Disclaimer: As you can see from this fic, I certainly don't own these characters. I'm much nicer than Joss.
Summary: Set sometime in a possible post-Chosen/NFA future, Spike and Buffy have to navigate a world without apocalypses. It's harder than you might think.
A/N: Written for the Fall 2008 round of Seasonal Spuffy. The theme was "obstacles", and this is just a little bit of FWP. (Fluff without plot.)
Buffy shut the door of their room behind her and collapsed on the bed. A full day of training recalcitrant Slayers had made her incredibly cranky. One of the girls had refused to believe that she was dropping her guard when she executed a kick, and Buffy had been forced to drive her point home the hard way. She knew she'd left a bruise, but as Spike often said, better a bruise now than a mortal wound later.
On any other day, Buffy would have let Spike deal with her, but he'd taken the day off, saying that he had an errand to run.
She frowned at the rumpled sheets. What errand could he possibly have that he wouldn't want her company for? They'd spent enough time apart in recent months that she would have thought he'd like to have her along, and she could use a vacation day, too.
Rolling over, Buffy stretched out, briefly contemplating the list of things on her to-do list. Their pile of laundry was reaching Mt. Everest-like proportions, but it was Spike's turn to do it. Now that she'd finally drummed home the importance of separating colors and checking the tags for instructions, she didn't have to supervise. Their room probably could stand a good cleaning, too. Spike might not mind the thin layer of dust over everything, but Buffy was getting a little tired of being able to write on every level surface.
Although, it was handy for leaving one another messages.
She sat up with a groan and decided that whatever else she was going to do that evening, a shower had to come first.
Walking into the bathroom, Buffy groaned again. Spike might be capable of doing laundry now, but he had yet to learn to hang up his wet towels. She picked it up and wrinkled her nose. It was definitely time to switch them out. Feeling just a little bit resentful, Buffy grabbed their towels and took them to the laundry chute. Giles had hired a laundry service to do towels and sheets at the training center, but they were on their own for the rest of it. Something about building responsibility in the young Slayers and Watchers in training.
Buffy had had enough of responsibility for a lifetime.
Once back inside their room, the mess just seemed too overwhelming. The bed was unmade, dust coated the furniture, Spike had left the dirty laundry he'd pulled from his suitcase scattered around the room, his muddy boots had left clods of dirt on the floor. Granted, Buffy might not be the neatest person in the history of the world, and although Spike had just returned from a trip to Spain a couple of days ago, this was too much.
When she caught sight of the dirty mug on the writing desk it was the last straw. She picked it up and made a face when she saw the dried blood coating the inside.
It was Spike's bad luck that he chose just that moment to walk in the door.
"What is this?" she demanded, rounding on him immediately. "I thought I told you to take your dirty dishes to the kitchen!"
Hurt flashed in his eyes. "Hello to you, too, Slayer. It's so nice to see you again." Spike sighed. "Come on, Buffy. I've been gone two weeks, and I just got back. Give me some time to settle in."
"Oh, I think you've had time," she shot back. "Look at this place! It's a mess!"
"An' I noticed that you didn't do a whole lot of cleaning while I was gone," Spike shot back. "If it bothers you, maybe you should do somethin' about it."
"I always have to do something about it!"
"You're the neat freak."
"Yeah, well, you're a pig, Spike."
He sneered. "Now the truth comes out. Didn't take you long to start calling names again, did it?"
"If the shoe fits."
His face darkened, and Buffy knew that his temper was rising rapidly. "Sod this," he snarled, turning to go back out the door.
Buffy grabbed his arm to stop him. "Forget it. I'm leaving. You're the one who had the day off. You can stay and deal with the mess." She shoved past him and out the door. Although they would be serving dinner, Buffy decided that there was no way she wanted to stay at headquarters for the evening meal.
Right now, she just wanted to get as far away from Spike as possible.
Spike stared at the closed door, then at the broken mug that Buffy had slammed down on the desk. This wasn't the first quarrel they'd had over domestic matters, which was why they'd started dividing up the duties. It was just that laundry and cleaning weren't high on his list of priorities; he had plenty of other things he would rather do.
Still, he didn't much like it when Buffy was angry at him, and she had been on his case before he’d left about cleaning up after himself. He sighed and pulled her birthday present out of his pocket. Her birthday wasn't for another few days, but Spike thought that maybe he should give her the gift early. It might soften her anger towards him.
"Bloody hell," he muttered as he looked around the room. "This place is a bit of a mess, innit?"
His anger cooled slightly as he looked over the piles of laundry, the mud on the floor, and everything else. With a sigh of resignation, Spike started gathering up the clothes. This wasn't how he'd planned his homecoming, but he was coming to see that was the price you paid for sharing living space with someone.
He'd told Buffy that he'd never expected a cozy crypt for two and a white picket fence, and he hadn't. What they had right now was a hell of a lot more than he'd ever hoped for, and it was better than he could have dreamed.
But that didn't mean it wasn't a lot of hard work.
It took Spike a couple of hours to get things set to rights again, and to get the laundry sorted. When Buffy still hadn't shown up by then, he decided to go out looking for her. Catching sight of Dawn in the library when he poked his head in, he asked, "Have you seen your sister?"
"Nope." She raised her eyebrows. "Did you guys have another fight?"
"Somethin' like that."
Dawn grimaced sympathetically. "I wouldn't worry about it too much. From what I heard, it was a bad day in the training room."
Spike came in to sit down across from her. "Oh?"
"Yeah, Bobbi was being a total bitch. At least, that's what Vi told me. She kept arguing with Buffy, and when Buffy finally got her point across, Bobbi started crying. Then, a couple of the other girls took Bobbi's side and threatened to go to Giles, and Buffy ended up yelling. Not like Giles is going to take their side, but still."
"But still," Spike echoed, beginning to understand why Buffy had been so upset when he'd walked in.
"Anything else go on today that I missed?"
"Uh, did Buffy tell you about Willow?"
"We haven't had a chance to talk since I got back," Spike admitted.
Dawn winced. "Oh, well, she broke up with the latest girlfriend and then called Buffy. I guess she was really upset because the new girlfriend cheated on her, and so Buffy's kind of pissed off about that too. Plus, Giles decided to send Erin to Cleveland."
Spike bit back a curse. Erin was one of the best Slayers they'd trained, and while ready to go out in the field, he could understand why Buffy would be upset about that. She was level headed and always worked hard, which was more than they could say for some of the others.
"So, what you're tellin' me is that your sister's had a bad couple of weeks?"
"That's about it," Dawn confirmed. "Oh, and she really missed you."
Spike nodded. He'd missed her, too. He always did, even when she was driving him crazy.
Buffy regretted her harsh words as soon as she stepped out into the cold night air. Spike had been right; she could have done something about the mess while he had been gone, but that would have required spending time in their shared room. And that would have driven home the fact that he was gone.
It wasn’t Spike’s fault that Giles had thought him the best one equipped to deal with the demon menace in Spain, or that the group they were working with refused to allow a Slayer anywhere near them. He’d gone with one of the witches from the coven instead.
Buffy had seen Nessa; the other woman was beautiful and brilliant and charismatic—and right now Buffy didn’t feel like any of those things.
She wished it wasn’t this hard; it shouldn’t have to be this hard.
Stopping at the pub for a bite to eat and a drink, Buffy reflected glumly on what Spike was probably thinking right at that moment. He was probably thinking that he should have stayed in Spain, with Nessa. He certainly wouldn’t have had to stay here, with her, at Council headquarters. Just because Giles wanted her to train the younger Slayers, and she wanted to be around for Dawn, didn’t mean that Spike had to stay.
Buffy accepted the second beer that the serving girl offered her and took a gulp. It had been so long since she’d had a moment to herself to think, or wallow, or do anything else she pleased, that she soon lost herself in her morose thoughts.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t even realize when Spike sat down across from her.
“How many of those have you had, Slayer?”
“None of your business.” She spoke slowly, trying not to slur her words. The alcohol was hitting her hard, but she decided that she didn’t care. And she didn’t care if Spike cared, either.
“You’re a lousy drunk, Summers,” Spike said, amusement coloring his tone. “You should know that by now.”
“It’s none of your business,” she repeated, her mind too fuzzy to come up with a better retort.
“It is if I make it mine. We’re together now, or hadn’t you received the memo?”
She rose and quickly grabbed the table to steady herself as she nearly toppled over. “You can just leave me alone.”
The sigh that came out of him sounded like it had come from his toes. “I cleaned.”
Buffy stared at him stupidly. “Huh?”
“You were right,” he said reluctantly. “It was my turn, an’ I’d been puttin’ it off. You know how much I hate doin’ it.”
Buffy lowered herself back into the chair. “Oh.”
“Yeah, oh. Dawn told me you’d had a bad day.”
She put her forehead down on the table. “I made Bobbi cry.”
“From what I heard, she deserved it.”
“And then Oksana threatened to tell Giles what I’d done.”
“What? She threatened to tell him you’d done your bloody job?”
“And then one of the new Slayers started crying.” Buffy could see it all in her mind’s eye now. She felt like a total failure. “And then I started yelling and I told them all to leave and that they would probably get themselves killed the first time they had to face a vampire alone.”
Although she couldn’t see his face, she knew that Spike was wincing, just from his tone of voice.
“You might want to skip that last part next time.”
“There won’t be a next time. I’m not going back.”
“You decided what your next career is going to be?”
“I’ll bet I’d make a really good bouncer. Then I could make people cry whenever I wanted to.”
“Not sure that’s how it works, pet.” She heard his chair creak and felt him move to stand behind her. “Let’s get you out of here. I think it’s time for all good Slayers to be in bed.”
“I was supposed to do night-training exercises.”
“They’ll deal with it.”
She let him help her up. For some reason, she couldn’t quite remember why she’d been angry with him. “How come you stay with me, Spike?”
“What?” Spike clearly had no idea where that question came from.
“We fight a lot,” Buffy began, letting him steer her out into the night air and down the street. “An’ you could have stayed in Spain with Nessa. She likes you.”
“I’m not in love with Nessa, you daft bint.”
Buffy thought that she should probably be insulted by that remark, but the alcohol softened her indignation. “How come you stick around when I make you clean?”
“Because I’d rather be bossed around by you than anyone else. What brought this on, luv?”
“I dunno.” Buffy stumbled and felt him catch her.
“You really are a lousy drunk, Buffy. Now, shut up about me leavin’. If I haven’t left already, you have to know I’m not goin’ to.”
Buffy wasn’t one to drink much, which was why Spike had been rather surprised to find her shit-faced when he walked into the pub. It was the closest place to get something to eat, and a favorite establishment of theirs because it was open late. It had been sheer luck that he’d thought to check there first before moving on to the local cemeteries.
Giles had sent him after her when she didn’t return in time for the night-training exercises, which had had Spike a little concerned. That was typically her favorite kind of training, and Buffy didn’t normally skip out on that sort of thing without notice.
“You changed the sheets, too,” Buffy muttered as he settled her in their bed.
“Told you I’d cleaned.”
“Thanks.” Although her voice was still slightly slurred, he could tell that the night air had sobered her up a bit.
Spike couldn’t help the smile that formed. “Anything for you, pet.”
“Anything?” she asked coyly.
He raised an eyebrow. “What have you got in mind?”
“You’re still drunk.”
“I’m giving you permission to take advantage of me.”
Spike smirked. “Is that right?”
“Yep.” She spread her arms across the bed. “I’m all yours.”
“In vino veritas,” Spike murmured as he kissed his way down the column of her neck.
“Never mind.” Spike slipped his hand under her shirt, caressing the skin of her abdomen, running his fingers over her ribs, no longer so prominent after a few months out of the field and eating regularly again.
She giggled at the touch and reached up to run a hand over his cheek. “I’m sorry I yelled.”
“It’s okay.” His lips met hers in a deep, demanding kiss. “This is the best part of fighting.”
“You don’t have any more trips, right?” Buffy suddenly asked. “Because you had to go off alone today, and—”
Spike stopped her with another kiss. “Hold on.” He rose, ignoring her pout. “Want to know what my errand was all about today?”
“I don’t know. Do I?”
He smirked, holding up the jewelry case. “You tell me.”
“Oh! Is that for me?”
“Don’t know anyone else who has a birthday coming up.”
“Can I open it?”
“It’s not your birthday.”
He tossed it to her, amused when she nearly fumbled the box onto the bed. Spike lounged back, pretending nonchalance while she opened it. “Oh.” This time it was just an awed breath when she saw the diamond earrings. “Spike…these are gorgeous.”
“Not as gorgeous as you.” It was shameless flattery, and Spike knew it, but he also knew that Buffy needed a bit of shameless flattery after the last couple of weeks.
She carefully set the box on the nightstand and turned her attention to him. “I love you.”
“Even when I leave my dirty dishes lying about?”
Buffy rolled her eyes good naturedly. “Even then.”
“Good, because I love you even when you’re naggin’ me.” She frowned, and he knew that she was getting ready to let him have it.
Spike decided that it was definitely time to change the subject, and his fingers shortly found just the spot to make her moan in the best way possible.
He thought this was what people must have meant by “domestic bliss.”