Prompt: Posing as a couple
Summary: Giles needs someone who can accompany Buffy into a demon bar in LA. Turns out they do a pretty good job of posing as a couple.
The Blindest of Dates
"You want me to do what? With who?" Buffy's voice rose to a shriek.
"Shouldn't that be 'with what?' Buffster?" Xander gave the glowering vampire a sneer.
Buffy sighed and stepped between Xander and Spike. "Leave him alone, Xander." She turned her attention back to Giles. "Explain to me again why I should sneak into this place with Spike, instead of with my boyfriend? My usually heavily armed boyfriend?"
Giles sighed and rubbed his forehead. "We're are not seeking to attract attention at this time. Nor are we planning to disrupt the normal activities. You are simply meeting an informant who only feels comfortable in this particular demon bar. Spike will be a much more believable escort." He looked away from Buffy and mumbled, "I have it on good authority that it is a safe place for you to go. It has some sort of wards that prevent violence from breaking out inside the establishment."
"Good authority? Whose good authority? It's LA, Giles. Who do you know in— Oh no, you didn't! You called Angel without telling me about it?"
"You were not around to ask," he said stiffly. "I believe you had informed me that you 'deserved a night out with your boyfriend' and that I wasn't to bother you unless the world was ending."
"I think having to pretend I'm on a date with Spike is pretty world-endy," she muttered, well aware that she'd lost her right to protest too loudly.
"Relax, Slayer," Spike said from where he was slouched in the chair they'd shared so cozily only a few weeks ago. "We'll just pretend the witch did another spell, and no one will suspect a thing."
She sent him a murderous glare. "We will pretend we're on a blind date that isn't going well," she said in a tone that left no room for argument. "You'll be my escort, not my... my... anything else." She turned her back on his smirking face and demanded, "When do we have to do this?"
"He will be expecting you tomorrow evening – anytime after ten, so you'll be able to leave as soon as Spike doesn't have to worry about sunlight ending the 'date' prematurely."
"My car's protected," Spike said. "We can leave whenever the Slayer wants to."
"The Slayer doesn't want to leave... ever," Buffy said, then heaved a sigh. "Fine. What the hell does a girl wear to a demon bar in Los Angeles?"
"Just try to look pretty, Slayer. Nobody's going to notice what you're wearing after that."
Spike flowed to his feet and walked to the door, leaving Buffy to stare after him wondering if she'd just heard a compliment to her looks, or a slam at her fashion sense. She settled for muttering, "Stupid vampire," and sat down to get more information from Giles about the man she was supposed to meet in LA.
Buffy stared into her closet and moaned. Her mother stuck her head in the bedroom, her frown furrowed.
"What's wrong, honey?"
Buffy kicked at a stray shoe. "I don't know what to wear to this place. I'm supposed to look like I'm Spike's date, for God's sake. I don't do 'skank'." She kicked the shoe again.
"Buffy, Spike's an attractive man – in his own somewhat... different... way. Just dress the way you would to go out with him if he wasnÕt a... what he is." Joyce smiled her encouragement and continued down the hall.
"He's an attractive vampire/!" Buffy yelled. "And his last girlfriend was a lunatic ho who wore nightgowns all the time!"
Ignoring the laughter she could hear drifting behind Joyce as she went downstairs, Buffy went back to peering into her closet for something that said, "I'm only with the vampire because it's part of my job."
By the time Spike had burst into the kitchen, smoking blanket over his head, Buffy was putting the final touches on her make-up. She'd gone with a knee-length black skirt that was loose enough for kicking if it became necessary, boots with enough heel to make her taller, but not so high that she couldn't run in them, and a red blouse that fit like a tight tee-shirt. Forgoing jewelry, figuring Spike would probably wear enough for both of them, she outlined her eyes, layered on the mascara, and applied a bright red lipstick. She stood up, gave herself a critical once-over and fluffed her hair before grabbing a jacket and purse and going down to wait for her "date".
Her surprise at finding Spike in the kitchen talking quietly with her mother was only exceeding by her shock at his appearance. Although wearing his normal black boots and jeans, he had on a deep red dress shirt over his black tee, and was holding a black sport coat over his shoulder. Buffy stared at him, speechless, while her mother smiled into her teacup and watched the equally speechless vampire take in Buffy's outfit.
The silence dragged on. When neither Spike nor Buffy seeming to be able to stop staring at the other, Joyce finally broke the ice. "Well, don't you both look wonderful... and color coordinated," she said cheerfully. "Probably time to get going isn't it? If you want to get to LA in time to enjoy the evening."
Snapped back to reality, Buffy said, "We're not going there to have fun, Mom. This is strictly business."
"Of course it is. I know that, Buffy." Joyce gave Spike a smile as she followed them to the door. "That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the night out, does it?"
At a loss for a response, Buffy just waved her hand and said, "Don't wait up. We'll probably go straight to Giles' when we get back."
She ducked under Spike's arm as he held the door for her, muttering, "Thanks," as she did so, but when he started around to the carÕs passenger side to open that door for her, she slid to a stop.
"Spike, don't! This is not a date. Stop acting like it is."
"Just playing my part," he said, his voice flat. "Sorry. Won't happen again, Slayer."
Putting aside the uncomfortable thought that she might have just hurt Spike's feelings, Buffy nodded and got into the car. She fully expected to find it full of trash, beer bottles and cigarette butts – and when she peered into the back, she did in fact see much of that. However, the wide front seat was clean and smelled of lemons, the floor mats were clean and the dash wasn't even dusty.
"Did you..." She stopped, not sure of what she wanted to ask. Spike backed out of the driveway and headed for the highway out of town. He waited, but when she didn't continue he finally asked, "Did I what?"
"Did you... Does the car always look like this?" She swept her hand around the front seat area. "For some reason, I always pictured it looking more like... that." She pointed to the rear.
"Yes and no. And yes."
"Yes, my car usually is well kept and clean. How do you think I could keep something this old running if I didn't take good care of her?" He slid his eyes sideways. "And no, it hasn't looked like this since I came back to Sunnyhell. After Dru left me, I was drunk most of the time and I pretty much threw my bottles wherever I wanted to. I neglected my baby pretty badly for a while." He patted the dashboard in apology.
"Oh." Buffy sat quietly for a minute. "And yes, what?"
"You said, 'yes and no and yes'," she explained.
He gave a soft snort and shook his head. "Thought you were gonna ask if I'd cleaned it up for you," he admitted.
"Oh. I was, but then I... You did? For me?"
"Knew you wouldn't want to spend all that time sitting in a puddle of stale beer and tears," he said, trying for a grin. "Figured I'd best spiffy things up before our 'date'."
"It's not a date," she said automatically. "And... thank you."
"You're welcome, pet," he said, reaching for the radio. "Fancy some music for the trip?"
The trip to LA went quickly, with much arguing about which radio stations they were going listen to and much laughter as Spike imitated Xander and Giles for her. They arrived in plenty of time for Spike to pull into a small parking lot and suggest they have dinner "at my friends' restaurant" before hitting the club.
"Here?" Buffy stared at the brick wall in front of them and the unimpressive door set under a tattered awning.
"Best Italian restaurant in Southern California," Spike said with authority. He got out of the car and started to walk around, then stopped himself and waited for Buffy to open her own door and get out. She flushed, embarrassed at having made him so self-conscious about something that was apparently second nature to him. Unsure of how to fix it, she just got out and nodded at him.
"Okay. It doesn't look like much to me, but... "
"Things aren't always what they seem, pet," he said mildly, putting his hand on the small of her back and steering her to the door which opened before they reached it.
"Spike! It's so good to see you! Where have you been? I heard you were in South America." A plump, middle-aged woman with a thick Italian accent and beautiful eyes threw her arms around Spike, hugging him with what seemed to be genuine affection. Buffy's mouth gaped as she watched as one after another of the family members come up and greeted Spike as if he were a long-lost brother. The older woman soon turned to Buffy.
"Oh, que bella! Welcome to our ristorante."
"Thank you," Buffy stammered, completely at sea.
She was rescued from having to say more by Spike's hand on her back again, steering her ahead of him as they followed one of the men into a large dining room full of well-dressed and some not-so-well-dressed patrons. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and enjoying what Buffy's nose was telling her must be incredible meals. She was so busy taking in her surroundings that she didn't even notice that Spike had pulled her chair out for her until he was gently pushing her in to the table.
She glanced up at him in surprise, but he frowned and shook his head when she started to speak.
"I was just going to say 'thank you'," she muttered.
"Oh. Alright then. Was afraid you might embarrass me in front of my friends by scolding me for having manners," he said with a trace of bitterness. Buffy flinched.
"Spike... about that... I'm... I'm sorry, okay? I just wasn't expecting you to... and I don't want...." She blew out an exasperated breath. "We do need to act like a couple, or at least like we're on a date. I know that. I'll try to be a better date, okay?"
"Okay." His soft smile was one she hadn't seen since the spell, and she found herself smiling back warmly, ignoring the little voice in her head that was saying he was evil and dangerous, and shouldn't be able to smile like that.
They were almost finished with dinner – lasagna for Buffy, some spicy dish that she hadn't recognized for Spike – when she thought to ask him why he was so friendly with a human family.
He cocked his head at her and stared intently as if trying to see through her eyes and into her mind. Whatever he saw there made him shake his head. "I'll tell you later, Slayer. They're just good friends and good people. That's all you need to know."
There was a short, but loud argument when Spike went to pay the bill, but he eventually prevailed and left a fifty-dollar bill on the table. At Buffy's raised eyebrows he just shrugged. "Poker winnings," he said as they got up to leave.
It was only a short drive from there to the meeting place, a demon/human bar called Caritas. In spite of Spike's assurance that he could feel the magic that made violence unlikely, if not impossible, Buffy patted her shoulder bag and its concealed stake. They were greeted just inside the door by a large green demon who swooped down upon them with delight.
"Oh my! And who are you two gorgeous creatures?" He sniffed and frowned. Lowering his voice, he said, "A vampire and a slayer. Can't say that's something I've seen very often..."
Spike draped one arm around Buffy's shoulders, squeezing a warning when he felt her stiffen in protest. "We're not your average vampire and slayer," he said, holding out his right hand. Name's Spike, aka William the Bloody. And this is Buffy."
The demon's face drained from bright green to a light lime as he stared at them.
"William the— You're the one who... And this is Buffy? Angel's Buffy?"
Spike's snarl was genuine and Buffy had to take up the acting slack quickly.
"Now don't be like that, Spike," she cooed, pinching him on his back. She left her arm there in a loose hug that could become a death grip if it seemed necessary. She beamed at the demon. "He wasn't snarling at you," she assured him. "It's what Spike does every time he hears Angel's name. Kinda a knee-jerk reaction," she continued. "Emphasis on 'jerk'."
The demon recovered quickly. "No problem, handsome. You just caught me by surprise, that's all. Let's begin again." He took Spike's still outstretched hand and shook it vigorously. "I'm Lorne, the Host here at Caritas. Let me show you to a table and...."
"Actually," Buffy interrupted, her eyes searching the room, "we're here to meet somebody. Somebody human, and tweedy... "
"Ah, I know just who you mean," Lorne said. "Here you go." He led them to a booth far away from the stage. Seated there was a middle-aged man holding a manila envelope. "George, I'd like you to meet... um... William and his... Buffy."
The man glanced up at them, nodding his head at Buffy and narrowing his eyes at her escort.
"Is the vampire your bodyguard or your date?" he asked bluntly, dismissing Spike with a sniff.
"Whichever she needs," Spike said before Buffy could reply. He went into game face, annoyed when the man showed no fear, just shrugged and turned his attention back to Buffy.
"Have a seat Miss. Summers," he said. "Let's get this over with, shall we?"
Somewhat reluctantly, Buffy slid into the booth opposite the strange man. Spike sat down beside her, one leg outside the booth in case he needed to move quickly. At Buffy's nudge, he dropped back into his human mien and smirked up at the nervous Host.
"What's a vamp have to do to get a drink around here?" he asked. "I'd like a whiskey, and my girl here will have a Diet Coke."
"Right away," Lorne said, gesturing to a waitress. "I'll just leave you to your conversation... I'm pleased to meet you, Buffy. And you, Spike," he added hastily. He walked away muttering to himself about frienemies and strange vampire relationships.
While they waited for their drinks, George introduced himself as a former watcher who was now a free-lance magician and problem solver. He held up the envelope, waiting until the drinks had been set down before explaining what was in it.
"I picked this up, totally by accident, after doing a small favor for a friend. He was being harassed by the military..." He paused when Buffy startled and Spike growled. "Ah," he said. "Perhaps you know of this group? They call themselves the Initiative and they are targeting vampires and demons."
"We've met," Spike said flatly, only Buffy's hand on his thigh preventing him from going back into game face. The feel of her warm hand patting him reassuringly was too distracting for him to work up a proper response to the reminder.
Buffy left her hand on Spike's leg, refusing to admit that she liked the feel of the hard muscle under her hand and telling herself she was only keeping it there to maintain control over the volatile vampire. Spike stretched one arm across the back of the seat, allowing his hand to dangle just above Buffy's shoulder. If his fingers grazed her arm occasionally, she tried to act like a girlfriend and accept the light caress without comment.
George handed Buffy the envelope. "In their haste to leave my friend's presence, one of them dropped this envelope, which seems to contain a great deal of information about their operation in Sunnydale, as well as some knowledge of you and your friends." He waited while Buffy absorbed his message.
"Well... yeah... I mean, I'm... I know one of the guys and I've met his friends, and...." She looked at Spike. "Did you tell them about me?" She felt his body stiffen under her hand and she squeezed his leg lightly. "I don't mean that you ratted me out, but..."
"Wasn't involved in a lot of conversations with them, pet," he said through tightly clenched teeth. "They ran their tests, stuck the bloody chip in my head, and—"
"Ah, then you're the 'Hostile Seventeen' they talk about in these papers." George beamed at Spike. "I'm so glad Buffy found you in time."
"Slayer didn't find me, I came to— Never mind that, what do you mean by 'in time'?"
"You were to be their prototype. A vampire controlled by a chip in his brain that would make him an excellent behind the lines weapon." He waved the packet at them. "It's all in here – the demonstrations they were planning to do for the higher-ups in the military, the visions of armies of vampires slipping into enemy camps and decimating the commanding officers... Genius, really," he mused, then seeing Buffy's face, "But totally unacceptable, of course. That's why I called Rupert. This is information you need to have since they are headquartered in your town."
Buffy took the envelope, staring at with distaste. "Couldn't you have just told Giles this over the phone?"
George shook his head. "There's a great deal more in there than I've touched on. Something very secret is going on that not even the men involved know about. It is much too complicated and elaborate for a phone conversation, and since it directly involves you.... " He glanced at Spike. "... and your... friend here..."
"Yes, we've got it. Thank you. I appreciate your getting this to us."
"Well, Rupert and I go back a long way," he said. "And there's too much of the watcher left in me to knowingly allow harm to come to his slayer... nor to permit vampires and demons to be used as weapons against humans. There are just too many ways that could go wrong."
He looked at Spike more closely than he had when they first sat down. "So, I take it your relationship with Ms. Summers is due to the chip that makes it impossible for you to attack her?"
Buffy and Spike exchanged glances.
"Well, yes, of course it—"
"No?" Buffy stared at him, her eyebrows almost comically lifted. Oblivious to the man watching with great curiosity, they began to argue. "Are you saying you wouldn't be trying to kill me if you didn't have that chip?"
"I'm saying... alright, yeah, the chip is why I... but I wouldn't... couldn't now. Not after..." He wrinkled his brow at her, his eyes confused. "Could you? Would you stake me now?"
"If you tried to kill me, I would."
"Just said I wouldn't." Spike's lip came out in a stubborn pout.
"Well... I... Why not? Why wouldn't you?"
"If you don't know, there's no sense in talkin' about it," he growled, moving his arm off the back of the bench and shifting away from her.
Buffy blinked in bewilderment and moved her hand from his suddenly less welcoming thigh. She went with her standard emotion when Spike was concerned.
"How can I know if you won't tell me?" she said, narrowing her eyes at him threateningly.
"Should just know, is all."
George broke into the glaring contest. "My apologies if I've struck a nerve. I didn't mean to begin an argument. I was merely curious as to how a vampire notorious for killing slayers ended up dating one."
Buffy swallowed her intended denial of their dating status as the waiter came back to the table and whispered in Spike's ear. She watched while his eyes flared amber and his fangs dropped to hang below his upper lip. He visibly struggled with his temper and his demon. He snarled his reply too low for Buffy to hear it and sent the waiter scurrying away to deliver the message.
"What was that all about?"
"Some vamp with a death wish just offered to fight me outside," Spike said, shifting closer to Buffy and putting a possessive arm around her. "Told him to get stuffed."
"Just like that? He just wanted to fight you, for no reason?" Buffy looked dubious, but remained pressed against his side, dropping her hand to his thigh again. The muscle under her hand was as taut as Spike's face and she found herself rubbing it soothingly. When she realized what she was doing, she flushed and moved her hand. "Sorry," she muttered, trying not to see the bulge that had grown against his leg.
"Didn't hear me complainin' did you?" he murmured, giving her shoulder a squeeze. Buffy's lips twitched in a smile she tried to smother.
"Well, you should have. I didn't mean to—"
"'s alright, pet. I'll live."
George looked back and forth between them. "Did I miss something? I feel like I'm watching an old married couple who communicate in shorthand."
"Nothing you need to know about," Spike said in a tone that indicated that part of the conversation was over.
George nodded, then observed, "Apparently the one wanting to fight you didn't take the refusal well...." He nodded to the vampire striding toward the table, the waiter and Lorne right behind him arguing vigorously.
Spike was on his feet before the other vampire reached them, standing in front of the table and waiting calmly.
"I'm sorry, Spike," Lorne said. "We don't usually have this sort of thing here, but there is a space outside...."
"Apparently, William the Bloody isn't all he's cracked up to be," the other, much larger vamp sneered. "Not even willing to fight for his woman... even a human one." He peered around Spike to ogle Buffy. "Don't go away, blondie. I'll be back to show you what a real vampire is like."
Buffy's incoherent response didn't include the information that she was a slayer, only that she didn't need Spike to fight her battles for her.
"He's not offering to fight you, pet," Spike said, shrugging out of his coat. "He wants to fight me for you."
"Well tell him to forget it. We got what we came for. We're leaving now."
"Told him to forget it. Seems like he isn't very bright."
"Fine. Let's get this over with." Buffy picked up the envelope and Spike's coat and pushed him in the direction Lorne had gestured. All eyes in the club followed the little parade out the back door to the unprotected alley behind the club. "Where are you going?" Buffy suddenly realized that George was right behind her.
"Oh, I wouldn't miss this for the world," he said, his smile the first sign of humor Buffy had seen.
"There aren't any wards out here," she said, frowning at the thought of having to worry about protecting a human. Her senses were telling her that Spike's opponent was not the only vampire in the alley, even though he was the only one visible.
"Not to worry. I bring my own." George made a gesture and the air around him shimmered just enough for Buffy to understand that he'd put up some sort of magical shield. Freed of her concern, she turned back to Spike who was leaning down to whisper in her ear.
"Not to sound like I'm a poor loser," he murmured, "but in case this wanker is stronger than I think, feel free to use that stake you've got in your purse."
"I'd love to, Butch," she grinned, making a note that she was obviously going to have to explain the reference to a puzzled Spike on the way home.
Spike stepped away from where Buffy and George were standing near the door and made a 'bring it on' gesture to the challenging vampire. "Let's see what you've got, then," he said. "Got to get my lady home some time tonight."
"I've got plans for your 'lady'," the other vamp snarled, leaping at Spike in an attempt to use his size to put a quick end to the fight. He met only the fist at the end of Spike's arm as he used his speed to slide just out of the way. The other vampire was not a total fool, and he quickly realized that Spike was not the easy mark he'd taken him for when he'd seen him socializing with two humans. He circled cautiously, looking for an opening and trying to ignore Spike's steady stream of insults.
His second attempt at using his size worked better than the first, and he was able to get close enough to hit Spike several times before losing his advantage when Spike danced out of reach. Shaking his head and spitting out blood, Spike grinned at his opponent. "Now that's more like it!" he said, darting in to throw several jabs and an uppercut before moving out of reach again.
Settling into the fight, the two almost evenly matched vampires moved up and down the alley, exchanging blows and kicks while snarling and snapping with their teeth. Spike had gone into game face when he realized he was facing someone he wasn't going to beat easily. He had no doubt of the eventual outcome, but was enjoying the exercise provided by having an opponent that made him work for the victory.
"Spike, quit playing, dammit. I want to get home before the sun comes up." Buffy's voice was a sharp reminder that they had not made the trip to LA so that Spike could have something stronger to fight than the fledglings he was used to.
"Sorry, pet. Was having a good time."
He moved in suddenly, his punches increasing in power as he got serious about ending the fight. He very quickly had the other vampire on the ground, moaning. Dusting his hands, he was just turning back to Buffy when several more vampires stepped from the shadows, the one right behind Spike holding a large plank. Before Buffy could get the word "Duck!" all the way out, Spike was lying unconscious on the ground next to his former foe, the one just beginning to sit up.
"Here, take these!" Buffy shoved Spike's coat and the envelope into George's hands, pausing to grab her stake before adding her purse to the pile. She ran to where Spike was lying, standing over him, legs spread and stake in her hand. "That was soooo not fair!" she said, glaring at vampire holding the plank. When the first vamp started to move toward her, snarling but still on his hands and knees, she clipped him on the chin with a well-timed kick, putting him down for the count while she faced his friends.
The remaining vampires formed a circle around her, wary of getting in too close, but confident of their superior numbers. Buffy heard Spike growling and spoke without looking down, "If you're back among the conscious, stop trying to see up my skirt and get your ass back in the fight."
"Sorry pet," he said, kipping to his feet and going back to back with her. "Was a bit distracting..."
As if on signal, they leapt toward the nearest vampires, Buffy driving her stake through one's chest as she flipped over him and out of the circle. Spike wasted no time playing with these attackers, knocking the first one unconscious with a kick to the face and grabbing the next one by the head and snapping his neck.
Buffy was now facing a line of snarling vampires, confusion on their faces. Spike quickly fell in on her left, bouncing on his toes as he waited to see which one would get brave first. Instead, there was a pause as the one still holding the board said, "Who are you?"
"She's the bloody Slayer, you idiot," Spike said, shaking his head at their ignorance.
Without further comment, the remaining vampires faded into the shadows, their signatures disappearing almost as quickly as they had.
"Well, that was disappointing," Spike muttered, holding out his hand for the stake, which Buffy handed him without question. She watched as he quickly disposed of the two vampires he'd crippled, then stalked up to the one who'd started the whole thing. He was just regaining consciousness and peered at Buffy through barely open eyes.
"What is she?" he croaked, having trouble working his broken jaw.
"She's the Slayer, you git."
The other vamp frowned. "Nah, I met the Slayer once. She's a hot brunette with a body that—"
Buffy snatched the stake out of Spike's hand and plunged it into the vampire's chest.
"Stupid vampire," she muttered, taking her purse and the envelope from George. "I'm just as hot as Faith is. And my body..."
Spike leaned over her shoulder and whispered, "Don't know who this Faith bint is, but there's no way she's hotter than you. He was just trying to make himself feel better about losing."
His cool breath on her neck made Buffy shiver, even as his words warmed her with their obvious sincerity. She sighed. "Well, you've never seen Faith, so you might think so too if you did."
"Not possible, luv," he said with firm conviction. "There's only one slayer on this vamp's radar and she's blonde and beautiful."
At a loss as to how to respond, she just followed George back into the club where she assured an anxious Lorne that she was fine. Taking his offer of a new round of drinks as the apology it was, she agreed to sit down again for a while. Every eye in the place that had watched them leave and seen the others follow, made note of the fact that only Spike, Buffy and George had returned. The other demons in the club were soon completely engrossed in their drinks and avoided eye contact with the humans and the smirking vampire.
"Stop gloating," Buffy hissed, nudging Spike in the side.
"Why?" He seemed genuinely bewildered. "We deserve some attention. I'll bet every demon in this place expected us to disappear out there."
"We're not supposed to be attracting attention, remember? That's why you're here instead of Riley... " She paused to stare at the envelope. "Although, I guess in light of what's in here, it's just as well."
"I believe you'd best be cautious around your other... friend," George said, with a glance at Spike. "I would hate to see you caught up in anything that could result in your capture."
"Me? Why would they want to capture me? I'm on their side!" At Spike's snarl, she amended quickly. "Well, not on their side, cause demon armies – bad idea – but you know, fighting evil and all."
"You are not a normal girl, Ms Summers. I'm only suggesting that they may have more than a casual interest in you." He stood up. "And now, if you'll forgive me, I've completed my task and turned the information over to you and Rupert to do with as you see fit. It was a pleasure to meet you, Ms Summers—"
"Buffy. Call me Buffy."
"Buffy. I hope to meet you again some day. And you, also, Spike – Mr. Bloody. A pleasure to see you both in action. You make a formidable team." He extended his hand to both of them, then made his way out of the club, pausing occasionally to speak to someone he knew, but never lingering for long. They watched him leave, Buffy toying with the wet spot her Diet Coke can was making on the table.
Spike had drained his drink and was looking at her expectantly. "Do I have time for another, Slayer? Or do you want to head back to Sunnyhell?"
Surprised to find she was reluctant for the evening to end, Buffy never the less sighed and said, "I guess we'd better head back. If it isn't too late when we get there, I can give this stuff to Giles tonight."
"Right then. Off we go." He stood up and waited for her to slide out of the bench. As he had before, he allowed her to precede him through the crowded room, using his hand resting lightly on her lower back to guide her around the chairs. Buffy told herself she should object to his possessiveness, but was enjoying his light touch too much to do anything about it.
With a quick "goodnight and thank you" to Lorne, they were out the door and on their way to the parking lot. Spike hesitated as they approached the car, smiling when Buffy slowed down and waited for him to get her door. She nodded her thanks and slid onto the wide seat, yawning as she did so.
"Too late for you, Slayer?" he teased as he put the key in the ignition.
"I am sleepy," she admitted. "I don't know why. Two Diet Cokes and a fight – I should be all wound up." Buffy resolutely forced away reminders of Faith's "slaying makes me hungry and horny."
Spike patted the seat beside him. "It's a big car. luv. You're welcome to catch some kip on the drive back."
Buffy giggled at his gasp of surprise when she stretched out as much as she could and rested her head, not on the seat, but on the same muscular thigh that her hand had rested on for much of the night.
When she woke up, it was to find Spike's hand gently stroking her hair as he hummed along to a soft song coming from the speakers. For a few seconds, it was easy to picture them as they had been while under Willow's spell – when they had been so comfortable with small signs of physical affection. However, the comfortable feeling didn't last as her change in heartbeat and breathing told Spike she was awake, and he snatched his hand off her head as if it had caught fire there.
"Rise and shine, pet. We're almost home."
Buffy sat up, stretching her arms over her head and expanding her chest with a big yawn. She quickly pulled them back down and blushed when she realized Spike was watching her instead of the road.
"Spike! Eyes! Road! Truuuuuck!"
"I got it, Slayer." He peered at her as he steered the car back into the center of the road. "You're bloody jumpy for a slayer."
"I didn't survive this long as a slayer just to get killed in a car crash," she grumbled, somewhat embarrassed at her panic-fueled shriek when she'd seen the on-coming lights.
"Didn't spend all that time trying to kill you just to let you go out under the wheels of a semi," he snarked back.
Buffy made a disgusted noise and sat up straighter. She was silent for a few minutes, but just as they were pulling into Sunnydale, she asked quietly, "What did you mean when you said you couldn't kill me now?" She stared at his profile, watching his Adams apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. "And why were you surprised when I said I could still stake you?"
Instead of directly answering her question, he pulled into a bank parking lot and put the car in park. He turned in his seat and stared at her face, which had a green cast from the sign overhead.
"What did Red actually say when she did that spell? Do you know?"
"Um... I think Xander was explaining that it was important for me to stop you from wandering around town and she said something about I should just marry you if I was so worried about keeping you around. Something like that."
"She didn't say we'd fall in love?"
"Well, no, I guess no— but I wouldn't marry somebody if I didn't love him... Would you? I mean, marry somebody if you didn't love her?"
"So, all those feelings, all that kissing and... touching. It was all because of the spell?"
"Of course it was!" She watched his face close down. "Wasn't it?" she asked, her voice small and uncertain.
"If you say so, luv," he replied, reaching for the gearshift.
"Wait!" Buffy put her hand over his, leaving it there when he froze in place. He didn't look at her, just waited for her to decide what she wanted to say. "I... do you think... are you saying you think there was something there? That we thought we were in love because we really... like... each other? And, ohmygod, I can't believe how 6th grade that sounds..."
"Yeah, well, I left 6th grade behind a long time ago. Let's just get the envelope to Giles and then I'll take you home. Alright?"
"If you're that anxious to get rid of me, you can just leave me at Giles'. I'll take myself home!"
"I don't leave my bloody dates to walk themselves home in the middle of the bloody night!"
He slammed the car into gear and peeled out of the parking lot, his snarls filling the suddenly chilly air in the front seat. He whirled the wheel and guided the big car into the parking lot of Giles' apartment building. The only parking spot was at the far end of the lot, and as they passed Giles' door, they could see that the lights were on and he was apparently waiting up for them.
"You could just let me off here," Buffy said in a small voice, her anger and hurt feelings submerged in wondering why Spike was so angry.
His only reply was another growl as he pulled into the vacant space. Without speaking, he walked around to her side of the car and yanked the door open while she was searching on the floor for the envelope. Buffy stepped out, tugging her skirt down as it slid up her thighs.
"Not looking, Slayer. Just get out, will you?"
Buffy stood up straight and stared at him, clutching the envelope to her chest and shivering a little in the very early morning air.
"What is wrong with you? I thought we had a good time tonight – okay, maybe not the whole getting whacked unconscious with a heavy board part, but—"
He blew out his breath and dropped his head to stare at the ground. Putting his hands in his pockets, he nodded.
"I did have a good time, Buffy. Even the lump on my head was worth it, considerin' the view I had waking up..." He stopped to give her a half-hearted leer that she ignored. "But, I jus'... "
He paused again, and raised his eyes to hers. They were barely visible in the poorly-lit parking lot, but held her gaze in spite of her desire to look away. Suddenly, she wasn't sure if she really wanted to hear what he had to say.
"What the hell, go for it, you coward," he muttered to himself. He took a step closer. "Being with you tonight – pretend date or no – is the happiest I've been in... don't know how long, if we don't count the bloody spell. It made me realize...."
"You do like me," she breathed.
He risked raising one hand to stroke her cheek. "Yeah, luv. Guess you could say that. I... like... you. More than is good for either one of us, I expect."
Before he could drop his hand, Buffy covered it with her own, holding it against her cheek.
"I think... " She coughed and began again. "I think I kinda like you too. Which is weird and not even— Not something I ever could have imagined... except that I did imagine it. Once. Right after the spell, when I'd had time to see how you are with somebody you—with a girlfriend." She grimaced while Spike rolled his eyes. "Okay, that sounded lame, even to me. But... the point is, I did think about... but it was crazy and wrong and... and... So I made it go away."
"Wish I could make it go away that easily," he said, moving even closer. "Can't, though. I tried. You're all I can think about. Remember holding you, touching you... kissing you...." His voice trailed off as he lowered his head and brushed his lips across hers. When she didn't pull away, only gasping in surprise, he turned the brush into a real kiss. Not one of the loud, lip-smacking kisses they'd shared when in a room full of her friends and watcher, but a soft, sweet, yearning kiss like the ones they'd indulged in when no one was watching them.
"I have a boyfriend," Buffy whimpered as she went up on her toes to deepen the kiss.
"Stupid git doesn't know how to appreciate you," he murmured, sliding his arms around her waist and pulling her against his body. "Not like I do."
Buffy remained silent as she let the kissing continue and enjoyed the way her body seemed to meld itself to Spike's. It wasn't long before the tender kisses had turned into something much less innocent, and Buffy could feel the proof of Spike's interest pressing against her. With a gasp, she tore her mouth away, surprised when he released her without argument.
They stood, both breathing hard, his hands on her waist, hers resting on his arms.
"We... we should probably go in," she managed to stammer. "Poor Giles will be getting so tired."
"Right." He dropped his arms and pulled his coat around himself. "I'll just hide this then," he said. Buffy blushed but didn't bother trying to pretend she didn't know what he was hiding.
"Just hold that thought," she said, feeling her face flaming as she began walking toward the door.
"Rather you held it, pet," he said cheerfully, "but I'll do my best."
"And there he is—piggy Spike." She smiled while she said it, and he winked at her.
"He's never far, love. Not when you're around."
"I bring out the pig in you?" The temperature dropped noticeably. He stopped walking and grabbed her arm, halting her and forcing her to meet his eyes in the light from the porch.
"You bring out everything in me," he said, willing her to believe him. "You bring out the pig and the poet; the man and the demon; the fighter and the lover. Whatever I've got to offer, it's yours."
"P... poet?" Buffy seized on the only word in his speech that didn't require a response she wasn't sure how to make.
"Figure of speech," he said quickly, waving his hand around. "Point is, I want to be everything for you. Your friend when you need one, a comrade in arms if that's what you need, someone to yell back at you when you need it." He risked another soft kiss. "And someone to.,. to love you when that's what you need... or want."
"Oh," she breathed into his mouth as his lips became more demanding. "Oh, that's okay then..."
They fell apart when Spike's acute hearing heard the doorknob turn, standing side-by-side with guilty expressions on their faces when Giles opened the door.
"Are you two going to stand out here all night?" he grumbled. "I heard Spike's car fifteen minutes ago."
"Hey! You didn't hear my car. My baby purrs like a kitten."
"It also has no muffler and tires that squeal when they go around corners too fast," Giles snapped back. He stepped away from the door and watched as Buffy preceded Spike into the apartment. She smiled at him as she walked past, waving the envelope in his face.
"We got the stuff, Giles. And George says 'Hi'."
"Do you know what it is?"
"We know what some of it is. He said there's lots more, so I decided to just leave it with you and we can talk about it tomorrow night."
Giles nodded and placed the envelope on the table. "Did you have any trouble?"
"Oh no. Well, some vamp challenged Spike to a fight over me, and he cheated, so I had to dust a bunch of them, but other than that..."
Giles studied Spike. "So apparently the ruse worked. Everyone accepted you two as a couple?"
"Wasn't as hard as you might have thought," Spike said with a sideways glance at Buffy. "Funny how none of them pegged Buffy for a slayer, though."
"Yeah!" Her indignation back in full force, Buffy glared at Giles. "That stupid vamp said Faith was the Slayer – and that she was better and hotter than me!"
"Well," Giles exchanged a look of masculine solidarity with Spike who was shaking his head in warning. "Faith is a slayer. And I wouldn't touch the rest of that if my life depended upon it."
"Which it might," Buffy muttered.
"I'll keep that in mind," Giles said, hiding a smile. "However, considering where Faith is now, and how she got there, I hardly think it's something for you to worry about."
"I'm not worried." Buffy tossed her head. She looked at them suspiciously, sure that, under the obvious affection both men had for her, they were sharing a joke at her expense. Exuding nothing but innocence, Spike said, "We've already settled this, Slayer. Tell the watcher goodnight and let's get you home."
Giles narrowed his eyes, both at Spike's changed demeanor toward Buffy, and his eagerness to get out of the house where he normally would have looking for the Scotch. It suddenly wasn't difficult at all to picture them acting enough like a dating couple to fool a bar full of demons and vampires. Noting the ease with which Spike held the door for Buffy, and his hand on the middle of her back as he guided her through, Giles groaned to himself.
An hour later, when he'd gone through most of the information on the Initiative, he was taking a more charitable view of Buffy's apparent predilection for vampires. At a minimum, he was grateful that it seemed she might be spending less time with her Army boyfriend. He sighed, pushed his glasses off his nose and got up to go to bed. He took the envelope with him, sliding it under his mattress for safekeeping.
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