Bashful Beginnings by lovesperoxide

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She'd done so many, she'd started to develop a rhythm.

It was very methodical. First, shoulder to shoulder, then the sleeves. A fold in half, and in half again.

Spike was mesmerized.

And Buffy, she was just folding the laundry. His, to be exact.

He took in the way she ran her fingers across the black cotton and pressed it against her chest as she made the tidy folds. After all they'd been through together, all of their history. And this was where they had arrived; Buffy folding his clothes.

He cleared his throat and she turned to him with a smile.

"Can I help?"

"Nope, all done!" She picked up the stack of clothing and presented it to him with a flourish. "Here you go! Care of the Summers Laundromat, please come again!"

"Thanks, Slayer," he chuckled bashfully.

Their fingers brushed as he took the pile from her and she gave him a classic Buffy smile. "No problem."

He turned away uncertainly, cursing himself for his sudden school-boy embarrassment. Buffy, meanwhile, glanced to a package beside her. She didn’t know what had possessed her at the time, but after all he’d been through down in that cave she’d wanted to do something for him. Something which would make his eyes sparkle with life like they used to.

"Spike, wait! One more thing." She presented him with the neat bundle. "I-I found this for you; I thought you might like it back. I know it was your favourite."

"Oh, Slayer." He smiled on a sigh as he fingered the familiar red shirt. "You didn't have to. Thank you."

She looked at him, eyes wide and unblinking. Almost vulnerable. "Buffy."

He’d been around the all-business-no-play Slayer for so long that it took him a while to understand what she was saying, what she was showing him. That this was just the girl under it all, just the girl. Just Buffy. He didn’t realise just how much he’d missed her, and for a moment he swore his heart thudded erratically in his chest.

"Buffy. Thank you."

She’d never seen him look so young and boyish.

"You're welcome."

He’d never seen her look so shy.

Her breath hitched when he took an awkward step forward and touched his cheek against hers, giving her a chaste kiss. Buffy felt her heart swell, her skin tingling where they’d come into contact. She felt her entire body flush bright red.

"I'll cover patrol for tonight, pet. Let you get some rest." He gave her that handsome half-smile.

She felt his breath flow across her skin and her eyelids fluttered.

"I'll come with you. You shouldn’t go out al”I mean, none of us should go out alone; especially now." Her blunder made her feel as though her cheeks were burning, but she didn’t want him going out alone.

And she wanted his company. She needed it.

He regarded her carefully and did that heart-stopping head tilt, looking at her through his eyelashes. "I'd like that."

~

Wandering through the dark streets, Spike realized that perhaps this was how one would feel on a first date. Was that was this was? A date? He knew now that this wasn’t the Buffy who’d cringe and push him away. The feeling was enough for him to want to reach for the small, delicate hand which occasionally brushed his as they walked. But he didn’t need to, because when he convinced himself to do just so, he felt her little finger entwine with his.

Fin~


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