Personal Attention by Jaesha

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: After Spike Giles' wife leaves him for another man he falls into despair. Will Buffy be able to save him before he destroys himself?

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Chapter 6: Berber and Sharp-Tongues

In the three days since Buffy had come to work for him, Spike had redefined their relationship from strictly business to an unusual friendship. A friendship that consisted mostly of her verbally abusing him and of his eating up every single syllable.

Pausing at the carpet samples, he picked up a piece of black Berber. Somehow Buffy had convinced him to go with hardwood instead of re-carpeting, but he was still kind of drawn to the idea of black on black. Sure, he knew it wasn’t tasteful to make your house look like a bat cave, but what the hell did he care?

He had received another ‘wish list’ from Dru’s attorney and on it was an intricate catalog of items she wanted in the divorce settlement. He had half a mind to give it all to her too. All he required in life was a guitar, a bottle of booze, and a stage. The house and all the crap in it were unimportant.

On the other hand, he had contributed a lot to that damn house. Why should Dru be the sole receiver of everything they had accumulated or built? She was the one who left him and if he listened to Buffy, she shouldn’t get one bleedin’ cent.

Spying Buffy make her way towards the hardwood display, he dropped the carpet sample and wandered off after her.

“What do you think of this, Spike?” She asked him, pointing to a piece of mahogany.

Spike shrugged. “I don’ know. Pick out what you like.”

The argument was already floating through the air before she even opened her mouth. On instinct, he winced and prepared himself for the worst.

“It’s your house, you pick. I’m here to help you, not make your decisions for you.”

Oh, but she was a sharp-tongued beauty. Not once in the days they had been together had she ever let him dump his responsibilities on her. And yes, he had cleaned the living room with her pushing him all the way.

He wasn’t ashamed to admit it. Her rock-solid determination to get him back into functionality was essential in his day to day existence without Dru and he appreciated every minute of her pushing. Without Buffy, he’d still be dead drunk and probably on his way straight to Hell right about now.

“I like this one, then.”

She glanced down at his choice and snorted. “You just had to pick something with ‘black’ in the name, didn’t you?”

The tag on it said Walnut, American Black and he smirked at her. It was completely unintentional, but she didn’t need to know that.

“Yeah, had t’ get my way somehow,” he replied, poking her in the arm.

He hadn’t thought about it much until just now, but somehow their interactions had become more and more affectionate. Buffy didn’t seem to have any issues with the small gestures they made towards each other and he certainly wasn’t complaining. But it was new and a little unnerving.

As a child, he had always been very affectionate. His mother always operated under the assumption that if you love someone you should show it. In the Giles’ house, love wasn’t something to be hidden, it was to be rejoiced.

When he went out on his own, though, he found the world didn’t share his particular outlook. In a society that viewed physical love only as a sexual act, he was quite bewildered. Soon, that view became his own and the only time he showed affection was when he was with a woman.

Marrying Dru hadn’t changed that. Truth be told, Dru was not the touchy-feely type and any desire he had to express his adoration for her diminished quickly when she wouldn’t allow him to touch her outside of the bedroom.

Now, with Buffy, he was returning to a place he hadn’t been to in years. And the fact that it came so naturally to the both of them, made him feel like he was losing his grip, like he had no control.

“Okay, now that we’ve settled that, I need to find the guy I talked to yesterday about the installation,” she told him, walking off towards the customer service desk.

Apparently, she had called around to twelve different flooring companies before she found one that could install almost 6100 square feet of hardwood next week within a four-day time table. Of course, this would cost a pretty penny, but it needed to get done before the Dingoes went back on tour and she couldn’t leave the supervision to the newly rehired, Paulina.

The over-done blond girl at the customer service desk immediately started to ignore Buffy as soon as she noticed him walk up to the counter.

“Hi! Welcome to Finn Flooring, can I be of service to you?” She was bright and bubbly and most certainly one of the most dimwitted creatures he had come across in recent memory.

“Uh…” He turned to Buffy, watching her face grow red with anger. Poor girl won’t know what hit her.

“Excuse me. But I believe you were helping me first,” Buffy said through clenched teeth.

If the girl was smart, she would apologize and kiss some cute Buffy ass. But as luck would have it, Blondie did the exact opposite. It was kind of like watching one of those extreme video shows where the newscaster is interviewing some local zoo keeper and the ‘completely docile’ bear or lion goes berserk on the unsuspecting interviewer. Not pretty.

“You will just have to wait your turn,” Blondie retorted, giving Buffy the Evil Glare of Death.

Buffy moved forward and slapped her hands on the counter. “Listen to me, you stupid bottle-blond moron! I was here first, so why don’t you go run those little Gucci knock-off heels to the manager’s office and get him over here.”

“Hey, you don’t have to be rude to me.”

Like watching a train wreck…

“Oh! Rude? This isn’t nearly as rude as I wanna be, so push me a little farther, please. C’mon, I dare ya!”

“Buffy, jus’ calm-”

Throwing up a hand, she halted him. “Don’t even go there, Spike. Just stay out of this.”

He should be upset with her for dismissing him again, but how could he be when the scene before him was so entertaining? Buffy was a little firecracker. Loud, explosive and absolutely awe-inspiring. Who needed the telly with her around?

“I’m going to get the manager! You have no right to be mean to me!” Blondie stomped off, her whiney voice echoing through the store.



******



Buffy was fuming.

Looking over to Spike, she saw him doubled over in a fit of laughter. Damn him! It wasn’t funny!

“What are you laughing at? This is your fault, you know,” she told him, her arms crossing over her chest.

“My fault? How is it my fault? You were the one gettin’ all pissy with the girl,” he replied.

“Well, if you hadn’t of shown up, she wouldn’t have been distracted.”

His hands went up in a defensive gesture. “Excuse me, luv, but what was I supposed t’ do? Stand over by the display like a good little boy while mummy went t’ talk with the other adults? Give me a bleedin’ break, Buffy.”

“No,” she snapped back. “But how am I supposed to get anything done with you flashing your hot self to everyone? You are distracting.”

He wasn’t offended. Quite the contrary, actually, since he seemed to be very amused by her outburst. A devilish grin and sparkling blue eyes stared back at her and she had the sudden urge to do one of two things. Smack him upside his silly bleach-blond head or make out with him on the tile display case.

“Think I’m hot, eh? I knew you weren’t immune t’ my manly charisma,” he said, his hand beginning a slow trail from his chest downward.

“Hey! Hey, no touching yourself!” She grabbed his hand and gave it a slap. “There could be children around, Mr. Corruptor Guy.”

“Oh, baby, you’re the only one I wanna corrupt.”

Whoa! Stop this before it gets out of control, Buffy. She knew better than to encourage his flirtations since he couldn’t seem to hold his tongue around her.

“What is taking that girl so long?” It wasn’t her best stop-flirting-by-changing-the-subject move, but it would have to do.

Suddenly, she saw the girl with a tall, hunky guy following closely behind her.

“Miss Kendall said you wanted to speak with the manager?” The guy asked, a small frown on his lips.

“Yes, I called here yesterday and spoke to someone about getting flooring installed next week and when I came up here, your employee was very rude to me,” Buffy replied, throwing the girl a dirty glance.

“Yesterday? I don’t suppose you’re Miss Summers?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

Closing his eyes, he shook his head slightly before offering his hand to her. “I’m Riley Finn. I was the one you spoke to yesterday. I know we were supposed to get together today to discuss the details, but I must have spaced it. I‘m really sorry for your inconvenience.”

Her anger started to dissipate and it wasn’t long before she decided to kill her crusade to get the girl fired. “That’s okay. We never really discussed a time, so I can’t really expect you to wait for one customer all day.”

Riley grinned. “Oh, I think waiting for you all day wouldn’t be so bad.”

She could see Spike roll his eyes at that comment. So, Riley’s teasing comment was sort of corny, but sweet in any case. And Spike had no room to be passing judgment on lame pick-up lines.

Instead of enabling Riley to flirt more, she just smiled and shook his hand.

“So, I think we picked out what we wanted,” she said.

Riley turned to look at Spike, a shocked expression on his face. Apparently, he had gotten the impression that she would be coming alone even though she didn’t remember telling him one way or the other over the phone.

“Uh, hello. Riley Finn.” Riley stuck out his hand.

Scoffing at the proffered hand, Spike hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his jeans. “Let’s jus’ get a move on this. Got stuff t’ do, ya know.”

Buffy flicked him in the arm as they made their way back to the hardwood section of the store. “Knock it off!” She warned him in a hushed tone. “He’s just trying to be nice.”

“Yeah, whatever, pet. That guy’s got ulterior motives, I can tell.”

“All guys have ulterior motives.”

A look that bordered between anger and hurt passed over his face. “I’ve never been anythin’ other than straight with you.”

“Yeah, but you’re not potential boyfriend material either, so you don’t count.”

This conversation was sliding deeper and deeper into no man’s land and if she didn’t shut her big, fat mouth soon, she would regret it. She kept forgetting that he was still a broken man beneath all of the swagger and sarcasm. With a quick turn of a phrase, she could hurt him and that bothered her more than she liked to admit.

The next fifteen minutes were spent listening to Riley drone on about the difference between several types of flooring and proper maintenance of hardwood. At some point there had even been a humorless joke about carpet thrown in. Another fifteen minutes were spent paying for the flooring and going over the scheduling for the install.

She waved goodbye to Riley as they walked out of the store and to the car. It hadn’t escaped her attention that Spike had remained silent throughout Riley’s little lecture or the fact that he stared down at his shoes the entire time.

Why did she have to be such a bitch all the time? When she saw a weakness, her first instinct was to always go for the jugular. With Spike, there was nothing but weakness and self-doubt and even though she never wanted to hurt him, she couldn’t seem to stop the horrible things that spilled out of her mouth.

“I’m sorry, Spike,” she said once they were in the car.

“For what?” He mumbled, fiddling with the seatbelt buckle.

Sighing, Buffy turned to him and placed a hand on his arm. “I didn’t mean it. I just can’t stop being such a bitch for some reason.”

He suddenly looked up at her, his eyes watery with unshed tears. “You’re not a bitch, luv. You’re jus’ you and I happen t’ like you very much.”

“I know, but what I said, it was-”

“Buffy, can we not. I jus’ want t’ go home and pretend that the last half an hour never happened.”

Somehow, she didn’t think it could be forgotten just like that, but she didn’t argue. “Okay. Home it is.”

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