Date: December 18, 2010
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. Absolutely nothing. Except I used to own sheets like the ones mentioned.
Timeline: Season 3- Alternate Lover's Walk
She hated the silence. Ever since Angel's ever-so-welcome suggestion of "being friends," patrol had been a tense walk that was punctuated with long stretches of silence and awkward glances. When he left, to go home, she wanted to break down, to scream, to rant, to wail. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that he was deciding, once again, that he knew what was best. Why didn't she ever get a say in how their relationship went?
Buffy scuffed her feet as she walked along Main Street. She knew she was probably being unfair, but right then, she really didn't care. Life wasn't fair, and if she had to learn the lesson the hard way, she didn't see why she should be Little Miss Sunshine about it.
She didn't want to cry. Not over him. She'd cried enough over Angel to last her for his lifetime. Unwanted tears shone in her eyes, only to be blinked away and roughly shaken from their resting place. She would not cry. Distraction, distraction…
Suddenly, a tingle shot through her. A faint tingle, just barely there, almost as if simply giving her a head's-up. Her forehead furrowed a little. The feeling was… familiar?
On a whim she didn't fully understand, she turned the corner and took off for the edge of town.
"Hi. Listen, I just finished patrolling and there's something I think you should know."
"Are you hurt? Were you attacked? Is it vampires?"
"No, no, and yes. Sort of. One at least. There was actually a drop-off of vampires tonight. Didn't see one the whole patrol."
"Oh, well." He paused and she imagined him cleaning his glasses. "What is it then?"
She took a deep breath. "Spike's back."
There was silence and then…
"Are you hurt? What happened? Has he killed anyone? Did you defeat him? Is he still-"
"Whoa, whoa, Giles. Calm down. I told you, I'm fine. Nothing happened. As far as I know, no one is dead. And didn't I say patrol was quiet? I didn't actually see him."
He calmed down. "Oh. Well, how do you know he's back then?"
"The 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign was knocked over."
"Well… we should probably… I hate to ask you to go find him… will you need back-up?"
"Giles, I'm mildly insulted that you would even suggest that I need back-up to handle Spike. Also, he's pretty far down on the priority list. If no one's dead now, odds are, they won't be 'til tomorrow. And by that time, I'll have taken care of him."
She could tell he was reluctant, but he consented to her without much fight. "Well, alright then. Goodnight, Buffy."
She went home. Call it Slayer instinct, call it vanity, call it women's intuition. She didn't know why, but she knew without a doubt where she'd find him.
She heard his voice just before she entered the house. A small smile of satisfaction hovered on her lips. She shrugged out of her coat and hung it on the coat rack, then slipped out of her shoes.
She leaned in the doorway of the kitchen, winking at her mother, who was fixing hot chocolate.
Spike had his head down on the table, his face burrowed in his arms. She smiled a little and shook her head.
Joyce's voice startled him. "Huh? Whassat?"
"Do you want marshmallows?"
"Uhh, yeah. Yes, please."
Buffy shook her head again. A vampire with manners. Will wonders never cease.
The slight movement seemed to snap Spike's instincts back into action, because he instantly stiffened and whipped his head around.
Buffy was already moving…
…Right past him to kiss her mom on the cheek.
"Hi, honey. Did you have a good patrol?"
"Ehh, not really. It was… kinda a downer actually."
"Oh. Well, how about some hot chocolate to cheer you up?"
"Sounds good, Mom."
She turned around and Spike flinched, just barely, as she passed him. But she was only going to the cupboard to get herself a mug.
Joyce sighed in satisfaction as she drained the last of her cocoa.
"Ahh. Well, I'm sure I'm not going to be wanted for this part of the conversation, so I'm going to go take a shower. Spike, finish your drink. Buffy, be nice."
She smiled sweetly at her mother. "When am I not?"
Shaking her head, Joyce left the room.
Buffy turned to face the vampire who was watching her with wary eyes and tense shoulders. He'd been completely silent ever since he recognized her presence. She raised her eyebrows. Soooo… this was slightly awkward. Thanks, Mom.
He jerked. "Hi? That's all you have to say? 'Hi?'"
She snorted. "Well it's better than just staring, Mr. Grumpy."
His lip twitched. "Mr. Grumpy?"
She rolled her eyes, but inwardly smiled. The ice was broken, they were back on normal terms. Well, as normal as possible when they were drinking hot chocolate under strict orders not to kill each other. Or at least that's how Buffy was interpreting the "be nice" rule.
"Cute, with the sign."
He smirked. "It's a tradition."
"It's an expensive tradition."
He shrugged. "Not for me."
"Sooo…" she hopped up onto the counter. "What are you doing back here?"
He looked up at her, a wry grin twisting his lips. "What is this, the Late Show? 'S none of your business why I'm back."
She cocked her head. "Yeah… I guess that's true…" she hopped down and leaned in close to his face. "But you're sitting in my kitchen, drinking my hot chocolate, so I figure I'm due some answers."
"It's your mum's kitchen," he muttered.
She waved a hand. "Details."
He sighed. "You really wanna know?"
She plopped down in the chair across from him. "Yes, Spike. I really do."
He stared at her, and then started talking.
"An' then I came home one night an' foun' her makin' out with a chaos demon. A chaos demon! 'Ave you ever seen one of those? I told her we were through, an' she laughed. She said we could be friends. She said, 'Oh, Spike, we were through long ago. You want to dance with the sunshine. The sunshine is all around you.' Uh-huh. Bloody helpful, that. Especially since I know exactly what she's talkin' about."
"Really?" Buffy interrupted.
He shot her an amused smirk. "Not a bloody clue, pet. Would've thought you'd recognize sarcasm when ya hear it."
She rolled her eyes and motioned for him to continue.
He shrugged. "That's pretty much it. We argued, she laughed, I… completely broke down and begged- what's it to ya?- an' now I'm back, in dear ol' Sunnyhell, makin' nice with the Slayer, an' drinkin' her mum's hot chocolate. How's your life been?"
She stared at him.
"C'mon, luv. It's share time, an' I've 'ad my turn. What's been happenin' with you since I left?"
She took a deep breath.
"Okay… I ran off to LA for an entire summer where I lived cheaply off my cheap job. Then, I came back to the Hellmouth 'cause it needs me to babysit it or something, and ended up being expelled. Again. Then, Angel came back- and I'm talking Angel, Angel, like, complete with soul, Angel. And he was kinda crazy. Then, when he finally gets back to normal, he tells me that we can't be together, because of temptation, or something, and we should Just. Be. Friends. And so now, I'm slightly depressed, unfortunately re-enrolled in school, denied a relationship with the guy I love, and spilling my tale of woe to an evil, soulless vampire who I just don't have the heart to stake, who happens to enjoy talking to my mum. Mom. And drinking her cocoa."
He stared at her for a long minute. Then he slowly shook his head.
"My Joss, we're screwed up."
Letting out a tired laugh, she rolled her shoulders. "No kidding." Holding up her mug, she held it out to him invitingly. With a smirk, he raised his own, and they clinked them together in a ceramic cheers before draining the last of their hot chocolate.
Apparently, this raised a signal, because Joyce came sweeping in, hair conscientiously turbaned in a towel.
"Well, that was refreshing!" she said cheerfully.
Spike jumped a little and sighed. Joyce looked at him sympathetically and glanced at Buffy, who was watching the vampire with a tolerant smile. He was tired, worn out emotionally and physically. The two women's eyes met over his bowed head.
Buffy stood up and stretched. "Hmmm, Mom?"
She was already walking. "Where'd we put the extra sheets?"
Joyce's smile nearly split her face. "They're in the cupboard by the bathroom."
"Thanks," she called down the stairs.
Spike tilted his head to the side. "Expecting company?"
Joyce gave him a smile that should be reserved for small children. "Spike, honey, it's one o' clock in the morning. Who on Earth would we be expecting?"
"Never know with you birds."
She laughed. "I'll take that as a compliment."
He was about to answer when Buffy came bounding down the stairs.
"Will these do?" She held up a set of flannel sheets with teddy bears on them.
Giggling, she retreated. "I know, I know. But, Mom! They're so… him!"
"Oh, Buffy, they are not!"
Still laughing, she ran back up the stairs.
Confused, Spike turned to Joyce. "You said you're not expecting anybody?"
She beamed at him. "Nope. Nobody."
Skeptical, he raised an eyebrow. Pleased, she grinned, then yawned.
"Hmm, good-night, Spike. Sleep well."
She brushed a kiss over his forehead, causing him to scowl and puzzle over her words. Sleep well? What the heck was she on about?
Buffy bounced back down the stairs and into the kitchen. She stared at him with wide eyes. He shifted uncomfortably.
"I'm gonna- it's… late," he said finally. "Way past bedtime. So… I'm just gonna-"
"Oh," she exclaimed. "Yeah. It is kinda late, huh?"
Nodding, he stood. "Uh, thanks. You know, for not staking me on sight, and the cocoa, an'… for listening. Thanks."
He turned to the back door and was on his way out when the Slayer's hand on his arm stopped him.
"Uh, Spike? Stairs are that way."
He stared at her, incredulity and shock stamped on his face.
"You- want, I, huh?"
She giggled. "Eloquent. Never thought I'd see you speechless."
"Well excuse a vamp for bein' a bit surprised when the Slayer offers him a bed for the night!"
She shrugged. "I offered Spike a bed for the night. There's a difference. And if it makes you feel better, it was Mom's idea. C'mon."
She grabbed his hand and pulled him, unresisting through the kitchen and living room to the stairs.
"Seriously, Spike. Just take the room." She opened the door and pushed him in. He glanced around and sniffed experimentally. Walking over to the bed, he pulled the covers back and growled when he found the teddy bear sheets. Buffy giggled.
"Oh, come on! They're totally you!"
"Are so! Look! They're like, all cuddly and cute!"
"I. Am. Not. Cuddly. Or. Cute."
She smirked. "If you wanna think that."
She laughed again. "Come on, Spike. Just sleep. You're tired, I know you are, and I also know that you don't actually have a real place to stay. It's just one night."
He gave in. "Fine. One night."
A cheeky grin, a whirl of blonde hair, a kiss on the cheek he didn't think she'd planned, and she was out the door, leaving him alone with the teddy bears.
He'd just gotten his shirt off when she burst back in to give him another kiss that he knew she had to have planned, along with a whispered "Thank you," that actually threw him for a minute, before she was gone for real.
When the Scoobies came over after school for some much-needed ice cream and movie watching, Buffy didn't say a word about her guest, still sleeping upstairs. And when Giles asked her later if she'd ever found Spike, she said the appropriate words and puns, but not a single phrase about how he ate all of the little marshmallows that you put in hot cocoa.
She stripped the sheets from the bed with a reminiscent smile, smelling him on them and wrinkling her nose at the distinct scent of cigarette smoke. Downstairs, her mother washed dishes, pausing a little when she came to three mugs that had been missed the night before.
Spike fingered the note in his pocket as he pumped gas into his DeSoto. He hadn't been expecting anything that had happened to him on this trip to Sunnydale. Killing the Slayer had been at the top of his priorities list- or at least that's what he'd thought. Instead, he'd drunk hot chocolate with her and shared stories- caught up really, like old friends.
He shook his head. Meh. He'd kill her next time.
Buffy shook her head. Ah, well. Next time she'd stake him.
A/N: Part 2 of Encounters. I'd like to believe that they aren't OOC, and since this is an AE, in which Buffy is not feeling particularly fond of Angel, I think it's plausible. After all, it's not like they actually like each other or anything. *rolls eyes*