Closer and Closer

Rating:
Total Chapters: 26

Spike Pratt is eighteen, pissed off, fresh out of jail and thrust into the arms of his stuffy uncle, Rupert Giles. Their history is unclear to Rupert’s co-worker Joyce and her daughter Buffy, but what is abundantly clear is everyone’s inability to communicate. The game of push me pull you can only last so long before someone finally gets close enough to make contact. And when they do… what secrets will they find?

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Author’s Note: This story is based on a prompt given to me by Nautibitz.

Nauti: ok, well, here it is. I’ve always loved rebel teen Spike living at Giles’ (ie Season 4). I’d like to read an AU where Giles isn’t his dad, because that’s lame, but a relative he has to stay with, and there’s that same animosity between them. Buffy somehow has to be there for some reason and he MUST be British, and be called Spike and… GO!

Based on that, I created this little story! I hope you like it. It’s lighthearted at first, and then it gets a bit more serious. But I won’t be killing anyone with drama and angst in this one, aside from teenage melodrama that is more humorous than actually sad. Unless you’re a teenager in which case I’d like to say that it’s really not that bad. Wait until you’re 25. 🙂


Chapter 1

A lot of people, when faced with the arrival of a distant relative they have not seen in years, go through a series of memories. They think of shared times and familiar places, things to speak of to fill in the empty spaces that so frequently plague a conversation involving a person with whom they have virtually nothing in common.

On this particular day, the memory of a sibling giving birth to her first child flashed through a middle-aged man’s mind. He remembered the joy he felt holding his nephew for the first time. How as a baby, he’d squeezed the man’s finger with his tiny little hand. Then the baby was five years old all of a sudden, scribbling inside the man’s most favorite and hard-to-find first editions with a marker. The man’s last memory, which he was focusing on very strongly and with much worry at the present, was of the young boy at their last Christmas in England together. When, at the ripe age of fourteen, he’d stolen his mother’s car and taken off for the entire weekend.

Unfortunately, this pattern of grasping at straws, common links and pleasantries, provided no aid for Rupert Giles when his nephew, Spike Pratt, stepped off of a British Airways plane that landed in Los Angeles, California. The boy had grown into a man, and Rupert was not quite sure what he’d signed up for when he agreed to let his nephew stay with him indefinitely. The first sight of Spike had Rupert doing a double take to be certain he was seeing correctly.

It appeared the boy had some unfortunate run-in with a clothing shredder, though it might have been for the purpose of fashion. Rupert could not tell. His hair, once a gorgeous mop of brown curls, was now bleached as white as a cloud and gathered up with some sort of adhesive to make very interesting points all over the top of his head. The look heightened his already fierce facial features, giving him a severe appearance that added more years to his life than he should have wanted at the age of eighteen. Those features hardened as he looked his uncle up and down, and he made a sort of piffle noise through his insolent lips.

“Uncle Rupert.”

“Hello, Sp—”

“I’m just going to say this straight out so there’s no confusion later on. One,” he said, listing off his requirements with his fingers, “I don’t want to live with you. I’m an adult, and you can’t tell me what to do, no matter what my mum said. Two, I drink, I smoke, and I don’t give fuck-all what you have to say about it. You don’t fuck with me, I won’t fuck with you and we’ll be square. Three, I don’t want to talk about why I was in jail. Four, you say one fucking word about the hair and I’ll kick you in the goolies, old man.”

Rupert inhaled slowly. He removed his bifocals which he kept in his front coat pocket for just such a distraction, ticked his wrist to the side to elongate one arm of his glasses, and slid them onto his face. That did not seem to buy him enough time for the proper way to respond. And so, he said, “If I understand correctly, amid so much profanity, mind, that you believe this to be some sort of a vacation?”

Spike smiled self-righteously, his Adam’s apple prominent when his head lurched backwards in his own delight.

“Call it what you like.” He shrugged, slung his backpack over his shoulder, and pulled out a cigarette.

“You cannot smoke here.”

“Oh, really? Are you sure?” he said sarcastically, tucking it behind his ear. “I know you can’t smoke in this airport. Not an idiot.”

But Rupert was not so sure that he wasn’t one.

They began walking towards the baggage claims. Well, to be fair, Rupert began following Spike who had turned on his heel and sauntered away.

“Perhaps you would like a tour of the city before we go home?” he was saying hopelessly to his nephew’s back.

“Ooh, could we?”

Rupert caught the sarcasm this time. “You know, I had forgotten just how charismatic you are, Spike. Tell me, was it your sweet smile that won the jury over or was it the lengthy report from that poor shop owner who is still recovering items from the fire?” He could, however, be just as biting when the situation called for it.

Spike scowled at his uncle over his shoulder. “Rule number three, you sod!”

Rupert smiled smugly. “So, a tour of the city, is it?”

He sighed, pursed his lips and nodded. “Yeah, whatever.”

“Excellent!”

* * *

There really was something to be said for a harpsichord and the Baroque compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach. Rupert adored listening to KUSC on the FM radio, tapping his fingers inoffensively on the steering wheel of his 1983 navy blue Volkswagen to the beat of Fantasia in C.

Spike, however, did not share the same pleasure.

“Turn this crap off!”

Rupert swatted his nephew’s hand as it neared the radio buttons, all of which were carefully programmed to his favorite stations.

“Ah, look!” He distracted him by pointing to the windshield. “Hollywood.”

Spike did, in fact, turn his head to see the famous white letters. Not one to lose sight of his anger so quickly, he slumped back in his seat, plopped his large combat boot on the glove compartment, and lit a cigarette without rolling down a window.

“Hooray for Hollywood,” Giles began to sing, bouncing his shoulders goofily.

Spike snorted an almost-laugh, covering it up with a long drag off his smoke.

“Don’t sing the whole bleeding song—oh, Christ, here he goes.”

“That screwy, ballyhooey Hollywood! Where any office boy or young mechanic can be a panic with just a good-looking pan!”

Spike groaned, hiding his eyes with the heels of his hands.

“You’re giving me cavities.”

“Well you liked the song when you were little,” Rupert said, his chin upturned.

“I also weed in nappies when I was little.”

“You sure that’s a habit that you’ve outgrown? I can buy those special sheets to put on the beds if you need them.”

“Funny.”

“I only want to help,” Rupert said with a saccharine smile. “Before we look at the rest of the sights, do you mind if we pop into the shop? Joyce telephoned me on my way to the airport, complaining of some crisis I need to help her avert.”

“Who’s Joyce? She your skirt of the month?” Spike waggled his eyebrows and made a very rude gesture with his tongue and fingers.

Rupert clicked the roof of his mouth in disapproval. “I do not, nor have I ever, had a skirt of the month, thank you. She is my business partner, and very much off the market.”

“She figure out you’re a homosexual?”

Rupert did not dignify that false statement with a remark. “Anyway,” he said, taking a careful turn around the corner towards the shop, “I know it would be a pointless request, but I would appreciate it if you behaved yourself just this once.”

“So, I can’t walk up to the bird and pop her in the face, is that what you’re saying?” Spike asked with his eyebrows almost up to his hairline in false innocence.

“You know what I mean. None of your rude comments. And no swearing!”

* * *

There was a parking garage across the street from Rupert’s store, and if he was lucky, it wouldn’t be packed at this time of day. He pulled inside the garage, fully expecting to park on the fifth level, only to yelp in triumph when a car, located exactly two spots away from the entrance, began pulling out to leave.

“You see that, Spike? That’s what we call Yhprum’s Law.” He smiled as he pulled into the spot. He turned towards his nephew, hoping to see that he’d caught onto his joke. “Murphy’s law, backwards.”

Spike gave him a deadpanned expression.

“Oh, never mind. Get out of the damn car.”

“No swearing,” Spike sang out cheekily.

Rupert closed his eyes as he closed the car door, only to open them at the sound of Spike’s laughter.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!” He snickered again, which Rupert thought impolite, and then Spike said, reading aloud the name of the store across the street, “Rupert’s Rarest Remarkables, Limited. That’s the stupidest name I’ve ever heard.”

Rupert sighed and started to walk across the street. He had thought of that name for months and was rather keen on the alliteration, considering the bulk of what he sold happened to be rare books of all kinds. “It is the greatest name. The Triple R is what the kids call it.”

“Kids. Right. Because I can see this place filling up with youth, biting their arms off to get their first edition copies of The Great Gatsby.”

“Spike,” Rupert said in astonishment, opening the front door to his pride and joy, “I didn’t realize you knew of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works.”

“Don’t,” he said, shrugging as he walked into the building. “Got a copy of it in your window there. Don’t you keep up with your inventory or does Joyce do all the work, you bad dog?”

Rupert did not appreciate the wink his nephew gave him.

“Rupert! Oh, thank God,” came the voice of the woman who shared all business duties, thank you very much. Joyce was flabbergasted about something, her hair doing that bouncy thing in the front when her bangs suffered the damage of her anxious fidgeting.

She stopped in her tracks for a moment, finally taking notice of the young man at his side, her eyes blinking, her mouth forming a silent question mark, and her shoulders rising to show her uncertainty. She looked at Rupert.

“Is this…the sweet young boy from England?” She forced a smile but he saw the lecture brimming in her eyes.

“Y-yes, I’d like you to meet my nephew who refuses to answer to his birth name, one that I helped pick out I’d like to add,” he said with a sideways glance to the boy. “Spike, this is Joyce, my partner.”

“Spike,” Joyce said. Her head was moving up and down, her smile as fake as her pleather shoes, and her hands were rubbing one another. “Your name is…Spike.”

“Pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” Spike said in an agreeable, well-mannered tone of voice that Rupert had never heard him use before. He swallowed the urge to scoff at the act. “I realize it takes some getting used to, but it is fitting, wouldn’t you agree?”

Rupert rolled his eyes.

“I suppose you are a little…Spikey,” she said, narrowing her eyes when they landed on his hair. “Anyway.” She shook her head, turning to Rupert. “Crisis?”

“Yes, what seems to be the problem?”

He walked with her to the register, watching her fuss with something in her purse that she kept beneath the counter, and she spoke to him, looking slightly embarrassed when her cheeks started to turn a pretty pink. “It’s my daughter. You know, Buffy?”

“Yes, I know.” He’d met her at least a hundred times and yet, Joyce seemed to think Rupert would forget her name, reminding him of it every time she was mentioned.

“Well… Oh, this is so silly.” She raised both hands in the air in submission and moved her head from side to side, whatever she’d been searching for in her purse instantly forgotten. “I swear, I didn’t raise her to be this way, but she was just suspended from school.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” His eyes traveled around the store when he noticed Spike had wandered off. That hair of his had come in handy, though, because he saw a puff of white bouncing between the aisles of collectible records and he figured that Spike couldn’t cause too much trouble there. Joyce’s panicked voice brought his attention back to her.

“I mean, really, those teachers just pick on her because she’s popular.”

“Mm, yes.” But Rupert wasn’t quite listening because he heard something rattling where the rat had scampered off to, and he called out, “Keep your hands to yourself!”

At Joyce’s raised eyebrow, Rupert said, “Very nice boy. He’s just…clumsy.”

“Uh huh. So, is it all right if she comes here with me while I work?”

“I’m sorry, what?” He should have been listening.

Joyce caught on to that quickly as well. She folded her arms across her chest and sighed.

“I can’t leave her at home all day while she’s suspended. She’ll just goof off and get into more trouble. So, I thought I could put her to work here. You know, just to clean up and organize things. Free labor!” She grinned hopefully.

“I thought we were putting Spike to use for that.”

“You didn’t tell me he had holes in his ears!” she whispered loudly, walking closer to start on that lecture he knew was coming.

“I was not informed of his jewelry choices, Joyce.”

“You want him talking to customers looking like that?”

“I’m sure we can find something for him to do in the back. You’re always complaining about the overstock being unorganized. He seems to be a strong boy,” he said, recalling the lad’s muscled arms, exposed from the razor he’d taken to the sleeves of his shirt. Why the boy ripped his clothing up if he planned on safety-pinning it back together made absolutely no sense to him. There was a flicker of distaste for his nephew’s many efforts at fashion, but Rupert quickly got back on the topic at hand.

“It shouldn’t be a problem for him to lift the heavier stuff in the back.”

Her jaw ticked. “This should be fun. My daughter and your nephew stuck doing menial labor together. I can already hear the screeching. You know how she hates anything…different.”

“He’s really a nice kid once you get to know him. Much more mature than he lets on.”

The kid in question started snickering, drawing their interest to him from the opposite end of the store. Once they saw what he was laughing at, Joyce huffed and Rupert looked at the ceiling.

“I see he’s found the fertility sculptures.”

“How very mature,” she said, tapping her modestly painted fingernails on her folded arm.

“You didn’t mention why Buffy was suspended,” he said, his long eyelashes fluttering as he smiled in victory.

“Point taken. And I’m not telling you. So, you’re all right with her coming here for a couple of days?”

“Yes, I suppose that will be fine.”

“Wonderful. Buffy!” Joyce shouted across the store, startling both Rupert and Spike with the volume of her voice. “Honey, you can come out now, Rupert said okay!”

A door in the back creaked open and a very disgruntled seventeen-year-old blonde girl wearing a black leotard, pink slippers, and a scowl emerged. She folded her arms just as her mother had so many times before when she would get angry with Rupert, save one hand that was wrapped around the stick of a red lollipop that she was currently sucking the daylights out of with her grimacing lips.

“Buffy,” Rupert said, smiling a little as he walked towards her. He kept one eye trained on the boy who had yet to roll his tongue back into his mouth from his gaping appraisal. “I heard the news and you’re more than welcome here.”

“Great.” She rolled her eyes, leaning all her weight in the doorway, and crossed one foot over the other, keeping her satin covered toes neatly pointed on the ground. “Sounds like a blast.”

He cleared his throat, always uncomfortable and unsure what to say to this child, and then said, “Spike, this is Buffy, Joyce’s daughter.”

Spike was already swaggering, putting on his predatory grin, leaning against the wall beside her and shamelessly looking at her décolletage. “Well, well. Aren’t you a cutie,” he said, as if his mother had raised him in a barn. Rupert knew for a fact that this was not true.

Buffy’s mouth opened, her eyes moved slightly in Spike’s direction, then they went up, then they went down, and then she didn’t really care to look at him any longer, her interest in her lollipop coming back with a vengeance.

Mom, some skeevy guy is trying to hit on me. Can I use my rape whistle?”

Joyce laughed in embarrassment, and Spike smirked at her, wisely backing up a few feet.

“So you’re a bitch then. Got it.” Spike ignored the gasp and accompanying glare that Buffy gave him, shoved a hand in his jeans pocket, pulled out his smokes and said, “I’ll be out front. Let me know when little bunny tutu gets over herself.”

He quickly barreled past the adults in the room on his way out. Rupert thought he’d seen a tiny quirk of a smile on his lips, though he didn’t have time to check amid the din of Buffy’s insults that she was currently screaming at Spike’s retreating back.

“He’s a smoker?” Joyce was asking him.

“I can’t believe you just let him say that to me!” Buffy said, staring Rupert down. He did not know how to deal with two angry women, so he picked at a loose thread on his coat.

“I hope he knows that he can’t just take smoke breaks whenever he likes once he starts working here.”

“Wait, he’s going to be working here?” Buffy’s chin jutted out in horror, her eyes wide and pissed, and Rupert wondered for a moment if raising a girl was much more difficult than raising a boy.

“You don’t have to talk to him, Buffy. You just have to be civil.”

“Oh my God, I’d sooner die than have to look at that jerkwad’s face every day. He was wearing three belts. And someone needs to tell him that eyeliner is for girls.”

“Be nice, Buffy,” Joyce scolded.

“Why can’t you just let me stay at the studio? I need to practice for the recital anyway.”

“Because I don’t want you catching bulimia or cocaine habits from those girls.”

“Mom,” she said, making it a two-syllable word.

“You don’t get to argue when you’ve been suspended! You’re coming here and that’s final.”

“I don’t want to be stuck here looking at all this stupid old crap!”

“Listen to me young lady,” Joyce said, her pointer finger high in the air.

As she continued to reprimand her daughter, Rupert came to a conclusion on his previous mental query. Girls were much more difficult than boys.

He turned towards the front door, almost laughing at the sight of his nephew who had lifted his shirt, pressed his nipple to the glass, made a face and flipped him the two-finger bird. Rupert sighed for the millionth time that day, slowly sitting down in a nearby chair, the noise from the arguing ladies beside him helping to drown out his own distress.

He was not looking forward to telling Spike of his new career in stocking collectibles.

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