Word count: 1700
Rating: Mature — for language, themes, and science
Setting: Unspecified post-series future wherein Slayers and other supernatural things are known to at least some of the public, and Buffy and Spike are a couple.
Summary: For the good of her sister Slayers, Buffy participates in a study (in Canada). She's a giver.
Note: OMG, you guys! Apparently I have a lot of thoughts about slayer sexual response research and this has become much more involved than I planned. Let me know if you spot any errors, please.
Right this way to Chapter 1
After lunch, Dr. Gupta introduced Buffy to another researcher, this one wearing scrubs.
“Buffy, this is Anita Agamabiche. She'll be helping you out with your wiring today.”
“Great. Good. Okay,” said Buffy, knowing that it was hammer time, so to speak.
“Please call me Anita, Ms. Summers. It's an honor to meet you.”
“Anita. Sure. Thanks. Lead on, I guess,” said Buffy.
Anita took her to an exam room with some detailed medical drawings of female genitalia from different angles hanging on the wall. Buffy looked balefully at the stirrups jutting out from the end of the padded table, but sat on the paper-covered surface anyway.
Anita took her blood pressure and handed her a hospital gown.
“Please change into this. You can leave your socks on, or we have some fluffy ones if you'd prefer. There is a closet for your things. I'll be just outside entering your data. Press this button when you're ready.”
Buffy changed quickly. Her socks were fluffy enough. She pressed the button and Anita came in a moment later, pushing a cart covered with that blue medical paper.
“I'll be going over the equipment with you today,” said Anita. “I'll hook up a few things this time, but you may be more comfortable doing it yourself next time.”
“I'm sure I will. I'm a do-it-yourselfer from way back.”
“Most people are,” said Anita with a smile. Buffy went back over what she'd said and absolutely did not blush. They were all adults here.
Anita took the cover off the tray, revealing an assortment of devices, all sealed in plastic bags. She explained what each one did, where it went, and how it was hooked up. Buffy sort of lost the thread after 'vaginal and clitoral photoplethysmograph', but she nodded along. She was sure that she could handle it, once she'd been shown once.
Finally, Anita had her assume the position, flat on her back with her feet in the stirrups. Anita lubed up and gently inserted the anal probe. Buffy let out her breath. Anita arranged the other gauges and then leaned back.
“That was the hard part. You can sit up now. Take stock of how everything is placed. You'll want to be able to get the positioning like this yourself next time. How does it feel?”
“Weird, but I've had worse.”
“I'll bet. You Slayers really get the worst of it. I hope you'll let me know if there's anything that you need or that will make you more comfortable.”
Home, thought Buffy. I'd be more comfortable if I could skip all this and go home.
“Sure will,” she said.
Anita handed her the cords that trailed under her gown to the devices. They walked across the hall — Buffy tried not to think of “The Right Stuff” — to a small den-like room. The photos hanging on the walls of this room depicted decorative fans. There was a recliner, its seat covered with a disposable absorbent pad, an end table, and a television on the wall. Anita directed Buffy into the chair, took the cords from her and opened a cabinet to reveal a machine.
Buffy was sure the machine went “bing”. It was possible that her frame of reference had been influenced by a couple of Brits.
Anita plugged the cords into the machine, applied EKG-type patches to her chest, abdomen, and legs, and clipped something called a pulse oximeter onto the tip of Buffy's left index finger.
She showed Buffy how to recline the chair. “All set,” said Anita with satisfaction. She pulled out a flannel blanket and covered Buffy with it.
“Now, we're going to show you some images. After the image appears for a few seconds, the screen will go blank and you will have 2 seconds to record your impression of it before the next image comes up. In the arm of your chair there are some buttons: red, yellow, and green. Press the red button if you find an image 'sexually NOT appealing', yellow if you find it 'not sexually UNappealing', and green if you find it 'sexually appealling'. Does that make sense?”
“I think so.”
“Don't think about it too much. No response is right or wrong. We're just trying to establish a baseline.”
Buffy was starting to hate that word.
Anita lowered the lights and left the room. The TV monitor came on, with an image of the buttons and a written explanation of what they meant. When it faded away, Buffy shrugged and pressed the red button.
An image of a yellow flower came up, then disappeared. Buffy pressed the yellow button. A tall tree; yellow again. A gas pump; red button. A short video of a rocket taking off; yellow button. A bottle of olive oil; green button. On and on it went. All were inanimate objects. Some seemed entirely random, like pencils, fields of grain, clam shells, and stuff like that. Some were of sex toys, shown on white backgrounds. Some things, like caves, tunnels, trains and fireworks, were straight from central casting of movie symbolism. It was kind of fun. Buffy almost laughed when an image came up of a cigarette floating before a velvety dark background, smoke trailing languidly up from the tip. Green, damn it. The monitor went dark.
Anita came in and raised the lights. She carried a pitcher of ice water and handed Buffy a glass. It was thirsty work, all this button-pushing.
“How are you doing? Is everything working alright? Are you comfortable?” asked Anita.
Buffy nodded. “No complaints.”
“Good, good. We're getting nice, clear readings. We'll start up round two in a minute.”
Anita lowered the lights again and left.
The next part was trickier. There were photos of animals and people, all mixed together. Gorgeous leopards, followed by a photo of football fans, a pair of doves, a ballet dancer, a tiny monkey, an octopus, a woman working behind a counter in an outfit that was way too similar to her Doublemeat Palace uniform. That one got a decided red button, before it even faded out. A few monsters popped up in the rotation: a woman in vamp face, and a guy who looked a little like Clem among them. After what seemed like hundreds of images, the screen went blank again.
Anita poked her head in.
“How're you holding up?”
“Fine,” replied Buffy. She picked up her glass and took a drink.
“We're going to start up again in a few minutes. You can relax for a bit.”
Buffy fished an ice cube out of her glass and swiped it across her forehead, then rubbed it over the back of her neck. There weren't any wires back there, at least.
The first image of the next set was of a naked man, walking along a beach. He wasn't bad looking or anything, but he was also not interested. Buffy decided that if he wasn't sexually aroused, then neither was she. Red. Then there were two women, also naked, squirting each other with water hoses and smiling. Hmm. There wasn't a chartreuse button. Buffy chose yellow. Then a man and a woman, naked again, kissing and pressed together so tightly you couldn't squeeze a cigarette paper between them. Green.
The images got increasingly more explicit. There were people masturbating, lesbians, gay guys, threesomes — everybody getting busy. There was an eye-opening photo of a tentacled creature with several happy co-conspirators of various species. Another of what looked like an orgy of fairies. In another, an antlered thing strode through the woods with an enormous hard on, trailing slime behind him. Buffy was having a hard time evaluating how she felt about these images. They were all blatantly sexual, but did that mean that they were sexy? By the time the screen finally went blank, she was exhausted.
Anita came in and turned up the lights. Buffy blinked.
“Tea time,” Anita said. She wheeled in a room service-type cart, piled with little sandwiches and pastries. She pulled up a chair.
“Wow,” said Buffy, reaching for an eclair. “That was pretty intense.”
“It's a lot to go through. We've tried to put in a little of everything, but I'm sure we've missed a lot. The revelation of the supernatural among us has meant a lot of retooling.”
“I guess so.” Buffy still wasn't sure that going public had been the best idea, but there were too many cell phone cameras around these days to stuff that particular genii back in the bottle. Huh. Maybe that wasn't just a metaphor anymore, either. “What else have you got for me?”
“Just one more round before we break for the day. We're going to end with movie clips. They are each about three minutes long. After each one, press the button which most closely matches your reaction. But we won't start right away. Have some coffee and sandwiches. You're okay? Don't need to use the lavatory?”
“Nope. A little coffee would be great, though.”
“Coming right up. We want you alert for this next part.”
“I'll be the alertest.”
Anita left her alone to snack. Buffy tried to clear her mind of the confusing images while she sipped her coffee. As always when she was feeling confused, she ended up thinking of Spike. He was excellent for focusing her mind. Predictably, she started to think of Spike naked. Striding through the woods like he owned every tree. Tangling with a tentacle monster. Wrestling with a couple of the guys she'd seen kissing in one photo. Then she thought she could wrestle them, too. She and Spike, wrestling on the same team. Naked.
Anita knocked before she came in this time, her eyebrows slightly raised. She pushed the cart out into the hallway and turned back.
“Ready to go again?”
“Let's do it.”
Anita lowered the light and closed the door.
Right this way to chapter 3!