head.
“Well, I wouldn’t go around saying, ‘Poor old father’ and squeezing sympathy out of people,” she said.
“I wasn’t trying to squeeze any sympathy. I should think a bloke has a right to think of his folks once in a while, so when I said, ‘Poor old father’… “
She got the impression that talking about his family was the last thing that he wanted to do right then, and she understood that to a certain extent, so she stopped pressing.
“What are you going to look for?” she asked.
“I said, when I said, ‘Poor old father-’ “
“In the morning, what kind of a job?” she interrupted.
“Oh. Oh, I don’t know.” The idea seemed to amuse him. “What do you suggest?”
“Well, I’d…I’d aim a little higher, I think. It wouldn’t do any harm, you know. Can’t you do anything besides wait on tables?”
“I can’t even wait on tables. All I know is how to take the dishes off.”
“Didn’t you study to be anything?”
“Anything like what?” he asked instead of answering.
He looked awfully comfortable on the couch, so she decided to join him. It was a very large couch, definitely big enough for two grown people to lie down.
“Like a…like a dentist or something.”
“Mmm-mmm,” was his non-committal answer and he seemed more interested in her closer proximity than the conversation.
“Well, how did you expect to while away the hours after you grew up?”
She reclined back on the couch and listened to him blather on. As he spoke, he put a pillow down next to her, just below her head and lay back on it, facing the ceiling. She closed her eyes listening to his voice. She was feeling very sleepy but pleasantly so.
“I didn’t have to study to do that. In training I have whiled away an hour in twenty-six minutes flat. Of course, I always had a dream that one day I’d be able to do it in twenty-five, but I remember there was a fellow in university…”
“Oh, shut up,” she said.
He turned to face her and his eyes were so amazingly close to her own. She found that she didn’t mind at all. He didn’t look nearly as ready to fall asleep as she was.
“Come to think of it, I can’t remember where I was going with that.” He paused. “You know, I’m glad you came into the automat.”
He moved a little closer.
“So am I.”
And she really was. Out of everything that had happened to her that day, he was the absolute nicest.
Before she really registered what he was doing, he had leaned over and placed a kiss upon her lips. It wasn’t a long kiss, but it definitely wasn’t a peck either. It was the kind of good night kiss that you give somebody that you have been married to for a long time. In fact, it was so much like that she didn’t really realize that he shouldn’t have done it until after he had already turned away and closed his eyes.
“Good night.” It was only then that she really thought about it and sat up quickly. “Hey!”
He didn’t say anything, keeping his eyes closed. A smile curled around her lips and she decided not to push the matter. After all, why make a big deal out of something that was clearly a sweet thing for both of them? She again let the tiredness overtake her and she sank back onto her pillow and let herself doze off while he lay quietly beside her.
It must have been some time later when she became aware of her surroundings again. Even though she was sleeping on a couch, it was undoubtedly much more comfortable than the horrible cramped mattress in her old rented room. She felt cozy and warm and didn’t really want to move, but she opened her eyes and found herself staring at Spike’s chest where his robe had fallen open. She blushed even though it wasn’t as if she could help looking at it. She had burrowed her way into his side in the night. He felt cold against her and she realized she was covered with a blanket while he was sleeping without a covering at all. His arm was over her waist.
She felt a bit frightened and nervous but still oddly comfortable. She’d never felt this way with another person and even though the potential lunacy that had held sway over her reckless decisions on the previous day must surely have passed now, she felt as though it still held her when it came to Spike. Being with him like this was ridiculously inappropriate and probably not safe, but it didn’t seem to matter. She didn’t really want to get up, but she knew she should. Anyway, he needed a blanket. She was still sleepy, but she tried to ease out from under his arm.
His eyes opened and looked down at her and she suddenly realized how blue they were through her half-awake state.
“Where you going?” he asked, his voice rough.
“We can’t sleep like this,” she said. “And you need a blanket.”
He laughed a little and sat up.
“Your wish, luv. Don’t worry about me, I’m always cold.”
“There are forty bedrooms, I think,” she said. “We could each sleep in twenty.”
“You’re still asleep,” he said, and picked her up, blanket and all, in a smooth motion, and stood up.
She was too tired to protest and let him take her into a bedroom and deposit her on the bed, tucking her in.
He began to leave, and she called after him.
“Don’t you dare leave yet!”
“No bloody chance,” he said, and she idly wondered if that was British swearing as she drifted off again.
She was awakened by a horrible shrill sound and she distantly realized it was a telephone. Nobody she knew would know to call her here, right? She answered the phone, not really awake.
“Good morning.” The shrill sound kept happening and she realized there was another phone on the other side of the bed. Who needed a phone on each side of the bed? “Good morning.”
Someone wanted to give her a car?
Another phone call.
Someone wanted to give her jewelry?
Another phone call.
Someone wanted to give her dogs? Well…
The phone rang again, and Spike wandered into the room, not knocking at all, but she didn’t mind, she was just so glad he was there and so anxious for someone else to deal with the constant phone.
“Morning, luv,” he said. He held what looked like a dozen telegrams. “All for you.”
“Answer the phone, please,” was her answer before doing the same.
“Summers residence,” he said and then gestured it was for her.
“Tell him I’m canning fruit,” Buffy said, hanging up the other call.
“Oh, she can’t come to the phone. No, she’s out hunting,” said Spike lazily. Buffy scowled up at him and he smirked at her. “No, hunting hounds. On horses. You know, equines?”
He hung up and then left the phone off the hook. She did the same on her end before it could ring again.
“Morning,” she said, feeling somewhat shy suddenly, yet still feeling that same comfortable camaraderie.
“And to you,” he said. “Sleep well?”
“Yup,” she answered, and realized she was still in the robe she’d changed into before dinner.
“You’ve got about eighty new frocks you can change into,” he suggested as she held her robe closed.
“Right,” she said. “Well, I’d better do that.”
“How about breakfast first?” he asked, sounding amused.
“I did negotiate breakfast,” she said, pleased.
She got out of the bed and tucked her arm in his again. He was wearing his clothes from the day before so they must have dried overnight, and no weird clothes salesman had dumped off an entire wardrobe for him.
The morning papers were beside their table and it was all very…domestic. Buffy let him pull out a chair for her and tucked in before opening the paper.
“I need to find a job, too, you know,” she said.
“You got the room, now you need the board,” he agreed.
“Cocktail waitress, twelve dollars and tips,” she read. “Must have curves.”
She’d be offended but she found it funny.
“Well, you’ve got them, haven’t you?” he said slyly.
She shot him a look.
“Glad you noticed,” she said, looking back to the paper before she blushed.
He didn’t say anything until he opened his own paper.
“Let us teach you tattooing,” he read.
“Spike, no!” she said.
“If you say so, luv. Say, here’s one I can do. Listen to this. ‘Are you worried? Take your troubles to the Professional Listener.’ Dollar fifty an hour.” She just looked at him, biting her lip. “What? There it is, right there in black and white. That’s better than the automat.”
“Well, I don’t know, Spike. I don’t think you’d make a very good listener.”
“Listen to you, don’t I?”
“Sure, but I’m interesting. Anybody else and you’d likely toss them out on their ear.”
“You know me so well. There must be something for somebody that can’t do anything. Well, look here. ‘Attractive widow with small capital would like to meet gentleman with sense of humor.’ ”
“Do I even need to respond to that?” she asked, feeling jealous and feeling silly for feeling jealous.
“Would be dumb of me, I guess,” he said, clearly trying to hide a smile.
“Oh, no, you’re not. You’re just a little underdeveloped, that’s all,” she said.
“Really?” he asked, sounding amused.
“Oh. Well, it’s only temporary, you know,” she said, starting to babble. “It’s just that some people develop sooner than others, that’s all. But when those others are developed, why, they’re just as well developed as the others, you see what I mean? It’s like now, you… You take a chicken. Well, a chicken reaches maturity at…well, whenever it is, but on the other hand, a horse…oh, a horse takes much longer.”
“You think I’m the horse type, eh?”
She stopped at his tone and began laughing.
“You know, I think I’m kind of underdeveloped sometimes myself.”
“You’re sweet,” he said and while she was somewhat ready for his more suggestive comments, this sincerity nearly knocked her over.
“I’m, I’m glad you think so,” she said.
“It’s true,” he said.
“I think you have it backwards,” she said, but continued to eat her food and peruse the paper.
“Plans, luv?” he asked, clearing his throat.
“I’m going to get free dogs in a free car today,” she said.
“Really?” he asked.
The eyebrow made an appearance. His forehead looked to be healing just as quickly as she normally did and she was glad.
“Hey, everyone wants to give me free things lately,” she said. “I’m going to take it. I’ve had a more than average hard time of it before yesterday. I’m ready for some easy living.”
“Hmm, very wise,” he said. “Well, I will take your sage advice and look for gainful employment.”
“But you’ll come back here after, right?” she asked. “No parks.”
“You’re not getting rid of me that easily, pet,” he said, smiling fully.
“Good,” she said, smiling back.
A knock at the door interrupted them and when she answered it, some strange man, Mr. Levinson, wanted stock advice. Why they were coming to her, well, it didn’t make any sense, but she went and asked Spike what he thought.
He answered her rather flippantly for steel to go down and while she had no clue what he meant, she dutifully reported his words to the stranger at the door and went on her merry way, changing into a beautiful dress, donning her fur coat, and parting with Spike with a kiss on the cheek.
It felt…right…to leave him there and have him come back later. Her new life was strange, but it was certainly happier than before.
Of course, after the dogs were procured, (they were precious and she never wanted to be away from them ever again), the day revealed its new secret and the previous day’s one as well.
When she returned to the hotel Lorne, she learned the truth from Mr. Lorne himself.
So, she was apparently the mistaken mistress of the man who had given her the fur coat, Rupert Giles! The man she’d bought the hat from, Mr. Wells, had called Mr. Lorne with his gossip. Mr. Lorne then wanted her to stay at his hotel to boost its popularity (which it certainly did judging from all the people bustling to and fro!) and keep Mr. Giles from tearing down the place. It explained why she’d gotten supper last night and the dogs today. People gave her free things because they thought she would bring them business being so close to such a powerful man. She was so offended she didn’t stop to think where she had heard the name Giles before.
She went to confront Rupert Giles at his place of business and to figure out exactly what was happening. It wasn’t a happy scene. Her steel stock advice had apparently been taken literally and now the entire empire of this man was falling apart and they thought she’d done this on purpose.
It was evening before she could make sense of anything from Rupert Giles, despondently looking at his ticker tape, his wife weeping in the corner, and stockholders making demands.
While she was there, who should happen into the room like he owned the place but Spike…Spike, or William Giles, son of Rupert Giles.
“I should have known,” he said, glaring at her. “Mr. Levinson has made investments against steel and now I might actually have to sleep on a park bench. I was trying to see what it was like to earn an honest dollar, but I didn’t actually want to lose all of our money.”
Park benches, indeed! Working in an automat when he was rich as a king! And accusing her of bringing down his father’s empire, one he’d apparently walked out on anyway!
“That’s, that’s my fur coat,” said his mother, suddenly noticing something other than her apparent woe and then wailing something about affairs at hotels.
“I have no idea what any of you are talking about!” Buffy yelled, taking the coat off. “But if this is what started all this fuss, you can have it back! What on earth would I know about steel? Spike, you idiot, you’re the one who told me that in the first place!”
“I never expected you to bloody well-” he cut himself off. “I didn’t know!”
She stomped her foot and she would like to have stomped his foot instead.
“You know me better than that!”
She was well aware of how ridiculous it was to say that to a man she’d met last night, thank you very much.
“Guess, I do,” he said, calming down.
“I couldn’t have been clearer about how I didn’t know why any of this was happening,” she said. “You’re the one who lied about who you were.”
“Told you my name,” he said. “Can’t help it if you don’t pay attention to Wall Street, luv.”
“Well, I think you were being stupid,” she said.
“Point,” he said and sounded like he was trying not to laugh.
In the background of their argument, his father was sputtering, and his mother was having hysterics, and a clearly long-suffering secretary was awaiting instructions.
“I wish I could fix that,” she said, grimacing. “Honestly, Spike, I didn’t know it was a serious request for stock advice.”
“Maybe you can, luv,” he said, obviously getting an idea. “You think that bloke would take advice from you again?”
“Then we get you to tell him steel is going up! Reverse the damage, yeah?”
“Okay,” she said, handing him the leashes to the dogs and she was really going to have to come up with some names for them soon. Angel and Riley? Willow and Xander? She couldn’t decide.
They called Mr. Levinson and Buffy told him the news with bated breath. He appeared to buy it.
A few minutes later noises of jubilation began to sound from Spike’s father and Buffy turned to hug Spike.
“Thank you,” he said, then he led her out onto the balcony, having put the dogs under the clearly capable hand of his father’s secretary. “Can you forgive me for lying?”
“Only if you forgive me for almost destroying your father’s company. Though it really wasn’t my fault!”
“Nope, but let’s just not take any more fur coats from strangers, I promise you can have all you can carry.”
“I can carry a lot,” she warned. “I’m very strong.”
“I know,” he said. “Looks like I got that job I wanted.”
“Following in ‘poor old father’s’ footsteps?” she teased.
“That stops now,” he said, pulling her closer and kissing her.
She had imagined kissing him since last night and it was just as good, maybe better. He was still cold, but she tended to run hot, and didn’t think she’d mind. It was scandalous to be standing there in view of the whole city, being kissed so thoroughly by a man she met yesterday, and she couldn’t care less.
The sounds of bickering grew louder behind them and they turned to see his mother and father come out on the balcony, his father carrying the contested fur coat, then flinging it over the edge of the balcony. They turned to watch it plummet downward under the glittering city lights and land on some unsuspecting girl’s head.
Spike burst out laughing and she liked the sound of it.
“On the other hand, maybe fur coats aren’t really on the table,” he said.
“This is where I came in,” she said, pulling him down for another kiss.
He didn’t resist and even though she knew there were a lot of questions still to be answered and that the strange turn of events was likely over and real life would begin again, she was very content with their end results. She would just keep kissing him for the moment.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/716569.html