I do not own Buffy. any original characters, places, plots, or quotes belong to Joss Whedon and Co.

I've been working on this for quite a while, but didn't want to post until I had it all done. I think I'll actually dole it out though, maybe a chapter every Sunday? Reviews pretty please!

She should have been on her guard from the beginning. Dawn had warned her hadn't she? She'd told her that Spike was crushing on her, that he had started up some sort of sick obsession, but even when she'd gotten home to find him sitting on her counter and chatting easily with her mother, she never imagined it was real. She never thought his leading her to the vampires he suspected responsible for the train massacre would end up becoming… this. But as they sat quietly in his old Desoto in the back of the alley, the tension between them had become almost unbearable.

Buffy twisted her hands nervously in her lap, her mind turning Dawn's words over and over as she prayed that her sister was wrong. She couldn't be right. It was Spike for heaven's sake! And she was the Slayer! There was no way

Suddenly, he leaned forward, reaching one hand across her body and she yipped loudly, jerking back in her seat. She saw him roll his eyes in the dark but he didn't call her on her obvious anxiety, only clicked open the glove-box and withdrew a small silver flask. Buffy frowned to herself, unnerved by the fact that he hadn't teased her for her outburst. She watched him from the corner of her eye as he unscrewed the flask, watched his pale throat rise and fall as he tipped it up and swallowed. To her chagrin he caught her staring, but again, instead of a teasing jab or a snarky challenge, he kept his mouth shut, holding the flask out towards her instead.

"Um, eww," she said, looking between him and the metal container in his hand.

"It's not blood," he stated in an exasperated voice. "It's bourbon."

"Eww?" she repeated, eyebrows raised. What is going on, what is going on…

Her eyes widened as Spike started to tap long, pale fingers on the steering wheel, humming what must be the opening refrain of some punk song. The next thing she knew he was singing about anesthesia and asking her if she liked some guy named Ramone. Buffy stared blankly at him, utterly confused and terrified of where this was going. There was no way this was happening, no way that Dawn could've been right…

"Here we go," Spike muttered, breaking her from her panic.

She watched dumbly as he climbed out of the car and headed away up the alley, pausing to look back with a raised eyebrow. Shaking herself out of her musings, she jumped out and followed, passing him to lead the way up the rickety stairs and into the crappy abandoned apartment. As soon as she stepped inside she knew that something was wrong, and it wasn't the two vampires who leapt to their feet when she burst in.

"Slayer!" one snarled.

Buffy just smirked, a smirk that quickly faded when the two vampires turned and bolted, disappearing up a staircase and out a door. Buffy's jaw dropped in disbelief and her hands flew out to her sides in the universal gesture of 'what the hell?'

"Well that was just… sad!" Spike declared from behind her. "I'm embarrassed for our kind!"

Buffy's thoughts exactly.

"Should we go after them?" he asked.

Buffy just sighed and shook her head, looking around at the ratty furniture, the stacks of magazines and CDs, the pan of still-popping corn on a hot plate. This had all been a setup. These weren't the vamps they were looking for, and he knew it. Swinging around, she stomped towards the door.

"These vamps have nested," she snapped nastily, trying to put some distance between her and the vampire who had stepped in close to her side. "Looks like you've wasted my time!" Please don't follow me, please don't follow me

He did worse than follow. He held the door. Skirted around her, cut her off, and held the frickin' door! Her brain ready to explode, Buffy turned on him with wide, flashing eyes and clenched fists.

"What is this?!" she demanded, her voice just a little bit squeaky with horror.

"Oh, uh…" he mumbled, stepping back and rubbing the back of his neck as the door swung shut again. "Wasn't thinkin.' Just…"

"What. Is. This." she pressed, staccato and harsh. This isn't happening, this isn't happening… But she had to know. "Is this a date?"

"A, a date? Pft, a…" She got the feeling he'd be blushing if he could. "A – please! A date!" His voice went low and he laughed nervously, a sound she'd never heard from him before. "You are completely off your bird."

Oh God I hope I am.

"I mean…" he continued loudly. Suddenly all his brash swagger fell away and he titled his head to one side, his eyebrows drawing together in question. "Do you want it to be?" he asked softly. Hopefully.

Buffy's jaw dropped. In that moment it was as if the whole world had fallen away, and she was just empty, the wind blowing through her and making her feel completely hollow. This wasn't real. Couldn't be real. There was just no way… She turned her back on him and paced away, trying to catch her breath and knock her brain back into 'think' mode. But the only thing that ran through her mind was oh no, oh no, oh no.

"Are you out of your mind?" she finally cried, her hands at her temples as she spun back around to face him.

"It's not so unusual," he said calmly, his tone low and even, what he must think of as soothing but what was really the seductive rumble of a predator. He took two slow, stalking steps towards her, easing forward, a silent prowl. "You can't deny it," he murmured, "There's something between us."

"Loathing!" she declared desperately, trying to think of some way to pound it through his thick skull. Maybe she should hit him. But that was like third base for Spike. "Disgust!" she added frantically.

"Heat," he purred, the word rolling off his tongue as he took another step. "Desire."

Buffy shook her head in complete denial, darting around him and heading for the exit. She couldn't listen to this. Didn't want to hear him say…

"Buffy, I love…"

"Don't!" she warned, whipping back around to face him. "Don't say it."

Pain flashed across his face for the briefest of moments, and as horrified and disgusted as she was with this whole thing, she hadn't wanted to hurt him. At least… not like that. She knew what it felt like to have those words thrown back in your face. Swallowing hard, she turned away so that she wouldn't have to see that pain, that hurt in him, but his voice stopped her cold.

"We need to talk about this," he muttered, twisting his features into a sullen frown.

"We don't need to do anything." Buffy replied woodenly. "There is no we." More than ready to get away, she moved towards the door.

"Wait, Buffy!" Spike called after her, "Come on, let's…"

"No! Spike!" she shouted, abruptly fed up and yet somehow amused by the absurd turn her night had taken. "Let's not. This," she gestured between them, "With you, is wrong!"

"Well, yeah, all right," he admitted, his hand going to the back of his neck as he ducked his head in a manner that was almost shy. "Maybe, this wasn't the best way to go about it, but if you'd just give me a chance…"

"The best way?" Buffy snorted, laughter bubbling up out of her chest. "This is sad! If this is the kind of thing you think girls are into it's no wonder you don't have a girlfriend!"

"Oi!" he cried, straightening up, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Please," she scoffed. "The late night stake-out, the bogus suspects, the flask!" She rolled her eyes, folding her arms casually across her chest. "Face it Spike. You're just not date material."

Determined not to let him stop her again, she turned towards the door one more time, leaving him standing mouth-agape behind her.

"Care to make a wager on that pet?"

His voice was icy cold and calculating, the words slow and careful, and they sent a shiver down Buffy's spine, freezing her dead in her tracks despite her determination to get the hell out of there. Something in the back of her brain screamed danger, but she was stuck in place as he slowly began to circle her, a smirk tilting at the corners of his mouth, his eyes dark and predatory.

"What are you talking about?" she demanded, turning in a casual circle in order to keep him in her sights.

"Come on Slayer," he taunted, still circling, still stalking. "You like to talk big. I wanna see you put your money where your mouth is. You don't think I'm date material, fine. Prove it. Cause I'm willing to bet that I can make you wrong."

"Oh my God," Buffy responded dumbly, "You really have gone insane."

"Maybe," he shrugged. "But I still don't think you've got the stones. So, what do you say? Let me take you out. See if I can show the un-impressible Buffy Summers a good time."

The challenging yet hopeful tone of his voice, the vulnerability that he was trying to hide with brave words burned at her, but she still knew that she needed to shut him down, end this before she gave him even the scrap of a belief that she was being receptive to his advances.

"I say no," she declared. "Never. Not gonna happen Spike."

He chuckled darkly, his eyes flashing. "What's a' matter Slayer?" he asked, slipping around behind her and leaning in close to her ear. "Scared you'll like it too much?"

Buffy flinched as his breath tickled the side of her neck. Her mind was spinning as she fought desperately to think of a way out of the situation she'd fallen headfirst into without ever seeing it coming. She had to
get rid of him – like, for good – and just saying no wasn't going to get that done. This could go very, very badly.

"Looking for a challenge Spike?" she asked, trying to keep him distracted while she searched for an escape. "Why would I ever go out with you?"

He shrugged again, the smile still hard on his face. "You tell me pet," he replied. "This is a wager, innit? Name your own price."

Buffy narrowed her eyes. She hadn't missed how he'd conveniently worded the phrases, as though they'd both already agreed to do this. But why? Why would they? Why would he? She wouldn't make it easy, wouldn't let it be fun, so what would either of them get out of it? But he'd offered to let her pick her own prize hadn't he. So if she won, she could…

"If I win," she began slowly, her mind screaming at the top of its lungs for her to shut her mouth, to run away from this before she did something stupid and agreed to go on a date with Spike, "You'd leave me alone?" The light in his eyes dimmed a little, his smile faltering as his shoulders fell. "You'd knock all this crap off; no more sappy Spike, no more declarations, no more following me around and pretending we're friends?"

He was quiet a moment, watching her with a vaguely hurt expression. But then he hid the hurt, and pulled his swagger back. "Fine," he stated. "Deal. But if I win…"

"I won't sleep with you if that's what you're thinking," she interrupted quickly and firmly. "So you can just forget it."

"What?! No!" he yelped, taking a step back from her as if in horror as he spluttered. "I wouldn't want to... I mean, not like…"

Buffy frowned, unwilling to think about what he was trying to splutter out. "Then what?" she asked warily, completely squicked by the thought of even contemplating sleeping with Spike.

"I get to take you on a real date," he responded immediately. "Just… just for fun. Not as a bet, not trying so hard to impress you. Just… to be with you. For one night. No slaying, no fighting, none of… this. One night without the vampire and The Slayer, only… only Spike and Buffy."

In any other circumstance it wouldn't be too much to ask for. She had a terribly odd sense of déjà vu, a strange memory welling up to the forefront of her thoughts; highschool, the year before she'd become the Slayer, a geeky young boy with glasses and acne daring to approach her, one of the popular California bubblegum princesses and ask her to the homecoming dance. She'd been terribly cruel then, putting him down harshly in front of half their class. This felt very similar. She could beat down Spike without a qualm, but the sudden appearance of the shy, insecure William jarred her, like being splashed with ice water.

Buffy blinked and took a step back. Was she really thinking this? Actually considering going out with Spike? What would her friends say, what would her mother say… dear God, she'd be the laughing stock of the demon community. Buffy the Vampire Dater. Ugh! But… if she won… This could be her only chance to get rid of him for good. No one would ever find out about his little crush, no one would ever hear him say he luhhhh… She couldn't even say it to herself in the privacy of her own head. And that was what clinched her decision.

Sticking her hand out in front of her, she waited until he took it, hesitantly and with questioning eyes, before shaking it once, firmly.