"I don't see what the big deal is," Buffy said, shrugging. "It's just another vampire."
"It isn't just another vampire," Giles protested, fumbling with his glasses. "This Spike has killed two Slayers. If he is in Sunnydale, then your life is in danger… well, more than usual."
"Fine, so I'll go patrol tonight, and when he attacks me, I'll stake him." Buffy considered. "Actually, I haven't done a good beheading in a while."
"Buffy, he could be dangerous!" Willow protested. "I mean, he must be, or Angel wouldn't have come to warn you as soon as he caught his scent…"
Buffy stared at her. "So would you prefer me not staking him?"
"N-no, just…maybe you can bring Angel along? Not that I don't think you'd do fine on your own," she added hastily. "Just…Angel knows this vampire. You don't even know how he looks."
"I'm sure-" Buffy stopped abruptly when the library door opened. "Lovely. Cordelia."
Cordelia was accompanied by someone Buffy had never seen before, a guy who smirked at all of them before asking, "What is this, Cordy, a book club?"
Cordelia shrugged. "It's Buffy and her fellow freaks. We don't know if it's contagious yet, so stay as far away from them as you can."
"What are you doing here?" Buffy demanded.
Cordelia sneered. "Contrary to your twisted beliefs, this is actually the school's library, not your bedroom. I'm showing Will around, and he wanted to come in here."
"Wait." Buffy narrowed her eyes. "You're a student?" She stared at him. He was tall, blond, and clearly not a teenager. In fact, he was…well, there was a certain agelessness about him. She wouldn't have been surprised if he were twenty-five or forty-five. What was it? Maybe the strange, almost white color of his dyed hair? Those high, hollow cheekbones? Those deep blue eyes that seemed to shine with life? The muscular body that she could see straining at the simple black tee he wore under a black leather duster… Stop it, Buff. You're staring.
Will saw it, too. He smirked. "Sorry, pet, not all of us spend enough time in the library to bother with graduating high school the first time around. 'Course, maybe it was meant to be. I wouldn't have met you if I had stuck around in that hellhole." He moved a little closer to her, and she felt her face redden as he let a finger brush against her cheek, the cool feel of his skin and the ring on it chilling her.
Xander ruined the mood. "Hey, back off of her."
Buffy was about to tell him to shut up, but she suddenly remembered Angel and felt guilty. "Umm…" She backed away, almost afraid to break his gaze.
"Will, don't flirt with her. She's not worth your time." Cordelia tugged at his arm, annoyed. "And we have more places to go."
"Right, pet," Will said absently. He turned to go. "See you around, love." He raised a hand with goodbye, not turning back to see the Scoobies' gaping mouths before he left the library.
"Wow," Willow said softly, staring at Buffy.
She reddened again, and sought to change the subject. "So…how about this Spike dude?"
"Nope." Angel smiled at her. "Try again."
Buffy slumped down against the gravestone. "I hate French."
"Oh, it isn't that bad. I remember one time in Neice-"
Buffy cut him off. "Did you hear that?" She somersaulted backwards, over the gravestone, bent and struck hard with a stake. "Oh."
Angel joined her in staring down at the leaf she had staked. "You're a little on edge today, aren't you?"
Buffy sighed. "It's probably just this Spike guy. I don't know, I guess it worries me a little."
Angel put a hand on her shoulder. "We can take him, together. I've beaten him before, and trust me- you'll be a match for him."
She smiled, and rested her head against his arm. "Thanks."
They walked together in silence, each enjoying the other's company.
"So…" Buffy said finally, after a nearly silent hour had passed. "Vamps aren't biting tonight, I guess. Not even Spike."
"Nah," Angel agreed. "Think we should call it a night?"
He walked her home, and they stopped by the door.
"Angel…" Buffy looked up at him expectantly. They were standing close together, intimately so, and…
"G'nite," Angel said quickly, and moved away.
Buffy stared after him, disappointed and frustrated.
Underground, a frail, striking brunette moved in slow circles around the man Buffy knew as Will. "She is within you…within you! Must…be…killed, or the party can't go on. The tea is getting cold!"
Will stroked her hair gently. "No worries, love. This one is going to be easy. Especially with this." He raised his hand, letting the stone on his ring shine in the firelight. "Invulnerability, right at my fingertips. The Gem of Amarra will make this my most interesting…slaying…yet."
He bent to kiss her. "Come, Dru, let's get you something to eat."
Will was in her Lit class, in the seat behind Willow, Buffy noticed, giving a guilty little start and turning away when he noticed her eyes on him. There was just something about him… Angel. Angel. Angelangelangelangel…
Willow interrupted her mental litany. "Will's staring at you," she whispered.
"I'm so sick of it!" Buffy hissed.
"What? Will?" Willow looked concerned. "Did you see him again since yesterday?"
"Angel!" Buffy sighed. "I mean, does he like me? Does he not? Why won't he just…" Her voice trailed off as she sensed someone listening in to their conversation. Will. Great.
Willow frowned apologetically. "He definitely cares about you, I think we both know that. But Angel's…well, he's weird. I don't get him."
"That makes two of us," Buffy grumbled.
A smooth, British voice interrupted them. "Bloke's a bloody ponce, if you ask me."
"I didn't," Buffy retorted, glaring back at him. God, he's really hot…no! Bad Buffy! You have a...Angel. Whatever that means.
Will went on. "Seems to me that this Angel ponce is an idiot. He's going to lose you if he keeps up this hard-to-get act. If it were me, pet…"
"It's not you," Buffy said, starting to get annoyed.
"No," Will agreed. "Because I would never let someone like you get away."
Buffy stared at him, open-mouthed. He's so… No. Angel. Angel! "You're really… you don't even know me," she said weakly.
His lips curled up in that smirk that was quickly becoming familiar, then relaxed into something nearing a normal smile. "I'd like to get to know you," he said softly.
"I don't…I mean, Angel…" She was getting flustered. "I can't."
"I'm not trying to steal you from the ponce, love," Will held out a hand. "I just want to be your friend."
"Friend. Right." Buffy tried to grin weakly. "That I can do."
Spike laughed inwardly, seeing the girl's hopeful eyes. This is too easy. Give me another day, and the Slayer's mine. And truthfully, though she would be quite a delicious morsel, he had a feeling that this time, the chase would be even more invigorating than the reward.
Whaddaya think? Should I continue?