Title: Into the Lioness' Den
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Summary: Buffy didn't know what to think when Eliot Spencer showed up in Cleveland. 1200 words.
Prompt: 24 Days of Ficmas, Day 13: For stellarluna35. Prompt: Buffy Summers and Eliot Spencer, "Why are all the crazy ones blonde?" A bit of what came after my big bang fic, "The Soul Job." Borrows a small detail from the episode "The Ho-Ho-Ho Job".
Buffy didn't know what to think when Eliot Spencer showed up in Cleveland.
She knew who he was, of course. After she'd got through ripping Spike a new one for not telling her he was alive, and ripping Angel a new one period, she'd narrowed her eyes at her first former ex and asked exactly who those other people had been in his office.
She'd recognized the name Lindsey McDonald from previous uncomfortable conversations with Faith. He'd been the guy who'd hired her sister Slayer to try and kill Angel, back in the day- when he'd been a Wolfram and Hart employee in good standing and Angel had been the one trying to bring it down from outside. More power to him for wanting to break his contract with the scum-sucking evil, though she'd doubted she'd ever be a fan. But that wasn't the name she'd really been after.
Nor had it been Mr. Pot-oh-lockidus, the other lawyer guy; or even the hottie hacker, as lickable as he might be otherwise. She'd wanted the deets on the guy who'd tried to fade into the background- tried, and might very well have succeeded, if the Slayer instincts in the back of Buffy's brain hadn't woken up and taken notice of him. It was amazing what a uniform, a pair of glasses, and submissive body language could do. But when she'd looked him in the eye, the air around him had come alive with the impression of coiled, waiting strength.
He'd recognized something in her, too: and the wariness in his gaze had sent an electric shiver up her spine. A predator lived in that chameleon's skin, she was sure of it. But she hadn't had time to focus on him; he'd been Angel's problem, a complete stranger to her, and she'd had Spike to deal with.
As it happened, Angel's problem had turned out to be the annoying lawyer's twin, with a dark reputation all his own. Like his brother, he'd been tainted with the brush of past association with Wolfram and Hart- but unlike Lindsey, Angel's security had flinched at the bare mention of his name. As someone else who tended to inspire fight or flight in the more minion-y types of evil, Buffy'd found that a little less ominous than Angel probably intended. But it hadn't brought her any closer to figuring out her reaction to Eliot, either; and she hadn't wanted to involve Willow in what might after all just be one of her H's, as Faith would say, acting up.
Five weeks had gone by, and she'd almost managed to put him out of her mind. Then, one Tuesday afternoon, the witch womanning the front desk came back to Buffy's borrowed office with a bemused smile and the news that the senior Slayer had a visitor.
A male visitor. Named Eliot. Who wanted to know if Buffy wanted to grab a coffee.
A coffee? Buffy was baffled. A coffee was never just a coffee. What the hell could he really want in Cleveland?
Something business-y, probably. When the elevator doors swept open, she got a glimpse of a man in worn jeans paired with heavy boots, a tight long-sleeved shirt under a screenprinted tee, and a blue knit cap tugged down above his ears. That was either the wardrobe of a guy who wasn't trying to make an impression- or a guy who was utterly secure in being able to attract women with more than just his looks. In that moment, before he saw her, she felt a small, crushing surge of disappointment; the promise of that first exchange was fizzling out on her.
Then he looked up- and his hot gaze transfixed her like a spear.
Okay. So, maybe Eliot Spencer didjust have coffee in mind... the kind that came with breakfast in bed the next morning. Buffy swallowed, and reminded herself how badly her hormones had wrecked things in the past. If this guy wanted her to grab his coffee, he was going to have to earn it first, she decided.
"Mr. Spencer," she greeted him, coolly.
"Ms. Summers," he replied, in a low, rumbly voice that did pleasant things to her nerves. He took her outstretched hand- but instead of shaking it, brushed the pad of his thumb over the backs of her fingers, and squeezed it gently before letting it go. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
She suppressed a shiver at the gesture. He was good; and he'd done his research, too. But had he done enough?
"I was just headed out for the evening," she apologized brightly, "but I'll probably pass by a little coffee house that does an iced peppermint mocha to die for on my way to Highland Park, if you wanna tag along. I'd love to hear the story of how you got mixed up with Angel."
His eyebrow twitched a little at the pairing of the words die and Highland Park- so he was clued, that would make things more interesting- but he didn't back down; he leaned closer, in fact, until she could smell the base musky scent of him under the faintest odor of vanilla-scented shampoo. "It wasn't me so much as my baby brother," he said, "but you know family; I couldn't just let him walk into the lion's den without me. And speaking of lions. Is this the kind of 'headed out' that involves public transportation, or the kind that means I should be grateful I got a Hanzo sword for Christmas?"
Eliot said that last with a wry, pleased kind of smile that made something flutter in her gut; she had a serious competency kink, she'd discovered over the years, which had been why it had never worked out with Xander. He'd always been at his hottest when he'd needed her least. Even hotter than Eliot's confidence, though, was the casual reference he'd let drop with that smile: Buffy was nearly as bad as Faith about the sharp and shiny.
"You have a Hanzo?" She couldn't stop herself from lighting up like a dork, checking at waist and shoulder to see if she'd somehow missed noticing a sword there before.
He blinked; but then his smile sharpened, and he reached down against the foot of the reception desk to lift an absolutely recognizable form, one her fingers instantly itched to touch.
"Let me pay for your coffee, and I'll let you play with it, too," he said, a hint of tease in his voice.
Oh, he'd pay for that; but Buffy nodded anyway. "Deal," she said.
Eliot shook his head, and muttered something that sounded a lot like, 'why are all the crazy ones blonde?' But his smile hadn't faded. Then he settled the sword's scabbard in a comfortable sling across his chest and back and extended a gentlemanly elbow in her direction.
She took it, feeling a bubble of delighted anticipation welling up inside: not at all what she'd expected when she got up that morning.
Nor what she'd expected from even a tangential connection of Angel's, whatever side Eliot was ultimately on.
The chase was on- and she was looking forward to finding out where it would lead.