"Yes, I'll take care of it!" Buffy walked through the dining room and into the den, three white towels in hand. "Stop worrying."
She stopped at the picture window. No sign of Spike. "Uh-huh. Dad, I got it. It's all under control."
She opened the door out to the back. "Of course I won't forget, I'm not--" Sighing, she held the phone out as she made her way to the guest house.
The vertical blinds were closed. She sat down at a patio table and put the phone back to her ear. "Yes, Dad. I will. Okay, okay. Okay! Let me go do it now, then. Okay? Bye."
She smacked the phone down on the glass surface, took a deep breath, and got up again.
She knocked at the door twice. Listened. Slid it open.
Crumpled papers, a pen, a pack of cigarettes and his leather duster were splayed across the bed. The shower was running.
Buffy knew she shouldn't, but something completely out of her control propelled her to peek into that bathroom door. Completely out of my...
She smiled, leaning back against the doorframe. Stall showers were such a brilliant invention. Except for the translucency of them. And how they got all steamed up.
Even so, his refracted soap-sudded physique was something to behold. Under the water, and, yes... get all that soap off.
Okay, stop, she told herself. You came here to offer penance for last night, not find a whole new reason to... oh, god, that back...
When he spit into the drain, she held in a chuckle.
It wouldn't hurt if she opened the door a teensy-weensy bit more, would it? His back was still turned, he wouldn't see.
It creaked. She held her breath.
Luckily, he seemed to be in his own little world. And so was she, until--
"You planning on joining me or just watching?"
Before she could run away, he slung open the stall door. She caught one full-frontal glance and looked up, training her eyes on an imperfection in the wallpaper border. Let the babbling begin. "I, um, came to - to apologize for my... uh, behavior. Last night? That was not me, and definitely not what I wanted. From you. See, this is why I should not drink; obviously, alcohol and me, unmixy things..." She trailed off, biting on her lip.
"And now?" He arched a brow. "What's your excuse?"
She held up the towels. "Towels. I brought you..."
He smirked. "Could've left them on the bed."
"Um, yeah. I'll -- I'll go do that."
"Might as well give 'em to me now," he shrugged, cutting off the shower. "I'm finished."
"I'll just--" she put them down on the sink, avoiding his gaze, "put them down right here." She turned to leave.
"Apology accepted, pet."
"Uh-huh." Exit running.
* * *
As she sat down in front of the TV, Buffy pressed a palm to her face. It was still hot to the touch, still burning with embarrassment. Last night, and now this... He must think I'm a complete hornbag.
And that smirk. As if he knew he was God's gift or something. Just because he was all... endowed.
Maybe this was a bad idea, letting him crash at her place. She had things to do, a life to live! Spike was way too distracting. And way too endowed.
She should really ask him to leave.
"Buffy? You in here?"
Her heartbeat doubled up. She considered staying quiet, hiding maybe, but that was stupid... No, Buffy, you're the one in control. You. "It is my house."
"There you are," he said, finally finding her.
At least he was fully dressed. "What do you want?"
He held up his hand, bandages all askew. "Can't seem to get this right."
She rolled her eyes and sighed histrionically. "Follow me."
* * *
"Stop looking at me like that." She tightened the bandage.
"Like that, all... smug and evil-grinny."
He chuckled, evil grin wide. "I'm sorry, I can't help it."
"Will you just get over it?" She cut a piece of tape. "So I watched you shower, big deal. You have a nice body, so sue me."
He mock-gasped. "Another thing about me she doesn't find revolting! There's a stunner."
"Yeah, well, that's it. Don't be expecting any more." She taped the bandage shut.
"You know what this means, don't you?"
"What what means?"
"Tit for tat, love." He sat back, folding his arms. "And I do mean tit."
She gasped, mouth open.
"It's only fair. You saw me shower, now I get to see--"
"You better be joking."
"I'm dead serious." His eyes panned down and up her front. "I want what's coming to me."
Buffy felt her neck prickle. "I am not gonna--! There is--! I will not shower in front of--!"
He broke into a grin. "I'm kidding, Buffy." Resting his chin on his palm, he said, "You are adorable when you're flustered, you know that?"
She threw her hands up. "God, you are so--!"
"Hot? Sexy? Handsome?" He leaned forward, eyes narrowing. "Huge?"
"Deluded," she said, eyes level with his.
He smiled and tapped the table once. "Tell you what. Come to breakfast with me -- my treat. And I'll never bring up any of your voyeuristic impulses ever again."
She considered this. "Will I get that in writing?"
* * *
"Not quite what you're used to, is it?"
"Quite not." She glanced around at the hipsters that wall-to-walled the small Silverlake diner, and pulled her wobbly chair toward the table. "But I like it."
"It's homey, yeah?" He straightened the checkered tablecloth. "Though... not from your perspective, I s'pose."
"I like it," she said, once more with feeling.
The waitress dropped their plates in front of them, and Spike immediately forked into his crepe. "Got something you'll like more." He held a morsel to her mouth.
She refused it. "Too sugary."
"Little sugar won't hurt you." He figure-eighted it through the air. "C'mon, love. Open up for Daddy."
How did he make everything sound so dirty? To conceal her blush, she opened up for Daddy. It was sinfully good. "God, you're like the Anti-Atkins."
"Talking with your mouth full," he tsked. "What's next? Elbows on the table?"
She plunked her elbows on the table and stuck her tongue out.
"Rude, rude, rude."
"I'm nouveau riche. We don't have any manners. Besides, you went to Cambridge," she pointed out.
"So?" He poured some sugar into his coffee.
"So you've gotta come from manner-having old-money people, Mr. Hypocrite."
"Never said I was rich."
A throaty chuckle. "Right."
"Honest! I was just lucky. And smart."
"Alright. We weren't poor. But I did go on scholarship, which made me lucky. And I was smart."
"You were, huh? What happened?"
Spike chuckled bitterly. "Love happened."
Buffy commiserated with a sigh, "Love sucks."
"And she finally breaks." He put his coffee cup down. "Fess up. What's the story?"
"Story?" She sat back in her chair. "What story?"
"Your love story." He rubbed his hands together. "You know it sucks, you must have one. I'm guessing it's the repeatedly, in many different positions guy."
Buffy took a deep breath, regretting every single word she'd said the night before, and shrugged it off. "I loved him. He didn't choose me. Can we talk about something else?"
He lifted a brow, intrigued. "Definitely not."
She sighed. "There were circumstances... beyond our control. Things that didn't allow us to really be together."
"Ah. He was a dirty Montague, then?"
"No, not like that." She cut into her omelette. "It's a stupid, long story. And there should be violins or at least a haunting piano theme song if I ever tell it."
"I'll get right on composing it."
"Bottom line is, I loved him, he loved me, it was a lovefest... and then it was over. Because it had to be." She poked at her Iced Tea with her straw, watching the ice cubes rise. "And then when we were finally free to be together, he didn't choose me. He decided to move on."
"I'm feeling the urge to kick some pimply teen ass."
"His ass was not pimply. And he's twenty."
His head tilted slightly. "You still love him."
She exhaled. "I do... I guess I always will, in a way."
He nodded, understanding.
With a puzzled frown, she looked away. "Weird."
"It's just... I've never told anyone about him. You're the first person who knows anything about it."
He gazed at her for a moment, and finally blew it off. "I'm a stranger. We come in handy for secrets."
"Are we still strangers?" she asked, fork at her mouth, eyes sparkling with mischief. "'Cause I've seen you naked."