Title: Of All That Is Sweet and Warm
Summary: Spike and Charlie have too much fun while Buffy is away.
Timeline: Post-Not Fade Away Fluffy Babyfic.
Author's Note: This is an accompanying piece to my earlier stories To Be Born Again and His Girls. The more poetic title felt right for you, Lauren (and this story, natch) - I hope you do like it! And also many thanks to ladyofthelog for her wonderful beta. *hugs*
“So what’ll it be, Gingersnap?” Spike asked, running his fingers through Charlie’s springy blonde curls. Her chubby arms hugged his leg just above the knee, squeezing him tight with the irresistible excitement of a precocious toddler about to get a treat. He lifted her until her tiny feet were resting atop his left boot before stepping forward to open the refrigerator, charming elf firmly in tow. “Grape or raspberry?”
“Ew, gwape is gwoss." Gazing up at him, Charlie tilted her head and stuck out her full lower lip in a perfect imitation of her mother's pout.
“Raspberry jam it is, then,” Spike pulled out the jar and grabbed the still-hot baking sheet full of sweet buns. Jam held in the crook of his elbow, knife in one hand, sheet full of sweet buns in the other, and his favorite girl holding on for dear life, he made his way towards the kitchen table. “High chair or big girl’s seat?”
“Hiiiiiigh chaiiiiiiiir!” Charlie trilled, releasing his leg to throw her arms up in the air in the time-honored ‘carry me, Daddy’ gesture.
“Here I thought you were a big girl now,” he teased, setting the jam and sweet buns on the table.
“Imma big girl!” she said with an emphatic nod. “But I sees better in my high chair.”
“Clever minx, you are. Vying for higher ground, eh?” Chuckling to himself, he caught her under her arms and lifted her, kicking legs and all, into her high chair. He pulled out the nearest chair and turned it around until the back touched the edge of the high chair's attached table. Slouching into the seat, arms crossed on the back of the chair, he leaned in to whisper, “Now, no telling your mum about the treats. ‘Cause--”
“’Cause it hurts Daddy’s feelings when Mommy calls him bad fluence,” she finished for him, nodding with the certain vigor of a well-trained co-conspirator who knew their secret promise by rote.
“That’a girl." Grinning, he twisted open the jam and dove in with the knife. He spread a large dollop of jam over the tops of the buns, ripped off a corner and handed it to Charlie, who grabbed the treat, sticky jam covering her palms, and stuffed it into her mouth. Her cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk’s, undulating with each attempt to chew her too big bite.
Spike watched with an expression of amused awe and parental concern. When she swallowed the last bit and licked her lips, his worries melted away into a affectionate grin. “Want some more, Charlie love?”
“More!” She grinned toothily, which was quite an accomplishment considering she was missing one of her front teeth. Her eager little hands danced in the air, reaching out for the next morsel. Spike handed her another piece, which she snatched from him only to pause with the treat touching her lips and question, “You not gonna have any?”
Her crestfallen expression, so dramatic a change from her joyful exuberance moments before, made Spike’s decision for him.
“’Course I am." He ripped off a piece of pastry and raised it to his lips. Gobbling it whole, he chewed his way through the jam and soft bread, swallowed, the gave her a knowing look. “Was just letting you taste test it first.”
Her face wavered between satisfaction and a put-upon frown, though her cherub’s features were too round and sweet to do the chagrined expression justice. As if Charlie were aware of this, and vastly preferred to be happy anyways, her grin won out, stretching wide and lighting up her green eyes with pure delight. “See? Yummy!”
Laughter bubbled up inside him at the delightful story on her face and the moral therein – to joy above all else, be true. He held out another jam-covered sweet bun, waiting for her to grab the bread. When her sticky fingers caught the edge, he refused to let go, instead saying with a booming voice, “One… two… three!” With a giggle (from her) and a snort (from him), they pulled apart the treat like a wishbone at Christmas.
They finished the remaining buns with a wide assortment of games – (“Can you catch this in your mouth if I toss it, Charlie love?” “Doesn’t this one look like a duck?”) – and teasing queries – (“Who should get the last bit? ‘Cause I’m awfully hungry,” he growled to drive the point home. “No, me! Me! I’m more hungrrr-y!” she countered) – until the baking sheet was licked clean. Literally.
Of course, the baking sheet was the only clean surface left in the kitchen.
“Sod it.” Spike eyed the jam spatters on the cabinets and smears on the countertops that dribbled over the edge and fell onto the floor. “Mum’s gonna have herself a hissy when she sees the mess we made.”
“I dinnit make no mess." Charlie crossed her arms in an obstinate posture that Spike recognized all too well.
“So that’s how it is, eh? You get the goods then you leave me hanging?” He mimed tying a rope around his neck and pulling it taut, his neck tilting to the side.
“Yep. Dat’s how it is.” She nodded and gave him an evil grin. With the red jam dribbling down her cheeks, all that was missing to complete the cherub’s evil visage was a pair of fangs.
Head still held aloft by the invisible rope, he shot her a sidelong measuring look. “That’s right evil of you, love. You know that?”
“Yep. I’m evil. Grrr!” Growling, she curled her fingers into jam-covered claws and swiped at his face.
“Oh ho! You are now, are you?” Standing, he lifted her from the high chair and stared her down the way an Alpha dog stares down an uppity pup.
Unimpressed with his show of dominance, she playfully grabbed him by the hair and yanked, forcing out a surprised yelp.
“Oi! No hair pulling!” He quickly set her down so his head was out of reach.
“I win! I win!” She danced around his legs in triumph. “I’m da biggestest bad dere ever was!”
Spike shook his head at the lingering tingle in his scalp, then let his vamp features come to the fore. “That right?” he growled through his fangs.
“Yep yep!” Charlie jumped up and down in a circle around him.
“Slowly I turn,” he rumbled, lowered his voice to a low menace as he raised his arms up to loom over Charlie’s tiny figure.
Squealing, Charlie ran out of the kitchen, her patent leather shoes banging on the floorboards.
“Step by step!” Spike’s voice boomed throughout the house. He prowled after her, turning towards the dining room even though he knew she’d scrambled under the living room couch. It was her favorite hiding spot, after all.
“Inch by inch!” he bellowed like he always did, holding back a grin when he heard her muffled squeal.
Leaving the dining room, he stepped into the living room, rumbling, “Slowly I turn,” as he walked past the couch where the tip of a black Mary Jane peeked out from under the dust cover. “Step by step,” he said with menace, turning back to stare at the couch. “Inch by inch,” he whispered, his voice quieting as he crouched down and reached for the couch’s dust cover. “Until I’ve got you!” he roared, hand diving under the couch to reach for Charlie.
She shrieked and scrambled out from under the other side, running towards the kitchen when she heard her mother call, “Hey, I’m home!”
“What’s everybody want for dinner – oomph!” Buffy reached down to steady Charlie who clutched at her dress, frowning at the sticky jam staining the floral fabric. Charlie grinned up at her, raspberry jam dribbling down her chin.
“Looks like someone’s been spoiling her appetite." Buffy grabbed a dishcloth and rubbed Charlie's chin clean.
Charlie growled in response, which sounded more like a bark, and bit the cloth just as Spike ran into the kitchen, growling through his fangs, lines of jam running from his mouth.
Buffy scowled. “Spike. Stop encouraging her to play Big Bad with you.”
He responded with a wounded, ‘woe is me’ expression, laying his hands on his chest. “What’d I do now?”
“God only knows,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes--which was a bad idea because she caught sight of a piece of raspberry pastry stuck to the ceiling. “Why is that"--she pointed up--“on my kitchen ceiling?”
Tilting his head to the side, he gazed up at the incriminating evidence. “Well, whaddya know? Looks like the pastry demon's struck again. That’s the third time this month. Best gather the troops for a round of research so we can slay that evil.”
Buffy widened her eyes and intensified her glare.
“Oh, come on now, Slayer! It’s not like you even know how to use this room.”
“I cook! I cook all the time.”
“You microwave. There’s a difference.”
Buffy huffed in affront, still a bit sensitive about her cooking abilities after the last failed holiday meal. The Christmas turkey had looked like a giant ball of charcoal. No one knew how it had tasted. No one had been brave enough to try.
“I like Mommy’s food!” Charlie added, squeezing Buffy's hand and shooting Spike a ‘stop being mean’ look.
“Aw, me too, Scruffin." Spike tweaked one of Charlie’s curls, then slid his arms around Buffy, who immediately tensed and leaned away from him.
“Give us a kiss, Slayer," he murmured, diving in to catch her lips for a quick peck before leaning back.
“You’re cleaning up this mess,” Buffy said in her oh-so-serious tone while licking raspberry jam off her lips. “And you’re cooking dinner for the next month.”
“That my punishment?”
“No," she informed him with a haughty raise of the brow. “Your punishment comes later.”
He chuckled. “Looking forward to it, love."
“Mommy, no! I made da mess. I gets a timeout for da mess." Charlie tugged on Buffy’s hand, her expression the image of contrition in miniature.
“Don’t worry, baby." Buffy rubbed her back. “Daddy likes the timeouts I give him.”
Charlie frowned. “Daddy’s weird."
“Why’s everybody ganging up on me?”
“Karma?” Buffy's eyes gleamed.
“Yeah, car mum." Charlie nodded her head against Buffy’s hip.
“All right, all right. I’m outnumbered. I get it. I’m your willing slave. Order me, abuse me, do what you will. So what do my girls want most in all the world?”
Buffy and Charlie shared a look before Buffy ordered, “Enchiladas,” with Charlie nodding along. “And quesadillas. And tacos.”
“And gwakmoles!” Charlie added.
“Your wish is my command." Spike gave a mock salute and started opening cupboards in his search for ingredients. Chuckling to himself, murmuring, “And don’t they know it?”
Hugging his knee, Charlie whispered, “Yah huh, Daddy, we knows.”