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Chapter 4: Deceit.
The following few nights came and went, nothing really out of the ordinary. Patrol was slow, a few vamps but that was it. No demons. No more dead bodies. And no Spike.
It was as if he’d gone into hiding. Most likely he would be found drinking at one of the towns demon watering holes, or lounging about in his crypt. But he’d kept away from Buffy. Which was what she had asked.
Buffy looked at her appearance in the mirror and smiled, twisting around so that she could get the full scope. She felt good. Her new green backless halter fit her nice and snug, and was secured tightly around her neck. A long denim skirt went well with her new black heels. Her hair was pulled back from her face but left to cascade down her back. She was wearing the new hair clips Dawn had bought her as a belated birthday present and with a minimal amount of make-up she was ready.
Willow and Xander had suggested the night out. They said she needed a night to just relax. “You deserve some fun,” they had said. And a small part of her agreed with them, but the majority of her believed she should be patrolling, or searching for Glory.
The doorbell chimed and Buffy gave her appearance a quick once over before she left her bedroom and began descending the stairs.
“It’s Janice’s mom Buffy,” Dawn called out. “Have a nice night!”
Dawn rushed from the living room and stopped when she saw Buffy at the foot of the stairs. “You look beautiful,” she complimented, a smile on her face.
“Really?” Buffy questioned. “I’m not so sure about the skirt.”
“You look great. Go, have fun, talk to guys!” Dawn giggled.
Buffy grimaced and gave her sister a quick hug before shoving her out the door. “I’ve got my cell phone if you need me.”
Dawn nodded and left the house, running to the car that was waiting for her on the street. A few seconds later the vehicle pulled away from the curb and Buffy was alone on her doorstep. She fetched her keys from the kitchen, slipped a black leather jacket on and left the house.
Spike watched Buffy leave her house from the shadows of the garden. His plan had been to confront her about the other night, to give her a piece of his mind. But then he saw her and that plan got thrown out the window. She looked gorgeous. His first thought was to go up to her and compliment her, and the second thought which followed a split-second later was one of jealousy, wondering who it was that she had gotten so dressed up for.
He cursed silently to himself, dropped the cigarette he had just finished and took off after her, keeping a safe distance behind.
The Bronze was packed. The loners, the popular and the jocks all mingled together, fighting for their own space in the crowded club. Buffy walked by the security on the door and inside, immediately searching for Willow and Xander. She figured they would probably be at their usual table so she started to walk in that direction. Sure enough, there they were, Anya and Tara were also with them.
Buffy waved to them all as she pushed through the crowd. She removed her jacket and placed it on her seat before sitting down.
“Boy, it’s packed in here tonight!” Buffy exclaimed.
Willow nodded, sipping her drink through its straw. “It was kind of sudden. It got really busy about half an hour ago.”
Xander turned his attention from whatever Anya had been whispering into his ear to the new arrival at the table and his eyes nearly popped out of his head.
“WOW, Buffy, you trying to give me cardiac arrest!?” Xander commented as he eyed his friend appreciatively.
The comment warranted a slap on the shoulder from Anya, and Xander gave her a look of apology, before flashing Buffy a grin as if to reinstate his point. Anya turned her glare from Xander to Buffy and looked as if she was going to issue a warning, but she held back.
“That’s my doing, I told her to dress nice because I was bringing a friend from my sociology class tonight whose been dying to meet her!” Willow beamed.
Tara nodded in agreement. “His name’s Jake and he’s really nice.”
Anya smiled confidently. “A man who is not Xander. This is a good plan. You should flirt with him,” she said eagerly. “With the new guy.”
Buffy tried not to laugh at the reactions of her friends. She knew she wasn’t quite ready for a new relationship yet, but there was no harm in meeting people. There was also the fact that she had no choice in the matter; Willow had threatened to bring him over to the house if she didn’t show tonight.
She scanned the club, trying to figure out which one was Jake.
“Oh, he’s not here yet Buffy,” Willow explained. “We wanted him to show up after you’d had a little time to relax with us.”
“I’m getting drinks, anyone want anything?” Xander offered.
Buffy shook her head and turned her attention to the dance floor. It had been months since she had been out there and let loose, and the more she looked at it, the more she wanted to get out there.
“Anyone wanna dance?” she asked the group.
Willow and Tara both nodded, but Anya declined, deciding to wait for Xander before she joined them.
Buffy led the way to the floor and found a space for them. She immediately began moving with the music, lifting her hands over her head and snaking them down as she floated across the floor.
Spike followed the slayer to the Bronze, and watched from the mouth of an alley as she walked inside. Giving her a few minutes to move about inside, he too went into the club. He immediately headed for the back of the Bronze, where the stairs to the mezzanine were. He slowly climbed them, and found a place in the shadows on the catwalk like platform.
He scanned the crowd, trying to spot her, which he soon did. She was talking with her friends. Moments later the whelp moved off toward the bar and Buffy and the two Wiccan’s headed towards the dance floor. Spike watched her move on the dance floor, captivated by the rhythm of her hips, and the carefree attitude with which she exuded. This was a different girl than the one a few nights ago. This girl was enjoying herself, she seemed at ease.
Spike continued to watch her move, mesmerized, his attention only wavering when the other two scoobies joined them on the dance floor. But they were not alone. A third joined them, an unknown male who leaned toward Buffy and kissed her on the cheek.
Clenching his fists Spike slammed them down onto the railing, the sound ringing out, but not loud enough to be heard over the music. He kept his position, watching. Closely observing the male he didn’t recognise who was making moves on Buffy.
Don’t fall for the smooth act Buffy… he’s got ulterior motives! Spike thought.
Well if it was him; he would…
Xander and Anya moved through the crowd and onto the dance floor where Buffy, Willow and Tara were dancing. Xander steered an attractive looking guy towards Buffy and introduced the two.
“Buffy, this is Willow’s friend, Jake. Jake, this is the Buffster,” he said with a grin.
Buffy smiled and held out a hand for him to shake. “Pleased to meet you, Jake.”
Jake returned the smile, and accepted Buffy’s hand, drawing her close so that he could plant a kiss on her cheek. “The pleasure is all mine.”
He stepped back, running a hand through his sandy blonde hair, seemingly speechless. “Willow, you told me your friend Buffy was pretty, you didn’t tell me she was gorgeous!” he gushed.
Buffy blushed, and Willow laughed. The song ended and a slower one replaced it. Willow and Tara drew each other close, as did Xander and Anya. Buffy stood awkwardly still for a moment.
“This is embarrassing, I haven’t been set up on a date since High School,” Buffy laughed, trying to hide her nervousness.
Jake nodded slowly, laughing along with her. “It is kind of weird,” he agreed. “But we’ve met, and the others seem to be kind of busy now,” he said, pointing over his shoulder at the other two couples who were now moving along to the music. “Can I have this dance?”
Buffy stared at him in surprise for a moment then nodded her acceptance. Jake moved closer, lifted her arms around his neck and placed his on the small of her back as they began to sway to the music.
“Damn it!” Spike watched on in fury as the new guy wrapped his arms around Buffy.
He began pacing the catwalk, tossing up between staying where he was and moving downstairs and cutting in on the dance. He knew that Buffy would be less than thrilled if he ruined her night, but he didn’t know if he could stand by and watch someone else slide in and grab what it was that he so wanted desperately. But at the same time he didn’t want to worsen his chances by upsetting her.
Who was he kidding? He knew he didn’t have a chance with her, but that wasn’t going to stop him from trying.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered.
Looked like he was staying put.
The song ended and Buffy and Jake parted. Jake tipped his head in thanks and offered her his hand as he started to head back to the table after the others. Buffy accepted and walked behind him.
A tingling sensation went up her spine, and she had the distinct feeling that someone was watching her. But she was in a busy club… it could be anyone inside. She brushed the feeling off and smiled when they joined the rest of the group at the table.
“So Jake, tell us a little about yourself for Buffy’s benefit.” Willow grinned.
Jake obliged and went on to tell the group how he was planning on going to medical school, about his family and how he and Willow came to know each other.
“So here I am, walking out of the lecture hall when a blur of red hair rushes past. She bumped into me and almost knocked me over!” he added with a chuckle.
“I did not!” Willow protested.
Tara patted her girlfriend’s hand. “It’s okay sweetie, just admit it.”
Willow shrugged. “Well, you should have been moving faster, I was in a hurry!” she protested.
Buffy laughed along with the others, surprised at how at ease she found herself. She was having fun, something she hadn’t expected. Jake was sweet.
“So Jake, medical school huh? What’s your dream job?” Buffy asked curiously.
“My ultimate goal is to become a field surgeon, possibly work for the Navy or Army.”
A hush went over the table and the smile slipped from Buffy’s face as she looked to the floor, memories of Riley flooding in. She stood up and excused herself from the table, and quickly walked toward the toilets near the back of the stage.
Jake noticed the sudden change in everyone, and after Buffy was out of earshot he gave Willow a confused look. “What did I do? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, it’s just that… Buffy’s ex-boyfriend was in the army, and things didn’t end so well,” Willow explained, trying to keep it vague.
“Those species-bigoted commandoes in the special ops force asked him to join them on a mission giving him twenty-four hours notice. They were fighting and he didn’t tell Buffy until his transport was just about to leave, and when she didn’t accept his ultimatum he left and shattered her heart into a million tiny pieces. Plus before this he was letting vam--.”
Xander clamped a hand over Anya’s mouth before she said too much. “That’s my girlfriend, always ready to give too much information,” he laughed awkwardly.
“Oh,” came Jake’s response, before a slight frown crossed his face at her choice of words. She had a way with speech...
“That’s kinda harsh.” He looked towards the direction she had walked in, worry in his eyes. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories, do you think she’ll be okay?”
Willow nodded, as did Xander. “She’ll be fine, she just needs a little time to herself. But she’ll be back!” Willow said the last part enthusiastically for show, but secretly she was wondering whether she should follow after her or not.
Spike watched the group closely as they laughed and talked as they sat around the table, trying to control the mixture of rage and jealousy that was boiling inside of him. Then things took a sudden change. Buffy’s face fell and she hurriedly left the table and moved toward backstage, leaving the would-be lover boy and her friends looking rather awkwardly, eyes trained on the departing slayer.
“And that would be my exit cue…”
He descended the stairs from the catwalk quickly and pushed through the crowd as he moved toward the back of the stage. He slipped a cigarette out of his pocket and put it between his lips, and had his lighter in his hand ready as a cover.
Sure enough there she was, leaned up against a wall, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. She looked up when he moved toward her, her eyes glistening with more on the verge of falling.
“What are you doing here Spike?” she asked miserably.
He opened his hand to show the lighter and tilted his head. “No room out there to smoke in peace,” he said matter-oh-factly. He removed the cigarette and pocked it along with his lighter.
“You all right, pet?” he asked with a little more concern in his voice.
Spike inched forward slowly, until he was standing directly in front of her, a mere few
centimetres away. He looked down at her, willing her to look at him, to talk to him.
“I… he…” she started then stopped, her voice choked with emotion. “One of Willow’s friends is with us, ah… Jake... he was telling us how he wanted to be a field surgeon. In the army,” she added with emphasis. “It just made me think of Riley and how he… how he….”
How he left you… Spike thought, but he kept his mouth shut.
“How he… left… so suddenly,” she finally finished. “I guess it still hurts.” Buffy lowered her gaze to the floor, trying to stop the images of that night from flashing through her mind, and failing. She was running, trying to catch up to him, she was almost there, but the helicopter was lifting into the air. She shouted his name, but he didn’t hear her, or he ignored her…. it didn’t really matter which one. He was gone.
A tear broke free from her eye and slipped down her cheek.
Spike reached up hesitantly with his left hand, and used the back of his fingers to gently brush the tears away.
“Shhh…” he shushed gently. “It’s okay pet. He didn’t know how lucky he was. He didn’t deserve you,” he vowed, a little of his anger seeping into his words.
Buffy looked up at Spike, seeing the fury in his eyes and for a second wondered why he was being so nice to her, considering her treatment of him the other night. She hadn’t exactly been nice to him, yet here he was.
“Spike, I --” she started, but he lifted a hand up to stop her.
“It’s not necessary,” he soothed. He moved his hand from in front of her face to her right shoulder, and touched her softly, trailing his fingers all the way down to her hand.
Buffy flinched from his touch and tried to step away from him, which only brought her closer to him. Spike inhaled sharply as her warm body brushed against his as she squeezed her way passed him.
“I should be getting back,” she announced quickly, as soon as she was a safe distance away from him.
“You don’t have to --”
“Goodnight, Spike,” she fare welled, cutting him off.
Spike stood frozen in his place for a moment, wondering how that had all happened so fast. The sensation of her warm body brushing against his had sent shivers down his spine; by the time he could react she had slipped free and disappeared. He kicked the nearby boxes, sending them scattering across the floor.
Walking in the opposite direction he left through the backstage exit and walked off into the alleyway.
“I’m sure she’ll be right back!” Willow assured a few minutes later when Buffy still hadn’t shown. “She’s probably just gone to the bathroom.”
“Or to the back exit,” Anya muttered, not quietly enough.
Xander glared at his girlfriend, then smiled apologetically at Jake. “I’m sure Will’s right you know, she’s probably just --.”
“Gone,” finished Jake. “It’s okay, really. I should probably head home now anyway, I’ve got an early start for classes tomorrow. Tell her it was a pleasure meeting her.” He waved to the group and then walked towards the exit.
“Well that was... tense,” Tara said summing up the situation. Willow nodded agreeing with her.
Anya was sitting beside Xander, sulking for having been told off twice in a matter of minutes. He just had this look, a look that told her she’d said or done something wrong, and it hurt. Xander didn’t understand how difficult it was sometimes to get used to this tact thing. Anya looked up from her empty cup to ask for a refill when she saw Buffy walking back to the table, looking a little like she had been crying.
“Hey guys, I’m sorry, I --” Buffy didn’t a quick headcount and realized that someone was missing. Jake had left.
“He felt awkward about that slip of words, and decided to call it a night,” Willow explained when she saw Buffy confused look.
Now I’m driving guys I hardly know away…? Nice one. Buffy scolded her self.
“Maybe I should follow after him?” she suggested.
Willow nodded. “He only left a minute or so ago, you might catch him outside.”
Buffy smiled quickly at her friends then left them at the table as she weaved amongst the crowd towards the door.
Spike wandered around from the band exit at the back of the Bronze and into the alley, as he walked around to the front of the club. He lit up a smoke, watching the door as people began to exit. One person he had not expected to see leaving was the ‘Casanova’. He seemed to be in a hurry as well, fishing quickly through his pockets for something. A cell phone soon appeared.
Wanting to take a closer look Spike leapt up onto the roof of one of the buildings that ran along the road he was
travelling, keeping an eye and an ear out for what the guy was up to. He was walking along quite quickly, and seemed to be anxious to speak to whomever it was he was
dialling on the cell.
“Contact has been made, it was as easy as you said,” he spoke into the phone, a leisurely grin spreading across his face as he slowed around the corner.
There was a pause, obviously he was listening to the person on the other end of the line, and Spike wished he could hear both ends of the conversation.
“It’s going to be almost TOO easy,” he added with a laugh. “I’ll continue to keep contact with the target, and will wait until your arrival.”
Spike had heard enough. He had known this guy was dirty. Well he hadn’t known but he had suspected as much. Okay, not so much suspected, as in hoped. Because if he was; then the guy would have no chance with Buffy. And now he knew something was up. The guy ended the call and continued walking. Spike dropped from the roof he was walking on and landed right in his path.
Jake jumped backwards, surprise flashing on his face. Spike looked at him for a moment with a penetrating gaze before he stepped toward him. He grabbed him by the shirt collar and dragged him to the edge of the building, close to the mouth of an alleyway.
“Jake is it?” he asked with a raised eyebrow, letting the guy go. “Consider this a warning, stay away from Buffy.”
“Who… who are you?” Jake stammered.
“A friend. Just keep away from her. Got it?” Spike poked Jake in the chest, hard, letting him know he was serious.
“Jake,” a female voice called from behind him.
Jake spun to see Buffy walking toward him, and when he turned back in the direction he had been facing, the blonde guy who had appeared from nowhere was gone. He looked around a little, confused.
Buffy stopped when she was standing almost beside him. “Hey, look about before --.”
“Did you see that guy?” he asked, still looking for him.
“What guy?” Buffy asked confused. “I didn’t see anyone.”
Jake looked once more, and then turned his attention back to Buffy, his objective. “No-one, it was no-one,” he brushed off. “You were saying?”
She looked at him curiously for a second before she continued. “I just wanted to apologise about before. I’ve just had a rough couple of weeks and then you made mention of the army… and I guess I wigged a little.” She took a deep breath, glad to have that explained. “So, I’m sorry.”
Jake waved it off. “Not a problem, really. I understand,” he added softly. “Anyway, I really should get going, I’ve got an early class tomorrow morning.”
Buffy nodded. “Alright, as long as we’re good here?”
“We’re good,” he responded. Sticking his hands into his pockets searching for something, a smile crossed his face when he found what he was after, a business card.
“My number,” he informed as he handed it to her. “Call me sometime.”
Buffy nodded, accepting the card. “I will, goodnight.”
“Good night Buffy, pleasure to meet you,” he repeated his earlier sentiments with a grin, then turned and walked away.
Spike watched from deep in the alleyway, hearing every word of the encounter. The boy didn’t appear to listen to advice. He guessed he’d just have to be more convincing next time…
Spike paced his crypt, trying to decide what to do. What Buffy would want most, and how to tell her without some of the blame being deflected his way. The boy just wasn’t who he said he was. And she should know about it. But the last time he told her something she should know, was when he’d taken her to that nest where the soldier boy had been letting vamps feed off him to get a rush. And not only had that crushed her, but Buffy had blamed him for showing her.
He finally stopped pacing when he came to a decision. He wasn’t going to tell her. Not yet, not until he had the proof. And maybe he would be able to find a way to make the fool blow his own cover. The edges of Spike’s lips curled up. Now that was a better plan.
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