Getting to Know You
2. Getting To Know You
Spike wasn't sure whether to be annoyed or grateful that neither the Data-bot nor the ship's systems recognized his existence. He'd gotten used to the lack of a reflection over the decades, but this was something else. Hell, even the digital cameras back home could recognize him, so it didn't make sense that this lot couldn't.
At the moment, he and Buffy were parked on one of the cartons in the room where they'd landed. He was enjoying the chaos created by Data's inability to see or hear him, but he could tell Buffy was getting bored. And when Buffy got bored —
"Geez. Is this all they do around here? Don't they have planets to blow up or something?" She was starting to fidget.
"It's all about discovering strange new lifeforms, pet, and you gotta admit, I'm stranger'n most," he said as he started looking for his cigarettes out of habit. He muttered, "Bugger it," when he remembered they'd taken his smokes away.
"To be a lifeform, you have to be alive. You're more of a deathform. And a smelly one at that. When was the last time you took a bath?"
"You're one to talk. Got bits of twigs and dirt in your hair, and there's a dead bug on your back," he said, offended by her comments about his personal hygiene.
"Ew! Gross! Get it off," she said a bit shrilly as she turned her back to him.
"Christ! You get covered in demon gore on a daily basis and one dead bug makes you squeamish? Some Slayer you are," he said, picking the bug off and showing it to her.
She shuddered, complete with sound effects, then said, "Get rid of it. Yuck."
Spike flicked it at Data, who stood a few feet away watching Buffy speak to thin air. He frowned when the bug hit him on the nose, but caught it before it dropped. Buffy was amused when the android put the bug in front of the tricorder instead of complaining about Spike's behavior.
She said, "Data? You're not even gonna demand an apology from Spike?"
He looked up from the tricorder and said, "What purpose would such a demand serve? Aside from the fact that I am incapable of experiencing offense, I am also incapable of hearing Spike make an apology."
"I could always make him write, 'I will not taunt Data,' on a blackboard a thousand times. If you have blackboards here. Do you? Ooh! Maybe you use whiteboards instead. Either way, he ends up with a serious case of writer's cramp for flicking that dead bug at you," she said, quite happy with her solution.
"Oi!" It wasn't serious, though. It had been too long since he'd seen this side of Buffy, and he was enjoying it.
Data's expression wasn't precisely puzzled, but it was clear that he was having a bit of difficulty in processing Buffy's comments. He started to speak once or twice, but eventually decided to review the conversation later. Perhaps he would ask Geordi for his input. For the moment, he decided on the safer course of, "Punishment is unnecessary. I would, however, appreciate it if you could tell me about Spike. I am particularly interested as to which species he belongs. It may help me in resetting both my and the ship's sensors."
He watched as Buffy turned her head, presumably to look at Spike, and have a non-verbal communication. Had he been capable of experiencing frustration, he would have. Non-verbal communication was of particular interest to him these days, and he took every opportunity to watch it. He felt that with sufficient observation and practice, he might be able to interpret it one day.
After a few minutes she shrugged then turned back to Data and said, "You won't believe me."
It was not the answer he expected. "Why do you say that?"
"'Cause most people don't believe in myths even when they bite them on the ass," she said, her lips twitching when Data involuntarily turned to look at his own haunches. She was enjoying this conversation entirely too much. Data's confirmation of her humanity aside, maybe Spike was kind of right when he said she came back wrong.
Data cocked his head slightly and asked, "Is Spike a myth? And has he bitten me on my — ass?"
"That was mean, Slayer. You shouldn't ought to have a battle of the wits with an unarmed person," he said in a low voice. Data might not be able to hear him, but the others certainly could.
She elbowed Spike in the ribs and said to Data, "No. It was just an expression. He hasn't bitten you. He wouldn't. You're not his cup of blood."
He said nothing, so she continued, "Spike's a vampire."
Three hours later, Spike was roundly cursing Buffy for her complete lack of tact. They'd been interviewed separately and together, both by the half-human counselor (and what he wouldn't give for a taste of her, just to see how different she was from a full human) and by the wanker with the beard. Looking at Buffy, he demanded, "You couldn't have kept it to yourself?"
He was pacing back in forth in Sickbay, wearing an utterly stupid-looking blue coverall. They'd taken away his jeans, shirts and leather duster for some kind of testing, and he wasn't pleased with what they'd given him to wear. The only things holding him in check were the dirty looks both Worf and Buffy were shooting at him. He had no doubt the Klingon would cheerfully dismember him if he stepped too far out of line.
"They already knew something was up. It was easier just to tell them straight out," she said, shrugging off his concerns. "Anyway, it makes it easier to explain your liquid red diet."
"Notice you weren't makin' an effort to explain how you could make the Klingon look a fool," he said snidely as he looked at Worf. Spike had already picked up on his interest in Buffy, and he'd be damned if he'd put up with competition from something that wasn't even real.
"I did not
look a fool," Worf said in a half-growl. "I was defeated in honest combat by a superior warrior. There is nothing more honorable."
"Oh. So you weren't ready to meet your maker just 'cause a little-bitty woman beat the snot out of you? Can't imagine the boys on the homeworld would be too understandin' about a human
gettin' the best of you." He watched as the comments hit their mark, amused by just how fast the Klingon's heart rate had gone up.
Too bad the wanker had to interfere, right when it was getting interesting. "Worf! Stand down," Riker said as he glared at Spike. To Buffy, he said, "Can't you keep him under control?"
She looked at him as she patted herself down and said, "Gee. Fresh out of stakes. Otherwise, I'd be happy to take care of him."
"There will be no jokin' about stakes," Spike said, appalled at the direction his teasing had taken.
"Then leave Woof alone," she said.
"Whatever," she told Worf, adding, "Anyway, just ignore him. It's what the rest of us do." She'd mangled his name on purpose, hoping he would lose interest in her. It was bad enough she was sleeping with a vampire again, but at least he'd started out as human. She didn't want to think about what Giles would do if she started dating completely out of her species.
The thought of Giles reminded her of just how much she'd left behind when they fell through the rabbit hole. Aside from her job, she was scheduled to go in for a parent-teacher conference the next week. Dawn was doing better, but the conference could go either way. She really didn't want a surprise visit from Social Services while she was stuck in one of Xander's fantasies. In a voice only Spike could hear, she said, "Crap."Damn. What the hell happened to fluffy Buffy?
He stepped over to her and caressed her cheek with the back of his hand, asking, "What's wrong, pet?"
Her mouth dropped open in disbelief, and she pushed his hand away. "What's wrong
?" To emphasize the error of his question, she smacked him on the side of his head. It wasn't enough to send him across the room, but he thought he might end up with a headache.
"What the hell'd you do that for?" He held his hand up to his head and said, "All I did was ask a question! About you!"
"It was a stupid question," she answered, her voice rising in volume. "You claim you love me, but you can't even figure out why I might be just a little
upset right now?"
"Oh please. Like you haven't dreamed of leaving Sunnyhell and the rest behind. I can just see you pinin' away for that crap job."
"That crap job lets me pay the bills my little sister — you do remember Dawn, don't you? — anyway, that crap job lets me pay the bills she generates just by her need to eat. And wear clothes. And have a place to sleep at night. So yeah, I'm kind of upset about that. But really? I'm more upset about the fact that while I'm here, Dawn's there," she said.
At some point during her tirade, Buffy had hopped off the diagnostic bed and stood toe to toe with Spike, poking him in the chest with each point. He wasn't backing off, but the poking was starting to get painful, since she was hitting the same spot every time. And she was loud enough to make the wanker nervous. Spike tried to calm her down.
"C'mon, Slayer. Don't make the boys with their toys nervous," he said, taking a quick glance at Picard to see how close he was to tossing them in jail. Or the brig. Whatever the hell they called it.
"What difference does it make? It's not like any of this is real," she said with a sour look around her.
"Was real enough when you were beatin' up the Klingon."
"I don't care. I want to go home," she said, hating the whine in her voice. When did I become such a cry-baby? Oh yeah. Right around the time I dug myself out of my grave.
"Right. Like you're all that anxious to see Red, Demon Girl and Dough Boy," he said, one eyebrow raised.
"Xander isn't that
big," she said, frowning.
"Scuse me? The whelp could feed a flock of fledges without even passin' out, he's got so big. What's Anya tryin' to do? Get him so fat he can't run before the weddin'?" He measured his words and tone carefully. He wanted to wind her up enough to keep her from slipping back into depression, but not so much that she started looking for a piece of wood to shove through his heart.
"You are such a pig! You have absolutely no —"
"ENOUGH!" Picard pulled them apart and said, "I'm sick and tired of your constant bickering." He turned Spike roughly and pointed to a bed, saying, "Spike. Sit. Be quiet. Not another word."
Buffy smirked and started to add something, but Picard turned on her and said, "Don't. Whatever you were about to say, don't. Sit. Be quiet. The next person to say just one word will land in the brig."
Buffy and Spike, in unison, said, "But —"
"That's the word."