FIC: Riders PG-13 (14/30)

This entry is part 14 of 30 in the series Riders
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Chapter 14  Dancing In The Dark

I get up in the evening and

I ain’t got nothing to say.

I come home in the morning

I go to bed feeling the same way.

I ain’t nothing but tired.

You can’t start a fire without a spark.

This gun’s for hire, even if we’re

just dancing in the dark.

-Bruce Springsteen

Dancing in the Dark

 

Spike arrived in the kitchen to discover that everyone ate breakfast together. Defoe, Kale and Celeste were already dishing up heaping plates of sausages, eggs, baked beans and fried potatoes and filling earthenware mugs with steaming black coffee. It smelled wonderful and Spike’s mouth was watering by the time he slid into the empty chair next to Kale. He had always loved people food, especially breakfast.

The boy smiled up at him through a mouthful of food. “Hey Mr. Spike, how’s Miss Buffy?”

Spike dumped some potatoes on his plate and returned the smile. “She’s actually doing much better.”

Celeste smiled and passed him the platter of sausages before handing over a mug of coffee to Defoe. “Defoe, this is the last of the sausage. You plan on doing for the old sow today? I want to have a pork roast for dinner since Verda’s coming to eat with us.”

Defoe nodded, swallowing his coffee. “Yeah, she’s finished feeding her young and it’s time. With the other pig, we should get enough meat to last through fall.”

Disgruntled, Kale spoke to the older man. “I though you were gonna help me work the east pasture today. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and we need to finish. I can’t do it all by myself, the mare only works the plow for you. She won’t let anybody else use it with her.”

“Kale, I’ve only got two hands.”

Spike picked up the gist of the conversation and an idea popped into his head.

“Defoe, I would really like the chance to pay back some of your hospitality, so why don’t you let me butcher your pigs? I assure you that I won’t have any trouble. You can show me where your spring house is located and I’ll put everything up for you. Buffy needs to rest but she’s strong enough now to be left alone for awhile.”

 “Why, that’s a wonderful idea. Defoe, you and Kale can plant the pasture and Spike can do the pigs.” Celeste turned to Spike. “I’ll be canning today, so I can run in and check on Buffy for you.”

Defoe shrugged. He didn’t really see a problem with Spike taking care of the pigs. He was obviously strong enough and it would make his day that much easier. “That’ll be fine by me. I really do need to get that pasture planted before it rains. We don’t get enough out here in the desert that we can afford to waste it.”

They agreed to meet in the barn after Spike took breakfast to Buffy. Defoe looked over at the slim man. “Are you sure you want to do this? Hog slaughtering can be real messy, all that blood.”

“Don’t worry about it. You won’t have to clean up anythin’ when I’m finished. I promise I’m very neat.”

After he finished his own breakfast, Spike filled a plate for Buffy. Carrying it in one hand, he pushed the bedroom door open with the other and found the Slayer awake. She was sitting up in bed; the morning sun streaming in the window highlighted her in gold. Spike gazed at her in wonder, she was so beautiful.

She smiled at him. “Ummm, Spike, that smells really great.”

He sat the plate on the nightstand. “I’m glad to see you’re gettin’ your appetite back, Slayer.”

Buffy held up her arm. “Yeah, and the wound finally closed. It’s almost completely healed.” She reached for the plate. “So what’s on the agenda?”

When he outlined his plans for the morning, Buffy grinned. “Trust you to find a way to eat and still make it seem like you’re doing them a favor.”

Spike snickered, “Well, can’t go around havin’ our hosts think we’re ungrateful for

their hospitality.”

While Buffy ate her breakfast, Spike walked back and forth from the kitchen, filling a large metal tub that sat in the corner with steaming hot water so Buffy could have a bath.

He finished filling the tub, stood up and turned back to her. “When I finish helping Defoe, I’ll be back and we can have our talk.”

Buffy slid out of bed and walked over to him. As he reached to take the empty plate from her hand, she touched his arm and murmured. “I’ll be waiting.”

Spike set the plate on the bed, took her outstretched hand and kissed it lightly. Gazing into her large hazel eyes, he said simply. “I will, too.”

Spike took the empty plate back to the kitchen and went out to the barn to meet with Defoe. After the farmer left for the field, Spike changed into game face, killed and drained the old sow and a large male. Licking his lips to get every drop of the fresh warm blood, he butchered the pigs. As he licked the knife, Spike chuckled.  I said I wouldn’t waste a drop.

 

Spike drank what he needed for the day and then filled two large glass jars he had ‘borrowed’ from Celeste’s canning supplies with the remainder of the blood. Sealing the jars, he carried the trimmed meat and the jars to the springhouse that was used to keep everything cold. He tucked the jars of blood in the cold water, behind some other containers.

*****

Buffy was just drying her hair with a towel she’d found when she heard a soft knock on the bedroom door. A red haired woman stood on the other side, a smile on her face, and holding a boar bristle hairbrush in her hand. After introducing herself and giving Buffy the brush, she returned to the kitchen to oversee her canning. Buffy emptied the tub and following the smells, walked into the kitchen.

“That smells wonderful.”

Celeste smiled and handed her a small bowl. “Here, you need to get your strength back.”

Buffy sat down at the table and picked up a spoon. It was the most delicious vegetable soup she’d ever eaten.

Before long, Celeste had Buffy washing glass jars and filling them before plunging them into the hot water bubbling on top of the cast iron stove. Buffy had liked Celeste immediately. She was easygoing and kind, taking care to notice when Buffy started to tire, instantly guiding her back to the table and chairs. She handed Buffy a mug of cold water and taking one for herself, she sat down at the table with her.

Buffy smiled shyly at the older woman. “Thank you for your hospitality, it was awfully kind of you to take in two strangers.” She touched the borrowed dress. “Strangers without even clothes on their backs.”

“I helped you because no one was there to help my husband when he died and I’ve always wondered if someone had been with him, if it would have made a difference.”

Celeste touched the sleeve of the long dress. “Besides it looks better on you than it ever did on me. I’m glad Spike can use Daniel’s old shirts. I hated to see them go to waste and Kale’s much too small for them.”

Buffy looked at the woman over the top of her mug. “I don’t mean to pry, but what happened to your husband? I mean, if you don’t mind talking about it.”

Celeste sighed. “No, it’s easier now; he’s been gone almost six months.” She leaned back in the chair. “He died in a mining accident.”

“I thought your husband and brother were both farmers?”

“No, my brother moved back to the family farm after the accident. He was a foreman at the McGee mine. My husband Daniel was a full time farmer who worked weekends at the mine. One Saturday evening an accident with the blasting powder occurred and caused a cave in. My husband was alone, surveying the tunnel ahead of the actual digging and the roof collapsed on him. Seven men died, including Daniel. Fourteen other men were hurt, including my brother Defoe, who lost his eye. After that, they closed off that particular tunnel, it was just too unstable to continue digging there.”

Buffy stiffened in the chair as her dream came rushing back to her. Somehow Celeste’s brother must be the one eyed jack, it was just too coincidental. When Celeste stood up to attend to her jars, Buffy pondered the implication.

******

Spike, after placing the food in the springhouse, had decided that he could definitely use a bath, too. The tub looked inviting and it had been over two days since he’d bathed.

Water temperature didn’t matter to him, so he stopped at the well outside and filled four large buckets with fresh water. He hauled the water into the bedroom and listened for Buffy’s location. He heard her talking with Celeste in the kitchen. She would be fine there with the kind hearted woman.

Spike couldn’t wait to remove the mud and pig smell from his skin and wash his hair. Shedding his clothes he slid into the clean water and sighed. He soaped his hair and then slid farther down under the water to the bottom of the deep tub. It felt wonderful. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation of being completely immersed in the cool water. Sometimes it was a bonus not having to breathe. He dozed lightly; it had been a long two days.

Buffy, beginning to tire, excused herself and walked back to the bedroom. She closed the door and toed her shoes off, leaving them by the bed.  She dropped the heavy dress at the foot of the bed on the floor, laid across the quilt and immediately fell asleep.

Still under water, Spike heard the bedroom door open and close. Wondering who had walked in, he concentrated briefly and heard Buffy’s heartbeat within the small room. Her breathing was deep and regular and he realized she must have come back for a nap. Amused, he realized he had a dilemma. His towel, across the room on the chair, was inaccessible and his clothes were lying across the same chair. Should he just rise and quickly grab his towel? That would leave a wet trail across Celeste’s rag rug. He shook his head at himself. He had been in too much of a hurry to get in the water. What a ponce.

 

He sat up in the tub and risked a glance at Buffy lying on the bed. She was asleep across the bed in her chemise. Suddenly something broke inside Spike, he couldn’t pull his eyes away from her. He’d been nearly out of his mind with worry the entire time she’d been sick but seeing her glowing with health again, he realized he wanted her in a very primal way, he needed to show her just how much she really meant to him. But the realization that they had yet to define their relationship stopped him. And a couple of light kisses and oblique declarations of caring did not mean he could stroll around the room starkers. If anything, it would probably cause Buffy to run in the other direction.  He rubbed his forehead and pondered his dilemma again.

Buffy woke when she heard a noise that sounded like water. She sat up when she realized that the noise wasn’t outside the house, it was in the bedroom. Shifting, she sleepily glanced at the corner of the room. Spike, an amused expression crossing his face, was sitting in their communal tub.

Buffy was confused and not completely awake. “Spike, what are you doing in the tub?”

His amused drawl cut through her fog. “It looks to me like I’m takin’ a bath.”

 

Spike’s in the tub? Oh my God, Spike’s naked in the bathtub. She tried to look anywhere but at the naked vampire. Oh, look at those abs. And wet Spike hair? Yum. She stood up quickly. “I’m so sorry, I’ll just leave and you can finish.”

“Buffy-“

“No, it’s alright; I’ll just wait in the kitchen.”

“But Slayer-“

“What?”

Spike pointed at her dress crumpled at the foot of their bed. “You aren’t exactly dressed for a visit, pet.”

She glanced at the dress on the floor and started giggling while Spike laughed with her. They certainly made a fine pair.

Buffy wiped her eyes. “I totally forgot that I needed that over my other clothes.” She looked back over at Spike. He was still chuckling, leaning back against the side of the tub. God, how does he do that? He’s so completely comfortable in his own skin. I wish I could be that way. Oh, God, I had to think about skin?

 

Spike pointed to the chair. “Could you throw me that towel?”

Buffy was suddenly conscious of an urge to pitch the towel right out the window. Mentally shaking her head at herself, she reached over, picked up the towel and walked over to the tub. She couldn’t resist the urge to glance when she handed it over. After all, she was only human, right?

Spike became even more amused. Buffy hadn’t tossed him the towel like he’d expected, instead she’d walked over and handed it to him. Then walked back and sat down in the chair. Well, well, well. Although obviously embarrassed, she hadn’t run from the room, instead, she’d snuck a peek.

“Slayer? Could you hand my clothes over to me? I’ll get dressed and we can have that talk you wanted last night.”

Buffy smiled briefly as she turned and reached down to pick up his clothes. Spike hadn’t seemed at all embarrassed when she’d handed him the towel. If anything, he’d been amused.

The vampire had always been proud of his body and with good reason. During Willow’s  ‘will be done spell’ several months ago, Buffy had had the opportunity to run her hands all over the vampire. She still remembered the feel of his rock hard abs and his body was part of the reason she just couldn’t seem to get him out of her head, even after all these months.

She could feel the heightened sexual attraction buzzing between them and Buffy realized all she had to do was indicate her interest and the vampire would immediately have her down on the bed. It was way too soon for that, so she made a decision.

“Uh, Spike? “

“Yeah luv?”

“I think we need to have part of our discussion before I give you your clothes.”

“Really? Why would that be?” He sounded amused again.

“Because if I come over there before we talk, I’m not sure we’ll actually talk and I’m not really ready to stop talking, okay?”

Spike turned serious. “Buffy, toss me my clothes. Then go rest on the bed. I’ll finish dressing, pitch out this water and then we’ll have our chat.”

He hesitated briefly, and then continued. “There’s no need to play games here. You know how I feel. I want you but I also realize that it’s too soon for a physical relationship between us. You don’t have to worry, you’ll always be safe with me. When you’re ready, you just let me know. We’ll take this as slowly as you need it to be.”

He shifted, sending little ripples across the water. “Now, Slayer, toss me my kit and go finish your nap.”

Relieved, she followed his directions. Once again Spike had read her emotions and thoughts exactly. Now she was even surer of her decision to pursue a relationship with him.

Buffy laid down and rolled over away from the tub, closed her eyes and fell asleep almost immediately.

Spike finished getting dressed, tossed out the water and joined Buffy on the bed. When she didn’t immediately reawaken, he slid in close to her. They would discuss things later, right now they both needed the sleep.

As much as Spike had hated this dimension yesterday, he loved it that same amount or even more today, for it had offered him an enormous gift, the possibility of winning Buffy.

 Spike placed his arm snuggly around Buffy’s waist and closed his eyes.

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/187647.html

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