Title: I'd Kiss You, But I Just Washed My Hair


Author: Troll Princess


Feedback: I loves me some feedback. I'm at trollprincess@theslayer.net, if anyone feels like giving me a holler.


Spoilers: Up to and including "Wrecked." (But not the Addict!Willow storyline. Because, wha-huh?)


Summary: When Buffy goes to talk to Angel, both she and he reveal secrets the other may not be able to deal with. Set about a year or so in the future.


Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, Joss Whedon does. And Joss, if you need another writer for the show, I'll work for a discount at Borders and I don't entirely suck.


Author's note: You may have heard about the three-idea pile-up on Interstate 81. This is why it happened. :-)


********************
I'd Kiss You, But I Just Washed My Hair
by Troll Princess
********************


So I'm pretty sure I'm on something, potent, viscous and hazy like the fog the DeSoto wades through, a thickened mess I can barely see through. Yeah, I could have sworn this morning's orange juice tasted like Rohypnol.

It's the perfect setting for a bad idea. Me in a daze and the world in a fog (dense, just like me).

And I fly down the highway at whistling speeds, teasing the far end of the odometer with every press of the gas pedal (spike is going to kill me if i damage his baby, but at least it's not the motorcycle). The driver's side window lets in the concentrated scent of fresh summer rain, and the ensuing breeze flowing into the car sets my loose bangs, shower-dampened and undyed, to a playful swing in my line of vision.

Swish, swish, swish, swish.

The windshield wipers. My loosened bangs. The nervous, trembling beat of my heart.

Swish, swish, swish, swish.

My attention locks on the signs I pass, because if I don't dwell on an invisible someone thanking me for visiting Sunnydale or the twenty miles until Casa Negro or the second-best buffalo wings in California being sold at the Windsor Inn off Exit 54 , then I'll have to think of what happens when I stop driving.

When I park the car, open the door, get out. Now hiring -- FedEx drivers needed! $10.75 an hour to start!

When I walk into the Windsor Inn. Come to Langton April 21-27, and experience our fun-filled Old Home Week festival!

When I finally see him after so many years. If you keep using language like that, I'm going to keep you in traffic. Love, God.

And to no one's surprise (i have dibs on top of the list), I'm going to be sick.

Going to be?

I snort at that, mutter a "Yeah, that'd be something new," then swerve across two lanes so that I can speed off the exit. Beside me in the passenger seat, Dawn snaps something about having had enough near-death experiences for one lifetime. From the back seat, it's a tie for who'll quip first, Xander asking if I'm trying to go back in time while Spike (god, i love that voice) says that if I wanted him in the front seat, all I had to do was pull over.

I blink, and I'm alone again. Just little old me and the swish, swish, swish all around me.

The garish red neon of the Windsor Inn's front sign blinds me even through the dense fog, and I numbly pull over into the parking lot and takes the first space I find, a handicapped spot right out front. Screw the rules. Who needs a blue hang-on for the rear view when you're all drugged up, right? (stoned? clinically insane? what? there's got to be an explanation for me ... here ...)

So it starts with me getting out of the car, triple-checking to make sure I've got the car keys and locking the door even though I'm positive no one (with any sanity left) would want to steal a DeSoto with blackened windows and an exterior pockmarked with bullet holes and a brand-new ax slice just turning to rust. A subtle chill cuts through the duster-length sweater clinging to me, and I tie it shut as best I can around my waist before walking into the restaurant.

Welcome to the Windsor Inn. Try our award-winning buffalo wings!

I shouldn't be doing this.

It's all I can think about. One memory on a constant loop in my head. The last time we spoke, at levels that made "spoke" sound like an understatement. An awkward welcome. Important things about our lives I knew we just weren't telling one another. The click in my head at the precise moment when I realized our lives had simply diverged too far.

The satisfying wave of closure that doused me like a waterfall.

In the middle of the night, when I let myself be the scared little girl I haven't been in a long time, I used to cling to the hope that we'd end up together eventually (hey, romeo and juliet ended up together, right? in the same crypt, no less). That our love was eternal, forever, so binding and mystical in its origins that it'd transcend a thousand different versions of death.

And then I'd wake up.

Hope died that last night, peacefully in its sleep instead of with the mournful wail I'd been expecting.

And now I'm back (glutton for punishment? ha! bow before me, for i am their queen!).

I shove the front door open, duck inside and wince at the sudden heavy weight of a hundred clashing voices assaulting my ears. The restaurant teems with life, frazzled mothers and fathers rustling mischievious children into the game room, a raucous crowd of after-hours friends laughing over the punchline of an unknown joke, a joyful refrain of "Happy Birthday" rising from the other side of the restaurant.

Ladies and gentlemen, please put all seats and tray tables ... You get the idea.

"Miss? Can I help you?"

I start at the hostess's sticky-sweet voice, turn to face the rounded, bubbly woman clutching a small stack of laminated menus in her arms. Her toothy grin widens at the sight of me, which isn't anything new for me these days. "Looking to join another party, miss?"

Party. Angel. I loved the man for so long, and still, those two words? Totally antithetical in my head.

Tucking my bangs behind my ears, I offer up a weak smile. "Uh, yeah, I think so," I say. "I'm looking for a guy named Angel. Have you --"

"Oh!" She brightens, and I'm almost positive she's about to flubber her way around the restaurant. "Such a sweet young man. Only been here a few hours and the female staff's already in love with him. A couple of the male staff as well, but he doesn't appear to be the type. Thank heavens for our side," she says, and she giggles warmly as she pats my arm (okay, everybody, you can stop looking, i found gidget).

"Well, come on, then, miss." She gestures for me to follow her as she heads towards the corner of the restaurant where the birthday song finally dies away. I reluctantly follow, because the woman finishing off the song is making dogs in three counties howl in agony and I'm not in the right state of mind or body if she turns out to be demonic.

It's wall-to-wall customers and wait staff between me and him, and I can only think to follow as close as possible to the prancing bird (dear god, look what he's done to my vocabulary). I catch a glimpse of bright yellow paisley and duck between a pair of teenage girls dressed in cheerleader outfit to reach the --

Oh.

Oh, God.

You know how I said I couldn't do this?

I was right. I couldn't do this. Rewind. I can't do this.

Because it was so much easier when it was just Angel to look forward to. When all I had to worry about was the good, old-fashioned tongue-lashing I could expect out of the big lug for getting myself in this situation.

But now ... God, now ... now, I want Spike.

I need Spike's cool hand in mine as my gaze fixes on Angel, the brilliant smile (you could light las vegas with that wattage, and that's something new out of the guy) fading away at the sight of me. I need Spike's eternal presence at my side when I spot the child in his arms, a giggling baby boy with Angel's lips and cheekbones who's currently entranced with his misshapen party hat. And I wish I could hear Spike's whispered, accented assurances in my ear as I take in Cordelia, standing before them with her hands resting on the back of the child.

I can't take my eyes off Cordelia's swollen stomach.

Angel can't take his eyes off my swollen stomach.

And Cordelia ... well, Cordelia can't stop staring at her fingernails. It's her only defense (i should be so lucky).

********************



Jump ahead ten minutes, to Cordelia making a hasty exit and heading over to the jukebox, leaning against it as she pumps quarters into it. If you take a peek over to the other side of the restaurant, there's me and Angel, avoiding each other's gazes as he settles his now tired baby against his shoulder and I drum my fingertips on the tabletop.

The only things that separate us are the table, the half-eaten birthday cake, sloppy baby-sized fistfuls pockmarking its surface, and about twelve months or so worth of quality, homegrown angst.

If nothing else, we always did the angst right.

"So."

"So."

Yeah. Good at angst. Abysmal in the conversational department.

I grope for a topic ... the weather, the addition of color into his wardrobe, the fact that I actually heard the first honest-to-God laughter I've ever heard out of him only a few minutes ago as Cordelia fumbled her way out of the situation. Anything that isn't prophesy-related, baby-related, or both. "You know --"

He tenses at the sound of my voice, and the movement startles his baby. "Buffy --"

"I never really got this song."

Talk about catching a guy off-guard. For a split second, I'm positive he doesn't even know what I'm getting at. Maybe I'm speaking in metaphors and the song is our whole relationship.

Sorry, bucko, I'm not up for anything deeper than the totally bloody obvious tonight.

I point skyward, and hum along for a second before the confusion unclouds from his dark eyes. "Okay, so he was tired of his girlfriend, and he decides to cheat on her. And he answers this personal ad, and it's the girlfriend cheating on him, and instead of a massive blowout, they go on vacation and have pina coladas?"

His free hand strokes his son's back as he watches me like a ticking time bomb. "Something like that, yeah."

Hey, buddy. Still with the staring there. I could have lobsters crawling out of my ears. "Oh," I say, nodding as if that made perfect sense. Then I cock my head (see? next i'll be watching passions ... voluntarily) and smile as I study the rugrat with his head resting against Angel's pecs (i understand, kid, it's a comfy place to be).

"What's his name?" I ask.

He glances down at the little bugger, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised from the force of the emotion in his eyes if he snapped and killed everyone in the joint. "Sean. It means God's precious gift."

"Cute kid. Where'd you get him, out of a cereal box?"

Angel chuckles softly, and says, "That's funny, actually. See, there was this Aramaic scroll being guarded by a Pelagro demon with a nasty head cold, and Cordy --" One look at the expression on my face, and he goes for a new world record in the pale department. "-- doesn't think this story's all that funny, either."

"And that has to do with the rugrat ... how again?"

"Well, that story's more referring to the ..." He waves his hand in the air distractedly, the word he's looking for having escaped him.

I can't resist cocking an eyebrow when I say, "Massive growth where Cordelia's waist used to be?" Okay, it's an overstatement. She's not that pregnant. But still, on Cordy, if I were anyone else, it'd be like, "You can exhale now."

Angel winces as he glances over at Cordelia, now settling herself into a Pepsi at the bar. "That's one way to put it," he says softly.

All right, inquiring minds here. "How did it happen?"

His eyes narrow, a playful twinkle in their depths. "Same way it happened to you?"

Ooo, sarcasm out of Angel. What's Cordy been doing, beating a sense of humor into him? (hey, i was a horny teenager ... i didn't want him for his sense of humor, i wanted him because the only way he could have been more forbidden was if he'd been a drummer)

"Spike knocked her up? Wow. You must be pissed." I frown and glare in Cordy's direction. "Come to think of it, I'm getting a little antsy myself."

Somewhere in the world, there's a word for the amount of stunned that Angel is. It's probably in Swahili or Greek or something, because I'm drawing blanks.

His mouth opens, then closes. Opens, then closes. Either he's doing his trout impression, or I just shocked him into silence. "Spike," he finally manages to say.

Well, it's a start.

"The one and only," I say, my hand resting on the wriggling lump under my sweater. Kidlet's restless. I don't blame her.

Angel knows about this. After the last time ... well, it was pretty damn obvious my mind was on someone else. And when Spike's name had come up, suffice it to say that it'd been ugly all over. Angel left so I could have a normal life (in retrospect, she who hangs out in graveyards with a normal guy ... yeah, let's drag some innocent schmoe into my life), and I hook up with the most abnormal guy in Sunnydale.

I smile as innocently as possible and pat my tummy. "She's due any second now. Hope you brought rubber gloves."

"She?" he asks.

I absently pat the small pocket of my duster-length sweater. "If you want, you can see the sonogram. It's kinda blobby, but if you put the picture up to your ear, you can hear 'Rebel Yell'."

He stares at me curiously, silently, not getting the joke (or maybe he's getting it and he's just not laughing like he normally does when he's home). His gaze rests on my stomach for a split second, and a thousand emotions fight for control of his face (nine-hundred and ninety-nine more than usual).

Fear, jealousy and disgust win, place, and show.

I figured it out once. If you want to get technical, Angel is my daughter's great-grandfather. Thanksgivings are going to suck from now on. And don't even get me started on Christmas.

He clears his throat nervously before he nods to my stomach and asks, "How did Spike manage --"

"To knock me up? Well, aside from trying really hard, big honking prophecy. The right time, the right place, the right celestial configuration and interdimensional magical power surge. You know, the usual."

Angel starts at my casual attitude. "Oh," he says.

That's okay, pal. I don't get it, either. Willow even used pie charts, and I'm still all with the 'wha-huh?'.

I stare at him across the table, waiting for more of a reaction from him. He wants to ask if it's really Spike's kid. I can tell in the awkward way he avoids my gaze, on the subtle way he glances at my stomach, in the common sense way of everyone else in my life feeling free enough to ask.

Never mind that makes me a big giant slut, right?

You know, they have these ooky new sonograms that show babies in 3-D. Spikelette's got this not-quite-cleft chin, not to mention all the squirming she did when we watched "Sid and Nancy." Unless I screwed Johnny Rotten and missed it, paternity tests are redundant.

"You?"

He shrugs, tilts his head towards the baby in his arms. "I had sex with Darla. She got pregnant."

Um.

Headache. Having one.

"Okay, there are too many 'how's in my head," I say, narrowing my eyes at him as I reach up and rub at the base of my neck. I can't help it. Dead guy, dead girl ... you'd think they'd make dead babies. Which would set up a run of dead baby jokes, and amazingly enough, they're not half as funny as you'd think they'd be when you're half the size of Jaws.

But that's not the half of it. I mean, I knew Darla got brought back. From Darla to Dru to Spike to me ... I feel like I've got the weirdest extended circle of friends ever sometimes. But why the hell would Angel ... and Darla ...

I think I'm going to stick with the worst game of Truth or Dare ever. That all right with everyone?

"You had sex with Darla," I say, emphasizing all the nouns. A lot.

Angel doesn't answer, simply stares me down as if he'd rather not say it again.

And now it's time for a word problem.

You are me. You were dead for something like five months. You come back to life and a month and a half later, you go visit the old ball and chain to fill him in on ye olde resurrection. Now, if the baby blue sugar-coated monstrosity on the table in front of me is any indication, a month or so after that, Darla popped out this puppy.

Count backwards, and Angel had sex with Darla (the evil version that orders from domino's so that she can eat the delivery guy) a couple of months before I croaked.

I know there's a punchline in there somewhere. But I'll be damned if I know where the hell it is.

He's got the common sense to look guilty. That's nice. I glance over at Cordy and study her stomach. Four ... maybe five months. Apparently, he'd been guilty long enough at that point.

Not my problem, though. Angel hasn't been my problem for a long time. And I shouldn't have been surprised by the little whippersnapper, really, when I'm in such a delicate condition (yeah, 'cause anyone who could kill seven vampires in one night is so unbelievably fragile). It's just ...

Angel. Darla. Sex. There is no possible way that mental image could not be gross and disturbing.

"So let me get this straight," I say, taking this nice and slow so that I can savor the smell of guilt in the early to mid-evening. "I'm Miss Big Bad Judgment Call for sleeping with Spike, but you bump uglies with Darla -- literally -- and out of jail free with you."

"It's not like that," he blurts out.

I believe the name for the expression on my face is, "Please shut up. It's getting deep in here, and I can't wash bullshit out of this sweater."

He takes a deep, unneeded breath, and gives himself a few silent, sweet moments to take in the innocent, ignorant humans nearby. A slim, perky blond waitress deftly supporting a huge tray of steaming hot food as she shimmies past our table. The identical twin toddlers at the next table, two giggling little girls flinging peas at one another. Cordelia, currently faking entracement with the rerun of "Friends" on the big-screen television taking up a corner of the room.

Finally, Angel's grip on his son tightens, and he asks without looking at me, "Buffy, do you know what drove me into Darla's arms?"

I'm guessing abject stupidity and a lover's quarrel with Wesley are out of the running. "The convertible?" I ask, figuring better to crack wise than crack mentally and emotionally.

"Pain. Fear. Desperation."

Wow, such a typical Angel answer. He should patent 'em and sell 'em to Anne Rice. "Gee, and they all fit behind the wheel?" I ask, and it immediately hits me how much of a Spikey answer that is (hi, my name is buffy, and i'm a spikeaholic).

"Would you stop with the driving jokes?" he snaps, and he doesn't have to speak up for me to know that he's sorry for it. He looks to me for forgiveness, and like always, I just nod and let him go on (damn the consequences, right?).

A snort comes from the baby as it turns its roly-poly head and tucks its face into the curve of Angel's neck, and Angel's hand absently circles on his back as he struggles to find the words he wants. "I ... fell. I guess that's the best way to put it. Darla was human, and I failed her. I couldn't keep Drusilla from turning her, and she was turned back into a vampire. So I got away from everything. The agency, the gang ... all of it."

"A fallen Angel," I say before I can stop myself. He flinches at that, but I simply smile. "Cute."

His ensuing crestfallen expression shows it's anything but. "I locked Dru and Darla in a room full of lawyers and let them eat their way out."

Oh.

Jeez.

Lawyers, huh?

Deer in headlights. Deer in scope sights. Just your general cadre of startled deer expressions. That's what I'm having right now.

Hesitantly, I smooth over the front of my sweater, glance down at the slight tremble in my hands and say, "Okay, not so cute." I take a deep breath (that's it, steel yourself for making excuses for him, it's what you're good at) and dive right in. "Angel --"

"You know," he blurts out, "I sat down and figured it out a few months ago. Those lawyers ... they'd done some unforgivable things. But two waiters showed up with the catering. Four of the lawyers brought their wives. Two, their husbands." His voice drops to a harsh, guilt-ridden whisper. "I orphaned seven children that night."

Really?

That's it?

I think about the night Glory was going to sacrifice Dawn, high school graduation, the Initiative, and the phrase "We do more before 8 a.m. than you do all day" pops into my head.

Of course, most of the deaths that came out of those days were not the responsibility of the management. But still, carnage.

"What do you want me to say to that?" I ask.

He thinks on it a second, then says, "I don't know."

Oh, really? 'Cause I'm sensing major pity party issues with him, and frankly, it's pissing me off just a tad. Chalk it up to hormones when I add, "Do you want me you say that it's okay that you let Dru and Darla play Fun with Innards with a bunch of lawyers, because later on Darla gave you enough of a happy to give you your own personal Boo over there?"

"Well --"

Oh, no, he doesn't. I'm on a roll here. "And don't even get me started on how that happened. I mean, what was it? Demon sperm banks? In which case, ewww."

His lips part, an answer probably sitting there on the tip of his tongue screaming for escape, but I hold up my hands in mock surrender before he can say a word. "You know what? None of my business. Right?"

It takes him a few seconds, probably out of just as much shock as acceptance, and he finally says, "Right. And she's --"

He doesn't even have to clarify the 'she'. Hell, even Spikelette knows what he's getting at, as she promptly rolls over and kicks me one right in the kidney (that's mommy's girl). "So none of yours. Trust me," I say.

And then we go silent, and the wavering hum of conversation around us sets my baby to rolling playfully and his to a light, thrumming snore. I can't help staring at him and remembering what it'd been like in high school, having hazy, fuzzy mental images of him carrying a baby with my turned-up nose and his heavy brows, of us walking along the beach under the golden summer sunlight.

All I can do is look at him and see yesterday's daydream.

"Remember that one time, when I kissed you and I said I wanted to die?" I ask, and he reluctantly nods. "Did you feel the same way back then?"

"Oh, yeah," he says softly, the words leaving on a slow exhale.

"It's kinda sad, isn't it?" I say, drumming my fingertips on the tabletop. "In retrospect. How we thought that was like the height of romance."

My hand absently strokes my belly as I speak. Usually at this time of night, Spike's curled up beside me in bed, his hand splayed over mine, smirking to hide the grimace he always makes after a eleven o'clock run to the store for my grossest craving.

"How we thought croaking together was some big neon sign that we loved one another. You know what I mean?"

Angel doesn't answer ... just stares off into space as he adjusts his son in his arms. And I suddenly wonder what Cordelia's most disgusting craving is, and whether Mr. "I Know How to Wash Bile Out of Leather" Sr. ever made faces as he tossed aside his car keys and watched her chow down on something like pickles and chocolate sauce.

"We must have read too much Shakespeare," he says with a nervous smile.

I shake my head, sitting up a bit in my chair. "Actually, I think that's how I broke my copy of Titanic," I say, and we share an anxious laugh. I can't resist a wicked, Spike-inspired grin as I cock my head in the direction of the bathrooms and crack, "Well, at least tonight won't end like it did the last time, huh?"

"Yeah," he says, "I don't think we could have sex this time. The guy's bathroom has clown pictures on the wall now. It's kind of creepy, actually."

I shrug as I scowl down at my obtrusive stomach. "Yeah. And me with all the awkward elephant walking."

Our gazes connect, and my mind drifts back to that last time we saw each other -- the fumbled, uneasy kisses in the bathroom, the manditory caresses, the drawn-out moans and gasps we felt we had to let loose with and the shock that had faded away after Angel had told me not to worry about the curse.

Huh. Now I see why not.

"Besides, that last time wasn't exactly a contender for pure happiness moment of the millenium, huh?" I ask.

Angel smiles just a little, and I notice his dark-eyed gaze drifting in Cordy's direction before he catches himself. 'S alright, though. If Spike were here, I'd be looking for him, too.

His free hand strokes his son's hair as he says, "Hard to have pure happiness when you know what it'll bring."

If your baby smiles up at you for the first time with a gummy grin, you might slaughter all of your friends. Somewhere in the middle of his garbled baby yammerings he says something that sounds remotely like 'Dada', and you might kill the first person you see. He takes his first steps, and you might eat him.

I'll bet, I think, and I say it out loud without meaning to.

I immediately look to him for forgiveness (old habits die hard because they watch too many bruce willis movies), but catch his gaze drifting to my stomach, on the soft swell beneath my sweater and tank, on my hands resting on the gentle curve, and it suddenly hits me. Why he's spent every moment since he saw the little bundt cake in the oven staring at my stomach with barely concealed jealousy.

Because Spike has something he doesn't.

No fear.

No fear of the future. Of turning evil. Of waking up for a midnight snack and eating the kids.

And I can't help it. I just burst out in giggles and don't stop for a good five minutes.

********************


Jump ahead a half hour or so, and there I am, standing in the golden funnel of light spilling from the spotlight on the roof of the Windsor Inn. And I don't look half as bad as I thought I would -- no dark circles under my eyes, no streaks in my makeup, no dusty Angel all over me.

Yeah, there's baby drool on my shoulder and a small handful of chocolate cake ground into my stretch pants. But I'll have to get used to that eventually, right?

My first thought is, run to the car. Hop in. Do eighty to Sunnydale. Reschedule my nightly cuddlefest for Spike for a few hours later than normal.

My second thought is, slow down, girl. 'S not like he's going anywhere.

I can't resist smiling at that, and I glance skyward, taking in the cool off-white glow of the moon. Don't mind me with the American Tail moment. Just give me a sec. Talk about soaps or something.

Okay, better.

A flash of movement out of the corner of my eye makes me turn my head toward the dormer window not far from me. In between dancing couples and laughing waitresses, I catch a glimpse of the two of them, Cordelia in Angel's arms with the little boy cradled between them, and it hits me.

I never told him the whole story.

About how I came back wrong. About how that much unnaturalness in my system tweaked the wrong button. About how one frantic grope session gone bad (in all the right ways) in a crumbling house started something destined since the beginning of time, something leading to a romantic night that fulfilled a prophecy nearly forgotten by the Watchers until the rabbit died. A lot.

I had this dream not long ago, a vision Willow swears had to be a Slayer dream. A scrawny punked-out girl with soft brown curls rippling to her waist and a twinkling pair of hazel eyes, a stake spinning in her fingers as she dusts vamps left and right. A drop-dead gorgeous guy at her side, fighting just as intensely as his chocolate-brown eyes keep a protective watch on the girl.

She was wearing Spike's duster. His hair stuck straight up. Talk about your neon signs.

My daughter. His son. No wonder we weren't meant to be together.

Our kids were. Are. Will be. Oh, whatever.

Just thinking about it makes me drag one trembling hand over my stomach (and i won't even start in on that little boy in angel's arms having blue eyes ... i won't ...).

The twisted bramble of thoughts in my head distracts me from the heavy sound of booted footsteps crunching over gravel, and he's right behind me when I finally spin around, a stake at the ready.

It instantly slips from my fingers and clatters against the ground. Smooth move, Buffy. Staking the father of your child ... I'm pretty sure that's a capital offense to the karma police.

"What are you doing here?" I ask.

Spike steps out of the shadows, his bleached blond curls rumpled and damp, a limp paper bag dangling from one hand. His clear blue eyes bore through the darkness until I'm sure even Mommy's little parasite can feel that tingle that washes over me. "Whelp gave me a lift, love. Thought you could use a shoulder for cryin' on a bit closer to eye level."

We both smile at that, because last week Spike told me to cut out the height jokes and now suddenly it's onward and upward with the non-Teutonic nature of my bed bunny.

"Nope," I say. "No more tears. No less tears, either, come to think of it."

His head cocks the least little bit, that sexy tilt that turns my knees into jelly, and he holds up the paper bag. "Brought you the goods," he says, dangling it in front of me.

And you people wonder why I ever jumped him in the first place.

I snatch the bag from mid-air, and eye him curiously before I open it up. "Whatchamacallits?"

"Oh, yeah, baby."

I peek into the bag, my smile flipping onto high beam as his arm slips around my shoulders, and I'm right in the middle of being led back to the DeSoto when I realize what's missing and glance up at him.

"Where's my fancy ketchup packets?"

He groans and rolls his eyes, but it's more in the vein of something he should have remembered than something grosser than gross. "Spikelette's got wonky tastes, you notice that?" Glare on my part. Awkward frowning on his. "Right. Stupid question."

And that's when he bends towards me, the gentle press of his lips against my hair, the reassuring weight of his arm across my shoulder, the tender brush of a grateful kiss in the curve of my neck. I snuggle into his embrace, close my eyes as the warmth of his duster and the cool weight of his body seep through my sweater, and smile in spite of myself.

Funny ... how the evil thing that goes bump in the night is now a double entendre in my house.

God, my life's weird.