That familiar out-of-nowhere battle cry was predictably followed by a flurry of black leather and a streak of lightning-colored hair.
Spike, flying through the air and tackling her opponent. Again.
Before Buffy could even holler her protest, he'd silenced the demon she was fighting by imprudently breaking its back.
"There, now. Won't be bothering you anymore," he said, proudly dusting himself off.
She stared at him. "You think I couldn't have done that myself?"
"Well, you didn't."
She sounded out slowly, "I was trying to get information out of him, you moron."
"Oh. Should have said something then."
"Uch! You are so -- Uch!" Frustrated to the point of going non-verbal, she spun around to leave, then stopped to rotate her shoulder cuff. "Ow."
"What's wrong?" He tentatively approached her.
"Nothing! I pulled a muscle. Probably trying to get you out of the way."
"Here. Let me get that."
She limboed backwards, a puzzled look on her face.
"Just turn around, will you? Let me fix it." When she didn't turn, he moved behind her and placed a hand on her back, and another on her shoulder.
"What are you doing?" She shook him off. "Don't touch me!"
He noticed, however, that she wasn't walking away.
"Relax, Slayer," he said sotto voce as he returned his hands to her body. "I won't hurt you."
"You mean 'can't'... hhh..." She trailed off as he pressed deep into her muscle tissue, once, twice, three times... and made the pain disappear.
"Whoa. How did you--?" She jerked her shoulder forward and back. "It's gone. Completely. How did you do that?"
"That's..." She regarded him. "You know, I-I have this thing in my lower back? It's all bunched up and--"
"You want the full service, come to my crypt later." He brushed past her. "And bring some oil."
"Wh -- Huh?" She turned to address his retreating back.
"You heard me. Ten o'clock."
Getting her bearings -- and her brains -- back, she scoffed in disbelief. "I'm not gonna come to your crypt!"
He shrugged as he sauntered off. "Have it your way."
Still watching him, Buffy caressed her shoulder blade again, whispering, "Wow."
* * *
As softly as humanly possible, the Slayer said, "What sort of oil would be good for um..."
"Oil? For what?" Anya's voice carried across the store.
Buffy shot a glance at Giles and Xander, still engrossed in bookland. "Um. For massage type stuff?"
"Who are you massaging?"
"No one. Me. Myself."
"Oh, THAT kind of massage. Well--"
"No," Buffy corrected patiently. "Just the regular kind."
"Is somebody massaging you?"
"Please, Anya, just tell me which one?"
"Well, the sandalwood is good for--"
"Fine. Sandalwood. How much?" She slapped her purse on the counter.
"There's also jasmine, which is more of a sensual--"
"Sandalwood is fine."
"Okay. That'll be six-ninety-eight."
Buffy placed a ten dollar bill on the counter. "Keep the change. And do me a favor, don't mention this to anyone?"
Anya smiled guilelessly. "Mention what?"
* * *
Buffy paused at Spike's door. Should she knock? Should she burst in as per usual? Should she just turn around and leave right now?
What the hell am I thinking, letting him touch me?
Yeah. Leaving would be a good--
The door swung open, and there he stood like some romance novel anti-hero, shirt half-buttoned, a bottle of wine dangling from his fingertips. "Slayer."
...idea. She gulped, considering escape tactics. "Spike."
His lips twitched ever so slightly. "Fancy meeting you here."
She couldn't turn back now. If he saw her trepidation, things would get weird. Weirder than they already were.
"What are you talking about, you know why I'm--" Barging past him, Buffy slowed at the sight of flickering candles in every corner of the crypt. "I thought you had electricity. What's with the Sting video?"
Spike chuckled as he walked in after her. "Mood lighting."
When she noticed the peach-colored silk sheets and quilt adorning his sarcophagus, she warned, "If this is some lame attempt to get into my pants, you'll want to tell me right now."
"Don't flatter yourself, Slayer. I'm offering you a massage, plain and simple. If you don't want it, leave. I don't care either way," said Spike, hoping his tone was convincing. He put the wine down, deciding not to offer her any after all.
Buffy took a deep breath. "Yeah. Okay."
"Right. Did you bring the oil?"
"Um." She rustled through her purse. "Here."
Turning it in one hand, he inspected the label. "Sandalwood. It'll do." He popped open the top and casually sniffed it.
"Take off your shirt."
"Look, unless you want oil all over your shirt, you're gonna have to take it off."
"I'm not getting naked in front of you!"
"I won't look, alright? Take off your shirt and lie on your stomach, I won't see a thing. Not any more than when you wear those strappy little backless numbers anyway."
"Fine. Turn around." Sitting on the sarcophagus, she pulled off her blouse and quickly lay down, her cheek against the silk pillow. "Ready."
Confident that she couldn't see him, he eyed her appreciatively as he approached. "Where's it hurt?"
Buffy pointed to the lower left side of her back. "Here."
He rubbed his hands together and placed them on the trouble spot. "Yeah. I can feel it."
She tensed up.
"Buffy. You're just gonna have to trust me."
"Why are you doing this?" she asked suddenly, her head twisting in his direction.
He paused for a moment. "Gotta pass the time somehow."
"I don't have any money."
"Not asking for it, am I?"
"Look, Slayer," he interrupted evenly, "either you grill me about my intentions all night, or I fix this knot. It's your choice."
"Okay. Nothing." Her face hit the pillow again. "Quiet now."
"That's better," he said, feeling her body relax.
Reaching for the oil, he poured it into his palm as he strode towards the head of the sarcophagus and turned, his crotch facing her golden hair.
His hands shook like a schoolboy's. Just knowing her breasts were exposed, the curve of them flattened against the place he slept...
Stop shaking, you prat, he told himself. Stop shaking or she'll know.
Buffy felt his electricity, his nearness as he bent over her and swept his hands up her back.
A moan slipped out of her throat.
She sounded like someone was lapping between her legs, and all he did was touch her. What if he touched her trouble spot?
"Mmmmnn..." She told herself not to vocalize, that it was somehow very inappropriate, but she couldn't help it. "Oh... God..."
Spike smiled. "Been promoted already, then?"
"Unh..." was all she could say, her feet scissoring madly.
"Let me get those off for you."
"Huh?" She looked up groggily.
She fell back down again with a goofy smile. "'Kay."
He gingerly removed her boots and socks. "I'll get to those later."
"I'll do anywhere you want."
With a giggle, she said, "Just stick to the usual places."
Spike didn't stop to wonder if she'd just admitted to wanting more than the 'usual' places. "Now. Don't get pissed off, alright? This is no massage table, and I have to do this to get better access."
He straddled her butt.
"Umkay..." she said with some trepidation.
He leveled himself on top of her, flattened his palms and pushed down, her spine resounding with a satisfying crack.
She moaned and nodded eagerly. "So good."
Now that would give him plenty of fuel for the lonely nights.
He followed her spine upwards and popped each vertebrae in the same manner.
"Uhhh... Hope you don't mind I'm drooling on your pillow."
He chuckled. "Just another hazard of the job. Now for the muscley bits."
"Yay, muscley bits," she cheered, her body doing a little dance.
He immediately hardened as she shimmied underneath him.
Down! he commanded. As if it ever listened.
He attempted to focus on her knot, kneading it away with a few circular strokes.
"Gawd, how do you DO that?" she slurred.
"Magic," he said.
"What can I say," he shrugged as he worked on each set of muscles. "I've got the gift of healing."
"Mmm... That's a little ironic, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I s'pose. Never used it on a human before. Came in handy when Dru was sick, and that time you kicked Harmony's ass..."
"Could you not mention them right now?"
He bent down to her ear. "Jealous, pet?"
"No," she said harshly, and flailed beneath him, attempting to get him off of her back.
He sat back up.
"This is supposed to be relaxing," she explained.
"I'd rather not relive old memories right now."
"Whatever you say, pet."
"And stop with the 'pet' already."
"Gah! Stop that!"
He laughed. "What?"
"The sweet talk! Stop it!"
"Sorry, lo -- Buffy. It just slipped out. You're in this position, I can't help it."
'In this position?' "Okay. Maybe I should just leave."
If I could just keep my blasted mouth shut. For one bloody minute! "If that's what you want."
"My shirt, please?"
"Yeah." He destraddled and plucked her shirt off of a statue. "Here you are."
She pulled it over her head, complaining, "Great. Now I'm all oily."
"Got a shower downstairs, if you--"
"No thanks. Can I have my shoes?"
He handed over her socks and shoes, and watched her warily.
After zippering up her boots, Buffy stood and swayed, a light-headed euphoria threatening to neutralize her anger.
Determined to listen to her instincts, she got to the door and stopped. "Anyway, you fixed it. The knot." Her fingertips wiggled. "So... thanks."
He nodded. "Don't mention it."
Lips thin, she said, "Right."
She hoisted the door open and left.
Alone in his crypt, fists and jaw clenched, Spike exhaled to himself, "Wanker."