Word count: 990
Prompt: Crimson Tide
Setting: S6, Warning for reference to lots of kinds of fluids.
Summary: Spike takes Buffy to the beach to investigate something unusual.
Spike threaded the motorcycle around the “closed at sunset” sign at the entrance to the beachfront parking lot and pulled to a stop at the far edge of the pavement. He shut off the engine and the rumble of it echoed in the sudden quiet. Buffy slid off the side and tried not to notice that her body was still thrumming with the vibrations of the ride, especially in her aching pelvis. She stepped off the asphalt and onto the sand. She looked around and hoped the lack of screaming and running civilians didn't mean they were too late.
“So, this 'beastie' you heard about...we're thinking sea-monster?” she asked.
“Of a sort,” he said, voice muffled.
She looked over to see the neck of his t-shirt stretching over his face and popping off the top of his head, revealing wind-blown hair and a set of abs to which she was completely immune. She'd been inoculated by frequent exposure over the past few months, and they held no further enticement. Familiarity bred...familiarity. It was science. She licked her lips. Then she noticed that he was toeing off one boot, while the other already lay on its side by the bike. His duster was draped over the seat.
“What do you think you're doing?”
“Think I'm planning on not being a rotten egg, Slayer.” He stood from rolling up the cuffs of his jeans, gave a sudden whoop, and sprinted past her for the shoreline.
She watched him go. His form wasn't bad, she could admit that, but mostly he was...pale. It was crazy easy to track him in the gloom. A moment later, it became even easier.
Where his feet hit the sand, he left tracks of blue sparkles.
She blinked. That couldn't be right. In fact, it was wrong. Vampires and sparkles? No.
Then he was running through the water's edge, stirring up plumes of glowing blue spray. He spun around, stomping and kicking, the dark water shimmering with an unearthly gleam wherever he touched it.
“C'mon!” he shouted. “Don't get a chance like this every night!”
Buffy realized, while taking off her own boots, that this whole excursion had been a set-up. There were even towels tied to the back of the bike, which she'd failed to notice when she climbed on. She grabbed them and headed down the beach.
The waves looked backlit as they tumbled over themselves, and they left glittering trails behind when they flowed back out to the sea. Spike was doing back flips in the shallows, making circles of radiant spray in the air with his feet.
Buffy shimmied out of her jeans and shirt and dropped them on the towels. Then she ran straight into the water. When she was submerged up to her hips, she dove under the waves and corkscrewed through, aware of the trail of incandescence she left behind. She broke through the surface, her arms stretched up in a well-remembered ice skating pose. She felt like she was in an Esther Williams movie, surrounded by light and fire and sea. She fell back in with a splash and began to tread water, watching the bright effect her movements caused. It was fascinating.
“Quite the nymph, pet,” said Spike, keeping back so that he was only ankle-deep in the strange aqua glow.
So she splashed him. Not entirely a slayer-sized splash, but enough to lure him closer. He splashed back and then it was on. A great explosion of phosphorescence erupted around them, complete with the noise of hands slapping on water and hooting and hollering.
The splash fight subsided as quickly as it had started, and she found that they were holding each other in the water, their feet leisurely waving about enough to keep their heads above the surface.
“No sea-monster?” She pouted. He leaned in to nip her lip.
“Not as such. More like microbes.” He nodded at the liquid light show swirling around them.
“Really? It's little bugs doing that?” She started heading toward the shore, but didn't let go of him.
“Happens sometimes. It's called red tide. If you saw it during the day, it'd look like blood in the water.” Their feet hit the bottom and they started to emerge. “Mouthwatering, I'd wager.”
She slapped him in the chest, leaving a glistening blue hand print behind. He chuckled.
“At night, though, you get this.” He gestured at the mark on his chest. “One of nature's wonders.”
They looked again at the luminescent water, breaking and flowing. She shivered and noticed she was covered in goose bumps now that she was out of the water. He noticed, too.
“Lets's get you warmed up a little, hmmm?”
They found the towels and he picked one up and began to vigorously rub her down starting with her back and moving on to her arms.
“It's really beautiful, Spike. I'm glad I got to see it.”
He slid to his knees before her, moving the towel more slowly down her legs, until finally he stopped and looked up into her face.
“Know what else is a beautiful, mouthwatering, natural wonder?” he asked.
She looked down at him and was just about to play along — because, well, a girl liked to hear that kind of thing, even if it was sort of over-the-top — when she caught on.
“Oh my god! You're just trying to get me to let you drink my...stuff. Gross, Spike.”
“Not gross. Precious. Delectable. And it wouldn't be drinking. Sipping, maybe. Savoring.”
“Food words are not helping you,” she said.
“Then how about these: relief, phenomenal, singular sensation...”
She had to laugh at that one. “You're quoting 'A Chorus Line' over this?”
“It's a bloody good show. Which is exactly what I'm promising you.”
“Accent on 'bloody'.”
He shrugged and ran a hand from her ankle to her thigh, shifting his gaze to follow its progress.
It didn't take much more to turn the tide.
AN: Red Tide aka Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) aka Phosphorescent Tide aka Glowing Blue Waves aka Sea Sparkle really does happen in Southern California, usually during summer months.
Photo credit: Doug Perrine, taken in the Maldives, but there's some good video of San Diego red tide on YouTube.