“Mom, you didn’t eat any of this, did you?!” Buffy stood up, gripping the box so tightly that her fingers began to dint the thick cardboard.
“What? No! Buffy, it has your name on it. I only found it when I came down to start dinner,” Joyce almost back away out of instinct.
“Come on, I just got back from Janice’s.” Dawn pointed out, holding up her hands. “Besides, I wouldn’t eat anything some guy sent to you. Gross.”
Buffy rolled her eyes, tucking the box of chocolates into her bag before heading to the door. “Look, I’m sorry. I just… I don’t know who this guy is. He could be dangerous. Just… if you see this kind of stuff around the house, don’t touch it. And don’t let anybody in the house, alright? I’m sorry. I’ll go check this out with Willow, see if she can cast the same let’s-see-if-it’s-evil spell on the chocolates.”
With a small, apologetic smile, she headed for the door, leaving a confused and shell-shocked family behind her.
* * * * * * *
Buffy wandered, almost aimlessly through the cemeteries, her frustration growing with every undisturbed grave and empty shadow she’d passed. She’d already done a sweep through the back alleys and even the main streets of Sunnydale, and she’d barely found a vamp worthy of a fight. She’d slain four already without so much as breaking a sweat. It was driving her mad.
I mean, can’t the forces of darkness, just for one night, rustle me up a good demon or an older-than-a-week vampire or something? Just this once? She thought, disgruntled. Is that too much to ask?
She sighed heavily, stretching her arms out in front of her. She knew she had told her mother she was going to go and see Willow, but she honestly couldn’t bring herself to see the redheaded witch right now. Or ever, she thought with an annoyed pout. She just didn’t want to see her… or any of the gang right now, really. She was sick of it, the way they seemed to judge her for the things out of her control and every little thing she did, every choice she made. It was like all her thoughts were being confused with their opinions, and all she was left with was with a mental mess.
Except maybe Tara, she corrected herself grimly, but she comes with a Willow attached.
Buffy slowed her pace casually, her heightened Slayer senses picking up movement of the undead and fanged variety behind her. She threw forth the air of someone trying to find their way home, hunching her shoulders and gripping the shoulder strap of her bag, tucking hair behind her ear. Her hood was up, which blocked her peripheral vision, but served as a ploy to stop any older vampires from recognizing her. She didn’t need her peripheries though, not when all her nerves were screaming ‘vampire’.
Humming slightly, she bent in the act of tying her shoe, listening to the vamp get closer and closer. She let it get near enough to grab her before she spun, still kneeling, to sweep its legs out from underneath it. Quickly, she stood, falling into a defensive position.
“Bloody hell, Slayer,” Spike touched a hand to the back of his head where it had hit the ground. “That how they greet people where you come from?”
Buffy’s hand was over her mouth, but at his question, she raised her brow, snark at full power as she folder her arms over her chest. “In L.A? It’s either that or the pepper spray.” She shrugged.
Spike exhaled a small laugh, propping himself up on his elbows. “Think I’d prefer the jump then.”
Buffy frowned as his eyes flickered over her, but didn’t bother saying anything. It didn’t mean anything after all. Her hood had fallen back when she’d attacked him, and she tucked her hair behind her ears. She leant down, grabbing his wrist as he grabbed hers, pulling him back up to stand. “What’s with the walking shadow routine, Spike? Why not just yell or something? You know, to avoid the bump on the head.” Her tone was a little harsher than intended, her words hurried and flustered.
He shrugged, but otherwise ignored the question. He opened his mouth to speak, but his expression changed. “Slayer¸ we’ve got company.” He muttered.
Buffy nodded incrementally, half-listening to him as he continued to talk. She’d done this before, usually with Giles, pretending to be completely unaware of the danger until— whap!
Buffy threw a fist back to collide with her attacker’s face, before spinning and hitting with a roundhouse kick. She grinned widely as she faced the new vampire, some pasty-faced college freshman in another life. His expression turned quickly from an evil smirk to a look of shock, and she kicked him again, in the side. Her smile turned savage as she threw blow after blow at the vampire, knocking him to the ground.
“Slayer?” Spike’s voice vaguely registered with her, but she ignored it. She kept throwing her fists forward, each time snapping against the vampire’s face with brutal force. She could feel the ache in her fists growing, feel the pain on her knuckles. “Slayer! Buffy!”
She felt his hand grip her shoulder, pulling her back forcefully. He spun her around, his eyes filled with concern and confusion. She stared at him a moment, their eyes meeting. She tried reading the emotion in his, but before she could figure it out, she felt a pair of hands grab at her, one reaching for her throat. She gripped her stake in both hands and thrust it to the side of her body, sliding it into the vamp’s heart.
Spike saw its surprised look, and the other vampire raised its arm in the motion of one last brutal hit. The peroxide blonde grabbed Buffy’s arms and jerked her towards him, pulling her out of harm’s way but sending them both tumbling towards the ground.
Buffy froze. She’d fallen on top of Spike, her face now inches from his. She inhaled sharply, accidently taking in the scent of cigarettes and distressed leather, the slightest hint of alcohol and a strange, almost earthy scent. His scent. She sat back quickly, her knees on each side of his hips so she was straddling him. She wanted to stand up, back away, but her legs wouldn’t work.
Spike was on his back, Buffy perched on his hips. He could do nothing except will himself not to react to the suddenly intimate situation. The smell of vanilla and the Slayer surrounded him, and his eyelids fluttered shut as she wriggled against him, his jaw tightening. Opening them again, he watched her expressions war with each other, her face unsettled.
“What’s wrong, Slayer?” Buffy gave him a confused, almost startled look. “You’re not checking before you throw a punch, you’re not throwing about your usual one liners, and you’re… you’re angry Slayer. Tense.”
“I’m not…” Buffy sighed as she took in his expression. “It’s nothing. I’ll be fine.”
“You just beat that vamp to a bloody pulp, love. One you could have staked in half a minute. Besides, I can see it in your shoulders. The way you stand. It was obvious all the way back there, his hand gesturing as best it could in the direction from which he’d come. “What’s wrong, pet?”
There was a long pause before Buffy finally spoke. “Just… issues. With the gang.” She frowned. “But nothing I want to talk about right now.” She hastened to add, shaking her arms out. She was itching for a proper fight.
Spike propped himself up on his elbows, closing the distance between them. “Slayer…”
Buffy stood quickly, stumbling a little from the speed of her movement. “I don’t want to talk.”
Spike sighed, standing up himself. “Right then,” he grabbed her arm. “Come on.”
Buffy struggled against his grip as he began to drag her back the way she came. “Spike! What the hell are you doing?!”
Spike shrugged again, letting go of her arm and falling in step beside her, his sidelong glance keeping her moving in his desired direction. “You don’t want to talk; you’re tense and obviously scoring for a fight, and it seems the uglies of this town are taking a night off. So, we’re going to work off some of that tension. Come on.”
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