Happy Birthday & A New Job
Another year, another birthday. She was several hours in and so far there had been no disasters, so that must be a good sign. But then, she had yet to be confronted with the reality of her friends knowing- which was sure to be forced in front of her as soon as Spike made his appearance. She could already imagine the threats of violence and grimaced to herself as she put the finishing touches to her birthday outfit.
When she looked in the mirror though, she gave a small smile at her reflection: the outfit she had chosen was casual, but sexy. The skirt clung to her in all the right ways, she knew, and the off-the-shoulder top showed off inches of smooth, tanned skin.
It was an outfit specifically meant for Spike’s enjoyment, not least for the fact it was all black- and she sighed as she realised it. Dressing for Spike seemed to have become a habit embedded too deep into her subconscious for her to lose it now. With a smile, she made her way downstairs, ready to start the birthday celebrations.
By dusk, the party was already in full swing and she flashed a smile at her friends as she made her way through to the kitchen. Before she could reach it though, there was a knock at the door and she turned round, her stomach doing flips as her slayer-sense told her exactly who was on the other side. Spike.
Taking a deep breath, she made her way to the door and opened it, gracing the two demons on the other side of the door with a soft smile.
“Happy Birthday!” Clem exclaimed, reaching out to shake her hand enthusiastically.
“Err, thanks. Hi, come in. We have snacks…of the non-feline variety.”
“Oh, I already ate.”
With that, he disappeared into the living room and with a slight grimace, she turned to Spike.
“Should I be disturbed by that?”
He smiled and closed the door behind him, leaving them standing opposite each other somewhat awkwardly.
“Hi,” she got out, aware of more than one pair of eyes on them.
“Slayer,” he murmured, his eyes sweeping over her quickly.
It struck her then just how much he had been calling her that lately- and she realised almost simultaneously that it was his way of distancing himself from her. She didn’t know whether to be hurt or glad by that thought.
“So, how’s the birthday going?” he asked, drawing her out of her daze. She followed his gaze to the group in the living room and smiled.
“For a Buffy birthday, it’s going surprisingly well.”
“No blood and mayhem yet then?”
“Shame,” he countered with a soft smile.
Not knowing what to say next, she fell silent, studying him from under her eyelashes. After several moments of what seemed like indecisiveness, his eyes lifted to her and he moved forward a step, one hand rising to touch her arm. His cool touch drew her eyes sharply to his and he smiled softly.
“Happy birthday, love. Hope it’s a good one.”
“Thanks,” she got out, “Me too.”
With one last smile, he moved his hand from her arm with a tiny caress and turned toward the living room. He headed for her sister, paying no heed to the gazes on him, and settled into a chair beside her. He just glanced back at her and they shared a small smile before she moved back into the living room as well, settling beside Willow.
“So, is it officially time for cake yet?” she asked with a wide smile.
“Can I get you a drink?”
“No, thanks. I’m fine.”
She gave- Richard, was that his name?- a polite smile.
“It’s amazing. No-one seems to want to go home yet.”
“No,” she answered, catching sight of Spike over the man’s shoulder- no doubt, listening in on their conversation.
“Well, I’m going to head back in.”
She smiled and gave Richard a slight nod as he moved away, feeling only slightly guilty for her absentmindedness. She turned back again to find Spike in front of her, smirking.
“Oh, Buffy. Can I get you a soda pop? I think I’m in lurve…”
She laughed, swatting away his hands.
“Always,” he answered seriously.
She smiled softly and met his bright gaze.
“Maybe you could get me a soda then.”
For a moment, he was still but when she smiled and nodded in the direction of the kitchen, he soon came back to life and followed her through into the kitchen.
She settled onto a stool and he sat close beside her, eyes shining with affection.
“Haven’t had the chance to properly wish you happy birthday,” he murmured, his bright gaze on her. She raised an eyebrow, expecting some lewd comment, but instead, he slid one hand inside his jacket and came back out with a knife, sheathed in leather.
“Happy Birthday, love.”
He slid the knife into her hand and her eyes flew to his, uncomprehending.
“For me?” she whispered.
“It is your birthday, last time I checked.”
Turning her attention back to the knife, she ran her fingers over the intricate pattern on the handle.
“Where did you…?”
“Didn’t steal it, if that’s what you think.”
“I- I didn’t!” she protested, but faltered when his piercing gaze met hers, one eyebrow twitched in disbelief, “Okay…maybe a little.”
He chuckled and she smiled hesitantly, her eyes drawn back to the beautiful weapon. Not every girl’s dream birthday present- but then, she wasn’t every girl.
“It’s…it’s beautiful. Thank you, Spike.”
Her wide eyes met his and they shared a soft smile. Following an impulse that suddenly overtook her, she leant over and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
She stretched and pushed herself out of her chair, glad to have finally reached her lunch break. She had got the job as secretary in the college office and she was glad to have a job that wasn’t as soul-destroying as the fast-food business. The only problem was, for someone who was used to being active, sitting at a desk for hours on end had serious tendencies to stretch her patience.
She smiled at the girl who worked with her, Nina, and pulled her jacket on- and then frowned when her phone began to ring. With a mumbled curse, she sank back down into her chair and answered the phone with a dull:
“University of California, Sunnydale Campus. This is Buffy Summers speaking, how can I help you?”
“You know, it sounded right official…’til you got to that silly name of yours.”
She started at that low voice but then with a smile, settled back in her chair.
“Oh, hush, William.”
Spike laughed and she smiled, brushing a hair back from her face as she swivelled on her chair.
“Love it when you say my name, Slayer. Not quite as good as you screaming it at the top of your lungs, ‘course, but…”
“So, is there a point to this call? You’re wasting precious lunching time. And how did you get this number anyway?”
“S’in the phonebook, love.”
“Oh. Right. Anyway, point?”
“Nibblet was right, sitting at a desk does get you grumpy,” he murmured with a laugh.
“I’m not grumpy. I’m hungry.”
He just laughed and she rolled her eyes at Nina across the room, who smiled sympathetically.
“Anyway, love, just wanted to let you know lil’ Bit’s coming round mine later. Didn’t want you to worry.”
“Just make sure she actually does some studying for her history test, ‘kay?”
“Why d’you think she’s coming round mine? For some reason, you girls seem to think I know everything about history…even the bits I wasn’t around for.”
“You know more than me,” she reasoned, “Plus, we both know Dawn’s got you wrapped round her little finger.”
“And you haven’t, Slayer?” he asked in a low rumble that sent a pleasant shiver through her. She wanted to laugh at the normality of having a phone conversation with Spike, but her stomach was distracting her, urging her to eat.
“Not right now,” she purred back, then swiftly changed topic, “Anyway, Buffy’s stomach is hungry. I need to go.”
“See you later, love.”
She hung up the phone and rolled her eyes again at Nina.
“Was that your boyfriend?” the girl asked.
“Huh? Oh no, not my boyfriend. Definitely not.”
“Well, that was some pretty hardcore phone-flirting.”
“I was not phone-flirting!” she protested, “Was I?...God, I was, wasn’t I?”
Nina nodded with a smile and Buffy gave her a sheepish smile.
“I can’t help it. I blame him. He’s one of those guys that just oozes sex, you know?”
Nina nodded, a dreamy look on her face.
“Is he hot?”
“As hell!” Buffy answered bluntly, “I mean, he’s got these bright blue eyes…cheekbones to die for…and the sexiest accent you will ever hear in your life.”
“And you’re not getting in there?” Nina asked in disbelief.
“It’s complicated,” she explained, “There was this big messy thing between us…I needed a break.”
“Well, give me his number. I want to meet this hunk of salty goodness!” Nina joked as Buffy grabbed a bag and headed for the door.
“Sure thing!” Buffy laughed, not even wanting to examine the twisting in her stomach that had nothing to do with her hunger and a hell of a lot to do with the thought of introducing Spike to the pretty brunette. Shaking her head, she made her way out of the office and found her way out into the quad.
She found Willow and Tara under a tree to one side of the quad and dropped to the grass beside them with her lunch.
“Hey, Buff. How’s life in the office today?”
“Same old. Lots of wrong numbers,” she sighed, taking a large bite into her sandwich, “And Spike.”
“Spike?” Willow questioned with a raised eyebrow.
“I know. Who’d have thought he could use a phone?! Actually…what phone was he using?” she wondered aloud, then shook her head and turned her attention back to her sandwich.
“How was psych?” she asked the witches through a mouthful of sandwich.
“It’s definitely different without Maggie Walsh.”
“Ah, good times,” Buffy reminisced with a slight smile.
She finished her sandwich and leant back against the tree, stretching her legs out in front of her as she watched the two witches- not missing how closely they were sitting and how their hands kept brushing together. She smiled softly to herself, glad that they had resolved some of their issues and were trying again.
“I still can’t believe Xander’s getting married in two days,” Willow exclaimed, “Our Xander.”
“It is major wiggy,” Buffy agreed and all three girls giggled, “They’ll be Mr. and Mrs. Harris.”
“I bet Anya will make us all call her ma’am for about the next year!” Willow joked.
“You bet she will.”
Buffy leant back, lost in thought as she remembered her argument with Spike.
“They’re totally going to be happy. Happily ever after and all that,” she murmured thoughtfully.
“It might not always be that easy,” Tara spoke up and Buffy turned to her, “But they love each other and th-that’s a good start.”
Buffy nodded and gave a weak smile before pushing herself to her feet.
“Well, back to the office for me. I’ll see you guys on the big day, I guess.”
With a little wave, she turned and made her way through the sunny courtyard and back into the building.
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