Friends With Benefits....
Buffy turned away, Spike’s words to Xander still ringing in her ears. He was done with her. Once again, she’d waited too long to tell him how she felt and he’d given up hoping for anything more than the good friends and slaying buddies they’d become. Telling herself it was a good thing, that they would probably have ended up killing each other anyway, she tiptoed away down the hall to her own apartment, never noticing the way Spike’s head flew up at the sound of her soft footsteps.
“What?” Xander looked around, hearing and seeing nothing.
“Buffy,” Spike whispered, moving to the door just in time to see her turn the corner, head down and shoulders slumped. He remained staring at the empty hallway until Xander came up and poked him.
“Buffy heard us—me. She was here, and I never... She heard me.”
“So? All you said was.... Uh oh.”
“Uh oh? She just heard me say I don’t want her anymore and all you can think of to say is ‘uh oh’?”
“Well, you didn’t exactly say you didn’t want her anymore. You just said it was working out that you guys are just friends and you think you... Oh yeah. You said you didn’t want her anymore.” He shook his head. “I’m glad I’m not in your shoes.”
“Fuck!” Spike kicked a chair across the small room. “Bloody buggering fuck!”
“I’m going to assume this temper tantrum — which, take it easy on the furniture there, oh super-powered one — means all that ‘we can be friends’ crap was all a big lie?”
“Yes! No! I don’t know! Not going to matter now, is it? She heard me and turned around and went away.”
“Well if you didn’t mean it, go tell her so.”
Spike shook his head. “She’ll think I... Fuck. I don’t know how I’m going to fix this.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t? Fix it, I mean. If you’re okay with being friends, and she’s okay with being friends—“
“She’s not okay,” Spike said, slumping onto the couch. “Saw her just before she got out of sight.” He shook his head. “She’s not okay with it, but she’s Buffy, and she’d die again before she’d tell me so now.”
“Yeah, it’s the latest thing. You sit at a table and guys come by one at a time and you have thirty seconds to decide if you want to get to know each other better. It’s quick, efficient, and no hurt feelings if you aren’t interested.” Dawn beamed at Buffy. “You totally need to do it. There are plenty of men out there, you just don’t meet them cause you’re always with Spike... or killing something... or both.”
Buffy nodded. “Sure. That’s been the problem. I’m always with my... friend... Spike, so I don’t get a chance to meet any guys. Even Dowling thought Spike and I had something going on. I should do this. I will do this.” Buffy straightened her shoulders and put on her best determined face. “Uh... you wouldn’t want to come with me, would you?”
“No. You can do this. I’ll take you there and show you where it is, but I’m not going in with you. You’re a big girl.”
“Right. Grown woman. I can handle meeting a bunch of guys one at a time. What could go wrong?”
A half an hour and several men – including two wannabe vampires and one real one – later, Buffy pushed her way to the door, shaking her head at the protests from guys who hadn’t made it to her table yet.
“I need some air,” she mumbled as she ran outside and into a familiar black coat.
“Whoa there, Slayer. Leaving already?”
“Spike? What are you doing here?” Buffy blinked at him in bewilderment.
“Heard it was a good place to meet birds, so thought I’d give it try. See if there was anybody my... type.”
He cocked he head at her. “I take you didn’t find anybody who took your fancy?”
“If that means did I meet anybody remotely datable... No.” She refused to meet his eyes as she mumbled, “But that doesn’t mean you won’t. You’ll probably—“
“I’ll probably be comparing every girl I meet to you... “ He shook his head. “Some other time, maybe. What say we go have a drink and just be glad we have each other?”
She snapped her eyes up to his. “You mean as friends. We have each other as friends, right?”
“I mean whatever the bloody hell you want me to mean, Buffy.” He sighed and put his hands in his pockets. “Look... I know you heard... and I thought I meant it. And I still think I can learn to... But if that’s not what you want from me, Slayer, why don’t you put us both out of our misery and say so?”
“You knew I was listening?”
“No, love. Not until I heard you walking away. By the time I realized you’d probably heard me sayin’ I thought we were better off as friends, you were already gone and I... I didn’t call you back because I didn’t know what to say.”
“ 'I didn’t really mean that' might've worked,” she said, kicking at an imaginary stone on the sidewalk.
“I didn’t really mean that,” he said softly, tipping her chin up with one hand. “I don’t think I’ll ever really mean it.”
Buffy’s tremulous smile and the way she leaned in had him dipping his head for a kiss that never happened as Buffy’s phone went off. “Hold that thought,” she ordered as she glanced at the caller’s name. “Yes, Dawn. What’s wrong?”
“I did go. But I— I did give it a chance, but I— If you stop interrupting me, I’d tell you—“ She handed the phone to Spike. “Here, you tell her I found somebody to date.”
“Buffy won’t be home tonight, Bit. She’ll see you sometime tomorrow.” He flinched and held the phone away from his ear before handing it back to Buffy. “Silly bint almost deafened me,” he grumbled, even as he smiled at the excited squeals coming from the phone. “Say good-night.”
“Good-night, Dawn,” Buffy said, never taking her eyes off Spike’s. She ended the call and put the phone away. “Now where were we?”
“Right about... here.”
The kiss lasted until people leaving the café started muttering “Get a room” as they walked by. When one of the “vampire”s from inside stopped to complain about Buffy’s lack of interest, one look at Spike’s real face sent him hurrying away, face drained of color and eyes wide.
“Do we need to get a room?”
“’Less you want to be shagged within an inch of your life right here on the street....”
Buffy snorted. “Let’s get that room and see if you’re all that, bragger.”
“Challenge accepted,” he said with a grin. “There’s a Holiday Inn on the next block.”
“What are we waiting for?”
The End (for now)
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