A/N: Thank you all for your reviews and feedback! To anyone who wasn't sure, Buffy is still the Slayer in this AU. Seasons 1-3 happened as canon, except without Spike/Dru showing up.
Some dialogue taken from Smallville: Aqua and BtVS: The Freshman. Again, thanks to ezriela and marilynmay for prompting this story idea!
"How do you get to be renowned? I mean, like, do you have to be 'nowned' first?"
"Sorry," Buffy mumbled, blushing. "I kinda got lost."
Oh god, he's biting his lip…
"If there are any other wayward travelers, this is Introduction to World History," said the professor in his highbrow British accent. He finally turned his scorching gaze away from Buffy, who slithered into her seat like a limp noodle. "I am Professor William Milton. But before we delve into my lectures about the Greeks and Romans – which I'm sure you'll find very enlightening – let's look at the word history."
He turned back around to scrawl 'HISTORY' on the chalkboard below his name, but Buffy was preoccupied with the view of his back, especially the way his dark wash jeans hugged his ass just slightly.
Oh my god, I'm going to fail this class and love every minute of it…
"History…" Professor Milton faced his students again and tapped the chalk nub on the board, "is not about facts. It's about the context, and who is telling the story. So…"
His eyes swept the class, complete silence meeting his poignant pause.
"What.. is.. history? What is his story?" He nodded at a boy sitting two rows in front of Oz, and then almost immediately ensnared Buffy with his gaze again. "What is your story, Miss Summers? How will you affect the world around you for generations to come?"
"You have no idea," she stuttered the first sentence that came to her mind that didn't include vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness, though an instant later she realized how arrogant she came across and promptly turned pink again. "I m-mean… I don't know if you can know that at eighteen."
He gave her a soft but guarded smile, as though enjoying an inside joke that only gorgeous underage history professors would understand.
"An honest opinion… I like that. But imagine how different the world might be if someone had said that to Alexander the Great, or Joan of Arc… well, I'm getting ahead of myself. I trust that all of you have purchased the required text for this course?"
Around eighty backpacks rustled as students scrambled for their books.
Luckily for Buffy, Professor Milton spent most of the first class running over the syllabus, explaining his grading criteria for the course, and discussing the first assignment. She couldn't take her eyes off him, and by the sounds of numerous sighs around her, neither could most of the other girls in the class. He held their attention like an actor delivering a rousing soliloquy from center stage, commanding the whole room without raising his voice. And the way he walked… like a prowling panther, owning the space around him, each step timed and precise, every tilt of his head and shrug of his shoulders etching itself in her memory.
"If there are no questions, class dismissed," said Professor Milton at ten minutes to eleven, and an audible sigh of disappointment rumbled over the class. He turned back around to erase the chalkboard as the students put their books away and started to leave.
"Buffy, come on," Willow prompted, noticing that her best friend hadn't left her seat yet. "We've got Psych in ten minutes."
"I'll catch up. It's just down the hall, right?"
Willow gave her a skeptical, you're-going-to-be-late-again look, but shrugged and joined Oz in the doorway, leaving Buffy in the almost empty classroom. As Professor Milton finished wiping the blackboard, marking missed students in his roll book, and packing up his laptop bag, Buffy waited, gnawing her lip.
"Can I help you, Miss Summers?" he asked when she made no progress toward the door.
"Oh, uh… I was just… I'm sorry I was late. Me, wrong foot, you know."
"Never apologize," he replied, the tiniest smirk on his lips. "If you're going to show up late, at least do it with conviction, Miss Summers. Besides, I always have to make an example of someone."
His tongue curled behind his teeth, and her knees almost buckled.
"H-how do you know my name?"
Oh god, that man and his grin should not be legal…
"Tell me, what was the first thing you did for orientation yesterday?"
Buffy blanched and racked her brain. Yesterday was kinda a blur of freshman failure.
"Uh… I got my picture taken for my school ID," she admitted lamely, certain that this wasn't what he must mean.
"Exactly," he nodded, continuing to melt her with his smile and sexy British voice, "and that photo is in a database which I check before the semester begins. That way, I can call my students by their proper names. Helps the learning process."
Buffy turned a little pink, impressed that he'd correctly identified her face out of eighty college kids on the first try. He sat on the edge of his desk and interlocked his fingers over one knee, his crystal blue eyes never leaving her face.
"Did you get a copy of the syllabus, Miss Summers?"
"Yes. A-and it's Buffy," she mumbled. Although, on second thought, hearing him say my name is probably gonna send me one step further toward Crushville.
Ohhh… yup. U.S.S. Buffy on course for Crushville.
"Is there anything else you need from me?" he asked slowly. As she stared at him, trying to form an answer that didn't sound absolutely besotted, his head tilted just slightly, his eyes calculating and guarded.
"No," Buffy shook her head. "No, I… I just, uh, enjoyed the lecture."
He chuckled lightly. "Then I look forward to your appraisal of my teaching skills once we actually get into the course material, Buffy. Shall we?"
He stood with his laptop bag in his right hand and held the door open for her. His smile was tight-lipped, and she fearfully wondered if she was making him late for something, like a department meeting.
"Bye," she mumbled, considerably more flustered now than she'd ever been when facing rabid vampires or gigantic monsters. The last thing she observed as she slipped past him was his left hand on the doorknob. On one of his fingers was a thin gold band with a green gem inside more gold filigree, and Buffy realized with an illogically heavy sinking in her heart that a man who was so young… and intelligent… and attractive… was probably already married.
As if he wasn't already unattainable…
Spike shut the classroom door, waited until the curious blonde freshman – until Buffy Summers – had skittered away towards her next class, and then strolled at an aggressive pace in the opposite direction.
The SLAYER! Whole world of teachin' positions open… an' I land the one where the soddin' Slayer has to be enrolled in my bloody class!
Every muscle in his body was tense, and he stopped at a break in the hallway where an open archway overlooked the campus quad. He rested his elbows on the bricks, his fingers and lungs itching for a cig… but he'd stubbornly left what remained of his last pack in his duster, which was currently hanging on the back of his bedroom door in his flat. Unable to curb his craving, he just raked one hand through his dark hair, digging his fingers into his scalp.
He'd refused to believe it when he'd flipped through the class roll yesterday – his near-photographic memory letting him quickly associate names with faces – and seen the name Buffy Summers and the picture of the smiling blonde, the love and soul-mate of his sulking grandsire. He'd told himself it had to be a mistake, a joke, or a mirage brought about by his frequent insomnia. Even for a vampire, the amount he slept was meager, often interrupted by nightmares of the worst atrocities he'd committed in the eighteen years between his death and his curse.
When he'd arrived in his classroom an hour ago and watched the students milling in, relief had filled his chest when the little box beside Buffy Summers's name in his roll sheet had remained free of a check-mark. And yet, mere minutes after he had started lecturing – spouting off a statistic he knew wasn't true but was just intended to spark hard work in the undergraduate blighters – he'd heard the door and breathed in that trace of a scent he knew instantly from China and New York, that essence that each Slayer made their own. Buffy's was fresh and light, like a meadow of blooming wildflowers after a spring rain…
Spike bit his lip at the memory, disgusted by his poncey, poetic thoughts.
Regardless, she was there, and in his irritation he'd made a fool of her, almost dared her to march down to the front of the classroom and attempt to stake him right then and there. He was sure she'd sussed out something odd about him, from the way her bright jade eyes had never deviated from him for the entire fifty minute period, long enough to make him sweat. When she'd hung back, his suspicions had multiplied, but she hadn't seemed aggressive, just awkward… and surprisingly interested in world history.
He glanced down at his watch briefly and then at his emerald ring, the Gem of Amara, his only souvenir from a near-decade spent defending the Hellmouth in Cleveland, Ohio. Since he'd never encountered a Slayer since he'd possessed the ring, he now wondered if among its many properties there might be some power that masked his vampire nature from one such as the Slayer. But that still didn't explain the fascinated look that Buffy had leveled at him from the moment their eyes had met…
Spike felt a demanding buzz in his pocket and pulled out his cell phone, his brows narrowing. He didn't recognize the caller ID, and he didn't give his personal number out to just anybody. Suspiciously, he flipped the phone open.
"Milton," he muttered gruffly.
"William, you bore!" a girlish giggle answered him. "Is that what you're calling yourself now? Your standards certainly are deteriorating. Even 'Spike' is better than 'Milton'."
Eyes closing, Spike stepped around the corner of the archway and leaned one shoulder against the brick façade.
" 'Lo, Cecily," he murmured into the phone, dropping into the cockney accent he'd adopted for most of his unlife. "How are you, pet?"
"Fine, fine. You know I go by 'Hallie' these days. Much less starchy. Surely you haven't really changed your name to Mi–"
"No, I'm still William. Professor William Milton. Got myself a gig teachin' history and poetry in California, little nowhere town. A'course, just my luck it happens to be a soddin' Hellmouth."
"Ah, I wondered. Heard you were there but didn't know why. But listen, I'm coming down to that dreary little place in Sunnydale to see another long-time friend, and… well…"
She paused, and Spike knew she was about to play coy with him. Holding grievances was pointless for immortals – something he'd sussed out in regards to Angelus, that keeping up a rancor against the vampire who'd made him a monster only ate away at his own insides instead of Angel's – but Cecily was different. They'd crossed paths in Italy in the fifties, and she'd made the startling confession that she was not the Cecily Addams that his spineless human self had been so besotted with, but in fact she was Halfrek, a Vengeance Demon of the D'Hoffryn Order, Patron of Wronged Children. So when she'd suggested they shack up, the bit of him that was still William Pratt had leapt at the chance… and been sorely disappointed. Hallie or Halfrek or whatever she called herself… she was nothing like the woman he'd built her up to be in his mind. She was flighty and caustic, she killed mortals without a second thought, and she gave him only the leftovers of her time and her love.
But beyond all of that, even if he dwelt on only the happy parts of their time living together… he could never forget Drusilla, never let his heart heal from the death of his sire. Their love had fit eternity into eighteen blissful years, and left a permanent aching void in his chest that no other could ever fill. So he'd called it off with Halfrek, keeping only a cordial acquaintanceship, occasionally sharing drinks if they happened to cross paths once they'd both relocated to the American continent.
"I… I don't suppose there's any chance you could spare clean towels and half a bed, for old times' sake?" said Hallie at last.
Bloody knew it.
"Since when have you ever been content with 'alf the bed, luv?" he replied, rolling his eyes at the clear blue sky.
"I didn't hear you complaining the last time we shared."
He sighed and rubbed his forehead, further disheveling his hair. You HEARD, you just didn't listen.
"It's 'Hallie', Milton," Halfrek countered, no doubt pursing her lips at him from wherever she was calling. "If you're going to be a whiney little boy about it, I'll find somewhere else to stay."
"I'm not the one gettin' shirty, here, princess," he muttered. "And I haven't said 'no' yet, only that we're not sharin' a bed again. Got a spare room in my flat you can kip in."
In truth, he didn't… but considering the little sleep he managed to get these days, he wouldn't begrudge lending her his bedroom for a few nights.
"You're a saint," Hallie cooed.
"Just promise not to kill anyone in Sunnydale and we'll call it even. When can I expect you?"
"Next Saturday, half past six in the afternoon. Can you pick your girl up at the airport, dear Will?"
You're not my girl, and I'm not your dear Will. My girl's been dead for a century.
"You won't forget and leave me stranded, will you?"
"No. I'll remember."
"Can't thank you enough. Ciao, lover!"
She hung up before he could growl out that they'd never for one moment been lovers, no matter how many times she'd taken him to bed. His stomach felt like it was full of toxic bile, and he considered just leaving the campus for the day, since he sincerely doubted any of the students would come knocking on his door for office hours this early in the semester. He didn't dare keep blood in the mini-fridge in the history department's lounge, so the closest meal was at his flat.
Day One of professor-ing, and I'm already rarin' to call it quits. God help me…
Unlikely to receive any aid from that source, Spike was about to return his phone to his pocket when he paused, and after another few moments of tight-lipped deliberation he reached for his wallet, dug out a small white card that he'd received in the mail a day previously, and dialed the number. As it rang, he spun the little business card in his hand, trying to determine what the minimally sketched butterfly-lobster design was really supposed to be.
"Angel Investigations. We help the hopeless."
"Er… is Angel there?" Spike asked, thrown off guard for the second time in as many phone calls by the chipper female voice on the other end of the line.
"He's out at the moment. I'm Cordelia. I can take a message for him."
"Uh… right." Spike sighed and leaned his head back against the brick façade. "Could you tell him… tell him it's Drusilla's widower. I'm teaching a new student, and she's like the special girl from China. You got that, pet?"
The young woman's humming was his only answer for a few second, and then she replied, "Okay-dokey. Drusilla's widower. New student. Special girl from China. Can I take a number for him to call you back?"
"He knows how to reach me. Ta, luv."
Closing the flip-phone, Spike turned around, enjoyed one more moment of sunshine, and grudgingly re-entered the academic building.
To be continued…