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Bridging The Gap by Panta_Rei

Chapter Notes: HOLY CRAP, 20 reviews for the first chapter--thank you!
~*~

”What the—what’s a little kid like you doing workin’ here?”

Twelve-year-old Buffy looked up—and almost passed out. The guy standing in front of her was
gorgeous, and he was talking to her! She couldn’t have been more excited if Justin Timberlake had walked in! “Um—“

He’d called her a kid. How humiliating was that? “My parents own it,” she said, deciding to go with annoyed that he was being all adult instead of swoony because he’d talked to her.

He smiled, amused. “You’re a feisty li’l thing, aren’t you?”

“I’m not little!” Buffy protested. “And even if I am, you’re just a big bleached freak!”

“Easy, Blondie.” The man held up his hands. “I wasn’t tryin’ to insult you. What’s your name, anyway?”

“Buffy.” Buffy gave him her best smile.

“Buffy. Pretty name,” the man mused, a near-hidden sparkle in his eye.

Despite herself, her lip came out in a pout. “Angel says it’s stupid,” she mumbled.

“Angel? Who’s she?”

“It’s a he,” Buffy corrected. She then added proudly, “He’s my boyfriend!”

“Your boyfriend, huh?” The man grinned. “Bet he likes that.”

“Uh-huh.” Buffy nodded, glad that he hadn’t made fun of her like most adults did. She
was twelve—totally old enough to have a boyfriend.

“Lucky guy,” the man said with a wink. “So, can I get a pastry an’ a coffee? Black.”

“Omigosh!” Buffy almost dropped her pencil. “I forgot to take your order! I am soo sorry!” She scribbled down the food he wanted and ran off to give it to Dawn.

He ate quickly and was about to leave before they exchanged any more looks. Spike called her over to the table and gave her five dollars. “’s a lousy tip, but—“

“No, it’s fine,” Buffy said, tucking it into her pocket. “That’s way more than losta people give me.”

The man grinned at her. “In that case, maybe I can get half back—“

“Oh, no!” Buffy hopped away, giggling. “Nu-uh. My money now.”

He smiled, an act that made his eyes even bluer, something that Buffy really wouldn’t have thought possible. “Well then, I guess ‘ll see you tomorrow, Buffy,” he said, standing up and moving towards the door.

“Wait! I don’t know your name!” Buffy cried. She was going to sound like a ‘tard if she talked to her friends about him and she couldn’t tell them what his name was!

He grinned at her. “Call me Spike. The rest is too atrocious to repeat.”

And with that, he was gone.


Buffy smiled at the memory as she changed in the bathroom. Her twelve-year-old self had been equal parts enchanted and disapproving of the man who treated her like who she was—a child verging on the edge of adulthood.

Well, if she’d been on the verge then, she was knocking at adulthood’s door now. She gazed at her reflection in the mirror, tweaking bits of blonde hair and making sure that the mascara around her green eyes wasn’t smudged. She’d given up on her childhood crush for Spike a long time ago, but she still liked looking good when she was with him. God knew she wanted to look as grown up as possible, since he was so much older than she.

She met him outside of Restfield Cemetery. He was leaning against the fence, scanning the crowds—when he saw her, his face lit up in a smile. “Hey there, kitten,” he said, holding out his arm.

She hugged him, grinning. “How was work?”

“Same as yours, I s’pose. Bloody miserable, given that ‘s summer and I was stuck inside all day.” Spike’s voice was petulant—he was pouting.

“Oh, please.” Buffy made a face at him. “I’ve seen the inside of your work, mister! It’s all foosball tables and video games, not grease traps and rude fat people.”

“What can I say? I work with an advertising agency. We’re a bunch of lazy blokes.” They wandered over to a vendor and Spike paid the man for two hot dogs, handing the one smothered in ketchup, pickle relish, mustard, and onion.

“Thanks.” Buffy bit into it, spilling sauce on the ground. She was careful to catch what would have gone on her shirt with a napkin. “’s good,” she said through a mouthful of meat and condiments.

Spike shook his head, amused. “Dunno how you can stand all that rot on a perfectly good hot dog.”

“It’s not rot, that’s why!” Buffy wrinkled her nose at him. “Besides, you have seriously dull taste. Hotdogs aren’t supposed to have just mayonnaise on them. Angel says—“

“Oh, bloody hell.” Spike rolled his eyes, biting into his hot dog viciously. “Can we go an afternoon ‘thout talkin’ about that prat? Please, pet?”

Normally she would have given him a lecture about his attitude towards her boyfriend—because he hated Angel and she thought it was way unfair—but it had been a really long day and Buffy didn’t feel like bickering with her best friend. Plus also there was the small, not-so-insignificant detail that she was getting ready to break up with him. So instead of berating her friend, she sighed and said, “Oh, fine. What were we talking about before the hotdog debate, anyway?”

“Work,” Spike reminded her, finishing off the hotdog. Buffy fought not to wrinkle her nose when he tossed the remaining mayo-soaked bun into the trash. She really, really didn’t get why he ate that…but she knew better than to open the subject again.

“Oh, right. Anyway, it’s totally unfair that I have to slave away at a gross greasy diner and you get to lie in a nice air-conditioned office building trying to figure out how to sell soap on a rope to the masses.” Buffy pouted. “I hate it!”

“Well, you are sixteen,” Spike pointed out.

Buffy sighed, rolling her eyes. “Please. Don’t remind me. That’s another unfair thing. How come you get to be ten years older?”

That made him chuckle. “You’ll have to take that one up with God. ‘m not responsible for my age.”

“I know, it’s just—yuck, you know? High school is one of the suckiest things I’ve ever had to put up with!”

“I hear you, luv. We all went through it, y’know.”

Buffy mock-scowled at him. “Not helping!”

“Wasn’t trying to,” he replied, smirking. “But hey, you’re gonna be a junior. A year an’ a half and then you’re out, right?”

“Out of high school, yeah, but with my luck Dad’ll force me to work at the diner and go to Sunnydale U at night, or something.” She sighed dramatically. “The world sucks!”

“Indeed it does.” Spike tugged on her hand and led them over to a bench. “Least you’ve got me,” he teased, tugging her ponytail.

“Spike!” Buffy shrieked, scooting away. “My hair!”

“Buffy? Are you okay?”

If she’d scooted when Spike tugged on her ponytail, she jumped about a mile into the air when she heard Angel behind her. She leapt up and spun around, giving Spike a warning glare, before launching herself into his arms. “Angel! I didn’t know you were in the park!”

“I didn’t know you were.” Angel detached himself from Buffy’s embrace, jostling her a little more than necessary. Buffy’s eyes narrowed. Something was off.

“Are you here with someone?”

“Me?” Angel’s voice was high. “No! And anyway, what are you doing making accusations? You were all over your friend there.”

Buffy winced. She hated, hated, hated when Spike and Angel were in the same room—or, actually, in the same town. Despite her protestations, Angel seemed to regard Spike as some kind of pedophile, and Spike hated Angel with a passion. No guy, according to him, was ever good enough for Buffy.

She was about to apologize when Angel’s words really registered. All over Spike? I’m never all over Spike! He’s my friend! “Excuse me?” she said coldly to her boyfriend.

Angel pursed his lips. “I’m sorry, Buffy, but I can’t put up with you practically cheating on me with Captain Peroxide there. He’s ten years older than you!”

“And I’m her friend.” Spike spoke for the first time, coming to stand beside Buffy. He was shorter than Angel by quite a bit, but he was twice as menacing as the sixteen-year-old. “So why don’t you just take yourself on home and watch Tellitubbies with your little mates, yeah?”

Angel’s eyes remained fixed on Buffy. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said in what Buffy guessed was supposed to be a scary voice. Unfortunately for him, she wasn’t in the least bit impressed.

“Yes, you are,” she shot back. “You’re leaving. Now.” She clutched Spike’s arm. “And in case you’re wondering, I’m staying here.”

“No, Buffy. You’re coming home with me.” Angel’s eyes were expressionless as he grabbed Buffy’s arm and tried to haul her away.

Several things happened at once. Angel opened his mouth, probably to give Buffy a proprietary lecture that would only piss her off more; Buffy kneed Angel in the balls, yelling, “Let go of me!”; and Spike slammed his fist into Angel’s nose.

Buffy watched with satisfaction as Angel went down, howling, clutching at both his groin and his nose. “You know, that was kind of unnecessary,” she remarked to her friend as they watched a sufficiently crippled Angel walk away.

Spike flexed his hand. His features were still set; it was obvious that he wasn’t done being pissed off. “No, but it sure as hell made me feel better,” he said. “Pissant little tosser.”

That made Buffy laugh. “I have absolutely no idea what that means.”

He smiled fondly. “’s an insult, pet. He had no right to touch you, once you’d broken up with him.”

“Very true.” Buffy grinned at the memory of Angel whimpering like a baby. “Have I told you thanks?”

“Not yet.” Spike wrapped his arms around her waist and fake-leered at her. “Aren’t you gonna thank me the way Captain Forehead figured you were?”

She wriggled, laughing. Spike did this sort of thing often enough that it didn’t wig her out—actually, she thought it was kind of funny. They both knew that the chances of them ever doing anything like that were, like, nil. “Yeah, right. I ditch Captain Forehead for Captain Peroxide? Not bloody likely.”

He chuckled at hearing his phrase spill from her lips. “Just jokin’ sweetheart,” he said, releasing her.

Buffy tried to ignore the tingling that his fingers left behind, just like she ignored how her heart sank just a little when he let her go. “Duh,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Can we go do something fun now?”

He cocked his head at her, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully. “You sure you’re alright, kitten? You’ve been goin’ out with that ponce for—what is it now? Three years?”

“Four,” Buffy told him, “And you never approved. We were bound to break up sometime.” Despite her light tone, she felt a bit of pain when she remembered just how far back she and Angel went.

“But breakups hurt,” Spike reminded her. “Or so ‘ve heard.”

Buffy giggled at that. “Yeah, all your breakups have been kind of painless, huh?”

He grinned. “If you’ve gotta date, that’s the way to go.”

“Oh, really?” Now she had him. “So, I should just have casual sex and break up with each guy when the spark leaves the relationship?”

“What? No! That’s not what I said!” To her surprise, Spike looked genuinely alarmed. “You’re not gonna actually try that, are you?”

“Of course not!” Buffy laughed in spite of herself. He was cute when he was all worried. “Come on, Spike, when was the last time I took your advice?”

“Good,” Spike grumbled. “First tosser you try to have a one-night stand with, I’m killin’ him.”

Buffy smiled. Spike probably didn’t know it, but she’d never even had sex with Angel, so the likelihood of her doing the nasty with some random stranger was next to nothing. Still, she had fun scaring him, so…”If it was a real one-night stand,” she teased, “You wouldn’t know about it until after the fact.”

Her only response was a growl. She laughed and changed the subject, and they continued their walk, chatting more like an old married couple than old friends. It was always that way…

So why did Buffy feel like something had changed?

~*~

A/N: I made the endings of the two chapters similar on purpose—don’t worry, I’m not suffering from Boring Author Syndrome ;) As usual, please tell me what you think. Thanks again for all the incredible reviews that I got! You guys are awesome =D
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