Chapter Five- Strange Gifts
Buffy picked up the rose lightly, touching a cautious finger gently to its petals. Glancing around the room, she ran her fingers almost absentmindedly down the stem to the crimson ribbon tied artfully around the middle, the ends of the tie trailing down into her lap. Sliding the silk ribbon over her fingers, she stared at the gift, puzzled. Lifting it slowly to her face, she sniffed hesitantly, eyes closing as she inhaled the sweet musk of the rose.
Getting up from the bed, she approached the dresser on the other side of the room, never taking her eyes off the rose. Laying it lightly on the wood next to her diary, she pulled a couple of stakes from the drawer, tucking one into her back pocket. Grabbing her favorite denim jacket from the closet, she swung it over her shoulders¸ sliding the second stake up into the sleeve.
Glancing once more at the rose, she shut the door behind her.
* * * * * * *
“Mom?” Buffy called out as she reached the bottom of the stairs.
“Right here, Buffy,” Joyce called out, waving at her from the couch.
“In her room.”
“Oh, good. I didn’t really feel like dodging her on my way out… “ Buffy paused, glancing back upstairs. “Has… Has Riley been by today?”
“Not unless you’ve given him a key. I’ve been at the gallery all day, and I locked up the house,” Joyce frowned in thought.
“No. No key.” Buffy’s face mirrored her mother’s as she turned to the door. “Don’t wait up, ‘kay? I’ll be home in a few hours.” She didn’t even remember to throw Joyce a reassuring smile until she was halfway out the door, her thoughts still on the rose lying in her room.
* * * * * * *
Spike leaned against the oak in Buffy’s front yard, smoke wafting upward, curling around his cheekbones. He’d been sitting in the sewers since he’d left the rose on her bed, waiting for the sun to go down. Hearing her shouting a goodbye to her bloody Scooby Gang, he’d left the tunnels and hidden under the shadows of the tree.
Eyes on the Slayer’s bedroom window, he started slightly as the light flicked on in the room. Straightening, he focused on the window, the faint sounds of her door closing and the closet opening drifting down to his over-sensitive vampire ears.
Jaw tightening, his eyes flickered closed. Images flooded his mind, a mixture of the dream sequence and new imaginings. The Slayer was so close, right now, changing. Images of a semi-naked Slayer played through his head, and he tightened his fists into balls.
Bloody torture is what it is.
Inhaling a long breath of smoke, he watched the window, but no sound reached him until he heard the bedroom door open and shut again. She was gone.
* * * * * * *
“You know, maybe it’s just me,” Buffy ducked the kick headed for her cheek, rolling away from the assault and jumping up to face them. “But living with three guys,” she punched the girl in front of her, dealing a blow to her nose and another two to her stomach. “Isn’t that kinda skanky?”
Buffy pulled her stake from her sleeve, plunging it into the brunette’s heart. Not waiting to watch the girl turn to dust, Buffy ducked a wild back handed swing before spinning, her foot connecting with the temple of the vampire behind her.
Pulling the other stake from her back pocket, she used them to fend of the three remaining vamp’s attacks, staking two in quick succession. Dealing a roundhouse kick to the third, she threw her stake as he went stumbling back, smiling as it hit home.
“Damn groupies.” She sighed, stretching.”I don’t mind them hanging around, but they always get angry when I tell them- I don’t do autographs.”
Tucking her stake into her pocket she bent down to pick up the second, spinning suddenly, stake shooting forward to collide with... Spike.
Spike instinctively let his arm fly up to block the stake, mere inches from his chest. Knocking the stake from her hand, he smirked as she fell into a defensive position.
“Sorry pet, did I scare you?” he taunted, hands forming mock-claws.
“Damn it, Spike!” Buffy shook off the stance, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I live here.” He gestured behind her, towards his crypt about twenty feet away. Picking up the bag he’d dropped when he’d blocked the stake, he waved it in her face. “I was shopping, alright?”
Buffy wrinkled her nose at the blood bags visible at the top of his “groceries”. Turning away from him, she headed for the main gates, walking casually. “Fine. Head home, Spike. I have work to do.”
Shadowing Buffy, Spike sped up to fall in step with her. “Anything I can help with?”
Cocking an eyebrow his way, Buffy shot a question at the vamp. “And why are you so eager to help?”
“Because... ‘Cause what the bleedin’ hell am I supposed to do otherwise?” Spike stumbled over his excuse.
“I don’t care. Just stay out of my way.” Buffy waved a hand dismissively at Spike, before turning and walking away.
* * * * * * *
Kicking the door shut with a resonating crash, Spike threw his bag down onto the armchair and went for his smokes. Finding the carton empty he threw it against the wall, digging through his shopping for a fresh one.
Lighting up and taking a drag, Spike shook his head, pacing the crypt several times. Finally sliding down to sit in the corner, one knee propped up, he inhaled smoke, his arm resting on his knee.
What the bloody hell had he expected? For Buffy to see the rose, miraculously know it was him who had left it and fall head over bloody heels in love with him? He was an idiot. A bloody, friggin’ idiot. He needed to give her time, to figure it out, to... to love him back.
Pushing himself up from the floor, he flicked the remains of his cigarette away, watching the red glow slowly die. Inhaling shakily, he grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels from the bag on the chair, downed half of it and shook himself.
He needed to fuckin’ pull it together. He could do this. Spike smiled to himself. By the end of this, she’d be in love with him.
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