Having been given strict instructions not to allow Buffy into the cafeteria with the “good students”, Giles brought her a tray of food to eat between tests. She nibbled on her slice of pizza and poked at the unidentifiable green things on the tray.
“Are these vegetables?”
He peered over his glasses. “Possibly?” He went back to his own lunch that he’d brought from home. “How do you think you did this morning?”
Buffy shrugged. “I think I passed. The next one’s going to be trickier, but I don’t need it as much.”
“Yeah. Spike and I went over the information yesterday, but I didn’t remember very much about grammar and stuff. I think I’ve got most of the words memorized, but—”
“Is he helping you study?” Giles’s expression made his thoughts about that plain to see.
“Yeah. He says he’s old and he knows stuff, but I think he knows stuff because he learned it a long time ago. Anyway, he’s going to read Macbeth to me tonight so I can ace my English exam.”
“I believe the Watchers’ Diaries may have some rather large gaps in their information about William the Bloody.”
“Spike says the Watchers’ Diaries only have what he wants them to have. He told people things just to mess with the Council. Starting a long time ago when he was a fledgling. He did it mostly to make Angel—Angelus mad, but then he decided it was fun so he kept it up.”
Giles made a sound very similar to a growl as he cleared away his meal and greeted the new students coming in to take the Spanish exam.
As soon as Buffy had finished as much of the Spanish exam as she could, she stood up, stretched, and carried it up to Giles. She looked around the room to see that she was almost the last one to finish and shook her head as she handed it to him.
“Here you go. For what it’s worth.”
“You don’t think you did well?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Doing well will mean I didn’t get an “F”, Giles. Let’s just go with that thought, huh?”
He nodded. “Well, you tried. Tomorrow is the English Literature exam, something I wish you’d had time to work on with me….”
“I’m pretty sure William the bloody pain-in-my-ass is going be just as much a slave-driver as you would.” Buffy smiled at Giles to show she was just kidding, but his expression didn’t indicate he was amused. “Don’t worry, Giles. I’m actually in pretty good shape in that class. I really liked the poetry parts, and the only thing I have to worry about is this stupid play I haven’t read.”
“That would be Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare’s most well-known plays,” he said dryly.
“Well, yeah. But Spike knows it and he’s going to explain it to me so I’ll know enough not to completely crash and burn on that part of the exam.”
“Fine. I suppose you should go back to your—one hopes, temporary—home and begin your studies again. What do you have in the afternoon tomorrow?”
“Um…. Government, I think? Guess Spike won’t be too useful there, but I have Willow’s notebooks, so I’ll be okay. I didn’t miss that class as many times as I did the morning ones.”
She waited until the other two students had turned in their tests and left, then said, “Did you hear from my mom again today?”
“No. But we didn’t really make another appointment to meet. She has a lot of reading material to work through and understand. I suspect she is still struggling with the idea that your life can have been so complicated for so long without her knowing about it.”
“You know, I tried to tell them—Mom and Dad—when I first got called and found out what I was. I told them about vampires and demons and slayers, and Merrick was going to talk to them for me, but then he got killed and I had to set fire to the gym, and all they wanted to know was what gang I belonged to.” Buffy sighed. “It was just easier to lie than to be hustled off to a psychiatrist.”
“Well, I believe it is going to take some time. The fact that she is willing to listen to us is a step in the right direction. If she follows up with questions, that will be an even better sign. But I believe we must be patient with her. As long as you have a safe place to sleep and food to eat—Have you got food for tonight?”
“Um, yes. I got some frozen dinners yesterday, so I can just stick them in the microwave while I study.”
Giles nodded, picking up the folders in which he’d put the exams. “Well, I need to return these to the appropriate teachers, and you should go home and try to learn about Scottish kings.”
“’K. See you in the morning. We’ll take a break tonight and do a short patrol.”
“Yeah, turns out if Spike and I try to work together too long, we end up fighting and threatening to kill each other, so now we know to take a break and go kill other things. Then we can go home and study some more.” Buffy gave Giles a smile and waved as she walked out of the library.
“I think it’s about time to go kill something big and nasty, Slayer.”
“You mean bigger and nastier than you?” Buffy cut her eyes at him, realizing she’d probably pushed him too far.
He just growled and stood up, although she noticed he put the book down almost as carefully as Giles might have.
“It’s that or I rip your heart out and feed it to you,” he snarled.
“Oh. Well, I won’t do very good on the exam if I’m bleeding, so I guess we better go find something else for you to kill.” Buffy tucked her stakes away and made a big show of picking up a sword. She waited for him by the door, resisting the urge to tap her foot.
Muttering in a barely audible voice about disrespectful bints who didn’t appreciate a good thing when they had it, he gestured for her to precede him out the door. Buffy had long since become accustomed to Spike’s automatic manners and didn’t even blink at turning her back on the vampire who’d just threatened to eviscerate her.
In spite of their good intentions, the only slayable candidates they found were a few newly risen vampires still blinking the dirt out of their eyes and wondering where they were. Buffy disposed of each one with a minimum of quipping and to slow applause from Spike.
“Very efficient, Slayer,” he said as they resumed walking.
Buffy smiled. “Well, no sense wasting time when we haven’t found anything for you to kill yet.”
Spike held out a hand to stop her, obviously listening hard. “Somebody’s cryin’ over in that direction, Slayer,” he said, pointing away from the cemetery.
“I guess we should go see what’s going on,” Buffy said as she picked up speed.
“I know exactly what’s going on,” he snarled as he took off at top vampire speed, leaving Buffy shocked and staring after him.
She began to run, knowing her top speed wasn’t equal to his, but confident she wouldn’t be far behind. She got to the alley he’d disappeared into in time to find a disheveled and crying girl running out.
“What’s wrong?” Buffy grabbed the frightened girl’s arm. “Was it a vampire?”
The girl stared at her with wide eyes. “N…no. Boys. Boys I don’t know. They—but then this other guy showed up and he told me to run, so I did and—”
Buffy ran into the alley, sure she was going to find blood everywhere, only to find Spike standing over a moaning, but very much alive, teenaged boy while facing a confused group of his friends.
“Who’s next?” he said, sounding almost cheerful as he bounced on the balls of his feet.
Buffy was surprised to see he wasn’t wearing his fangs. He looked very much like a punkish human man, and a not particularly large one at that. She could see from the expression on the other boys’ faces that they were thinking the same thing.
“He got lucky,” the largest one snarled. “Let’s get him! We’ll teach him to be a hero, and then we’ll teach that bitch—”
Buffy stepped up beside Spike. “Is this what it looks like?”
“If you mean, did I interrupt an attempt to gang-rape that girl, yeah.”
“Really?” Buffy turned a slayer’s hard stare onto the oblivious boys. “These guys?” As she spoke, Buffy recognized at least one of the boys at the same time as he saw her.
“Hey, it’s that weird blonde bitch that’s always in trouble with Snyder. The one that hangs in the library with the other freaks.”
“He’s mine,” she said to Spike. “You can have the rest if you promise not to kill anybody.”
The boys hesitated for a second, confused by the conversation, as well as Buffy and Spike’s obvious lack of concern at being outnumbered. But confident in their numbers and their size and sex, they moved forward.
“Just wait your turn, blondie,” the first boy said. “You’ll do in place of the one your boyfriend here let get away.”
Moving too quickly for them to react, Spike grabbed that one by his shirt and tossed him one-handed to Buffy.
“Here you go, Slayer. Don’t say I never gave you anything.” Not waiting to see what Buffy was planning to do with her catch, he met the advancing boys with a grin. He danced around, throwing short jabs at their faces while remaining out of reach of their attempts at retaliation. He mocked the boys as he seemed to be punching them at will. Buffy could tell he was just playing with them because if he’d been using his full strength, they would have all been unconscious or dead after the first punch.
She held onto the arm of the boy who’d recognized her, shaking him when he struggled to get away. “Stop that! I’m not letting you go until I can turn you over to the cops.”
“Who the hell do you think you are?” he snarled, seemingly unaware of the unrelenting grip Buffy had on his bicep. “I’ll give you cops—urk!” Buffy’s other hand was now around his throat and she was shaking him again as she held him over her head with his toes barely touching the ground.
“I think I’m the girl who’s going to see that you’re arrested for attempted rape,” she said, punctuating each word with another shake. “But I’m not too fussy about whether you’re walking or conscious when I do it.” With one hand on his neck and the other still on his arm, she tossed him against the brick wall of the alley, then leaned her back against it to watch Spike.
He’d tired of playing with the friends and decided to give them a bigger taste of what they were dealing with. He stopped dancing around and waited until they all rushed him before going into his vampire mien. Their momentum carried them toward him, now screaming and fighting each other to get away from the monster suddenly facing them.
When they tried to run past him, he moved too quickly, blocking the way no matter which one was trying to run. Whichever direction a kid tried to run, Spike was there, grinning through his fangs as they cried and begged to be allowed to live. One boy, who hadn’t noticed what happened to the would-be rapist Spike had tossed to Buffy, rushed at her, and pushed his arm against her throat to hold her against the wall.
“Let us go, or your girlfriend gets a broken neck!”
Spike cocked his head at Buffy and raised a wrinkled eyebrow. “That right, Slayer? I take it that one doesn’t know who you are.” He laughed as Buffy removed the boy’s arm as easily as if it was a scarf and twisted it until he fell to his knees. “Guess he’ll find out,” he said, turning his attention back to the remaining four boys who were cowering against the other wall.
“Pretty stupid of you boys not to recognize the Slayer when you see her. And really stupid to hang out in alleys after dark. Do you know what lurks in dark alleys in Sunnydale?” When they didn’t answer, he sighed. “It’s things like me, you stupid gits. See, the problem with that is, they’ll be hungry. Fact is, I’m a bit peckish myself.” He leaned over them, licking his lips and smiling as they started to cry again. “Good thing for you, I have to answer to that little girl there. Have you met her?”
Buffy waved cheerfully from her spot by the wall, still holding the arm of the boy on his knees and standing with one foot on the neck of her original assailant. “Hi. I’m Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I don’t kill humans, but I’m pretty sure it’s okay for me to beat them up if they deserve it.”
“I’m a vampire,” Spike added, somewhat unnecessarily. “And I do kill people. Kill ‘em, eat ‘em. Sometimes I kill them for the fun of it.” He let his human face come to the fore. “Sometimes I kill them because they are bloody cowards who would try to harm little girls.” They shrank away from him, even though he once again looked more like an average-sized man.
“What do you want to do with them, luv?” he asked, glancing at Buffy. “I don’t feature hanging out here all night just to keep them from getting into any more mischief.”
“Attempted gang rape isn’t ‘mischief’, Spike,” Buffy snapped. She focused her glare on the boys in front him and watched as they suddenly grasped that the monster was deferring to her. And that she wasn’t pleased. “Let’s just knock them out and tell the cops where to find them. We can take the girl to the station.”
Before it even registered that a decision had been reached, Buffy’s two captives had been knocked out and Spike was systematically punching his four into oblivion.
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