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Rewind. Shuffle. Replay. by cloud_forest
The Pack
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Author's Notes:
-Some dialogue from Season 1, 'The Pack'
-To all of you who have commented on this fic, I apologize for never responding to you. Know that each and everyone one of your words means so much to me. Thank you!!
-As always, hope you enjoy! 

 Even though, from her own observation of the situation, she wasn’t sure there was really any reason to hope, Buffy loved watching her best friend- and yes, she was referring to Willow that way now, Xander too –talk about her crush. Who, incidentally, was Xander. The time they’d spent as friends during which Willow didn’t know that Buffy was the Slayer had been brief, and girly conversations like these helped reassure her that their friendship was built on something other than the redhead’s eagerness to help in her cause.
“He makes my head go tingly,” Willow was saying with a look that indicated she really didn’t mind such a sensation. “You know what I mean?”
“I dimly recall,” she said with a wry grin, looking up as though she were searching for the memory itself on the ceiling somewhere.
“But it hasn’t happened to you lately?”
Buffy felt guilty for a moment, having steered the conversation back towards her own guy troubles. Or, more accurately, her not-having-guy troubles. But ever since the Owen fiasco she’d been getting real comfortable in this mopey little rut she’d dug for herself, and she wouldn’t mind a bit of company for a minute or two. “Not of late.”
Willow seemed unwilling to cooperate with her. She fixed her with those green eyes that, despite their innocence, seemed to take in a lot more than she often let on. “Not even for a dangerous and mysterious older guy whose lighter you’re fiddling with right this second?”
“He left it here when I saw him last week,” Buffy protested, shoving the metal prism back into her pocket. She hadn’t even realized she was holding it. “Of course, it’s his own fault. He lit up in here even though it’s clearly no smoking allowed, and then actually had the nerve to act all angry-insulted-customer when they asked him to leave.”
“Buffy, come on,” Willow insisted, giving her a little nudge with her foot. “Spike pushes your buttons. You know he does.”
“Yeah, like some kid who’s just jumped on the elevator in a forty-story building and decides he wants to visit every single floor on the way up. You know, the one you’d probably want to strangle if his Mom wasn’t standing right there?” She picked the end off her croissant and chewed on it, continuing her rant. “Plus, I mean, what’s with the whole Billy Idol thing, anyway? He does realize that it’s just rude to steal someone else’s look and then actually do a better job of pulling it off than they do, right? And…” she hazarded a glance up at her companion. “And you’re not buying any of this, are you?”
“Not even a little bit.”
“All right. Fine. I’ll admit that there is some button-pushing that’s not entirely of the bad, and… I suppose some girls might find him good-looking, if they… you know, happen to have eyes and are conscious, but…” she sighed. This wasn’t good. This was the most she’d let herself admit her attraction- her small, barely even kind of there attraction –to Spike. It was something she really didn’t want to be carrying around, because she was pretty sure if she ever attempted to act on it, she’d spend the next forty-five minutes watching him laugh in her face. So, it was time to find some legitimate negatives, and fast. “It’s just… he’s never actually around, and when he is all he wants to do is talk about vampires and things that are gonna try to kill me that week, and I’m not sure he actually takes me seriously, and… I, I just can’t have a relationship-”
“There he is!”
“Spike?” Oh no… had he heard what she’d been-
Good. That was… Xander was… Xander was better. Between the two ‘he’s that Willow could’ve been referring to, he was definitely the superior option.


A swirling black tornado swept into the seat beside her. The whole piece of furniture buckled as the storm touched down, shuddering as its legs skidded against the concrete floor. A gust of leather-flavoured wind whipped against her cheeks.
Readjusting her clothing, Buffy turned her head to see Spike sitting beside her. Looking comfortable enough that she wondered if someone had liquefied him and poured him onto the cushions. His eyes were bright stars that hung over his open-mouthed smile.
Which, by the way, involved him sticking his tongue out to perch the tip of it on the outer surface of his top teeth.
How was it that he could do these things? Things that would look ridiculous and stupid on any other guy. Things that, frankly, would make her think she should perhaps call a physician… or a good psychiatrist…
Yet on him… well… Buffy wouldn’t admit this to anyone. She would barely admit it to herself, but… they tickled places in her core that she didn’t know could be tickled.
“Evening, Goldilocks!”
She sighed, rolling her eyes. “And so my night is complete.”
He frowned at her. “What? You’re not happy to see me?”
“Spike…” she turned to deliver one of her biting comebacks, but instead, all that came out was a defeated sigh.
Tonight, she just wasn’t in the mood.
Picking up on her lack of enthusiasm, but apparently taking it as an indication that he should simply pick a new topic to needle her about, he sat up and looked around the club. “So, Slayer, where’s that overgrown puppy dog you were tossing the frisbee for last week?”
For a moment, she thought he was confusing her with someone else. Then, she realized what he was talking about.
…Who he was talking about.
With all that had happened since their school trip to the zoo a couple of days ago, she barely remembered her brief exploration into the Dating of Normal Guys. Or, well… guy. Not plural. Singular.
Very, very singular.
She was surprised that this was the first time he’d asked her about Owen, but the zippo lighter digging into her hip reminded her as to why that was. The only other time she’d seen him since her date night was when he’d gotten kicked out of the Bronze for smoking. He’d barely said two words to her before security was manhandling him out into the back alley.
He’d tossed the lighter to her a second before their arrival. Winked at her, used one of his not-so-cutesy British pet names on her, and asked her to hold on to it for him. Said he was ‘bloody fond of it’. Didn’t want it getting scratched or dented in the melee.
She had rolled her eyes and informed him that he was about to get his ass kicked. Then slipped the lighter in her pocket for safe keeping. Told herself that the only reason she did so was because if she didn’t, she would never hear the end of it from him.
Not because she cared about him, or anything having to do with him, or any of his stupid little possessions that were only used to help him smoke the things that were going to end up killing him one day and… that didn’t explain why, for the last week and a half, she’d proceeded to carry it around in her pants or backpack or purse or…
What was the question?
“Your boy scout. The Muffin Man. ‘Bout yey tall.” He held his arm high up in the air to demonstrate. “Seemed about as intelligent as a shorted-out bread-maker?” He snorted. “And every bit as exciting, too.”
“You know, I’m waiting for the day when your description of someone isn’t also a huge insult to them.”
“In that case, don’t hold your breath. Doubt you’d look good in purple.”
Buffy responded with narrowed eyes, before she let her gaze fall to the hem of her shirt. Tugging on the edge, she glanced at him again before answering his question. “If you can believe it, he ended up following us to the funeral home. Nearly got himself killed.” She laughed then, shaking her head. “Behold the power of my charms.”
“Ah. Got scared away, did he?”
“Just the opposite,” she said on the tail of another disappointed laugh. “He enjoyed it a little too much. Wanted to know when we could do it again.”
She stopped her explanation at that. Having realized that Spike probably wasn’t looking for the long-winded, let-me-talk-about-my-feelings explanation as to why Owen was no longer a factor in the equation that was her life. He was probably looking for a short response, about which he could make an even shorter snarky remark.
So, what came out of his mouth next was a bit of a surprise.
“Sorry it didn’t work out for you, love.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you are.” She looked up to give him her best ‘could we play this game some other time?’ smile, and was shocked by what she saw. A pair of sincere, almost sympathetic blue eyes staring back at her. “Oh. You… you actually mean that?”
“Well,” he gave a one-armed shrug. “Maybe I’m not sorry it didn’t work out with him, but… this life you’ve got, Slayer… It’s tough enough without feeling like you’re alone in it.”
Buffy found herself paralyzed in that moment. Could do nothing but stare at him as she attempted to comprehend the words that had just come out of his mouth.
…Comprehend the sincere and supportive words that had come out of his mouth.
Part of the reason she didn’t say anything for nearly a half-minute was that she was waiting for him to follow it up with something a little more… Spike-like.
But… nothing else came.
Until he frowned at her. “What?”
“You’re staring. What is it?”
Shaking herself out of her fugue, she gave him a bemused smile. “I’m sorry. It’s just… up until this moment, I wasn’t sure that you were actually human.”
Spike bit his bottom lip as he laughed at that comment.
When he didn’t say anything in response, she started to wonder if perhaps she’d offended him. Here he was, just trying to make her feel better about the whole Owen situation, and she’d turned it around and used it against him.
Hoping to kick-start their clearly deceased conversation, she reached into her pants pocket and pulled out the only lifeline she had at her disposal. “By the way… since I’m guessing you’re going through some serious nicotine withdrawal without it… here’s your lighter back.”
He smiled at her as he extracted it from her grasp. “Kept it for me all this time, did you, love?” Turning it over in his hands, he flicked it open and closed. Open again. Brought the flame to life for a brief moment, then closed it up and shoved it into his pocket. “Thanks ever so.”
“Yeah, well… you’re just lucky my Mom never found it. Not only would it have ended up in the garbage, but I probably would’ve been grounded until the end of forever.”
“Not a fan of smoking, is she?”
“Well, that…” Buffy raised her eyebrows, bottom lip flopping into a thoughtful pout. “And, it could also have something to do with the fact that I… sort of got kicked out of my last school for burning down the gym.”
What?” he asked, his face exploding into a look of giddy surprise. “You lie!”
“I don’t.”
“You burned down…?”
“The entire…?”
“Yup.” A short pause as she let him absorb this information. “And I was wearing a dress when I did it, too.”
Spike gaped at her for what felt like another full minute before he shook his head, blowing out a sharp stream of air. “You just became the world’s perfect woman.”
“Really? Arson? That’s your big turn-on?”
“Well, I assume there were vampires involved.”
“You assume right.”
“There you go then. Mass slaying by fire. Doesn’t get better than that.”
Buffy tried to frown, but she was too busy laughing at him. He was such a weirdo. A fact she was only too happy to inform him of.
“Glad you think so, sweetness.” His smile told her he meant it.
She whacked him on the arm, and settled further into her seat. Tried to ignore the small, glowing ball of warmth in her chest. It had only been ignited when Spike arrived, and that just couldn’t be a good thing. Because it meant he was the cause of said glowyness, and Buffy was still quite happy telling herself she didn’t- and never would -think of him that way. Never ever.
“So… what are you doing over here, all by your little lonesome?” He nodded his head toward the dance floor. “Came with your mates, didn’t you?”
Buffy followed his gaze to where Xander and Willow were dancing. Her two best friends in the world. One of whom had attempted to force himself on her yesterday.
As the memory trickled through her brain, a shudder chased after it.
She knew that it wasn’t Xander who was responsible for his actions. She knew it. Knew that it was the animal, the demon, the thing inside of him that had made him say the things he’d said, and do the things he’d done.
Still, it was Xander’s body that had plastered itself to hers. Xander’s hands that had stapled her wrists to the floor. Xander’s voice that had spoken those acidic words about what she wanted in a guy, about the fact that he had become just that. Xanders lips that had scorched the delicate landscape of her flesh…
Talking with him, she could do. Hanging out with him at school, laughing and joking like the whole thing had never happened. Yeah, she could go along with that. After all, even if he didn’t remember it, recovering from what he’d gone through had to be tough enough without having one of his good friends completely shut him out.
…Dancing with him though? Having her body anywhere near his, in what could be described as an even slightly vulnerable position?
That might take another day or two.
It just… didn’t feel quite right yet.
Turning to look at Spike, in the midst of reminiscing on the last couple of days, something struck her as odd.
During his bout of hyena-induced insanity, Xander had described Spike as dangerous. Mean. A guy who could and probably would hurt her someday, be it physically or emotionally.
Strange thing was though… when she looked at him, when she sat next to him like this, Buffy didn’t feel any of that. Sure, he had the whole bad boy image working for him; with the bleached hair and leather and smoking in places he wasn’t supposed to. The scar over his eyebrow suggested he’d been in at least a few good fist fights in his life…
But around him, Buffy felt safe. Not necessarily in the sense that he could or would protect her from anything. Especially since, with Slayer strength behind her, she could probably beat up anyone or anything better than he could.
It was more that… something about him… made her feel like he would never try to hurt her. Never even think about it.
It was… a vibe she got.
He slung barbs her way often enough, delivered more than an ample supply of veiled insults to her, but that was all just surface stuff. Stuff that didn’t matter.
When it mattered, Buffy thought… if such a situation ever presented itself, when it really mattered… Spike would do right by her.
…How weird of a thought was that?
Pulling herself out of her reverie, she gave him a half-hearted smile. “Yeah. We came together. I’m just… not in much of a mood for dancing tonight. Think I ate something funky at lunch,” she lied. Scrunched up her nose a little though just to make it convincing.
“Ah. American cafeteria food. Raising the bar for the culinary arts across the world.”
Buffy laughed, rolling her eyes.
“So, does this mean you’ll keep me company for a little while longer?”
Me keep you company?” she asked, eyebrows vaulting up toward the ceiling. “Uh, you’re the one who sat down next to me, buster. If anyone’s the company-keeper, it’s you.”
“You really are a stickler for the details, aren’t you Summers?”
“The stickleriest,” she agreed with a single, sharp nod.
A sigh, although the amused smile he wore told her he wasn’t actually annoyed. “All right. Can I keep your wonderful self company then?”
“That depends.”
“On what?”
“Do you think you can manage not to say anything insulting, annoying, or obnoxious while you’re here?”
Spike just stared at her. The barest hint of amusement shining in his eyes.
“Right,” she said with an apologetic nod of her head. “I forgot. That’s like asking you not to breathe. Never mind.”
“So… I can stay then?” he asked after she didn’t say anything further on the subject.
“Yeah Spike,” she nodded, reaching down to grab the last remains of the cookie she’d been munching on for a good twenty minutes now. “You can stay.”

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