“Giles, I appreciate the non-court ordered quality time we’ve all been spending together lately, but seriously, do we know anything new about Glory’s name?” Buffy asked with a smile, her chin resting in her hand, her elbow propped up on the table.
Buffy wrinkled her nose apologetically as Giles’ expression turned confused. “Sorry, Sp— someone got me thinking of my dad a little while ago.” She explained, catching herself before she mentioned Spike- she knew Xander and Willow were still a little with the wiggins after the Bronze two nights ago. “But, seriously... do we have anything new on the Glory front?”
Giles frowned. “Not... not as such, no.” He admitted sheepishly.
“C’mon, G-man, where’s the commitment?” Xander taunted jovially, all animosity from a few nights ago gone. He watched Anya tidying out of the corner of his eye, sitting down next to Willow.
“I have asked you never to call me that,” Giles reprimanded the younger man with the slightest touch of humour in his voice. Xander gave him a sheepish, good-humoured grin in return, and Giles removed his glasses, wiping the lenses with his handkerchief. “The new books are in, and I thought the research would progress a mite faster if we all lend a hand.”
Xander groaned, winking at Buffy as Anya sat down next to him and he wrapped an arm around her waist. “Do we have to?”
“Yes, Xander and I had plans tonight.” Anya told them plainly, glancing over her nails. “We were going to have a romantic dinner. And then sex.”
“Yes, well, be that as it may,” Giles flustered as Xander shifted uncomfortably next to his girlfriend. “I thought it might be a priority to find Glory’s name before she actually hurts somebody.” His expression turned stern at that, and Xander cowed slightly, his mocking smile still hiding beneath the surface.
“Besides Buffy,” Willow pointed out, already skimming one of Giles’ new books eagerly. Tara was on the upper floor, browsing the shelves for spell ingredients.
“Yes, thank you, Will.” Buffy said, the sarcasm in her voice belied by her genial tone. “We just had to remind everyone of that failure.”
Willow grimaced apologetically.
“So Willow and I have begun taking notes, and it would be very much appreciated if you all lend a hand.” Giles said matter-of-factly, heading to the side table that housed the coffee, tea and jug.
“Alright,” Buffy sighed, smiling innocently at Giles as she stood up. “But if I’m expected to wade my way through old books that aren’t going to help me pass my history final, then I’m going to need some major snackage.” Xander perked up at that, but Buffy got there first. “And I humbly volunteer my services to get them. Any requests?”
Xander pouted at being beaten to the temporary escape, but spoke up. “The usual donut mix, I think Buffster. Sure you don’t want a lift?”
“No, it’s okay.” Buffy waved a hand, feeling a touch of petty triumph at Xander’s crestfallen expression. Revenge was sweet. “I need to stretch my legs, anyway.”
Anya stood and moved to the register, carefully counting out some money and handing it to Buffy with a stern look, as if warning her not to spend any more than she needed to. Buffy took it with a smile and an eye roll as Anya returned to sit by Xander, complaining under her breath about not getting her ‘romantic sex night’ as she chose a book.
Buffy grabbed her coat and slipped it on, heading for the door.
“Buffy?” Giles spoke up, looking up from his tea. “You have a stake?”
Buffy nodded, patting her hip, where a stake was concealed in a hidden pocket of her pea coat. Since her mother had found out about her being a Slayer, she’d taken to sewing extra pockets into Buffy’s coats, making it easier to carry stakes without a bag. She loved her Mom. “Got it covered, Giles. Fanged freaks come out when the moon does. I’m a regular boy scout.”
“Make sure you get a few extra jellies, would you?”
“On it, Watcher-man.” Buffy called out over her shoulder as she slipped out the door.
She headed down the street at a leisurely pace, the tiniest of smiles on her mouth as she glanced idly around the empty street. It was late, but most of the cafes and takeaways stayed open later in Sunnydale, thanks to many late night studying sessions at the nearby university and a few scattered travellers and truckers. That would be under the title of Bad Thing if there was only one or two open- feeding central for hungry vamps not afraid to slaughter in public, but with four or five open on the one block, it was a lot safer. Still, Buffy usually included the Main Street in her nightly rounds, just in case.
After all, a cautious Slayer is a Successful Slayer. Or some other nonsensical that Giles wrapped into his lectures, anyway.
Either way, the Espresso Pump was open late, and Buffy stepped into the air conditioned cafe to the scent of freshly ground coffee and warm cinnamon. She inhaled pleasantly- most of her late night outings didn’t smell so good. They usually smelt more like dirt and well, dead people. Most vampires didn’t really make bathing a top priority.
“Hi, what can I do for you?” The girl behind the counter smiled toothily at her over the counter, recognising her after a moment. “Oh, you’re that goofy guy’s friend, right? Xavier, or Zack... or something?”
“Xander, right,” Buffy nodded. The Scoobies really were regular customers. The girl across from her had that wholesome vibe- like she was the kind of girl who baked cookies and went to church every Sunday.
“You want the usual donut order?” The girl asked, already reaching for a takeaway box and a pair of serving tongs. Really regular.
Buffy nodded, her eyes on the display counter. “Better make it a double order. Four more jellies, a few mixed icings and a couple of glazed. Ooh, and a couple of those chocolate éclairs.” She smiled back at the girl as she jotted down the extra order, promising to get them ready as soon as she’d finished with the coffee orders she had lined up for a couple of irritable and tired looking truck drivers and some already extremely caffeinated-looking teenagers.
She sat down at an empty booth in the corner, closing her eyes to enjoy the atmosphere around her. It felt... normal.
“You know, pet, you really shouldn’t fall asleep in public.” A British accent interrupted her musings, and her eyes opened. Spike was standing at her table, looking down at her with bright eyes and a small, humoured smile. He was wearing the usual black ensemble- tight jeans, tight tee shirt and his iconic duster. It looked both ridiculous and strangely kind of... fitting in the brightly lit cafe. Maybe she was just getting used to having him around. “Something nasty might take advantage of you.”
“I’m not sleeping,” Buffy smiled back, settling against the cushioned back of the booth and closing her eyes again. “I am enjoying my surroundings.”
Spike’s smile widened affectionately as she shut her eyes again. He hesitated for a moment before smirking and turning to slide into the booth next to her- rather than the other side of it- nudging at her hip with his own teasingly.
Buffy’s eyes opened in surprise as he pushed her, protesting good-naturedly. “Hey, what the— Spike!”
Spike beamed at her as he’d succeeded to worm his way completely onto the seat, his legs spread out comfortably, his boyish grin making Buffy laugh. Spike had managed to take up most of the space, his legs spread in what Xander had once described to her as ‘anatomically necessary’, and the square corners of the booth left her sandwiched between its edge and Spike’s shoulder, decidedly close.
I wouldn’t have trouble sitting like this next to Xander, she told herself. She felt comfortable- if a little strange- about their seating arrangement. And hell, I’ve been closer to Spike lately than I have to the others. She shrugged mentally. A little unexpected, but okay.
She poked him in the ribs, giving him an indignant expression, “Do you mind?”
“Oi! Watch it, love!” Spike jerked away from her prodding finger, his expression still jovial. He was in a really good mood. “You’ll bruise me.”
“And we wouldn’t want that to happen,” Buffy shot back jokingly, rolling her eyes as he settled back into his previous position.
“You don’t mess with perfection, pet.” He said smoothly, his expression straight-faced. She could see the humour in his eyes, though.
She smiled back with a scoff, shaking her head. He chuckled in response, and she sat back comfortably again, her shoulder brushing against his as she rested her head on the back of the booth, her eyes half closed.
“I’m fine,” Buffy smiled, not opening her eyes. “Like I said, making with the enjoyment here.”
“You enjoy sitting in a coffee shop by yourself?” Spike cocked a brow, and Buffy turned her head towards him, a small smile on her face as she looked at him.
“I’m not by myself, am I?”
Spike returned her smile.
“It makes... it makes me feel normal.” Buffy confessed, rolling her head back to look towards the ceiling again. “Like a normal girl, sitting in a coffee shop, waiting for a sugar fix.”
“With a vampire,” Spike added, only the slightest bit bitter.
She looked at him again, straightening up. “With a friend who happens to have an addiction to black leather and an unfortunate choice in hair colour,” she amended for him, grinning when he chuckled, ducking his head.
“I like that,” Spike replied. “...Your lack of taste aside.”
“My lack of taste?” Buffy repeated indignantly, eyebrows shooting up. “Who here wrote the book on that’s-so-three-decades ago, Mr. Idol?”
“I’ll have you know that that wanker stole that look from me,” Spike retorted.
“So what, you still wear it because you’re making a protest statement?”
“Like I said, pet, you don’t mess with perfection.” Spike grinned, nudging his shoulder against hers. “Once you find a look that works, you bloody stick to it.”
“Like gum to a shoe,” Buffy nodded, a humoured grin breaking through despite trying to keep a straight face. Spike gave her a mock-hurt look, pushing her again. She giggled, shoving him back. He dug an elbow into her side and she gasped, her laughter doubling as she tried to fight him off. His fingertips danced over her ribs, digging into her sides, and she pushed at him, forcing him away with her knee. “Spike! Stop it—“
He chuckled triumphantly as she squirmed, turning towards him on the seat as she tried to fight him off. She managed to grab hold of his wrists and force his hands away from her, but he pushed back, pinning her arms up on either side of her face. The motion brought his face extremely close to hers, and she could feel his cool breath on her face... smell the cigarettes and leather.
Her own breathing faltered, just for a second it caught in her throat, and Spike’s eyes moved to hers. Those bright blue eyes. Then, they fell to her lips. Buffy could hear her breath was laboured, partly from the exertion and partly from the new situation, and her tongue darted out to wet her suddenly dry lips.
Spike’s eyes followed her tongue, fixated on her mouth. He ducked his head towards hers slowly, and Buffy knew she should turn her head, push him away from her, tell him no, but instead... she closed her eyes.
Spike’s lips touched hers as softly as they had the night in the training room, and Buffy marvelled at how someone so sarcastic and deadly could kiss so sweetly, his mouth light and pliant against her own. She sighed into his mouth, and his tongue traced her bottom lip. She could taste him- the smoke, the tiniest hint of alcohol and the sweet flavour she could only guess as being purely him. Her grip tightened on his wrists, feeling the supple leather beneath her fingertips. He gave the tiniest of groans from the back of his throat and broke away to let her breathe.
There was a pointed cough, and Buffy looked up to see the girl from the counter standing at their table, donut boxes in hand and an amused expression. She gave Spike an appreciative once-over, her eyes lingering longer than they should have considering what she’d just caught them doing, in Buffy’s opinion.
And then Buffy realised what they had been doing.
And who she had been doing it with.
Buffy quickly pushed Spike’s hands away from her face, tucking hair behind her ears and wiping her mouth demurely. She could still taste him on her lips. She fought the urge to lick them again. Spike sat back without a word, the slightest of proud smiles ghosting his lips as he turned his attention to the other girl, his arm resting on the top of the booth, near Buffy’s head.
“Sorry to interrupt you and your uh, boyfriend, but your donuts are ready.” She told Buffy, holding the boxes up pointedly.
“Oh, he’s not my...” Buffy shook her head, slightly panicked as she pushed Spike out of the way, standing up. “I mean, I have a— and he’s got a— and we’re not—“
“I’m just a friend of hers,” Spike told the girl smoothly, taking the boxes. There was an amused sparkle in his eyes, but he didn’t comment further. Instead, he headed for the door.
“Yeah... he’s that,” Buffy nodded, biting her lip. She straightened her shirt self-consciously, checking her purse to make sure she had her wallet.
“Oh, I get it,” the girl nodded in understanding. “He’s a little... stress relief, right?”
“Exams are coming up, I understand. Me, I’ve got three guys I can call in case I need a little, study break.” She whispered conspiratorially. “Just a tip though, probably shouldn’t meet up in public. Especially if you do have a boyfriend.”
Buffy nodded, her eyes wide. She wasn’t really sure what was going on. The girl looked so innocent. Instead she leapt on that last point. “Right, so, uh... if I come in here with another... another guy, do you mind not saying anything?”
“No problem.” The girl shrugged with a grin, “I mean, if you’ve got a guy as hot as that—“ she jerked her head in the direction Spike had just went, “No way am I gonna ruin it for you. Have fun.” And with that, she winked and walked away.
Buffy stood there for a moment before shaking and following Spike. “I think I just met alternate-Faith.”
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