They set off just after full dark, still undecided as to whether they’d drive straight through the night or stop partway and hole up for the day. With no stops or traffic, it should take a little over eight hours to get to their destination: about fifty miles south of Eugene. Perfectly doable before sunrise. But there was no way Spike could go that long without nicotine, and since Buffy refused to sit in an ashtray, that meant fairly regular rest stops. Plus, ‘Dave’ – so-called because his real name sounded like a cross between choking to death and the squeals of a stuck pig – was paranoid as all get-out, and Spike didn’t much fancy the approach when he was stiff and knackered from eight plus hours stuck in a car.
Buffy lost rock, paper, scissors, so he was driving the first shift. For two people who spent most of their time together, it surprised them both how quickly they ran through their respective repertoires of avoidance filler conversation. By the time they were out of the city and onto the highway, somehow they’d wandered into long, awkward silence territory.
“So, where do you want to start?” Spike asked.
Buffy twisted her hands in her lap. “Willow has this list of standard questions she asks people before she sleeps with them.”
Spike laughed. “Does she read it off an actual list every time?”
“No!” Buffy said, offended on Willow’s behalf. Then she thought about it. “I hope not, anyway. But it seems like a nice, safe place to start.”
“Okay,” Spike said, completely neutrally.
“A lot of it’s practical stuff about contraception and testing for STDs.”
Spike snorted. “What, Willow hasn’t done some spell on her snatch so’s any disease that crosses her barrier gets sent back ten times nastier?”
Buffy refused to grace that with a response. “I know the ‘conception’ part isn’t really important, but what about everything else?”
“Can’t catch human diseases.”
Spike shrugged. “Darla had the pox when she was human – both times. Never knew her or any other vamp to get sick.”
“Huh,” Buffy said. “What about carrying them? I mean—”
“You mean what if I shag someone sick and pass it on to you?” Spike sighed. “Dunno. You’re the nearest to human I’ve been with since before AIDs.”
Spike grimaced. “Dru sometimes took dinner to bed first.” One shoulder twitched. “Or after. But not often – mostly when I was away.”
“How many people have you slept with?”
He didn’t say anything for a while. Then, “Doubt that’s on Willow’s list.”
“You won’t like my answer.”
There was a twinkle in his eye that Buffy could just about make out in the low light. “How do you know I won’t?”
“‘Cause you want to believe I was a virgin when I was turned, had wild monkey sex with Angelus and Dru for a couple decades, then stayed faithful to her until I met you, after which I did nothing but pine, alone in my bed.” He waited a beat, then started grinning.
Buffy could feel the blush creeping up her neck. “I know full well none of that’s true.”
Spike’s grin got a little wider. “But who am I to stomp all over your fantasies?”
“Fine. Be Mr Mysterious.”
“Not about bein’ mysterious,” Spike said, more seriously. He sighed. “Not good at relationships. Never have been. Was with Dru a long time, but that’s hardly a model for – well, for anythin’.” His left hand started automatically patting around for cigarettes before he brought it forcibly back to the wheel. “‘Sides, numbers don’t mean anythin’. You know all the important bits.”
Buffy reached over to put her hand on his knee, and he took his right hand off to wheel to lay it over hers.
“Next, Willow asks how often sex should happen, and at what time of day.” Buffy stifled a giggle. “She also says everyone she’s ever asked has lied about how often.”
“The women tend to lowball, and the guys tend to overestimate.”
“How’d this come up in conversation? You an’ Willow haven’t….”
“No!” Buffy said, visibly horrified. She folded her arms over her chest and straightened up in her seat.
Spike put on his most innocent face. “Just askin’.”
“I went to her for advice, jeez.” Buffy slowly unfolded her arms. “So, how often?”
“Depends,” He said, thinking about it. “Been a few times a day, every day, sometimes. But ‘ve gone months with nothin’.”
“I think the point of the question is more about the average, all other things being equal.”
“Never really thought about it,” Spike said, surprising himself a little. He glanced sideways at her. “Not up to just me, though, is it?”
Buffy sighed. “I don’t know. Like you say, sometimes twice a day feels like a drought and other times once a week feels like a chore. Maybe the answer is we need to keep talking about it?”
Spike nodded. “That’s fair.” He paused. “What about time of day?”
“I don’t like sex first thing in the morning if I have to be somewhere later,” Buffy blurted. “But other than that, any time is good.”
He smiled. “Can work with that.”
“You, um, you prefer at the end or the beginning of the day, don’t you?”
Spike went totally still. If they hadn’t been in a car speeding down a highway, Buffy would have bet a month’s pay he’d find an excuse to leave.
“What makes you say that?”
Buffy opened and closed her mouth twice before she found the words. “You only, um, initiate first thing in the morning, or late at night.” She paused, feeling a flush creep up her neck. “And you’re never really interested if I suggest anything in between.”
“When have you ever initiated a nooner?” There was a very faint hint of anger now.
“Last week!” Her voice was suddenly too loud in the car. “And you completely freaked out!”
Spike had that deer-in-headlights look again.
“Nothin’ to do with time of day,” he said. Then he sighed, and haltingly started telling her about the candles and his fears about destroying her clothes. Then, finally, “An’ I don’t like bein’ cold.” He was making the realisation for himself as he said it. “If I’m not warm enough, never really interested. Was bloody freezin’ that day.”
“Oh,” Buffy said, shocked into silence for a good few seconds. “I’m sorry, I just—”
“Didn’t tell you, did I?” He shook his head. “Stupid….”
Buffy reached out and gave his arm a squeeze. “Is there anything else that’s an immediate turn-off for you?” she asked. “Also one of Willow’s questions.”
Spike stared out at the road ahead, gathering up his courage. “Not many red lines I haven’t crossed.”
“I’ve just learned about three for the first time,” Buffy said drily. “And by they way, it woulda been nifty if you’d said something earlier.”
He made a face. “Like what?”
“‘I don’t want sex right now’?”
He shot her a very dubious look. “‘S hard for me to tell you ‘no’.”
“Then that’s something you need to work on.” Buffy rubbed at her eyes. “You think you’re the only one who worries about guessing wrong? I need to trust that you’ll tell me if I’m doing something you don’t like.”
“So now it’s all on me, yeah?”
“Of course not!”
“Sure sounded like it.”
Be brave, Buffy told herself. “I assumed you just didn’t find me attractive.”
Spike’s whole body softened – making Buffy realise quite how rigid he’d become.
“‘M sorry,” he said, genuinely shocked. “Never thought – sorry.”
“And I can’t make sure I never do it again if I don’t know what ‘it’ is.”
He sighed. “One of the things I’ve been doin’, last few years, is tryin’ to be a bit more … assertive in the bedroom.”
Buffy only just held herself back from telling him he’d always seemed plenty assertive to her. It was hard.
“Yeah, yeah,” Spike added, with a dark look. “Yuk it up.”
“Do you hear me laughing?”
He was silent for a few seconds. “My needs weren’t relevant, let alone important, for a very long time. Learned to just go with the flow, get my kicks where I could.”
“I’m sorry,” Buffy said softly.
“Don’t be.” He smiled, reaching out tentatively for her hand again. “Not much I haven’t tried – even less I can’t enjoy, given the right circs. Wouldn’t give that up for anythin’. But when it comes to sayin’ what I want? What I need?” He shook his head. “Brain shuts down. Can’t do it.”
“But you were working on that?”
Spike shifted uneasily in his seat. “Easier to dictate terms to a stranger. Easier still to stick to ‘em.”
“I think I get it,” Buffy said slowly. “Some of the stuff I want to ask you might be hard for you to answer.”
He frowned. “‘S not that I don’t have opinions. Just … you ask me what I can’t do? Not much. What I won’t do? Even less. But here’n now? When there’s nothin’ riding on it? Got no problems tellin’ you what I enjoy.” He paused. “You don’t want to pee on me, do you? Or have me pee on you?”
“Ewwww!” Buffy groaned, pulling her hand out of his and scrunching herself against the door, as far away from him as she could get. “Gross!”
Laughing, Spike snatched her hand back, raising it to his lips and brushing a kiss across her knuckles. “No golden showers, check.”
“You are such a goof,” Buffy said, relaxing into a more comfortable position.
They let an easy silence build for a while.
“You got any red lines?” Spike asked gently.
She stared down at her knees. “There are some words I find hard to hear.”
He stiffened slightly. “Know I run my mouth off….”
“You’ve never said any of them,” Buffy said quickly. “But … please don’t ever call me ‘lover’?”
Spike waited for her to elaborate, but when she didn’t, he just nodded and gave her hand a squeeze.
“And, um, any kind of daddy or mommy stuff? It really squicks me out. Always has done.”
“That was Dru’s thing.” He let out a half-laugh. “Drove Darla barmy – still reckon that’s the only reason Angelus let her.”
“Well, whoever’s thing it was, can you just not?” Buffy’s tone was sharper than she wanted it to be.
“Not a problem.”
Buffy cleared her throat. “Willow also asks ‘how often do you masturbate?’.”
“She answers these questions herself, does she?”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “It’d be pretty weird if she didn’t.”
They both watched the road for a few seconds.
“Every day,” Spike said, a little too quickly.
Without even pausing for breath, the words “Can I watch?” escaped Buffy’s mouth.
“Yeah.” Spike’s voice dropped almost a full decibel.
She squirmed in her seat. Buffy’d stopped thinking of masturbating as sexy when she was seventeen and accidentally overheard Xander and Oz comparing their techniques. But there was something about the way Spike said ‘every day’ that just flat did it for her.
“You willin’ to return to favour?”
Buffy squirmed even more. “Sure,” she croaked, mouth suddenly very dry. “I guess.”
Despite having brought it up, Buffy hadn’t let herself acknowledge she’d have to actually answer the question. “Um,” she started.
“When you’re singing in the shower, d’you press that nozzle ‘tween your legs, massaging away?”
His voice went impossibly low. “What are you doin’ with your hands?”
“Oh, look!” Buffy said brightly. “There’s the turn-off for the rest area.”
“You betcha. Plus, I really need to pee.”
Laughing, Spike slowed down and made the turn. They had hours yet. He was in no rush.
End Note: That's it for seasonal_spuffy! You'll need to wait for the rest, which will be posted in regular instalments on Elysian Fields, and AO3.