Torrid Normality — and a limerick, in the spirit of the season…

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Today’s my day to post! It feels like a holiday! An enthusiastic thank you to enigmatic_blue for organizing and to curiouswombat for being my very first beta! Thank you also to those who have posted already and been inspirational. Can’t wait for the rest!

First, something silly:

Lo! Spuffy’s a genre of fiction
That elicits dramatic diction—
There’s “conscience reborn”
And “Super!Hawt porn”—
In True Love there’s no contradiction.

 

And now an explanation before the actual fic. Too long ago, I offered to write a gift-fic for the inimitable enigmatic_blue. She suggested, “Hmm… how about Spike and Buffy and Faith? Doing something normal together. I don’t see that very often.” It seemed like a dream prompt – I felt like I had a million “WHATs” in mind – until I realized that I didn’t know WHEN they could happen. I wanted to set the story in S7, but things were so busy between Faith’s arrival in Sunnydale and Sunnydale’s implosion that I got stuck for months on a technicality.

While reading some Valentine’s Day fics at seasonal_spuffy, however, the muse visited (prostrates self in abject awe to both the community and the goddess)! What follows is an extended version of the scene in Dirty Girls where Faith and Spike hang out in the basement. They had just traded notes on their activities and proclivities when Buffy entered.

 

Title: Torrid Normality
Rating: PG
Word count: Around 800
Summary: An extended version of the basement scene in Dirty Girls, wherein Spike, Buffy, and Faith work on their nails.“Hey B,” Faith greeted as Buffy descended the basement stairs, probably also trying to escape the teen mob. Probably hadn’t realized Faith was in the basement, too. Well, too bad – even felons had the right to some adult company.

“It’s nice to see you two getting along so well,” Buffy’s face was carefully blank, but her crossed arms betrayed her tension.

Faith got the message: hands off the romantic objects, especially the drop-dead-sexy-ex-Big-Bads; Buffy was still so easy to rile. In the interest of playing on the same side, though, Faith scooted forward on the cot to placate Miss Jealousy 2003. “You just know all the cool vampires.”

“Hey, aren’t you usually at work about now?” asked Spike.

Buffy avoided eye contact and replied, “I kind of decided to cut back on my hours. Figured I’d be better off focusing on what’s going on around here.”

There was a long and awkward pause – you could barely breathe through the silent sexual tension. On one hand, Buffy’s stiff posture implied that as far as the blonde slayer was concerned, the less chances Faith and Spike had to “get along,” the better. On the other hand, given Spike’s hint about Buffy’s recent not-quite-vanilla bedroom exploits, maybe Buffy was just worried that they could all three get along quite a lot better.

“B, you got nail clippers I can borrow? I’m starting to look like Freddy.” Insouciantly stretching her arms overhead, Faith hid her smirk as Buffy’s eyes darted to her chest and away – I’ve got a couple of things you can’t have, too.

“Sure. I’ll be right back.” Buffy swirled up the dark steps. Faith knew she oscillated between envy and pity when it came to Buffy. Sometimes it felt worse to have nothing: no ties, no means, and no illusions. Other times, just the thought of all those trappings of so-called normality threatened to suffocate Faith. Being a slayer was hard enough without trying to keep up appearances.

Well, there’re appearances, and then there’re appearances: Faith whistled as she looked over the two enormous baskets of nail care paraphernalia that Buffy set down on the floor by the cot. “Sheesh B, stake any manicurists lately?”

“Collected from my,” Buffy made air-quotes, “houseguests. I figure they’re eating and washing and annoying me out of house and home, might as well get something back for it. Spike, scoot.” Buffy plopped down on the other side of the vampire, picked out a green foam rake, and expertly threaded her toes through it.

“All that teen angst and no black?” Spike griped as he started riffling through the baskets. “‘Peachy Keen.’ ‘Tango Torrid.’ ‘Flaming Flamingo.’ What kind of poncy names and colors are these? ‘Bloody Red’ my arse!”

“Really? Bend over and lemme see,” Faith couldn’t resist teasing. Spike sneered and threw the small bottle, which she deflected with her file. But here: “Look – ‘Vampire’ – it’s your color, Spike!” Buffy laughed out loud at Spike’s horror and outrage over the mauve vial.

“Vampire bait’s more like it,” Spike scoffed as he finally found a bottle of – hand lotion? Faith and Buffy traded a glance as the fragrance of lavenders filled the air, and Faith had to snort when Buffy mouthed “Very Big Bad.”

“I heard that!” declared Spike, followed by a squirt of lotion onto Buffy’s nails in progress. Without losing a beat, Buffy tried to wipe her hand on Spike’s head – Spike swerved – got Faith instead.

Even though Faith had never played superhuman tag before, there was something wonderfully, achingly carefree about horsing around with Spike and Buffy in the Summers’ basement. For a few minutes they were themselves, no less, no more; and time was just time, not craving or revenge or penance. This makes me normal, Faith thought. As long as I still have to cut my nails, I’m normal, too.

Dawn’s call sliced through the breathless threats and tumbles: “Buffy? Is that you?”

Buffy paused. The Good Slayer was back. She straightened herself and her hair, and then shouted: “Down here!”

“Buffy, Willow just called from the hospital. The girl’s awake.” Dawn poked her head through the basement doorway, wearing her scorn like a halo. Faith started to pick up the strewn junk. Spike wiped up the liquids with a rag.

“Be right there,” Buffy turned from Faith and Spike and mounted the stairs. Her voice was so brisk that it didn’t leave any room for longing. “Thanks for cleaning up. I gotta go.”

“You’re welcome. Go.” Spike’s echo was barely audible; Buffy certainly hadn’t heard it. These two: one was so busy pretending to be strong, and the other so busy working on being good, that neither had much time to try to be themselves. Then again, who did?

After Faith finally trimmed her nails she decided to wear Tango Torrid after all. If she was going to guest star in Sunnydale Soap for a while, she might as well keep up appearances.

The End

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