TITLE: "How To Bend, How to Sway" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis - mc@verticalcrawl.com
SITE: http://verticalcrawl.com/fic
FEEDBACK: Oh, alright.
DISTRIB: My site, or just ask.
SPOILERS: none
RATING: R for language.
PAIRING: OFC/OMC, implied Spike/Buffy
SUMMARY: About learning later in life to forgive quarreling parents. Somewhat influenced by Ani Difranco's "Angry Anymore", which I've had stuck in my head for two days now.

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James stood there, her butt against the kitchen counter, staring incredulously at her boyfriend. She crossed her arms over her chest.

"I can't believe you just said that," she let out, frozen into place with disbelief.

Robbie was worked up by now, pacing the length of the linoleum nervously. Nervously because it was always risky to anger James Summers. The girl had a good arm. But dammit, she made him so angry. "Want me to say it again?" Sometime in the heat of the argument, his voice had gone up an octave.

James' blue eyes went wide. She pointed a threatening finger at him. "Don't you DARE."

He smirked - he knew that infuriated her - and stood before her, at a safe distance. His whole stance screamed defiance. "Yeah? YOU'RE JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER."

Her mouth hung open in shock and she took a threatening step forward, fists and jaw clenched. If looks could kill. She let out a frustrated cry and gestured helplessly at him. "ARGH! If I were just like my mother, I'd be kicking your ass all the way to Prince-Albert right now, pal!"

He snickered listlessly at her newfound knowledge of BC geography. By now they were circling each other like caged tigers, trapped in the confine of the narrow kitchen of their small apartment. They didn't want to look at each other, but turning their backs on one another indicated the absence of real threat in their argument.

James threw him a dirty look over her shoulder. She felt the sweat pour down her collarbones to slither down between her breasts under the hem of her tank top. Vancouver rarely got this hot. James hated hot days, with a passion uncommon to California natives. She knew the weather was partly to blame for her temper. That, and Robbie was being a jackass.

He swung her around by the elbow, and they faced each other, fuming. Her hands went to her hips and he pulled at the front of his shirt, letting cooler air in. "ALL I'm saying is that you can't keep doing that! You have to mind your own fucking BUSINESS!" He gestured while he spoke, and she ducked back to avoid the flailing hands.

"Yeah? Well you just happen to BE my fucking business, Rob! I CARE." She fought the insane - and inappropriate - urge to strip, right there and then. Might've also felt good peeling her skin off, that felt hot too. Might've peeled off Rob's too while she was at it - but that was just out of spite. She smiled a nasty little smile at that.

"What are you smirking at."

She opened her mouth to answer frankly, then caught herself, paused, and just went for his throat, hands hovering around it in a mock stranglehold. "I just HATE you so much." She turned around in a huff and exited the kitchen.

Rod stood there alone for a moment, blowing a black strand out of his eyes. Bitch.

He went after her, finding her climbing through the open window to the fire escape that doubled as their balcony. He knew she had to be really mad to go out in the sun, and on black metal to top it off. From where he stood in the cluttered living room, all he could see was the curve of her hip dipping into the baggy khaki cut-offs, and a nicely shaped leg tucked into a worn Birkenstock. She turned around and looked in and at him, then straightened again and rested both hands on the scalding railing in front of her. She had to yell to be heard over the traffic three stories down.

"You make it really hard to want to be with you, Rob, you know that?"

"You're not exactly a day at the park either, princess," he retorted, and she knew full well that he was right.

She considered that, suddenly feeling too weak to fight. "So basically, we deserve each other."

Rob walked to the window and squinted at the bright sun as he looked up at her. "I think that's it."

He looked at him, then at the sky, then back at him. Her face didn't show a hint of tenderness or amusement. But she didn't seem angry anymore either. "You shoulda left my mother out of this, you know."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"Now my *father*..."

Rob grinned at that and they exchanged a knowing glance. She cracked a smile. He poked the back of her leg. "I still think you're more like her than like him."

"Yeah, well, you didn't know him."

"Have you heard from him lately?" He threaded carefully; James rarely wanted to approach the subject of her father. The aftermath of a fight on a hot day hardly seemed like the appropriate time. But she'd brought it up - he'd take his chances.

James turned around and leaned against the railing, looking in at him. "Yeah. He's in Paris."

"How about your mother?"

She looked down, briefly. "You know where my mother is."

Yeah, he did. She never seemed to go anywhere. "I meant... has she heard from him."

She looked up at him, and her eyes were sad. "I don't know."

Robbie nodded, and James climbed back in. She walked past him and he followed her into their bedroom. The rage had dissipated. She stripped off her tank and rummaged through their dresser for a fresh one. She observed Rob carefully as she did, and he stood still under her scrutiny, wondering what was going through her mind.

She slipped the new tank over her head and down her chest. She reached for her hair and twisted it up into a messy bun held up by a stray pencil. She was still peering at him.

"My parents could never live together because they fought all the time," she stated.

Again Rob nodded. He knew this. She nodded back and went back to the kitchen, where she retrieved two beers from the fridge and handed him one. She hopped on the counter next to the sink. He did the same, but on the table. Eight feet of stifling air hung between them.

She took a swig of her beer then put the cold bottle against her neck. "My dad tells me they actually did love one another, but couldn't stand each other."

Rob tried, but couldn't imagine not being able to stand her. "It won't happen to us, James." It occured to him that that's what this might be about.

"You don't know that."

"No I don't. But I can tell you that so far, I can stand you just fine. Sometimes I even enjoy your company," he smirked.

She made a face at him and flipped him off good-naturedly. "I just hate knowing my parents had a good reason to fight. And I hate feeling those feelings I get when I fight with you. Because let me tell you, I've imagined doing very nasty things to you."

He grinned. "See? Right there. You're like your father."

She smiled, but stayed serious. "I hate feeling those feelings because I know that if they ever get to the point where I can't stand you anymore, I'll walk away, and I won't even regret it. And maybe someone, some kid of ours will feel like shit for it."

"James..."

"And I'm not mad at my parents, because I HAVE felt those emotions they talk about, and they're right, that's fucking scary stuff. So I'm making a point out of staying with you no matter what, 'kay?"

He smiled. "Okay."

"Even if I hate your breathing guts at some point. Just to prove history wrong."

He got up and walked to her, slipping between her thighs. "Got it." He fingered the pendant at her throat, something her father had sent her from wherever he had been a couple years ago. Germany, maybe.

She regarded him intently. "I mean it, Rob. You piss me off, I'll still be right here. Pissing YOU off right back."

"Understood."

She grinned and knocked back another mouthful of cool ale. "Good."

He circled her waist with his arms. "Ever wish your mother had made the same promise to your father?"

She snorted. "Heck no. Neither would be alive to tell the tale."



END