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Previous Chapter: Chapter 5: Doomed Humans

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The Ring Talks

Part 1: Taking Initiative

Chapter 6: New Home

I walk into the crypt to find Spike standing on a sarcophagus, connecting some wiring he’s got running along the ceiling to some that’s been run up the wall and ceiling from the other direction. I squint at him as my eyes adjust to the candlelight. “What are you doing?”

“Stealing electricity. What does it look like I’m doing?” He looks down at me, and spots the bag in my hand. “Another bribe, Slayer?”

“A thank you gift, for helping Giles with the whole Fyarl thing.”

“Was just in it for the cash.”

“Half of which you probably won’t collect, now that he’s seen the state of his car.”

He jumps down from the sarcophagus. “What’s your point?”

I offer him the bag. “The cash will come from Giles. This is from me.”

He opens the bag to find a bottle of Jack Daniels and a six pack of Coke.

I point at the Coke. “Actually, I was hoping you’d share that part. You know, if you don’t mind me hanging around.”

“Fridge isn’t hooked up yet.”

“I don’t mind warm Coke. Do you mind company?”

He sets the bag beside an ugly orange chair he’s procured from somewhere, and hops back up to the top of the sarcophagus, where he’s left wires dangling. “I don’t see a ring on your finger, so yeah. I mind.”

“Spike, there’s no one around but us.”

“We got a system, Slayer. Stick to it or get gone.”

I roll my eyes and pull my keychain out of my pocket. When I have his ring on, I hold up my hand to show him. “There. I’m your fiancee again, so I have a right to be here.”

He chuckles. “Guess that means I got a right to tell you to grab me those needle-nosed pliers.”

I hand him the tool from the box on the orange chair. “Why does this tool box look familiar?”

“Nicked it from Xander’s basement.” He glances down at me, smirking at my glare. “Evil, remember?”

“Just give it back when you’re done, ok?”

“And what’s that bit of goodwill gonna buy me, Slayer?”

“Um, I don’t know. Maybe he’ll hate you a little less?”

“Keep dreaming. Hand me that roll of tape.”

I do as he asks, then I get a can of Coke out of the bag and pop it open. “I hope you know what you’re doing. This isn’t going to be a fire hazard, is it?”

“You worried about me?”

“Don’t flatter yourself.” I offer him the can when he hands down the pliers. “Want a sip?”

He raises an eyebrow.

“If trading spit was going to kill us, Spike, it would’ve happened months ago.”

“Fair point.” He takes a sip and hands back the can, making a face at it. “Damn, that stuff’s sweet. Not used to drinking it straight.”

I laugh at his expression. “Do you have any glasses around here? I can pour you some with a little Jack, to cut the sweetness.”

The offer seems to surprise him. “Uh, yeah.” He points me to the slightly rusty metal cabinet beside the old-looking refrigerator in the corner. “There a reason you’re trying to get me all liquored up, pet?”

I can smell the innuendo from here. “Don’t even start.” I open the cabinet to find a plastic wash basin, a towel, a bottle of dish soap, a jug of water, and a half dozen coffee mugs, some of which look like they’ve been stolen from Giles’ collection. “Just appreciate the gift, Spike. I had to pay Willy’s insane prices to get this bottle, because he’s the only source in town I know for a fact doesn’t care that I’m under 21.”

“All the more reason for me to be suspicious. …Think I’ve just about got this. Crimpers.”

I leave the mug I’ve chosen on the top of the cabinet and go digging through the tool box. I hold up something that looks like it might be called a crimper. “This?”

He rolls his eyes. “Under all that slayer attitude is just another clueless woman, isn’t there?”

“Pig. I have a stake in my back pocket, you know.”

“I noticed. The things that look a bit like pliers, but wavy in the middle.”

I hand him the right tool and return to the improvised counter. “What kind of ratio am I going for?”

“One to one will suit. But if you want me drunk, hold the Coke and fetch me a second bottle of Jack.”

I mix his drink and lean against the fridge to watch him work while I sip on the remainder of the can of Coke we’ve ended up splitting.

While he’s been working over his head, his t-shirt has come untucked in the front, giving me a little glimpse of a very pale, very firm-looking stomach. My eyes drift upward, to the muscles of his arms flexing and shifting as he joins the two sections of wire he’s working with. He’s holding the electrical tape in his teeth, and for some weird reason, I find it kind of sexy.

He pulls the tape out of his mouth to use it, sliding the crimpers into his hip pocket to free up his hands. He hasn’t even looked down at me, but he’s apparently figured out what I’m doing. “Enjoying the show, Slayer?”

I shrug against the refrigerator. “It’s a girl thing. We like watching men do manual labor stuff.”

“Yeah?” He sniffs the air. “Must like it a lot.”

I can feel myself blushing. “Shut up. …Pig.”

He brings out his fangs just long enough to use one to cut a strip of tape before reverting to his human face.

“Nice pocket knife.”

“Comes in handy.” He wraps the tape around his work, then looks down at me. “If you’re finished doing a girl thing, why don’t you do a slayer thing and move that fridge? Time to see if I got this right.”

I put down my drink beside his and pull the refrigerator away from the wall. I kneel behind it, looking for the cord to connect it to the outlet he’s rigged up on the wall beside it. “It’s freakin’ dark back here. Hang on a sec.”

While I’m still fishing around, trying to find the cord, I hear Spike jump down to the floor. He comes up behind me and bends low, peering over my shoulder. “Left a bit. A bit more.”

My hand wraps around the cord, and I pull it toward us. “Thanks.” I glance over my shoulder in time to see his eyes change from amber to blue. “Cheater! Your human eyes couldn’t see it, either!”

I plug the cord into the outlet. No sparks. No fire. And the refrigerator has started humming. We exchange grins.

He straightens up and goes around to the other side of the refrigerator, to feed the extension cord he’s attached to the microwave and TV through the gap between the refrigerator and the wall.

I grab it from the other side and plug it in. “Well?”

“Microwave clock lit up. Thinks it’s midnight, but it works.”

I climb out from behind the refrigerator and push it back into place. While I’m brushing the dust off my knees, Spike offers me my Coke can.

“Thanks, Slayer.”

I wait for him to pick up his mug of Jack and Coke before I raise my own drink in a toast. “Happy housewarming, Spike.”

We tap our drinks together and trade smiles while we drink. When did simple little stuff like this get fun? When did hanging out with Spike get comfortable? My mind drifts back to that long, quiet talk in the cemetery. Maybe it’s real. Maybe we are actually friends. And maybe he won’t leave if I help him.

I guess it’s time to tell him why I’m really here.

I lean against the refrigerator again. “I think I’ve officially gotten in.”

He pulls his mug away from his face. “And you’re sure they’re not thinking of you as just another non-human?”

“For the hundredth time, no. They think I’m an asset.” I frown at his worried look. “Which I am, doofus.”

“Doesn’t mean that Walsh woman gets that. You said yourself, they thought you were a myth.”

“So? A lot of people think you are, too.”

“Me specifically? Or my whole species?”

“Both.” I look down at the can in my hand, my voice dropping to a whisper. “This might be the ticket, Spike. For both of us. I can get in, see what the Initiative is really all about, and figure out all the shades of their hats. And maybe I can work out a way to get them to undo what they did to you.”

He’s quiet for a long time, pretending to be studying the details of his stolen novelty mug. “Buffy, is this your way of saying you’ll take the truce I offered?”

“No.” I look up at him. “I’m taking the other offer. The offer of taking it one step at a time. The next step is to figure out how to get you back to normal. When we get there, you’ll have a decision to make.”

“Get the hell out of Dodge or see which one of us finally wins?”

“There’s a third option, Spike, and you know it. I hope you’ll consider it.” I hold up a hand before he can reply. “I’m not asking you to make any decisions right now. You gave me time to weigh out your offer. I’m giving you time to weigh out mine. Let’s just get through the next step, ok?”

He nods and gestures to the sarcophagus, handing me his mug as soon as he sees I’ve understood the invitation. I grab another can of Coke and split it between us, mixing him another drink while he repacks the tool box and digs a deck of cards out of his coat, which is draped over a decorative urn by the door.

Once we’re both settled onto the concrete slab, facing each other with our drinks beside us, he starts shuffling. “What’s it gonna be tonight?”

“Rummy again?”

“Works for me. Guess I’ll have to get some pretzels if I want you to play poker again.”

I laugh. “And a couple of plates. I’m not eating pretzels off of this table.”

“That’s one way to keep you from snacking on my winnings.” He chuckles as he deals. “So what have you got from ’em so far?”


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Table of Contents
Previous Chapter: Chapter 5: Doomed Humans

Reviews ( 1 )

Zab Jade
February 7, 2022 20:33

I love this chapter. It's all homey and comfortable. I know most people are all about the Spuffy sex, but I love the stuff like this the most. Just the two of them, comfortable and hanging out, teasing and banter.