Author's Note: I've published before under another name in other genres but this is my first public post in the Buffyverse so be nice. This is currently a one-shot but don't rule out a sequel. I've spell-checked it and proof read it but it hasn't been past a beta so any remaining mistakes are my own.
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.
3am at the 7Eleven.
It was three o'clock on Thursday morning at the Seven-Eleven on the highway at the edge of Sunnydale and Buffy Summers was sure she was going crazy. She knew she looked terrible. Her hair was all over the place, she was wearing no make up and she had thrown on the first thing she could find – a mismatching jogging top and pants that she was sure made her look more like a homeless drug addict than a hard working single mother. Buffy scratched at her tired, itchy eyes and wrapped her tracksuit top tighter around herself. Wearing a bra wouldn't have been a terrible idea either. It was time for her son's night time feed about now, but instead of sitting rocking him in their bedroom she was standing in crumpled ill-fitting clothes in the drugs aisle of the Seven Eleven a mile from her home.
She scanned the shelf again and decided that Seven Eleven stores must be designed by childless men, because if a single mother had designed this store baby teething gel would have a pink neon sign above it, right next to a giant freezer of Ben and Jerry's.
Finally after searching the display for the fourth time her eyes found what she wanted and in the harsh florescent lighting of the store she was able to read the tiny print on the back that informed her the product was indeed suitable for babies and children. If only she didn't have to pay the extortionate price the shelf displayed, but at that moment she cared more about sleep than her growing financial problems and she was pretty sure her part-time babysitter and full-time sister Dawn would feel the same. Guilt welled up at the fact that Dawn would have to go to school tomorrow after yet another night of reduced sleep.
Financial problems or not Dawn and her deserved ice-cream. Everything was better with ice-cream. Buffy checked the slim billfold in her pocket and decided she could afford it if she took a packed lunch tomorrow instead of buying something. If Dawn could buy some of her own school things life would be so much easier. She really was going to have to talk to her sister about getting a Saturday job.
Buffy yawned widely and sleepily shuffled along the aisle and across the store towards the freezer section. Cookie dough or chocolate fudge? It was a difficult choice warranting much consideration, but on balance the one with a higher concentration of chocolate won out and she whipped open the door and grabbed a pint of chocolate fudge, totally not noticing the blond man a few feet away walking along in a daze until the door Buffy threw open crashed into his face.
Buffy jumped at the nearby cry and whipped around to find a man with shocking white-blond hair staggering backwards clutching his nose between his hands and swearing like a foul-mouthed sailor. Buffy looked at the freezer door still clutched in her hand and quickly shut it. Apparently sleepy-Buffy plus freezer-aisle equaled danger to other passing shop patrons.
"I come in here for smokes and you break my fucking nose!" The blond swore in a British accent. Buffy stood frozen, staring at him and tried not to drool. How could Blondie here look handsome and sexy at 3am? He was only wearing jeans and a t-shirt that looked about three sized too small and was ripped in several places, while she knew she looked as far from sexy as it was possible for her to get.
Spike though was oblivious to her gawking. He gripped his nose and tried not to scream with pain. That had been a bloody a hard blow and he'd be damned if whoever had just hit him was going to get off scot free! He blinked furiously, trying to see enough through the tears of pain to aim a decent punch at his assailant. He swiped his watering eyes to clear them and blinked his eyes open expecting to find, well, anything but the tiny slip of a girl standing backed up against a freezer door with an embarrassed and guilty look on her face.
"I'm sorry," The young woman sighed in irritation, as if she knew there was a confrontation coming. "I was in a hurry, I opened the door without looking."
Well he couldn't very well hit a girl, could he? Instead he concentrated on checking out the damage to himself and as the pain subsided he shifted his facial muscles tentatively and carefully touched his nose in several places. Maybe not broken, thank God, but definitely painful. Bloody hell that had hurt! He could just imagine the headline: 'WereWolf cancel last tour dates: Spike's nose broken by freezer door.' Their manager would have had his balls if he broke his nose before the tour wrapped up in Los Angeles this weekend!
"In your defense?!" Spike exclaimed. "You nearly broke my sodddin' nose! Do you have any idea how much money that would've lost me?!"
Buffy paused, waiting until he had her full attention and then dragged a scathing eye over the clothes. On second glance they were obviously designer and not exactly available at the nearest mall. Might even be one of a kind. Whoever this man was he wasn't going to go hungry if his pay didn't come through on Friday.
Spike felt her eyes drift over his body and couldn't help feeling a bit of masculine pride. Even at this ungodly hour he knew he looked good. He tilted his head sideways, watching her and waiting for his reaction. Her eyes rose and rose until they settled on his face and for a moment he was floored. Her hair was messy, her clothes ill-fitting and the bags under her eyes told a story of more than one night without sleep, but all that was forgotten in an instant when the most stunning pair of hazel green eyes he had ever seen fixed him with a heated, passionate glared and shone back at him in righteous indignation. It was the most honest reaction he'd had from anybody in as long as he could remember and her passionately angry glare had a rather unexpected effect upon him. Spike felt himself getting hard. There was something about this girl...and those eyes...
Spike crashed back to Earth with start when the little sprite opened her mouth and started yelling him out.
"Oh I'm sorry Mr Haute-Couture-T-Shirt, this minimum-wage earning single-mother feels terrible for you!" Spittle flew at him with the young woman's angry words, the fury welling up inside Buffy coming all the more quickly because of the fraught emotions and exhaustion that had been building all week. She turned her back to him and stalked off to the top of the store to pay. The sooner she got out of the store and got back home the better. She would have to get up for work in less than four hours and she wasn't even in bed yet. What sort of baby started teething at four months anyway? Sometimes Buffy was sure her son was some strange demon-child. All the books said six months. Six months was normal wasn't it? Was four months abnormal?
Across the store, Spike stared after her, stunned into silence at her outburst. 'Bitch!' He thought to himself. She hadn't even apologized...but he hadn't really been looking where he was walking had he? Besides, the poor girl had obviously had a bad day. Or night. Or week. If she really was the minimum-wage earning single mother she claimed to be she probably did have the moral high ground – and a great need for Ben & Jerry's ice cream, apparently.
She was hot when she was angry though!
Spike watched her from a distance, knowing his mother would have scolded him if she could have seen his behavior now. Sure, his nose hurt like bloody buggering hell but his it was neither bleeding nor broken and would most likely be fine in a minute or two. Already the pain was dulling a bit, and he'd been wound so tightly from the long tour and endless hours on the bus that he'd blown up in her pretty little face.
He really should apologize to the lady with the pretty green eyes for his ungentlemanly behaviour, he decided. Hadn't his mother raised him a gentleman?
Nothing whatever to do with her pretty green eyes, the fact she looked hot when she was angry, the delicate features of her face, or the way he was drawn by the petite womanly form he could make out beneath the baggy clothes she had obviously pulled on to run to the store.
Most of all it was absolutely and definitely nothing to do with the fact that after years of everyone he met pandering to him and bending over backwards to please him the little lady marching up the store had thrown her anger in his face in a display of emotion that was refreshingly genuine, and hot. Had he mentioned hot? Spike grinned for a moment. Okay, so that last one most of all.
"Oi! Where're you goin'?" He started after her.
Buffy rolled her eyes and threw her hands in the air. What was with this guy? First he had to look totally gorgeous in his designer clothes and sleep-addled hair when she looked like a sometime tramp and wasn't even wearing a bra. And what was with that whole bleached hair thing? No one bleached their hair anymore.
"I'm going to pay, if that's alright with you." Buffy stomped off towards the bored college kid in the corner who was engrossed in a porn magazine splayed out on the counter. Buffy dumped her two items. The kid behind the counter started ringing them through without even appearing to look up. Buffy guessed he was probably sporting a hard on and was too embarrassed to look up and meet her gaze. Suddenly she felt a presence behind her and she knew it was the fancy t-shirt guy again.
"Didn't mean it like that! Was actually goin' to apologize for bein' a git but if you're gonna get all self-righteous about it-" Spike dumped a pack of his favourite smokes on the counter along with a twenty dollar bill. The kid put the the cigarettes through and rang up the till, picking up the twenty Spike had deposited.
"Hey!" Buffy turned and glared at him when she realized what he'd done.
"What?" Spike grabbed the bag and of goods and grunted at the kid to keep the change. Spike hoped he could rush the lady with Pretty Green Eyes out the store before the college kid looked up and started wagging his tongue. He turned around and began walking to the door and predictably Green Eyes followed him with hurried steps.
"You can't just pay for my stuff like that!" Buffy shouted after him as she tried to catch up with his long, ground-eating strides. "So what if I don't earn much? I'm not a charity case!"
"Never said you were," Spike opened the door for the lady to walk out first. He liked this girl. Hardly anyone ever talked to him straight any more. It was all awed looks and pleading for attention. Green Eyes as he'd decided to call her crossed her arms and stood there stubbornly refusing to go out the door. Spike rolled his eyes and exited first. Bloody womens' lib. Couldn't even be polite these days without offending some chick! Desperate for a smoke he opened the bag and took out his box of cigarettes. The bag was snatched from his grasp by the little blonde almost as soon as he'd got his smokes out but he didn't care. He tapped the box against his palm a few times and then opened the small carton and picked out a stick of tobacco.
"You know those'll kill you right?"
Spike lit the cigarette and took in a long deep breath and then blew it out. "Just as well I've got healthcare then."
Buffy coughed and waved her hand to try and shoo away the cloud of smoke he'd just exhaled. "Well for God's sake keep it away from those of us who rely on drug stores and the E.R. Room!"
"Free country!" Spike insisted indignantly, enjoying the flare of angry passion in her green eyes. "You don't like it go elsewhere."
"You think I'm just gonna walk away after you paid for my stuff like that?"
"Bloody hell!!" Spike threw his arms in the air. "What the sodding hell is your problem?! I was trying to be nice." Spike walked away and then turned sharply back on himself and started pacing in front of a bemused Buffy.
He passed under a streetlight and Buffy thought he looked remarkably like that singer Dawn used to have a crush on. It was probably the bleached hair, that was all. Buffy realized she'd been staring for too long when Spike stopped pacing and suddenly addressed her. breaking her little daydream.
"You know for someone with such expensive clothes you go a long way to make yourself look like a leery drunk off the street!" Buffy groused at him, unwilling to admit he had once more been gawking at this man she was supposed to be angry with.
"Oh? Can't a bloke dress like a punk and still be a gentleman?"
Buffy let out a hollow laugh. "Not in Sunnyhell."
Sunnyhell. That was what the road sign had said as they came off the freeway, graffiti-ed over the town's real name 'Sunnydale'. He had to admit the parts he'd seen had looked a bit run down.
Spike tilted his head and settled an assessing gaze on the woman before him. She didn't look that old – not past her mid-twenties – and yet she was tired and stressed and bitter from life. She'd said she was a single mother, he remembered, and only earned the minimum wage which meant she had a kid somewhere and worked a crappy job with long hours and little sleep. Yet underneath all of that Spike sensed she was passionate and intelligent and she was refreshingly 'tell it like it is' with a side helping of cynicism. So what if she had a kid? Loads of people were single parents these days and she was pretty.
He wondered if there was any way of persuading her to let him see her again. Preferably some place comfortable and quiet with good food that was actually made fresh instead of pre-prepared made-for-the-road food that had been packaged up too long ago and tasted of preservatives. Somewhere where there were no band-mates waiting on a bus at the far side of the parking lot to tease him about chatting up some bird he'd met at an all night store at 3am.
Meanwhile Buffy was getting increasingly uncomfortable under his sympathetic gaze. She didn't need pity or charity, she needed a boss who wasn't a total jerk and a night or two with someone else to take care of her responsibilities so she could catch up on sleep. She tore her eyes away from the blond man's sharp blue gaze and took out the fold of bills in her pocket. Besides, what was she standing around here for? She needed to get home and she needed to pay him for the stuff he'd bought before she left. She looked at the slim fold. Twenty, that was what he'd given the clerk, wasn't it? Buffy knew she needed the money but she wasn't about to let some jumped-up rich foreigner pay for her kid's teething gel and the ice-cream she desperately needed for her own sanity that had, completely by accident, nearly caused him a broken nose.
She drew out a twenty dollar bill, shoving the singles back in her pocket and offered it out to him. To her dismay he shook his head at her.
"Not takin' that."
Buffy didn't know how much more of this she could take. She was tired, she was stressed, she was cold and she was angry and she still had to walk a mile home and breast feed before she got to go to bed.
"For God's sake, Bleach-Top would you just-" The unrelenting look upon Spike's face combined with the stress from lack of sleep and late hour of the night made Buffy hit a wall. A single tear spilled down her cheek. "You know what? Forget it!" Buffy scrunched the bill in her hand and threw it on the ground then spun around and stalked off across the parking lot in the direction of the town.
As luck would have it however, it was the same direction the tour bus was parked and Spike swiped the twenty dollars off the ground and followed closely behind her.
"What are you my stalker now?" Buffy ground out angrily.
"Nothing to do with you. 'M going back to the bus."
Buffy noticed for the first time than an anonymous white coach with dark windows was parked in the coach/truck section at the far end of the parking lot and Buffy eyed it distastefully. "Tourists!" Buffy muttered.
"Hey!" Spike complained.
"Well aren't you?" She countered.
"Not exactly. Travelling's part of my job. Me and a couple of mates sort of hired it out to cart us about places we have to go. In fact, since you seem to be on foot, we could give you a ride."
"Yeah, cause I'm in the habit of taking rides at three am from strange men who won't leave me alone!"
"Ah. Sort of see your point there but I'm not some sort of serial killer, just trying to be a gentleman what with it being the middle of the night and you being alone and all."
They were at the bus now and they both seemed to stop. Buffy rubbed her arms. It was getting chilly out. She should have worn more clothes. Well, it was just incentive to walk quicker home, and the quicker she got there the quicker she could get the feed done and get back to bed for a couple of hours sleep before she had to get up to go to work.
"You're going to say no, aren't you?" The blond punk said quietly, and just like that, suddenly, the antagonistic mood seemed to change. Dissipate.
Buffy sighed. "Look I'm tired and stressed and I just want to go home. Alone."
"At least take your money, yeah? You work a wage job, I'm guessing pay day's not 'til Friday."
"Sodding hell woman! Take it!"
Buffy stared at the bill. "You know, just cause you're right doesn't mean I'm a charity case."
"Never said you were," Spike said quietly. He stared at her assessingly and found himself lost in her eyes again. God, she was beautiful.
Buffy blinked and looked away. Though it pained her to do so, thoughts of her responsibilities had her taking back the offered money. The very act was something she found shaming. It brought back unpleasant memories from Riley's funeral where Riley's parents had offered her financial help as their grandchild's mother, only it soon became clear that Riley's parents' offer was conditional on relocating their grandson to the corn-growing plains of Iowa. Her financial situation wasn't great, but she wasn't going to risk losing her son. Social services were watching her closely she knew, wanting to know if she was really coping being only 22 and already responsible for a baby and a teenage sister.
Buffy ignored the whisperings of social services and Riley's parents and just got on with it. As hard as it was to be a single mother and a working parent to two, she was determined to be financially independent to the last penny to prove she could be a provider and to stop her son and her sister being taken away by anyone – social services or well-meaning relatives.
Spike finally gave up and took the twenty bucks back. "You're one stubborn bint, love. Least wait here a minute and I'll lend you a jacket for walking home, yeah?"
Buffy shivered and wrapped her arms around her torso in an attempt to stay warm. Seeing no harm in the simple offer of a jacket, she rolled her eyes at his persistence and nodded, no longer having the energy or seeing the point of refuting something that seemed so innately harmless. A triumphant look rose up in the blond man's eyes.
"Don't move," He told her and tapped on the door of the bus. It hissed open and he leaped inside. A minute later he was back with a bulky leather coat in hand and he shook it out and held it open for her to put on.
"Uh, look, Mr..."
"William," He supplied.
"William. Right. Look, I might not have much money but that doesn't mean I don't know how to spend it and that's a very expensive leather duster you've got there."
Spike shrugged. "Warmest thing I've got with me and you're obviously cold; and since I know you're gonna insist on returning it I've put a business card in the pocket. Call the number and I'll arrange for a courier to pick it up."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that," He confirmed.
Buffy stared at the coat for a moment. A coat wasn't financial so she couldn't complain about and he was even going to pay for its return without any real inconvenience to her. After hesitating a moment, she stepped up and put her arms in the sleeves of the duster he was holding open and immediately felt safe and warm as she wrapped it around yourself.
Spike felt himself harden at the vision of her in his duster. Okay, so she wasn't dolled up to the nines right now, but if anything her untidy state was more enticing. He was enjoying seeing her all adorably rumpled when most of the women he met these days were the sophisticated, empowered, wanton, 'fuck me!' types who mostly seemed to just want to use him for sex. He'd been with plenty of girls like that, seduced by them and their perfect hair and make-up and thoughts of endless hours of meaningless sex with as many girls as he wanted but a few years down the line and he was growing tired of it. For once he wanted to spend the whole night with someone instead of a just having a quick fuck.
Wanted to snuggle under the covers and have lazy breakfasts. Wanted to hang out all day doing nothing at all and giggle over old movies eating too much junk food. Coupley stuff. Private, intimate, couple-ish stuff that wouldn't be splashed over the tabloids when they split after a few days or a week. Ten years ago he would have given his right ball for a life of meaningless, no-strings-attached sex. No more lying that 'Of course I'll call you' or 'Tonight? I have plans' when a woman got clingy. Now the few encounters he still indulged in seemed hollow and empty when real emotional intimacy seemed so far beyond his reach.
Yet here was this woman all adorably rumpled and bloody sexy when she got angry and bless her, she was clearly exhausted from being up so late and a big part of Spike just wanted to forget about the contract and the band and the two gigs left and stay here and take care of her. Wanted to scoop her up in his arms, take her home to her bed and snuggle up with her under the covers for a few days.
She turned to look at him. "Why are you doing this?"
'What the hell am I supposed to say?' Spike wondered. He paused. His head tilted to the side and a wistful look came over his face. "I acted like a git and you got angry at me. I deserved it and you told me so. You don't fawn all over me like everyone else does, you tell it like it is. You don't want anything from me. Its been a long time since anyone's been so honest with me – telling me what they really thought instead of what they think I want to hear. There's no pretense about you. No hidden motives."
He reached out then and ever so gently ran his knuckles down the soft skin of her cheek in a gesture of affection that took her by surprise after their argument just minutes ago. "You treated me like I'm normal. That's not something that really happens to me anymore and, well," Spike hesitated. "It was nice."
Buffy thought it was the saddest thing she had ever heard. This man might be rich, but what sort of life did he have that the experience of being yelled at was worth a prized leather coat? Buffy looked into his eyes and realised they were doing that staring thing again and then his lips were coming closer and he was kissing her. Softly, sensuously. His hand tangled in the back of her head, hers dropped the groceries and stole under his designer t-shirt, her nails teasing the smooth skin of his perfect abs. His mouth pulled at her lips until she deepened the kiss and their tongues met, licking, rubbing, writhing together in the middle of a convenience store parking lot at 3am.
Then as soon as it started it ended. He looked deeply into her eyes one last time with an unfathomable expression, then turned away and just like that he was gone.
Buffy opened her mouth to call after him but the door of the bus closed behind him, the engine started up and Buffy was forced to watch as it rolled out of the parking lot and out onto the highway.
She shoved her hands in the deep pockets and wrapped the oversized duster around herself. Her fingers found the card he had mentioned and drew it was no name or company or title, just a telephone number with the word 'William' scrawled across the top, obviously in a hurry. She flipped it over and found another scrawl on the back.
'P.S. I like your Pretty Green Eyes.'
Buffy looked after the bus as it trundled off into the distance heading towards L.A. Soon it was gone and she shoved the card back in her pocket and So maybe he wasn't such a jerk after all. Buffy gave a mental shrug and at that moment tiredness seemed to overwhelm her. She picked up the forgotten groceries and headed for Dawn and her son and home.
Back to reality.
Author's Note: Please review and let me know what you think!