"Whatcha doin'?" Buffy asked, plopping on his bed after coming in unannounced. She was bored in the house all by herself -- sick of talking to her friends on the phone, sick of the TV and AOL. And still thinking about The Pool.
"Writing." He hadn't looked up, just lay there on his stomach, scribbling.
"Your awful poetry?"
"Yes, if you must know."
"Can I see?"
"No way in Hell," he said, folding the paper.
"It's not finished."
"But you'll show me when it is?"
He raised a brow. "Might even sing it for you."
"Ooh, it's a song? What about?"
She laughed, and lay down beside him.
"And trampolines," he added.
"And why do frogs need trampolines?"
He shrugged. "To hop higher."
"You're such a freak."
Looking at the page, he asked, "What are you doing in my bed?"
"So you're foraging in my bed?"
"Aren't you hungry?"
He turned to her, propping his cheek on his bandaged hand. She was dry and perfectly coiffed again, wearing beige pedal-pushers and a red babydoll shirt that had words on it. He pulled it out by its hem to read: Happiness is Chinese Food. "Starved, actually."
She pushed his lingering fingers away -- Belly-touch! *Tickly* belly-touch! Mayday! -- only to have him weave them casually but firmly into hers. This is not affecting you, I repeat... "Let's order out!"
"Let me guess," he said, eyes on her shiny, manicured fingernails. "You don't have the slightest idea how to cook."
"I do too! I can cook... toast. And Campbell's soup." She shook his hand, hoping he'd let go. Or something. "The best toast and Campbell's soup you've ever ever eaten."
He smiled, and sat up, pulling her along by the hand. "C'mon, let's give you a cooking lesson."
"But -- ordering out, so much easier--"
"Cooking, so much more fun."
"Waah! I hate you."
"Come on," he urged, and dragged her outside.
* * *
"Ta-da!" She held up a bottle of Cabernet blush, and presented it to him like Vanna.
He glanced at it from across the room. "No, sweet. That's still not white wine."
She frowned at the label, and put it back. "Oh, oh, here's a white one. Some German name I can't pronounce."
He bent down to check the flame. "Gewürztraminer?"
"Um, yeah. That's the one. How'd you know that?"
"Bit spicy. Any others?"
"Okay, um, Chablis. Fancy looking. Dusty."
"Try to find something from this millennia."
She pulled out another cellar drawer and ran a finger over the bottles. "Clos du Bois, 2001?"
"Perfect. Give it here."
She stepped up beside him and watched him deftly open the bottle in just three strokes, hand her the corkscrew, and pour a shot into the pan of sautéed onions.
"Smells good," she said, putting the corkscrew on the countertop.
"Tastes even better."
"Where'd you learn to cook?"
"My mum. Mushrooms?"
She handed him the plate of chopped mushrooms, and he knifed it down into the pan.
"What do we do with the rest of the wine?"
"We drink it."
"But I don't--"
"Then I drink it. Now we check on the chicken... Good... Put this on a low flame, and, come." He directed her to the cooktop and stood behind her. "Now one hand here," he placed her hand over the panhandle, "and take this," he put the wooden spoon in her other hand, "and stir, gently..."
Buffy closed her eyes, feeling his hot breath in her ear, his warm chest pressed against the thin cotton of her t-shirt as he manipulated her hand...
"Wake up, kitten. Can't have you sleep-cooking."
Her eyes fluttered open. "I'm sorry, it was just... you were lulling."
He moved a touch closer. Pelvic contact. Guh.
Her back arched in subconscious response, her whole body simmering on that low flame. Especially her ear, the one he could kiss right now if he wanted to... if he really wanted to...
He disappeared, eliciting a tiny whimper. She blinked herself out of the trance, took a deep breath. Okay, a guy holds you from behind and calls you "kitten" and you're ready to let him dry-hump you in the ass? Get a grip.
But then he came back, and said into her hypersensitive ear, "Cream."
Gulping, she looked down at his hand, pouring a small carton of heavy cream into the mix.
Kitten. Cream. Me-ow.
He made her stir again. Don't move, don't move, don't let him know. No matter how close his lips are to your skin...
Stepping back, breaking contact, he said brightly, "Now we wait five minutes and toss that on the bird."
Uh-huh. She continued to stir. Just... give me a minute.
* * *
"Wow," she pointed at her plate with her fork and declared, "this might be the best thing I've ever had in my mouth."
A trace of a smirk. "And here I thought it was my finger."
She exhaled a laugh, eyes rolling. Marched right into that one.
Looking down and cutting another piece of chicken, she said, "I admit it, okay?" As he waited for her to complete the sentence, she chewed, swallowed, smiled innocently. "Cooking is good."
Spike laughed. Little tease.
"I mean, it takes forever, but the payoff is so worth it."
"Knew you'd come 'round." He poured himself another glass of wine and tipped the bottle toward her empty glass. "Sure you don't want?"
"It's not like the hard stuff. Goes down smooth, makes you warm."
"I'm already warm."
"Just as well," he shrugged. "Also makes you horny."
Her eyes widened. "So... you're...?"
Hands folded under his chin, he gave her a tight-lipped grin and quirked a brow.
Buffy opened her suddenly-dry mouth, and the phone rang. She sighed. "I'll be right back."
Before she even said hello, she heard: "Buffy. What happened with Parker?"
"Yes, it's Cordelia. I just saw Parker Abrams at that party you refused to come to, making kissy-face with some random skank, and he tells me you guys are over?"
Buffy sighed, touching her forehead. "Yeah, Cordy. We're over."
"What did you do?"
"Me? I didn't do anything except believe his lame-ass 'sensitive guy' routine."
"Oh my god, you slept with him! You slept with him when I gave you express orders not to!"
"You have got to stop sleeping with every guy who shows the slightest interest!"
"I don't sleep with every guy--"
"Have you forgotten the golden rule? Cow? Milk? Free?"
"Okay, first of all, I'm not a cow. Second, that is not the golden rule. And third, I really, really don't need to hear a sermon from the Blessed Virgin right now. I am not you--"
"Well, that's glaringly obvious. All I'm saying is, just try to show a little more self-respect."
Buffy looked heavenward, feeling an urge to smash the phone against the wall.
"Only because you deserve it," Cordelia added pointedly. "Are we still on for Friday?"
"Yeah." Why? Why did she say yes?
"Great. Night night!"
Buffy hung up, walked back into the dining room, and sat down.
"I think I will have that drink."