Disclaimer- *they ain't mine"
"You woke me up to tell me that?"
"No. I woke you up to tell you I'm leaving pretty soon." She walks from the bathroom, naked and no longer self-conscious about it, with the steam from her recent shower following behind her like a pathetic lover. Come back, come back, the steam seems to say. Stay, it begs. Loser. "Also to remind you that it's close to sunrise, and that if you stay past noon you'll have to pay for another night."
He'd had to do that once. Forty bucks and she didn't even come back.
"You're coming back tonight." He makes it a statement rather than a question. Sometimes that works. A few weeks ago, after that first mind-blowing night, he'd made a commitment to himself - he wasn't going to beg for crumbs. He knew what he wanted and wouldn't settle for less, the playing field was even now, she didn't have him by the balls anymore, things were different, blah, blah, blah.
She shrugs. "Maybe." A travel case of sundries is tossed into the backpack on the chair, and she rifles for the clean underwear she's hidden amongst an assortment of weapons. Always comes prepared now.
It took him a while to convince her to come here the first time. He just wanted someplace - anyplace with a bed. Not his place, she didn't like it there. And never hers. She preferred keeping their business on the muddy middle ground. Not in the light, but not entirely in the dark. A motel that catered to truckers and prostitutes struck a cord with her. And the name of it made her laugh, though she'd swallowed her amusement quickly.
The arrangement they had was convoluted and inefficient, but she seemed to revel in the lunatic secrecy of it. Usually he'd call the Magic Box and leave a cryptic suggestive message to be relayed to Buffy, like "the thing's going down tonight" or "dead man rising, usual place." Although Anya was prickly about the shop being used for Slayer-related business and always felt the need to tell him so, she was perfect for relaying the messages, being guileless for the most part and not inclined to suspiciously read between the lines like her soon-to-be husband. Sometimes she would forget to deliver the messages and sometimes Buffy would ignore them. He was never sure which.
The motel wasn't ideal, but at least there was a bed and he could imagine for a while that he wasn't some conveniently nasty thing she indulged in when the mood was on her. In a bed there were fewer bruises, and between the frantic couplings, or afterwards when they were both spent, she'd curl into him, languid, pliable, soft, sweet. He was certain she loved him at those moments. Fleeting moments, but they were there. Only trouble, it was still a bed in a cheap motel off the highway with the plastic mattress liner squeaking under the sheet.
He rolls to his side now, bunching up a pillow and holding it close. It fills his arms. It rests in the warm indentation she's left next to him. The words slip out- "Baby, don't go."
He tries to suck them back in through his teeth. He's broken agreements with those three words - no pleas, no demands, no endearments before or after. His eyes are on her, panicked and gauging her reaction. She doesn't look at him. Her lips are pressed together like it's taking a lot of concentration to zip up her jeans. Then she sits down, knees together and turned slightly to the side. The hems of her jeans are flared and she's still topless, lusciously bare-breasted, with clumps of damp hair curving over, around, and between. She looks like a mermaid. Like a mermaid pretending she doesn't understand English.
"You gonna stay here all day then?" she asks reaching for her boots.
He can't read the mood beneath the question. And then suddenly, he's too tired to bother trying. What difference does it make? Interpreting what she says and what she's feeling seems like too much effort. The race home before the sun's up also too much effort. Everything seems like too much effort.
He rolls onto his back again, one arm flung across his eyes, the other still holding the pillow. "Yeah," he says.
"Key's on the dresser."
"Right" He hears her putting on her t-shirt. Jacket from the floor, arms sliding into it. Wet hair lifted and falling onto the leather with a soft splat.
"Do you want me to hang the 'do not disturb sign' on the door?"
He hears the plastic/metal snick and slide of the draperies being adjusted. She makes a small sound, of displeasure he thinks. Great. What now? Pulls his arm away, compelled against his better judgement to see what displeases this time.
"There's a hole in the curtain," she says, sticking her finger through it, soft grey light of morning leaking through. She turns and looks at him, brow furrowed. "You be careful of that, all right? Wouldn't want to come back tonight and find crispy fried Spike."
She smiles, waggles her fingers in a wave goodbye and slips out the door. The last thing he hears before the click of her heels on the pavement is the "do not disturb" sign looped over the doorknob.