Chapter Four- Slow Process
Spike wandered the sewers, heading towards the main part of the residential end of town. He’d spent the brightest part of the day talking to Harmony back in his crypt. Or well, listening to Harm’s endless prattling. God, the bint never shut up.
Boots splashing through the shallow muck, he took a drag from his cigarette. He knew, deep down, Buffy would never love him. He wasn’t Angel. Hell, he wasn’t even the damn Tin-bloody-Soldier. He was a soulless... thing. A neutered vampire who had slaughtered half of Europe in his day... That wasn’t exactly her type. Well, unless they had a soul shoved firmly up their...
But that wasn’t all he was.
Recalling the way she had “loved” him and the way he had acted during Red’s Will-Be-Done spell, he had come to a simple fact- he need to be loving to be loved. She needed to be seduced, wooed. He would never get her being the guy he was, with the blood-habit and punk-rocker attitude. She would never fall in love with Spike. But, he wasn’t just Spike.
He was also William.
Angelus had always scorned him for being a romantic when he was a fledgling vampire, so he had quickly discarded his poetic attitude and shy nature and turned it into the underclass punk.
But he never truly lost it. He could get Buffy to love him, she just couldn’t know it was him she was falling for.
Laughing bitterly to himself, he flicked the cigarette butt into the dribbles of water at his feet, he glanced upwards at the manhole cover above him. Might as well get started.
Fingering the item beneath his jacket briefly, he mounted the ladder, pulling the duster over his head to protect from the late afternoon sun.
Time to get with the wooing.
* * * * * * *
The bell jangled in cheerful farewell as Buffy closed the Magic Box door behind her, most of the gang waiting a few feet away. Xander, Tara and Willow were leaving with her, while Anya and Giles were staying at the Box for a while to take care of the register and calculate the day’s sales. Falling into place next to Xander, the two of them led the others down the street to his car.
“So, what exactly was the point of that three hour meeting?” Willow questioned, holding the door open for Tara and sliding into the backseat next to her. “’Cause seriously, I love Scooby meetings as much as the next... really boring person,” She smiled sheepishly. “But, that was a lot of words to say that we knew squat… Which I already knew by the way,” she added proudly.
Xander pulled away from the curb, glancing in the review mirror at the redhead in the backseat. “Well, you know, I think bridge was cancelled tonight, so Giles needed something to do.”
Tara frowned at Xander, brow furrowed. “Does Mister Giles actually play bridge?”
“I don’t know, but he has to be getting about that age don’t you think?”
Buffy rolled her eyes as Xander turned off the main street. “Come on, Giles isn’t quite into the adult-diapers stage of old-liness there, Xand.” She gazed mindlessly out of the window, recognising the route they were taking. “We headed to my place?”
Xander’s eyes flickered over at her before turning into a street about three blocks over from Rovello Drive. “Yeah, I figured you’d want to relieve your Mom from Dawn-Duty.”
Buffy sighed. “Yeah, I guess I should. The Scooby meeting went a little longer than it was meant to, so I should probably get some quality free-of-slayage family time before patrol.” She rolled her eyes, and smiled.
The car turned into Rovello Drive, slowing down as they neared her house. “You guys can come in if you want. Watch movies and whatnot.”
Willow shook her head apologetically. “Sorry Buffy, we would, but Tara and I have this... thing... Like, this study group thing... so we need to go there. Now. And we can’t... come in.” Tara blushed at Willow’s word salad, and Buffy could hardly hide her grin, wiggling her eyebrows at Xander.
“And here I was thinking you were joining the Lesbian Alliance group on campus.” Buffy giggled, watching Willow’s face turn the same shade as Tara’s. “You had the date marked on your calendar; I saw it last time I picked up Dawn.”
“Oh! Well, it’s not hugely important,” Willow babbled, her face red, “We could, come watch movies if you want?”
“That’s ok, Will. You and Tara should go... have fun.” Rolling her eyes for Xander’s benefit, she turned to him as he parked. “How ‘bout you Xand, guaranteed popcorn-y goodness and movie-fest. You can even pick the movie... no chick flicks...” she bargained, nudging his shoulder playfully.
“I can’t Buff, I gotta do the crew schedule for the next month before tomorrow or I’m gonna have thirty very angry, beefy guys on my ass.” He paused, hands coming up defensively. “Figuratively. My figurative, not real...” He stopped himself when he saw the looks the girls were giving him. He winced at them, then brightened. “But I’m feeling it’s about time for a crazed dance party at the Bronze... Tomorrow night? Who’s in?”
“Ooh! Us! We’re in for crazy Bronze fun-ness!” Willow raised her hand, mirroring Tara’s grin, volunteering to cover their continuing embarrassment.
“Yeah, totally. Bronze, dancing. Very fun.” Tara nodded emphatically.
Xander grinned over his shoulder at the witches before turning back to the Slayer. “What about you, Buffy? Are you dance-happy?”
Buffy opened the door to the car, stepping out, turning back to return the answer through the open window. “Barring sudden vampapaloozas or Dawn-duty, I’ll be there. Eight, right?”
“Eight.” Xander waved a hand at her before pulling out of the drive. Buffy watched them go as the sun began to set, and turned back to the house, heading up the stairs and opening the front door.
* * * * * * *
“Honey! I’m Home!” Buffy shouted as she shut the door behind her, hanging her jacket on the hook.
“Buffy? Is that you?” Joyce’s voice rang out from the kitchen. Buffy could hear the fridge door opening, and the muffled chattering of Dawn. Sauntering casually toward the kitchen, she leaned against the doorframe.
“No, it’s the other girl who would walk into your house, announcing her presence by calling you ‘honey’.” Buffy quipped, rolling her eyes before grabbing the glass of orange juice sitting on the bench, downing half of it. “Mm, good OJ. So, what’s the plan tonight?”
Dawn spun around from the cupboard, her expression indignant. “Hey, that was my juice!”
Buffy glanced down at the glass in her hand, and held it sheepishly out to her sister. “You want it?”
Dawn stared at her, one side of her lip curling up. “Yeah, sure. Of course I want the glass of juice you just germed up with your spit, leaving me with your mouth-germs in a half glass of...”
“Yeah, OK. I get it. Juice plus Buffy-germs equals’ bad juice for Dawnie.” Buffy rolled her eyes, downing the rest of the juice. “So, what’s been happening here at the homestead? Much in the way of homestead fun?”
Joyce looked up from the flowers, smiling at her eldest. “Not much sweetie, Dawn and I have been working on her homework.” She gestured at the girl across from her, who rolled her eyes at Buffy in an exaggerated show of distaste.
“Yeah, ‘cause, you know, I need to know algebra.” Dawn smiled, nodding sagely as she added, “It’s a valuable life skill, you know.”
“No one needs to know algebra, Dawn. And yet we all spend six years learning it.” Buffy shrugged. “But don’t worry, as soon as you graduate, you can forget all that stuff.”
Dawn laughed, pouring herself a new glass of juice, dropping the carton onto the bench. Buffy snagged the carton, emptying the last of it into her glass. Aiming, she threw it like a basketball, the carton landing in the garbage on the other side of the room.
“And swish! Three points for the Slayer.” Buffy cheered, breaking out in a little victory dance.
“You’re in a good mood. What’s the news from Scooby Central?” Dawn raised an eyebrow.
“Nothing. Giles knows nothing. Willow knows nothing. Anya knows nothing. Heck, the demons I’ve been beating up know nothing. A big know-nothing on the Glory front.” Buffy rattled off, grinning broadly. She loved it when nothing was happening.
“And that means...?” Joyce prodded, worried.
“It means that, if we know absolutely nothing, then she isn’t planning any uber-evil for the next few days. With no whispers, there’s no way she can be planning something, at least, according to Giles. Something about the Demon World having ripples. So, it’s general patrol- a few hours at most.” She explained, sipping her OJ.
“Oh! Can I come?” Dawn asked excitedly, setting her glass down on the counter.
“On patrol? No!” Dawn’s face fell comically as she moped. “Anyway, I’m going to change into something more fight-y, less...” She glanced down at the knee length denim she was wearing.. “Skirt-sy.”
Dumping her glass in the sink, she headed for the stairs, tailed closely by Dawn.
“Come on, it’s not like I’m much younger than you!” Dawn pleaded, following the Slayer up the stairs. “You were my, exact, very-the-same age when you started slaying, so why can’t I...”
Buffy spun on her heel as she reached her room. “No.” Shrugging at her sister, she shut the door in her face, muffling Dawn’s protests.
Sighing, she turned to her closet, pulling off her shirt. Stretching, she tugged a green, long-sleeved shirt from the shelf, along with a pair of black leather pants. Stepping out of her skirt, she pulled on the pants. Kneeling, she searched under the bed for her combat boots.
Tying the laces, she pulled on her shirt, pausing as she stood, eyes on the centre of her bed.
There was a rose lying on the middle of it.
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