Title: Adventures in Slime and Space
Setting: S9. Canon till after Apart (of Me).
Word count: 1000
Prompt: Adventures in Slime and Space
A/N: C’mon, this was just begging for spacecaptain!Spike. Disclaimer: I haven’t actually read S9, but I know vaguely what’s going on, so feel free to alert me to any canonical errors. Takes place after Spike leaves, AU from there.
“You there, Buffy?”
“Uh… yeah. Yeah, I just didn’t expect…”
“…Do you want me to hang—”
“—No! No, this is good.” She rests her cheek against the cool glass of the window and smiles. “Nice surprise. I didn’t think you’d get reception up in space.” Or that you’d contact me after leaving.
“Yeah, well… technologically advanced space ship and all.” He still sounds uncertain, like he’s not sure whether he should’ve called in the first place. “Are you sure—”
“—Yes. Spike, don’t withhold. Tell me about all the wacky shenanigans you get up to. Bug soap operas. Space demons.”
They gain momentum as they speak, and finally it becomes a quick and easy conversation, sans awkward pauses. But there’s always something being held back. She feels her heart swell at the sound of his voice, but resists asking when he’ll return. She rarely talks about her own Earth life, and he never asks.
But it’s nice. It’s enough.
He calls every day. She finds herself rushing to finish up at the coffee house so she won’t miss his calls (after all, that would be rude), but waiting at least three rings before picking up. She soon makes it a habit of going out to the fire escape when she speaks to him.
“Adventures in slime and space part six?”
“Lester wants to break it off with Rick and Fido to make it with Paolo in a two-bug relationship—”
“—and naturally, Fido’s furious, but Rick’s torn ‘cos Frisky’s been on his back for not mannin’ his station proper, on account of his marriage, so he thinks maybe he’ll be better off being single again and job-focused. Bloody bugs are startin’ a riot—like you said, scandal—but there’s some small faction standing up for Lester and Paolo, ‘cos they want two-bugs relationships too—”
“—and there’s your political angle—”
“—Meanwhile, I’m here workin’ my arse off with no bloody clue how to man the ship, hopin’ they’ll come to their senses. And Elizabeth’s throwin’ a temper tantrum again.” There’s a lot of ‘King Spike’s being thrown around on the other end. “Oi! Keep it down!”
Her lips tug upwards.
“Smiling,” she corrects. “Totally different vibe. Though points for trying.”
“’S not bloody funny,” he says sulkily. “It’s serious business. Got the crew breakin’ out in insurrections.”
“You’re loving every minute of it. A live version of Passion right before your eyes. A—a space opera! Bet you’re rooting for Lester and Paolo.”
“I’m the king, can’t take sides,” he insists.
She’s about to try wheedle the title of the bug book he was reading the last time, or maybe convince him to actually tell her which side he’s on, when he suddenly says, “So you’re doing alright, then?”
“Uh… yeah, I guess.” She wonders if this is the cue to break their unspoken rule of no-talking-about-Buffy-slash-Earth-busin
Did she say that out loud? “Did I say that out loud?”
“Uh…” His voice is hoarse, and he clears his throat.
Her face feels hot. “I just—”
“—no, it’s… I get it, it’s not… I…”
Screw it up. You always screw it up. “Spike—”
She hears the demanding voice of a bug and sounds of destruction.
“—you have to go…?”
“Uh. Yeah. Listen, I’ll call you later tonight. If that’s okay.”
“No, yeah, that’d be…” A click, and the long beep of a disconnected phone. “…great…”
The next few hours are long and agonising. She tries to sort it out, figure out what to say, what she wants to say, what she should say… She sits on the couch, bowl of chips at her side, having a staring match with the phone. Time ticks by, the sky darkens, and she wonders if—when he’ll be calling. Sleep begins to weigh in her eyes.
The phone rings and she picks it up immediately. “Spike?” she says, a little breathlessly.
“Hey.” He sounds surprised.
“So… how did the bug thing go?”
“Sorted it temporarily, though I’m sure they’ll be revvin’ for more soon enough. Hazards of living in an enclosed space in space with a passel of temperamental alien bug types.”
“Say that ten times fast,” she teases. “What happened? Sounded like something broke.”
He isn’t perturbed by her obvious stalling (resigned to her ways, perhaps? Or does he also want to stall?) and he begins on a long story about bug socio-politics and mating rituals.
She finds herself smiling like an idiot. The tension soon disappears and the conversation is as it always is, effused with warmth and attention. Somewhere in the midst of their talking, she realises what she wants to say to him.
So she opens her mouth to say it, finally, finally, and maybe she’ll be believed, finally, finally, but a yawn forces its way out instead.
“Oh! I’m so sorry, Buffy, you must be knackered.”
“No, I’m really—” another enormous yawn escapes her with, “—okay. Wide awake, really.”
His chuckle is good-natured and warm. “Get some kip.”
“I’m fine,” she says, and yawns out, “Gotta tell you something…” all at once, so it sounds like a garbled mess.
“I’ll keep talking, then.”
“Yeah,” she says, giving up.
And he talks on and on, till she’s lying on her side on the couch with a sleepy grin on her face and commenting in yawns she’s given up trying to hold back.
“Buffy?” He hears the faint sound of her breathing on the other end of the line. She must have fallen asleep. And he should hang up now, not that there are any charges for a trans-galaxy phone call, but he should hang up… later, maybe.
He falls asleep with his head on the (thankfully deactivated) control panel, and the sound of static and breath sees them through the night.