Title: What's Hair Got to Do With It?

Author: Sandy S.

Email: ssoennin@juno.com

URL: http://darkprophecies.net/eternaldevotion (You're always welcome to come visit my S/B site!)

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Everything belongs to Joss and UPN.

Spoilers: Everything up to the first three episodes of season 7.

Summary: Follow-up to "Soul Fashion." Also related to the challenge from Laura at Yummy Sushi Pajamas to write a story about fashion in the Buffy- verse. Again, this is not quite a fluffy story. Buffy POV. Buffy washes Spike's hair, and then, they get ready for the evening.

What's Hair Got to Do With It?

Testing the water with my fingertips, I note that the running fluid has just the right amount of warmth. Honestly, I don't know why I'm attempting to make this the right temperature. As a vampire who's not sensitive to temperature, he won't be bothered either way. Bringing the hose to the other side of the sink, I let the water flow over the soft but dirty curls. I focus on the hair, moving my fingers through the strands, avoiding his face. . . his stare. I needn't have bothered because soon I realize that he's keeping his eyes closed.

"You have nice hair," I comment before thinking about what I'm saying. "Why do you keep it full of gel all the time? The curls are nice."

"Really? No one says that." His voice is low and full of wonder that I rarely hear.

My heart feels a little better, knowing that I gave him a compliment. . . not that one kind word made up for. . . . The other day, I actually read somewhere that to make up for negative messages a person receives, he or she has to receive twice as many positive messages. Spike will need many, but I don't know how I can give them all. . . or if I even want to try.



"Where'd the water go?" He raises his eyebrows at me.

The fluid is pouring just beyond his hair. I move the stream back in place. "Oh. Sorry."

He promptly closes his eyes again. . . like an obedient little boy. He's so different that I don't know what to make of him. Half the time, he's talking gibberish, and the other half of the time, he's there but quite childlike. I wonder vaguely if this is what Angel was like when he received his soul.

Then, I remember that I have a captive subject here. Apparently, his memory is intact even if he is off his rocker some of the time. "Spike. I have a question."

His blue eyes are lucid when he re-opens them briefly. "Sure."

"What was Angel like when he got his soul?" I hold my breath as soon as I ask the question, preparing myself for any possible reaction from the unpredictable vampire.

Spike tenses and is silent for several minutes. Not sure what to say next, I begin lathering up the shampoo and scrubbing his scalp. He relaxes slowly under my touch.

After what feels like an eternity, I ask, "How come we never did this when. . . you know? It would have been nice."

Again, I receive no response from the unmoving vampire. Finally, he speaks, "Angel. He got really quiet. . . withdrew from all of us. . . even Darla. He never liked to talk about it."

"Oh." A twinge of disappointment flew through me.

"It was disconcerting because with no soul, he was. . . could be quite cruel with us. . . moody. So, when he withdrew, we didn't quite know what to do with him. He became unpredictable in his predictability. . . like a, like a snake. But, he wasn't. . . wasn't like me."

"Oh," I repeat.

I turn the water back on to rinse his hair. As if transfixed, I watch the suds wash away from the curls, taking the dirt with them. A crazy thought appeared in my head out of nowhere. . . . One of my gifts is forgiveness. Can I forgive Spike? I don't believe I've ever thought of doing that.

"So, he wasn't. . ."

Even out of his mind, Spike is able to tell the truth. "He wasn't insane. He didn't hear the voices."

I barely miss a beat. "Ready for conditioning?" I pick up the bottle and squirt a generous amount in my palm.

He wrinkles his nose. "Conditioning? Conditioner makes things soft, shiny. It's not for people like me."

I smirk. "Too bad."

* * *

Perched on a stool across from me, Spike is watching me apply makeup as I get ready for the meeting with the gang. (Xander's condition for having Spike present at the meeting was that he get cleaned up. . . not that he volunteered to help or anything.) Thankfully, I'm sitting at the at the kitchen breakfast bar, eating a sandwich at the same time. . . not in the bathroom or my bedroom. I've learned that if I eat something before the meeting, I eat fewer of the doughnuts that Xander inevitably brings.


I swallow the bite of food and set aside the makeup mirror and pressed powder compact to take a sip of lemonade. "Yeah?"

"Why do you wear makeup?"

If Spike of old had asked me that, I would have punched him. I wince at that realization. "I don't know."

"Sure you do. Everyone does what they do for a reason. . . like politicians and monkeys." His face is earnest, and his words make some sort of sense.

"Yeah." I think for a moment. "Well, I guess I want to look good. I mean, I want to look fresh and clean."

"Why? You look pretty without makeup." He leans onto the counter, and I'm just a little afraid of him coming closer.

I offer a small smile. "Thanks. But I still think I won't leave home without it. I mean, people would run from scary Buffy without makeup. Even the vampires would be scared."

"Why does it matter what they think?" He reaches out to steal a carrot from my plate and pops the mini-vegetable in his mouth. Chewing slowly, something crosses his face, something akin to pain. "Is it okay I took a carrot?"

Screwing the wand into the mascara, I laugh at his need for me to tell him what he can and cannot do. Has he always been this way? "Yes, silly. There's a whole bag in the fridge."

"Carrots are good for bunnies but not me." He stands, glancing toward the refrigerator. "Got any blood?"

"Nope. Have some lemonade, though."

Slouching back down, he asks, "Why does it matter what they think?"

"You aren't going to leave this one alone, are you?"

He offers up a Spike-esque grin. "Do I ever?"

I shake my head. "Well, I guess I care what other people think of me. I mean, most people judge themselves by getting feedback from those around them, and I guess I do the same. I guess people were nicer to me when I wore makeup in junior high, so I kept wearing it." I shrug.

"Yeah," he murmurs, eyes downcast. "I get feedback, too. From lots of people. Some of them are dead."

My heart skips a beat, and I bite my lip, glancing away. All the horrible names I called him come flooding back in a mad rush. "I know." Thoughts race through my head as I search for something else to say. "Sometimes, you have to know when to listen to the feedback and when to ignore it. It's a tricky thing like a balance, but you can do it."

Spike inhales my words like oxygen. "Buffy?"

"Yes?" I am unrolling my lip-gloss to apply a layer to my lips, but at the last second, I decide to shove the stick in my pocket. I'll put it on later.

He touches his hair, which is bleached solid but also soft and clean and curling against his forehead. I resist the impulse to reach out and stroke the locks. "Will you fix my hair for me? I mean, I've always just gelled it, and I thought. . . since you said. . . I would try it different."

"Okay." I grab my brush and round the kitchen island where he sits up straight in wait. I frown. Has he forgotten how short I am? "Spike, slouch."

He slouches, and I brush his hair. An almost imperceptible but familiar purr rises out of his chest at my touch. Part of me wants to drop the brush and leave the house immediately. The other part of me wants me to hug him. I choose in between and continue to brush his hair so the curls loosen into soft waves that lay off his forehead.

"Buffy? How do you know which feedback to listen to?"

The knot in my stomach had eased but now reasserts itself. "Hmmm. I don't know."

"I mean, there's all these people. . . these things telling me that I'm bad. And I understand why. I mean, wouldn't you be mad at the lion who mauled your child even if the lion was sorry?"

"I-I guess so." I set the brush aside. But isn't there a time when a person has to put aside the things of the past and accept him or herself in the moment? Isn't there a time when a person has to forgive him or herself to move on? I can't say these things to Spike. I'm not the person who should be telling him these things. Hell, I'm not the person to be telling myself these things.

Unable to think straight anymore, I grab my stakes, keys, and small purse, slamming my dishes in the sink. Spike observes me without a word.

"Come on. Let's go. The gang's all waiting. Dawn's already over there." Exiting out the back door with Spike following, I turn the lock and make certain it's secure.

"Where are we going?"

"Xander's," I reply nonchalantly, knowing he won't like the answer.

"Oh, bugger," comes his standard response, for which I'm actually quite grateful.

* * *

Pressing the doorbell, I straighten my shoulders and prepare for the rush of people. . . the rush of complaints because I brought Spike even though they know he might be coming. For his part, Spike stays far back against the wall opposite the door, appearing nonchalant.

To my surprise, only Xander is in the doorway after the door swings open. "Hey, Buff."

"Hey. Where is everyone?" I make an attempt to peer into the apartment.

Suddenly, Xander frowns. "What did you bring the evil dead here for? *Insane* evil dead, on top of that, actually."

After the discussion I had with Spike at the house, anger flashes white-hot at my friend's words. "Xander, there'll be no name-calling tonight. And we need Spike's help."

Xander meets my eyes with his dark brown ones because even though my decision is a small one, it's definitely significant. Something triggers in his expression because he acquiesces, "All right. Come on, tall, dark, and. . . well, not so tall and not so dark." He gestures at Spike to join us in the apartment.

Spike strides quietly forward and crosses the threshold. "Thanks."

Xander nods stiffly but without sarcasm. "No problem. Welcome to my abode. Be she ever so humble. Dawn and Willow headed to the store for some snacks." He glances at Spike. "Didn't know you were coming for sure, or I'd have sent them after some blood, too."

Spike sinks uneasily onto the sofa. "It's okay."

Xander wanders toward the kitchen. "Beer? Spike, Buffy?"

We both decline the alcohol, and I settle across from Spike on the recliner.

Xander fishes a can out of the freezer and returns. "Like them ice cold," he explains at our raised eyebrows. "So, Spike, those the new clothes Buffy bought for you?"

Spike's wearing the grey shirt and black jeans from our shopping expedition the other evening. "Yep."

Crickets can be heard in the next several seconds of awkward silence. Spike is saying as little as possible because he doesn't want to sound too insane. I'm not sure quite what to say to these two men who have made a hobby. . . no, a profession. . . out of hating one another, and Xander just doesn't want to stick his foot in his mouth, which is no small feat in and of itself.

Then, the doorbell rings again. Xander hops up a little too eagerly. "I really have to give you people keys."

Willow, Dawn,. . . and Anya appear in the doorway with their arms laden with grocery bags.

"Hey, guys!" Willow is her usual effervescent self as she deposits her burden onto the kitchen table.

Dawn is just as enthusiastic. "Hi, Buffy! Hello, Spike." She takes out the plastic cups and begins filling them with ice and pouring diet soda.

Anya hesitates as Xander stares her down. "Hello, Xander. Would you please let me in before I drop these?"

"What are you doing here, Anya?"

She smiles and pushes past him. "Helping."

Xander looks uncertain. "Okay."

Anya bustles to the table, placing her bags near Willow's. Beginning to help Willow empty bags, she pulls two bags of chips out of the bag. Xander comes up behind her and tries to open one of the bags. She slaps his hand.

"Hands off, Harris," she scolds. "Wait for everyone else first. You're the host. You're supposed to do that."

Willow grins at Xander and hands him a plate. "Dig in."

He grants her a return smile. "Thanks."

Anya calls to Spike and I like we are much further away than the living room. "You guys going to eat? Spike, what's with your hair? It's different!"

Spike rises and reluctantly accepts a plate from Anya. I'm right on Spike's tail and also receive a plate.

"And Buffy!" Anya cocks her head to study me. "Something's different." She squints her eyes at me and scans over my body, finally settling on my face. "I got it. No lip-gloss."

I start to reach for the makeup in my pocket but catch Spike scrutinizing me closely, so I take the diet soda he hands me instead.

The end.