Hey there! For my day I bring you more of a story in the running for World’s Slowest WIP: Tekubi. But! It is once again in progress; chapter 9 is with the betas.
If just you’d like to be reminded what was happening, here’s the “Previously on…”
Spike loses his hands and gets depressed, then gets Fred to build him a chainsaw prosthetic, kicks some demon ass, and feels much better. Back at Wolfram & Hart, he tells Eve where she can go with her devil’s bargain to get his hands back, then bumps into Buffy. They begin a relationship, but Spike can’t deal with making love with her without being able to touch her with his hands. He breaks it off. Buffy offers him a compromise: a Victorian/junior-high-style relationship that lets him avoid the intimacy that makes him too aware of what he’s lost. Buffy paddles Spike in front of a crowd, which leads to, uh… a resumption of relations.
Fred helps Buffy begin the process of transferring her UC Sunnydale credits to UCLA; Buffy gets Spike to touch her; Spike gets Angel to not hire him. Angel walks in on a horrifying Disney moment, and Buffy suggests to Spike a way to make such intrusions less likely.
Thank you to my betas, rabid1st who’s given me invaluable advice all along, and slackerace who stepped up in a pinch; to my readers, who’ve been so patient (hope you’re still out there); and to enigmaticblues for hosting this season of Spuffyness.
Special thanks to whoever did this: before LLGA went on hiatus. *beams*
Tekubi, Chapter 8
Story beta: Rabid1st; chapter betas: Rabid1st and Slackerace
Rating: R for now. May stray into NC-17 territory later due to subject matter, but those hoping for pr0n are likely to be disappointed.
Standard disclaimer: The characters aren’t mine, just the story.
Distribution: Do not post elsewhere without permission. Ask, I may say yes.
Feedback: Craved. Praise and constructive criticism both welcome.
Entering the Wolfram & Hart pool area through the ladies locker room, Buffy spotted Spike in the far lane. He wasn’t hard to find, being the only swimmer at the moment.
His pale backside — bobbing upward as he smoothly somersaulted at the end of the pool and headed back — was something of a beacon as well.
She walked to the near end of his lane and crouched down to meet him. He touched the wall to finish his lap, then popped his head out of the water like a friendly sea otter.
“Hey,” she greeted him.
“You swim naked in the company pool,” Buffy observed. She’d known a dart of sensual awareness at the sight of his lithe form cutting through the water, up until his flip comically flashed his cute tush skyward. Budding arousal had been replaced by amusement at Spike being even more of an exhibitionist than usual.
“Don’t own swim trunks.” He shook his wet curls, folded his arms over the edge of the pool, and smiled winningly up at her.
She couldn’t quite suppress the smile that was tugging at the corners of her mouth. “You could wear underwear.” He cocked an eyebrow at her. “And, you don’t own underwear either.” Silly Buffy.
“A fact I know you appreciate, Slayer.” He tipped his head and curled his tongue at her. Suddenly he was all enticement and she caught her breath. Looking away from the dangerous temptation of his come-hither look, Buffy caught sight of the shapely lifeguard slouched becomingly in a chair on the far side of the pool, and felt a flash of irritation.
“As does your fan club, I’m sure.”
Spike followed her glance. “Her? She’d fancy watching you swim naked more than me, love.”
Buffy blinked. “How do you know?”
“Her eyes followed you as you came in,” Spike informed her, his tone whiskey insinuation.
“Really?” Inexplicably, Buffy felt on the verge of becoming flustered.
Spike chuckled. “No. Not that I saw, anyway. I was underwater, remember?”
“So… how do you — ?”
“She told me when I started coming here that she didn’t rescue drowning naked men. I told her I could take a nap at the bottom and not drown. We’ve come to an understanding.”
She had to ask. “And that is?”
“I warn her before I do the backstroke, and she doesn’t ward the pool against my kind on weekdays.”
One effect of spending so much time with Spike, she mused, was that such statements started to sound perfectly reasonable. “Against men?”
“Oh. Right.” From the glint in his eyes, she could tell he was laughing at her, but she had a more pressing concern. “She’s a witch.”
He shrugged. “No need to get catty about it. Seems a decent enough sort to me.”
“I mean a witchy witch, with the warding and the spells.” She lowered her voice; though, in the high echoing space, she doubted they’d been overheard before. “Is she a good witch or a bad witch?”
“Well, she doesn’t exactly arrive on a broom or in a pink soap bubble.”
“She’s a magic user in the employ of Wolfram & Hart. This doesn’t worry us?”
“Oh, that. Way I figure, she’s good.” Buffy’s expression was disbelieving. “Well, these lawyers want their lifeguards to rescue them, don’t they? Black magic types might not bother. Plus, alone down here for hours at a time, all this nice water elemental…” he indicated the pool with a sweep of an arm. “The wrong sort could stir up all kinds of nastiness.”
“But why hire witchy lifeguards at all?”
“Because they need us to be able to preserve the neutrality of this space and fend off magical attack.”
Buffy rocked back on her heels, catching herself with one hand before she landed on her ass on the tile. Ms. Shapely Lifeguard was standing just a couple feet behind her to the left.
“Hi,” Buffy offered lamely.
Shapely Lifeguard’s expression was impassive. “I’m going on break. If you can get your evil naked boy out of my pool before I get back, that’d be great, but don’t get in yourself while I’m gone.”
Buffy flushed and stammered, “I-I wasn’t going to — ”
Shapely pssh’d and flicked a dismissive hand as she turned to go. “I don’t care if you want to have sex in public. I just don’t want you drowning on my shift.”
Buffy waited until the lifeguard was out of sight before she sighed and dropped her head back. “Is it me?” she inquired of the ceiling tiles. “Do I have ‘prone to wacky sex’ stamped on my forehead?”
She heard a whoosh of water as Spike levered himself out of the pool and sat on the side. “Well, yeah,” he returned, as if this were obvious. “Just thought I was the only one who could make out the lettering.”
Spike clambered up and went to get his towel. “So if you didn’t come to join me — which you should some time, I recommend this skinny dipping highly — or have your way with me — and you know my position on that — what are you doing here?”
“Right.” Buffy rose from her squat on the deck. “They want you upstairs. I’m supposed to fetch you.” Somehow, she mused, retrieving Spike never turned out to be as straightforward a task as it ought.
“Speaking of, you’re looking particularly fetching. You all dolled up for me?” Spike favored her with a sultry once-over.
“Sorry. Today was my meeting with the dean of transfers.”
Spike paused in his towelling to look at her expectantly. “And?”
She couldn’t drag out the suspense. “And, you’re looking at UCLA’s newest Sunnydale transfer.”
“That’s wonderful, love. Congratulations.” Spike sounded genuinely pleased.
“I went by the office to tell you, and they said you were down here. They’re having a meeting or something, so you should get going.”
“Another meeting? I think Angel’s scheduling extras to get back at me for the money. Why’d they send you?”
“Because, ‘Angel’s not allowed to go find Spike anymore, and nobody else wants to.'”
“Let me guess. Quoth Harmony?” He somehow managed to tuck his towel around his waist, and she was absently impressed when it stayed up. She fumbled that sometimes, and she had hands.
“If ‘quoth’ means ‘said’, yes. She said she offered to do it, but they all vetoed that idea before I got there.”
“Smart bunch.” Spike sauntered up to her, still damp and gleaming.
“Definitely.” Buffy fixed him with a look. “You,” she emphasized with a poke-y finger to his chest, “are not allowed to be naked in front of her. Or any other women,” she added. “Straight women,” she amended.
Impish Spike wanted to know, “So I’m allowed to be naked in front of other men, then?”
She raised a speculative brow at him. “If you’d enjoy that.”
Spike let out a bark of laughter. “Not really.” He reached up to caress her face. “You,” he murmured fondly. “You are so much more tempting than work.”
“Sweet talk,” she huffed, but she was smiling. Her hand came up to press his forearm to her cheek.
“You should go, before I say sod work and Marlene.” His intense gaze told her he was perfectly willing to strip her down and make love to her in the company pool.
She wasn’t about to let him. But maybe some time after hours, when he didn’t have to go to work, and all the lifeguards were off duty… “OK.” She drew away reluctantly.
The following evening they looked at the first apartment. It was a drab, dim little place. The appliances were old; the few windows looked like they’d take Slayer strength to open. The furnishings were perfunctory and in a dormitory basic style, most obvious in the narrow twin bed. Looking around, Buffy thought it was the kind of place you’d get if you didn’t much care for your existence or where it took place.
“This looks alright.”
She stared at her boyfriend. In front of the landlady, all she could say was, “We’ll talk at home.”
When they did, Spike’s comment was, “It’s what we talked about.”
“We talked about a garden apartment. That? Was a basement. It wasn’t even a basement. It was a cellar.”
To his toes, Spike muttered, “It’s what I can afford.”
Buffy blinked. “What?”
Spike rumpled his shoulders in a way that indicated embarrassment. “I should have asked for more. I didn’t think about the cost of flats in L.A….”
Buffy gaped at him. “And why do you think you’re paying all of it?” She took in his befuddled expression. “Did you really think I was saying, ‘Honey, rent me an apartment’?”
“Well… no, but these things cost, and you — ”
She cut him off before he could dig himself a bigger hole. ” — have money.”
“Giles calls it a stipend. It’s really back-pay. Or a, ‘hey, thanks for saving the world all those times. Sorry you had to work at the DuMP while our junior librarians, who never risked more than a paper cut, were getting six figures. Our bad’-pend.”
“What’s your job, exactly?”
“I’m listed as a Council board member. Supposedly I have duties like ‘advising’ and ‘coordinating’. Mostly so the other slayers can’t complain they’re not being paid to slay and I am.”
“So you’re employed by the Council?” Spike sounded leery of the concept.
“Hey, I’m not the one working for an evil law firm.”
“Which is why technically I’m working for Angel.”
“Would you rather I was working for Giles?”
Spike didn’t have to think long about that one. “No.”
“When would I have thought we’d be more concerned Giles would go evil than Angel?” Buffy asked rhetorically.
“Not sure it’s less likely. It just matters less, contract-wise. I didn’t sign anything. Angel goes off the rails, I’ll just stop listening to him.”
“And on that reassuring note… I’m hungry.”
She was thinking take-out, but when Spike said, “I’ll cook,” she wasn’t about to argue with that.
She took a seat on the couch, glancing up occasionally to watch him move about his kitchen. For awhile now she’d felt like Spike’s apartment might as well be hers, but it wasn’t. When they found a place acceptable to both of them, it would be.
Buffy had had what she’d considered adult relationships since she was sixteen years old, but she’d never had a relationship talk about money. With Angel, the very idea of discussing shared finances would have been unimaginable; she’d only been in high school, after all. Perhaps it would have come up with Riley eventually. If she hadn’t moved back home for Mom and Dawn; if he hadn’t left in a flurry of ‘she-doesn’t-need-me.’ But it hadn’t been imminent.
Now here she was, preparing to split expenses with her soon-to-be live-in honey, and it was a bit strange. That he happened to be a former adversary and current vampire was irrelevant; it just seemed like such a Real Grown-up thing to do.
“That was really good.”
“Don’t sound so surprised.”
“Hey, I’m at least as impressed that you can cook at all as that you can do it without opposable thumbs.”
“I dance when the organ grinds, too.”
“Never mind.” Spike wriggled his fork free of the prosthetic. “Can you take care of the cleanup, pet? I would, but…” Spike gave his arms a regretful glance.
“Sure,” Buffy said amiably.
“Really?” Obviously he hadn’t expected it to be that easy.
“Of course. I’m not totally heartless. If it’s too hard for you…” she trailed off in a sympathy-laden tone.
After a moment, Spike stood and moved to the sink. “Bitch,” he muttered, without much rancor.
“Faker,” she shot back.
She let him slosh and clank for a minute, then gathered their plates and joined him. She started drying the dishes he set in the rack.
After a moment she bumped his hip with her own. “For future reference? It’s, ‘I cooked, you do the dishes.'”
Spike cast her a sardonic look. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
They continued washing up in amicable silence.
Doing the dishes with Buffy wasn’t something Spike had ever fantasized about. Even with a soul, it wasn’t a source of giddy joy. Which was just as well, because if he ever turned into that much of a prancing, tulip-plucking wanker, his demon would claw its way out of the back of his skull to escape.
It wasn’t so bad, though. So when Buffy started nervously shifting her weight from foot to foot, making like a codfish every few seconds only to shut her mouth again, he felt the need to reassure her. He just wasn’t sure what about. That he really didn’t mind being tricked into doing dishes? That he wasn’t threatened by his woman making, likely, more money than him? That he wouldn’t follow Angelus off an evil cliff? He couldn’t be sure, and didn’t want to put anxieties into her head, so he waited for her to spit it out.
Finally she said, “Are we good?”
Well, that didn’t give him much of a clue. “Of course.”
“We’re all solid?”
That sounded more general. Also more ominous. Spike drew out a, “Yeah, why?”
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/208775.html