"Come on, Buffy, if we don't leave now we will be late." Tara was getting slightly frustrated with the varying excuses she had been hearing over the last hour. After all, how many times did a girl need to visit the bathroom?
"OK. I'm coming," Buffy eventually said as she picked up her purse, and checked - yet again - that she had everything that she needed.
By this time, Tara was taking no more chances, so was standing on the porch, and as soon as Buffy stepped through the door, she set off towards the sidewalk.
They strolled along in silence and arrived at The Bronze before the allotted meeting time ... much to Buffy's annoyance. It was hard to think that she had decided to do this, without having to sit in a public place and wait. They slowly walked up to the bar, bought a soda each, and headed to an empty table at the side of the room.
As they sat, Tara slowly began to relax, having spotted Spike in the opposite corner, and knowing that her task was almost complete. On the other hand, Buffy got tenser as the seconds ticked past, making Tara wonder if she would explode before eight o'clock.
"Hi, Spike, glad that you were able to come this evening." Tara rapidly filled what could have become a gap, as Buffy had literally jumped at the sound of Spike's voice.
"Well you did ask, and I agreed, so you shouldn't be all that shocked, should you?"
Tara just smiled in reply.
“You don’t have a drink yet. Let me go and get you something, any preferences?” Tara was already on her feet and had taken a step towards the bar as she spoke. To her surprise she didn’t get an answer from Spike, as he was taking a chance to look at Buffy, while she was carefully studying the ice-cubes in her glass.
When Tara returned with the JD for him, she was pleased to note he had sat in the empty seat, and had obviously asked Buffy how the “bride and groom” were doing.
“We haven’t heard from either of them, but I know that Anya is with D’Hoffryn, so I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.” Buffy was looking worried as she finished her comments.
“Sadly, there’s nothing you can do until they both return, luv, so wait till then to find out what, if anything, you have to face.” As ever Spike had a comforting answer that brought a smile to Tara’s lips, if not to the girl he was actually speaking to.
The three of them slowly sipped their drinks, allowing the background noise to wash over them, and letting them relax in the comfort of spending time with friends. However after a few minutes Tara knew she would have to give Buffy a push as to the reason they were together this evening.
“Buffy,” she started to say, but the glare in the slayer’s eyes made her stop ... for a moment, before her resolve returned, and she continued.
“Buffy, don’t you have something you want to ask?” By leaving the question open ended she hoped that neither of her two companions would be spooked.
Now it was up to Buffy. She may be able to fight demons three times her size, stop an apocalypse or stand serving burgers for hours, but when it came to simple words she tended to back away ... quickly.
Tara looked at her with all the positive vibes and compassion that she could muster. She knew how much Buffy was hurting, but having come so far, Tara hoped that she would be brave enough to speak to Spike about what was going on, because she knew that once the slayer began to soften, Spike would take any crumb that he could.
“OK.” Buffy finally snapped out the short phrase, and turned towards the vampire, who certainly needed his increased hearing to listen to the next phrase –
The silence that settled in that corner of the building was more deafening that the surrounding bustle. Tara gently kicked Spike in the shin as the silence stretched and the slayer’s head dropped even lower.
“Oh, um, what?” His voice sounded unnecessarily loud, so instead of an immediate answer both girls looked at him with surprise. He was, however looking at Buffy, and as she glanced up he just raised an eyebrow reminding her that the question had been directed at her.
“Spike, I’m sorry,” she said again. This time the words came out a bit clearer, as if by just saying them once had conditioned her brain to the phrase.
“What for, pet?” Spike’s answer came out more softly this time, and glancing at both the girls he hoped that there was a positive reason that Buffy had said those words to him.
“For letting Riley blow up your home.”
It might not have been the answer that he had wanted to hear, but to hear his tough girl admitting to something meant a lot.
“Buffy!” This time the two sets of eyes turned towards Tara, as she had sounded totally shocked.
“You knew it happened, Tara, because he thought Spike was The Doctor.”
“That’s not the point, though. Is it?”
Spike studied the two girls as they both stared at each other, and he was fascinated to see a slight colour spreading up over Buffy’s cheeks. He saw her take a deep breath to calm herself, and then watched in shocked disappointment as she stood up. The shock then increased as Buffy moved to stand next to Spike and move the table slightly so that she could focus on him.
“Spike. I’m sorry that Riley blew up your home, but I’m also even sorrier for ignoring you most of the time.”
Spike went to speak, but felt more pressure on his leg from their companion.
So, after another deep breath Buffy continued, “I want to know if we can spend some time together, so will you go out with me some time?” She finished with a rapid rush of words, but physically stood her ground.
Over the day of chatting with Tara, while trying to avoid thinking, she had realised that she had enjoyed having the company. Tara was more special that she had noticed before, so had decided to make this evening partly about the three of them.
As the moments stretched out, Buffy wondered if she really had lost him, but she needn’t have worried. He lifted his hands and clasped her fingers loosely and she got the answer she was both scared to hear, but hoping to get.
“Yes, pet, I’d like to spend some time with you. How about I pick you up after work tomorrow and we come here for a drink, before going on patrol?” It surprised neither girl, that he knew her schedule, nor the fact that she still had to be The Slayer.
Tara’s smile was soft as she watched the scene unfold before her. As Buffy settled back into her seat, after moving it closer to Spike, she started to collect her purse to leave the two of them together, but was stopped by Buffy’s voice.
“Tara, stay, I owe you a lot.”
“Yes. Let me get you another drink, don’t rush off.” Spike added his words to their companion.
At her agreement, Spike wandered off to get some more drinks, and a plate of Buffalo Wings, for the three of them to relax and enjoy a peaceful evening. Although as he returned to their table he did wonder what he had truly let himself in for, as both girls turned towards him and smiled.
However, his girl was happy, so he was as well. They had done hectic and hidden, now was time to rediscover friendship and to look towards the future.
Spike strolled towards his destination, wondering how the evening would progress.
The previous one had been such a special time for him. He had spent a couple of hours at the Bronze chatting to Buffy and Tara about nothing in particular. For the first time in his existence he had been treated as an equal. He had been included in the conversation and his companions had actually listened to what he had to say. As a human he had always hoped to be fully involved in the discussions of the day. Angelus had never wanted to listen to the younger vampire, and Dru lived in her own world. He’d treasured the time spent with the girls ... but also hoped that he wouldn’t lose that friendship in the future.
The time had passed rapidly, yet had been occasion to savour and remember. As the hour got later they had walked back to where Tara was staying and wished her a goodnight, then he and Buffy had made their way back to Revello Drive. The walk had been companionable and once there, he had left her with a gentle stroke on her right cheek, and the promise to pick her up from work the following evening.
Now the worries were returning.
What if she had only been nice to him because Tara was there? Was there some deeper, darker motive that he had somehow missed? Still, he reminded himself, that he had promised he would pick her up from work, so however the next few minutes played out, he wouldn’t be the one to chicken out of the planned date.
He would have been comforted to know that Buffy was no more relaxed than he was.
She had looked at the clock at least every five minutes over the last couple of hours, raising a question from her supervisor as to whether she had a “hot date” lined up for later. That had made Buffy smile, not least because Spike, while being a cool to the touch, could certainly be called hot if she thought about it.
As Spike walked through the door he immediately noticed Buffy taking a confusing order from a large family, but he also spotted Willow sitting in the corner.
Willow glanced up with a look of hope on her face, as Spike stepped through the door, but other than nodding in his direction she went back to focussing on her soda.
After an inner debate, Spike approached the counter, deciding that if Buffy ignored him, he could just order a drink and head out again. However he was sure that his heart actually skipped a non-existent beat when she noticed him and smiled right at him, while still listening to the final debate from the family in front of her.
The supervisor, who had been standing near the back, went to serve Spike and noticed Buffy’s glance. So she caught Buffy’s eye and mouthed “he’s hot” to her.
Buffy showed her inner slayer in serving the food for her customers, as while getting food onto the tray she was glancing at Spike, as if she was worried he would disappear.
Unknown to both of them, they were each having the same inner debate as to how to deal with Willow if she were to ask what was happening. Over the last couple of days, Tara had been a positive influence in their lives, and had encouraged them to spend time together. However, that sort of support is OK when it was only the three of them together, but seeing one of the other Scoobies sitting nearby, made them both feel that Willow was going to pounce.
As Buffy finished her final order for the evening she nodded at her boss and then went to get sorted out ready for leaving.
In those minutes that Spike was left to wait, he glanced at Willow and noticed she was obviously waiting for someone. Having been with Tara the previous evening he wondered whether, since then, she had arranged to meet here. If that was the case, Spike hoped that things would be able to settle down between the two of them. If, however, that wasn’t the case, he did wonder whom she was meeting. Fortunately for his peace of mind he was interrupted by a gentle hand on his arm.
“Hi, pet,” he said. “Have you had something to eat or not?” Spike may have spent the last few hours wondering how this evening would go, but ultimately he wasn’t going to let his girl go hungry.
“I had something not so long back.” Buffy was quick to brush off his worry, as she was concerned that he would suggest they stayed and have something to eat. Not that it would worry her normally, but like him, she was very conscious of Willow’s apparent vigil.
So, rather than put off the rest of the evening any longer, they turned and with a muttered goodbye to Willow they walked out into the night. That in itself was enough to help settle both their nerves a bit, as whether together or separately, they were both people who were confident in Sunnydale in dark.
“I thought we might go to The Bronze and have a drink first. And, before you say anything, it’s just a place that we both know.”
Smiling, Buffy said “And nothing to do with the fact of this being all out in the open?”
Spike’s grin was there, but looked slightly forced at her answer.
“It’s OK, Spike. I like The Bronze, and I’ve agreed this is a proper date. In fact I asked you out, didn’t I?”
They had been walking through the town and as they got near the club Spike noticed that Buffy’s footsteps slowed a little. However, he made no comment, as she continued to chat about some of the weird people she had served during her shift.
Once inside, Spike was pleasantly surprised to find that rather than go and sit in a dark corner, Buffy walked with him up to the bar. She pulled a stool towards another spare one and sat down while he ordered them both a drink. Having seen Buffy drunk, he had no intention of ending the evening that way again, but still wanted it to feel like the proper date they both hoped it could be.
They sat and sipped their drinks, ate peanuts, and chuckled at some of the dancing attempts going on around them. One particular couple had them deciding that they were moving more as if in a street brawl than on a dance floor.
Drinks finished, Spike stood up and held out his hand to his companion.
To give Buffy credit, she stood and put her hand in his, even though he noticed her heart begin to speed up, so he slowly made his way round the room to the nearest exit. As they walked out, she spotted his DeSoto ... his clean DeSoto.
Buffy looked up at him, and his answer came as a grin first, then the actual reason
“Clem owed me a favour,” he said. “He’s a lousy poker player, and so I got him to give the car a clean instead of giving me the kittens he owed me.” While speaking he had walked towards the passenger door and opened it, helping Buffy settle, before closing the door again and going round to his side of the car.
“It must have been a lot of kittens,” Buffy said, “You can tell him that he’s done a great job.”
Spike turned on the ignition and soft jazz filled the car. With that in the background, he turned the car towards its destination.
The car may be years old, but in Spike’s opinion this was one of its most important tasks.
The DeSoto was taking Buffy and Spike onto the main part of their first date.