By Valerie X
Warning: This fic is definitely not rated NC17, but there is still some discussion about sex. So if you’re under 17, you know.....don’t tell your parents.
When they’d first met, Faith had regaled her with endless tales of her one-night stands. Buffy remembered being shocked that someone younger than she was could be so casual about sex.
“But how do you do that?” Buffy had asked her one night as they patrolled.
Faith laughed. “It’s not that hard. Unless, you know, it’s not that hard.” And she’d laughed again, swinging her hips and her hair with a carelessness that made Buffy, at only 18, feel ancient.
“I mean, how do you not get attached to them?” Buffy asked.
“It’s not a big deal,” Faith said with a shrug. “It’s just two bodies banging together.”
Buffy tried to remember this as she walked down a residential street with Spike. They were about three feet away from each other, but it still felt too close, and she kept trying to move to the farthest edge of the sidewalk, walking on lawns and in flower gardens, until at one point, she walked head-on into a hedge.
Spike stopped and watched as Buffy stumbled backwards and brushed leaves out of her hair. She looked up at him and saw that he was obviously trying not to burst out laughing.
“Shut up,” she said, anticipating the snide remark. She pouted in the direction of the mangled hedge. “It came out of nowhere.”
Just two bodies banging together, she thought as they resumed their walk. Utterly meaningless. Completely anonymous. Five by five.
Buffy’s shoulders drooped in resignation. She wouldn’t be able to convince herself of this.
No matter how much she shut herself down during sex, no matter how much she tried to forget who she was, it wasn’t like Faith had said. It wasn’t just two bodies.
They had looked at each other. They had touched each other. And even when they didn’t talk, when the only sounds between them were grunts, gasps, and moans, they’d still communicated. Like the first time his lips had moved up her shoulder to her throat, and her body silently stiffened, and his quick, even “mmm” said, “No, I’m not trying to bite you.” and her hard sigh said, “Good, because I’m not going to let you.” and then, later in that endless night, when the hollow of his neck in front of her face was just too alluring, and without thinking she wrapped her mouth around it and bit down, not hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to make him break their rhythm and pull back from her, and he’d laughed (and not a now-my-evil-minions-will-destroy-you laugh, a real, genuine laugh), which had shocked her into laughter too, and then they were screwing and laughing and nibbling at each other’s bodies and while it didn’t mean much, while it didn’t mean love, while it didn’t even necessarily mean friendship, it didn’t mean nothing.
Now, as they turned onto Main Street and a random noise made his eyes flicker to the side, she couldn’t forget what those eyes had seen. When his hands thrust into his pocket to remove a pack of cigarettes, she couldn’t forget what those hands had touched. And when his mouth tightened over the filter as he inhaled, she couldn’t forget where that mouth had been, and the memory sent shivers down her legs, causing her to trip over an uneven piece of sidewalk, sending her plummeting into a mailbox.
“Chosen-One reflexes not working too well, eh?”
She glared at his back as he continued walking. “Shut up.”
Electronic doors slid open and they both squinted into the bright fluorescent light. Buffy looked at the long row of shopping carts she’d instinctively moved towards, and for a moment she almost burst into hysterical sobbing laughter at the thought of how very wrong it was to take a cart and wheel it over to Spike.
He noticed her tentative gaze and sighed in frustration. “Slayer,” he said. “Spare me the last remaining shred of my dignity and push the bloody cart, will you?”
Buffy stared at him with honest surprise. “You have a shred of dignity still?”
She rolled the cart over to a produce display where Spike had begun tossing a coconut back and forth between his hands. “Do you know that more people die from getting hit on the head with coconuts than from shark attacks?”
“You watch way too much TV.” Buffy picked up a peach, squeezed it to test its firmness, and it collapsed into goo in her palm. Stupid strength.
“Don’t see how,” Spike continued. “’S not so heavy.” He shrugged and tossed the coconut into the cart. “Could always use more weapons though.” He gestured to a row of carrots and celery. “Get something.”
Buffy turned her head down. “You don’t have to...We don’t need a lot, just some pancake mix, maybe mac and cheese.”
“Enough with the suffering hero bit,” Spike groaned. He picked up a cucumber and held it out to her. “Come on, yum, vegetables, all healthy and phallic.”
“Gross,” Buffy said as she snatched the cucumber away from him.
Spike’s eyes sparkled wickedly and his tongue darted out to his lower lip. “You know -”
“Whatever you’re going to say, just know that it can only end in death.” Buffy yanked the cart backwards and maneuvered it around the display.
Buffy stopped in front of a cooler when she noticed the packages of ready-made salads. She picked one up to examine it. “Everything you need for a delicious salad!” the bag exclaimed in italics. There was lettuce, carrots, a bag of croutons, a tiny pouch of cheese, and a packet of Caesar salad dressing. It was only four dollars, and along with some frozen hamburgers it would make a nice, quick dinner for Dawn.
She remembered an image: her mother standing at the kitchen counter, still wearing her clothes from work, chopping lettuce and tomatoes and peeling carrots. But Buffy, with all her friends and super powers, was so lame that she need instant salad. Instant salad that she couldn’t even afford by herself.
Spike appeared beside her and deposited a bag of grapes into the shopping cart. “Kid likes these,” he said. “She told me this story once about how she didn’t eat them for a month because one of her mates at a slumber party peeled some and said they were eyeballs.” He looked down at the food and shook his head. “Real eyeballs are stickier.”
“I’m a terrible parent,” Buffy said softly.
He eyed her curiously. “You got that from a bag of salad?”
“How could I let it get this bad?” she said. “How could I let myself get completely broke? And then I feel guilty about everything I’ve spent money on. Like last week I had an extra five bucks that I selfishly spent on a box of tampons.”
“You know, as much as I’m enjoying this recent bonding thing we’ve had going on, you might try to remember that I’m a guy.”
Buffy lowered her head and let out a small sob.
“Fine, forget I said anything,” Spike added quickly. “Please, Buffy, tell me all about your menstrual cycle.”
“Can you believe that I actually feel guilty about buying tampons?” She said through tears. “It’s so stupid. I’m so stupid.”
“Gotta agree with you there, love,” he said.
Buffy looked up at him, surprised.
“You fought a god,” he said. “You killed the Master. You killed that big prancing poof, and you’ve kicked my ass more times than I’d like to remember, and now you’re standing here crying over vegetables.”
“Exactly,” she said. “I can stop an apocalypse, but I can’t be a grown-up. What does that say about me?”
“That you’re about to get smacked in the head.” He took the bag from her hands and dropped it into the cart. “Now come on. By the time we’re finished here you’re gonna be dead of old age.”
She reluctantly followed him to the deli counter at the rear wall, where he nodded to the man behind the counter and said, “The usual. And some sort of lunchmeat or something.” He turned to Buffy. “What do you like?”
“Dawn likes salami,” she said sullenly.
He shook his head. “What about you? What do you like?”
Buffy shrugged. “I don’t need anything.”
“Bloody hell, woman!” he shouted suddenly. “You know, you’re lucky that I’m such a bleeding idiot, because if I didn’t love you, I’d kill you right here and now. Not because you’re the Slayer, because you’re whiny.”
Buffy eyes flared to life. “You want to talk about whiny? Oh, poor me,” she mocked. “I have a government chip in my head and I can’t kill anything! Now I’ll just have to annoy my enemies to death by moping around constantly.”
“You’d know all about moping, wouldn’t you?’ Spike snapped back. “Ever since you came back from the dead it’s been one giant mood swing. I’m happy, I’m miserable, I want to kill you, I want to shag you.” He threw up his hands in a gesture of defeat. “Make up your mind already! Plenty of people, myself included, have come back from the dead without turning into a lunatic!”
“They’re vampires!” she shouted. “You’re a vampire! Not a person!”
Spike rolled his eyes. “You’re never gonna get over that, are you?”
“Get over what?” Buffy said, assuming her standard self-righteous pose. “You being evil?”
“Hey, you don’t see me still holding grudges.”
“What did I ever do to you?”
“You dropped an organ on me and broke my spine!”
“You hired an ancient order of assassins to kill me!”
“Um...excuse me?” The man behind the deli counter was hesitantly holding out a small wrapped package and a large red bottle.
Buffy forced a smile, embarrassed. “Oh, don’t mind us,” she said. “We just...um...”
“Escaped from a mental institution,” Spike finished. He took the food from the flustered employee and made his way down the next aisle.
Buffy caught up to him in the middle of a long row of cereal boxes. “Escaped from a mental institution?” she asked.
Spike raised an eyebrow at her. “You have a better explanation of us?”
Buffy sighed and grabbed a box of Cheerios.
Continued in Part Three