Author's Notes: Nothing big this time 'round. Just thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone who's reading, and thank you for all of your wonderful comments/encouragement. Glad to see that what started as pure crack!fic in my mind has translated into something that other people are enjoying too :)
Dialogue zoinked from Season 1, Teacher's Pet. Also, Willow's 'warm glowing warmness' comment is, I'm pretty sure, from an episode of The Simpsons.
A second later, and she was wrapped in the warm glowing warmness that was Xander’s left arm. Although it was a little less muscular than his right, and it felt like there was an extra knob on the inside of his elbow, Willow liked it all the same. Buffy asked what he was up to, but Willow thoroughly didn’t care. Xander was touching her. Xander touches were always good touches.
“Work with me here. Blayne had the nerve to question my manliness. I’m just gonna give him a visual.”
Well, that was a plan she could definitely get on board with. Not about to waste an opportunity to embrace him, as though they were really a real couple, Willow threw both arms around him, hugging him tight. He didn’t mind if she ran her hand across his chest, did he? Just a little bit… “We’ll show him!”
She looked over at Buffy, to give her an oh my gosh, look! Do you see this? With the touching and the holding and isn’t this great look, but she seemed a bit distracted. Looking across the club, features gone slack.
“I don’t believe it,” she murmured, tone half annoyed, half apathetic.
“I know, and after all my conquests,” Xander said excitedly, apparently not picking up on the new vibe.
Buffy stepped out of the embrace, as if she’d forgotten it was even happening, and headed in the direction she’d been staring. Disengaging from the Xander Hug, Willow stayed shoulder-to-shoulder with him, searching the crowd to see who, or what, had hypnotized their best friend.
Standing just inside one of the near exits was a guy who looked to be maybe a few years older than them. From this distance it was tough to really make out his face, but his bleached hair was like the glowing beacon of a lighthouse. He was dressed mostly in black; black boots, black jeans, a black t-shirt, and black leather jacket that fell past his knees. The only splash of colour came from the button-down shirt he was wearing, the colour of blood oozing from a vein.
“Who’s that?” Xander asked, realizing along with her that he was their friend’s target.
“That must be William!” she blurted, recalling the small tidbits Buffy had fed them over the last couple of weeks about the guy who’d been showing up around town. Not quite following her, but not exactly accidentally bumping into her, either. She’d never talked about what he looked like though. “I think?”
“That weird guy that warned her about the Harvest?”
“That’s him, I’ll bet you.”
Xander, who’d been tense and anxious any time Buffy had talked about the Mysterious Guy of Mystery, suddenly seemed rather relaxed. “Oh. Well.” A little giggle. “Oh.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Nothing. It’s just- the way she talked about him. I expected him to be buff. All tall, dark, and mysterious. Instead he’s… well, look at his hair! If that doesn’t scream ‘please, please, oh please, someone look at me’, I don’t know what does.”
“So you’re not threatened by him?”
“Not so much.”
“Even though Buffy just forgot we even existed to go over and say hello?” she asked. Hated twisting a little exact-o-knife into his crush on their friend, but… but he was hers, darnit, and he wasn’t ever going to realize it if he kept his gaze pinned firmly on Buffy.
Xander weighed her words for a few seconds, that triumphant smile ghosting on and off of his face like the picture on an aerial television. “Well… well, now I am!”
Spike didn’t move from where he was standing. Just watched her approach, her scent reaching him a few seconds ahead of her and wrapping around him like a warm quilt. There were times in the last few weeks where he’d had to reel in his urge to comment on it. To tell her that she didn’t even have to bother with the delicious perfume she wore, because underneath it she smelled like the rays of honeyed sunlight that bounced off the surface of a tranquil lake in the summertime. Not that he’d been in a position to smell such a phenomenon in a good long while, but even a hundred and twenty years on, the bloody awful poet inside of him still scrabbled to the surface of his psyche once in a while.
He drank in a deep gulp of it just as she planted herself in front of him. Held it in as long as he could.
“Well! Look who’s here!”
He grinned at her. Glanced just over her shoulder to the friends she’d left behind, and wondered for only the briefest moment what their names were. The boy didn’t look happy. “Hi.”
“I’d say it’s nice to see you, but then we both know that’s a big fib.”
Yeah, he’d set himself up for a greeting like that. Seems he’d been incapable of speaking to her since their first meeting without ensuring that he was chewing on his foot at the same time. “Oh, you wound me so, Miss Buffy.”
“Yuh-huh.” She rolled her eyes, unconvinced. “I’m sure you’ve got an ego the size of the Titanic.”
“Would that make you the iceberg then?”
“Nah. Just a casual observer who’ll be glad to watch you sink.”
“Right. Listen. I won’t be long. Have you back with your little pals in no time.”
“Let me guess. You’ve got a cryptic warning for me about some exciting new catastrophe, and once delivered, you’ll disappear into the night.”
Although the Slayer filled up just about every one of his senses, Spike couldn’t help noticing the way her friends were still staring. Could barely contain his amusement at the way the girl seemed enraptured in their conversation, while the boy looked as though he wanted to tackle him. So, it was partly because he wanted to rile him up a bit, and partly because Spike just wanted an excuse to touch her, that he stepped forward and wrapped his hands around her arms.
“You look cold, Slayer,” he commented, running his palms up and down the delicate but powerful pillars. Static electricity sparked beneath his palms, and he felt the current diffuse through every reanimated cell in his body. While her scent was a cozy blanket that wrapped around him, comforting him, the feel of her skin beneath his lit a fire in his gut that was already burning its way to the surface.
“What?” she blurted, attempting to step back from his hold. “I’m not cold. I’m the opposite of cold. It’s a balmy night, you know… no reason to be all with the-”
He had to stop himself from laughing; even from this distance, he could hear her friend making an almost identical comment. “Relax, love. It’s just an excuse to stand a little closer, make sure the innocent passers-by don’t hear what I’ve got to tell you.”
This eased a bit of the tension from her muscles. She melted, ever-so-slightly, into his caresses.
“Got some information on a new baddie that’s rolling into town. Sure your Watcher’ll have a few things to add when you ask him.”
“You know, for someone who’s wearing three layers, you’re pretty chilly yourself.”
Spike chuckled. So he was having a bit of an effect on the girl, was he? Severing his contact with her, he shoved his hands into his pockets. Not that he hadn’t been enjoying it himself, but he needed her to hear what he had to say. “Listen, this new vamp… he’s not your run-of-the-mill bloodsucker. You ever watch the X-Men?”
“Uh… I know of the X-Men.”
“Well, you take your garden variety vamp, cross him with that Wolverine bloke, and, well… tah-bloody-da.”
“The one with the claw hands?” he prompted, holding up three fingers in a crude demonstration.
“Oh right,” her eyes widened as she put this together with his description. “Oh.”
“’S just on the one hand, but he knows how to use it.” Which she probably didn’t need to be told, but it seemed worthwhile to mention it anyway. “From what I’ve sussed out, he’s an old lackey for the Master, which means it probably won’t be long ‘till he’s coming after you. So… stay sharp,” he said with a little grin.
“I know. Thinking of giving up my day job to become a comedian full-time.”
This put a thoughtful look on her face. “What is your day job?”
“None of your business, Slayer,” he said, though it was playful. “Should probably shove off anyhow. Your mates are starting to look lonely. The boy looks like he’s about to have an aneurysm.”
Buffy glanced back at them. “Oh. Yeah. I should…”
“Right. Be careful out there, yeah?”
“I will. And you… you too.”
A door slammed downstairs, and glancing at the clock, Buffy knew it wasn’t her mother. The voice that called up to her a second later confirmed it. “Buffy?”
“Up here, Will!”
For the thunderstorm that suddenly erupted in her home, she wondered how it was that Willow didn’t weigh a good two hundred pounds more than she actually did. Sounded like there as an elephant charging up the stairs.
“Hey!” she said as her friend’s form appeared in her doorway.
…Then catapulted itself at her bed in a hurricane of colour and red hair. “So? Sososososo!”
She couldn’t help laughing. “So what?”
“So! Spill! About the guy! The extremely guy-shaped guy who was at the Bronze last night. Was it William? It was William, wasn’t it? Was it him? I know it was!”
After his departure last night, Buffy had returned to her friends wearing an odd and contemplative frown. Apparently wanting to spare Xander the torture of discussing the mysterious visitor in front of him, Willow had given her a look that said they would definitely be having some girl-talk about him later. No opportunities had presented themselves at school that day- they were busy with class and studying and researching the vamp Spike had come by to warn her about.
“Will, I know it’s going to break your heart to hear this, but there’s nothing to spill. This is a no-spill zone.”
“Yes there is! Buffy, did you even see yourself last night? ‘Cause I did. I was there!” She insisted, as if this was something the Slayer might not have been aware of. “So come on! Make like Niagara Falls!”
“You want me to generate electricity?”
“Although I’m impressed that you just made that reference, you know that’s not what I mean! Buffy, please.”
“Honest, Will. There’s nothing to say. I mean, that was him, yes, but… there’s nothing…” Nothing there? Well, that would be a lie. There was loathing, and a good helping of venom… and there was the way his hands had felt against her arms, and what he’d said to her about her hair the other night even though she was sure he was just needling her, and then the way he’d told her to be careful, as if he really did mean that, and…
“It’s not like that between us,” she finished with a somewhat apologetic look on her face. “Like, at all.”
All sorts of postures flashed across the redhead’s face at that. Disappointment, denial, frustration. Lastly, and this was the one she held on to… smug satisfaction. Like she knew something that Buffy didn’t, and she was enjoying it. “Uh huh.”
“It isn’t! Really… if you’d been present for all of our previous conversations, you definitely wouldn’t be looking at me like that right now.”
“Yeah. And you’ve been delusional for how long now?”
“Well, you deprive me of juicy boy-related details, and this is what you get. Snarky Willow. So either fess up, or learn to love me.”
“Oh, so it’s boy-talk you want?” Buffy asked with false cheeriness.
This made the other girl perk up though, bouncing on her knees in those bright green overalls of hers that she somehow managed to pull off. “Yes please!”
“All right. Then tell me, how are things going with your intense crush on he-who-shall-not-be-named, by which I mean Xander?”
Comprehension settling in, Willow deflated, giving her a one-eyed glare. “Fine. Shutting up now.”
“So.” A hand came into view, snatched a helping of snack mix out of the bowl in front of her, and returned to a mouth that was starting to become a little too familiar. Spike’s teeth then pulverized the helpless junk food as he grinned at her. “Heard a rumour there’s one less vampire walking around, making a nuisance of himself.”
“There is,” she nodded as he leaned against the bar with one elbow. “Although that’s only the half of it. Not even the half of it if you’re going by sheer size.”
An eyebrow perked, and he spun to rest both forearms against the bar, leaning sideways to nudge her with his shoulder. “Do tell.”
“Well, there was this substitute teacher we had at school the last few days. Working the whole femme fatale look. Turns out she was a giant praying mantis demon thing who was snatching up the guys in school to uh… well… y’know.”
Spike stared at her, contemplating what he’d just been told. He then backed up, and planted one booted calf on the stool beside her. “Pull the other one, Slayer,” he snickered.
“It’s true! 21 Cotswold Court. Drop on by if you want proof- there’s still plenty of goop and slime stuck to the walls.”
“Huh,” he grunted after studying her for another few seconds, searching for any sign that she was making it up. “Well, guess they really do mean it when they say that schools today are going to hell.”
“Shyeah. Some sooner than others.” Scooping up a pinch of the salty snack mix herself, Buffy hid her grin at the way he was tapping his fingers on the bar beside her to some inaudible rhythm. Whatever song he was listening to in his head had a much more chaotic pace than the one slipping over them from the Bronze’s speakers. “So… I guess I should thank you for the tip. About Wolverine.”
While he’d been looking around, scanning the crowd before she spoke, the second her voice broke the air again his attention zeroed back in on her. Like a hawk that had just spotted a mouse scurrying through the bushes below its perch. “Pleasure’s all mine, love.”
She fought with herself over whether to release the words that were resting on her tongue, but before she could really think it over they’d already broken through the lock on the gate and trampled out into the atmosphere. “Of course, next time, it might make things easier… for both of us… if I knew how to get in touch with you.”
Spike’s eyes widened, and he did this thing with his mouth where his tongue curled up over his teeth, his lips grinning around the bulge. “Why, Miss Summers. Are you asking for my phone number?”
Was she? Did… did she just talk? With words and a complete sentence? Because… suddenly her brain was finding it difficult to… what was she doing again?
“Why you brazen little hussy.” Though the words were insulting, the way he said them suggested he was using them in a way that was anything but.
Still, they shook off whatever neurotoxin that look had injected her with, and she straightened up. Frown firmly affixed to her visage. “Do you think it’ll ever be possible for us to have a conversation where you don’t say something that’s incredibly… jerk-tastic?”
Eyes glittering with amusement at her word amalgamation, he lifted one lithe finger to relieve her forehead of the burden placed on it by a few stray ribbons of hair. “Well, now.” A head tilt, and his thumb was on her cheek, giving it two soft strokes. His Adam’s apple bobbed like a buoy lost at sea when he spoke. “Where would be the fun in that?”
“Huh?” she asked, surfacing from what felt like some painkiller-induced sleep. He was already gone though, giving her a two-fingered wave from the door as he went through it backwards.
Looking down into her mug of coffee, she suddenly realized she no longer needed the steaming beverage to suffuse her insides with the warmth she’d been missing earlier. If anything she was tempted to ask the waiter for a glass of ice on the rocks.
And keep ‘em coming.