Buffy walks up the basement stairs and back into the war zone that she had been so hoping to get a break from for a short while by talking with Spike, but no, Faith sure didn’t waste any time stepping in there. Buffy thinks to herself that she should have expected that, after all Faith going after her boyfriends sure isn’t anything new to her. Not that Spike’s her boyfriend she then thinks, still though seeing her down there bothers Buffy just as much as if he was.
“B, wait up,” Faith calls from behind her. Buffy stops and spins around to face the dark slayer. “Sorry… I didn’t know you two… had a thing, and we were just talking.”
“It’s okay…” Buffy says taking a breath, “and we don’t have a thing.”
“Yeah, but you did right… I mean, the way you looked at us just then when you saw me down there…”
“Faith,” Buffy says in warning tone, “You know what, just drop it okay.” Buffy then turns and continues to walk up to her room.
Faith sighs. She wants to be on good terms with everyone but so far doesn’t feel like she’s getting off to a real good start. Faith turns around and walks into the kitchen, she really wishes that she had another cigarette to smoke, but she shared her last one with Spike and she doesn’t think that going down to bum one off him is a real good idea at the moment. What she does have though is a bag of potato chips that she sees lying on the counter. Faith props herself up to sit on the island and digs into the crinkled yellow bag. It’s then that Kennedy walks into the room.
“You got enough to share?” Kennedy asks.
“Trade you for a carton of cigarettes and some soap,” Faith replies then notices an odd look across the younger girl’s face, “Sorry… habit… here,” Faith says tilting the bag toward Kennedy so she can grab some chips. “How come you’re not in the living room with the other potentials chatting it up?”
“Honestly… they’re getting on my nerves. Everyone around here is pretty tightly wound… we’ve either been locked up in here or training.”
“So why don’t you take a break?”
“Yeah right… like Buffy would ever let us do anything fun with the impending apocalypse and all that… I mean… unless,” Kennedy looks at Faith and in that moment Faith realizes that this girl had an agenda from the second she walked into the kitchen, “unless you talk to her…” Kennedy’s voice is almost sweet, “she might listen to you, being another slayer and all that.”
“I don’t think so… Buffy’s never really seen us as being on equal ground.”
“Yeah well, you could try… you never know,” Kennedy says as she grabs a handful of chips and leaves the kitchen.
Buffy walks into her room and takes a deep breath. The stress of her everyday life is getting harder and harder to ignore. Buffy takes off her jean jacket and throws it over her chair then runs her fingers through her hair massaging her scalp. She just needs a moment of silence; however that’s quickly interrupted by a knock at her door. Buffy turns around to see Faith walk in.
“Hey, I’m sorry about before… I didn’t mean to push your buttons,” Faith says, “Look, I um… I just want to get along with everyone… so ah… are we cool?”
“Yeah… yeah it’s fine, and I’m sorry if I seemed… I’ve just been a little stressed lately.”
“Seems like everyone around here is a bit edgy… why don’t you take a night off. Hit the bronze or something?”
Before Buffy has the chance to respond there’s another knock at her door, this time Willow walks in and both Buffy and Faith turn to face her.
“Um, hey… the girls are just wondering what the plans are for tonight… if you guys would be taking them out on patrol or not?”
“Actually…” Faith says, “I was just telling Buffy that I think it might be good for the girls to take a night off… you know, do something fun with them.”
“And I was just about to tell Faith, that I don’t think that’s a very good idea.”
“Actually… it might be good for the girls to do something fun,” Willow says and receives an incredulous look from Buffy. Faith looks at the red head and assumes that Kennedy must have had a talk with her as well. “We’ve all been a little strung out lately… and you always used to say ‘a cranky slayer is a careless slayer,’ I think it’d be good for them to, you know, take a break… just for tonight of course.”
Buffy lets Willow’s words sink in and she thinks to herself that she could use a break. Hell, she knew they could all use a break, and she certainly wants to head to the bronze like old times, but should she really be doing what she wants right now? Buffy weighs the odds of her wants and needs and finds her brain in a twisted knot.
“Besides, we haven’t had any attacks in a few weeks… this might be our last chance to give everyone a rest,” Willow adds in with a hopeful smile and Faith shoots her an encouraging look.
“Come on B… you take the girls out to patrol, this can’t be any more dangerous then that.”
Maybe Faith is right, Buffy thinks; no, Faith is never right, although the bringers could just as easily pick off the potentials in the graveyard as they could on the dance floor.
“Alright… but just tonight and if there’s even a hint of trouble fun time is over, got it.”
From the second Willow and Faith let the girls know what the plans were for the night the house became a scurrying mess of teenage girls looking for something to wear, fixing their hair, and applying make up. Buffy doges three of the girls as she makes her way down the stairs, for a moment she starts to think that this was a worse plan then she could ever imagine, but then she notices the happy looks and smiles that cross their faces and thinks that just maybe Faith had been right.
Buffy has changed her outfit to a slightly more revealing white shirt paired with jeans and a leather jacket and now she moves into the kitchen where she sees Spike coming up from the basement.
“You getting ready to take the troops out?” Spike asks.
“Yeah… you coming?” Buffy says making small talk.
“Dunno… wasn’t planning on it,” Spike says as he sees disappointment flash behind Buffy’s eyes, “Maybe though.”
“Ok, well maybe I’ll see you later then,” Buffy says and Spike smiles then he walks past her toward the living room. Buffy turns around. “Spike,” he stops and turns to her, “you should come… you could use a break as much as the rest of us.”
Spike nods and takes in her words then he turns and continues toward the living room.
It’s a slow night at the bronze when Buffy arrives with the scoobies and potentials. She walks in and instantly scopes the place out. She knows that this little trip is so they can all relax, so she can relax, but she can’t seem to shake herself out of slayer mode just yet. As the girls enter most of them make their way to the dance floor while the scoobies hover near the door for a moment. Giles has stayed at home, however Spike did decide to tag along. After a moment Faith makes her way to the bar while Buffy, Xander, Anya, Willow and Spike head over to their usual table near the stairs.
“It’s been a while since we’ve hit up the ole bronze, kinda nice to be back here,” Xander says as he sits down next to Anya.
“I agree… this was a good idea Buffy,” Willow says bringing a small smile to her best friends face.
“Yeah… I think so too,” Buffy replies although subconsciously she still searches the room for anything suspicious.
It’s then that Kennedy wanders up from the dance floor and catches Willow’s attention.
“Hey, wanna dance?” Kennedy asks the red head before her.
“Um, yeah,” Willow says looking to her friends for a signal that it’s okay for her to go. Buffy smiles at her and Xander gives her a small nod, with that Willow disappears to the dance floor.
“Come on Xander, let’s go grind our bodies together on the dance floor, building up mass amounts of sexual tension so we sneak off and have sex in the alley before we go home,” Anya says looking at Xander.
“Well… I can’t argue with that,” Xander says to Buffy and Spike who are the only ones left at the table as Anya drags the carpenter off. For a moment Xander worries about leaving Buffy alone with Spike at the table, but Anya’s persistence quickly overrides that thought.
“Glad to see someone’s having some fun around here,” Spike says watching Xander walk off.
Spike then looks back at Buffy and follows her line of vision. She’s looking at Faith standing up near the bar, she has a beer in her hand and a couple of guys are flirting with her. Faith brings the bottle to her lips and takes a long sip while still holding eye contact with the hunky guys before her. It doesn’t take long for her to set her beer back on to the counter and follow the two men out to the dance floor. As Faith vanishes into the crowd Buffy and Spike’s eyes meet from across the table and for the first time they realize that they’re sitting there alone.
“So pet, care for a drink?” Spike asks.
“That would so be a no.”
“Suit yourself,” Spike says as he starts to stand up from the table, then he stops, “no, you know what,” Spike sits back down, “You deserve a break too Buffy, come on… one drink won’t kill you.”
At first Buffy keeps her wall up high and strong giving Spike a look that says ’no way’ she even prepares to send out a quick come back like ‘no, but it could get them killed,’ but then he quirks an eyebrow up at her and Buffy actually thinks about what he’s said. Soon her wall is crumbling and she decides to ignore the slayer within her and do what Buffy Summers wants to do for once.
“Fine, just one drink… but that’s it, no cave-man Buffy or stumble-y-drunk kitten poker Buffy tonight.” Buffy says and watches as Spike gets up from his seat and goes up to the bar with a slight smile across his face.
Spike and Buffy sat at the table for some time talking about various trivial things. They discussed the potentials and other things that have been going on around the house while they sipped away at their beers carefully making sure not to mention anything about themselves or their past relations. Now Spike finds his beer is empty and so is Buffy’s. He sets the bottle on the table on its side and spins it. Buffy watches it with an odd curiosity as it stops with its neck pointing at her. For a second Buffy is reminded of playing spin the bottle at parties back in L.A. before she found out she was the slayer, and that thought then leads Buffy to thinking about kissing which leads her to think of kissing Spike, a thought that she pushes out of her mind as fast as she can.
“So, what now pet, care for another drink?”
Before Buffy has a chance to respond Xander, Anya and Willow make their way back to the table and sit down.
“Oh… Xander, they have drinks. I want a drink,” Anya pleads.
“Anything you want milady,” Xander responds.
“Get me one of those fruity things with the little umbrellas which would be completely pointless for any practical use.”
“Alrighty… Buff, Will, either of you want anything,” Xander says and Spike lifts his eyebrow at Buffy.
“Fine… one more, but that’s it,” Buffy says.
“Um… uh, yeah sure, why not.”
“Mind getting me another beer while you’re up?” Spike says then waits for a firm ‘no’ and a snarky response from the boy.
“Yeah sure, I’m in a giving mood,” Xander replies as he heads off to the bar leaving Spike pleasantly surprised.
“So how’s the dancing going?” Buffy asks turning to Willow and Anya.
“Oh its fun… but I think my feet could use a rest,” Willow responds.
“Seems like a good plan.”
“What about you Buffy, are you having fun?”
“Yeah… it’s been nice to be out of the house.”
“Right and hey look no demon-ies so we lucked out there.”
Just then there’s a loud bang heard from outside, it’s not loud enough to stop the music or scare any of those on the dance floor, but it is loud enough for Buffy and those sitting around her to hear. Buffy turns to face Willow with a look that says ‘way to jinx us’ then gets out of her seat jumping back in to slayer-mode and Spike stands as well.
“Stay here,” Buffy says to Willow and Anya as she walks toward the back door with Spike in tow.
The door to the alley swings open and Buffy and Spike cautiously step out from the Bronze. There, in the alley, they find nothing. There are no bringers or uber-vamps, no demons or other undead creatures to cause havoc. All they see is a heavy garbage can empty and over turned. A strong gust of wind moves through the space between The Bronze and the warehouse next door. The wind knocks the empty can around driving it in circles and pushes Buffy’s hair back in a whirlwind of strands, as it does she thinks to herself that the wind very well could have been strong enough to send the garbage can flying into the metal door. That one metal on metal thump would have been loud enough to be what they heard, but still Buffy finds herself on the defensive.
“Come on love, if anything was out here it’s gone now,” Spike says from behind her, but she doesn’t move.
Spike steps up behind Buffy and the door to the Bronze begins to swing closed behind him. The door then slams shut with a loud echoing sound and startles Buffy. She spins around to see what the noise was and when she does she finds herself face to face with Spike.
“It’s alright it’s just the door,” Spike says noticing that Buffy is mere inches from his face and has yet to step back.
“Right… right,” Buffy says, her eye lashes fluttering down to the ground then back up to look at Spike. Their eyes meet. “So I guess we should go back in then.”
“Right, night off and all… we should take advantage of it.”
They still haven’t moved as they talk and the longer they stay standing where they are the more they notice their close proximity to each other. Spike can feel Buffy’s heated breath across his skin, and tingles are swarming up and down the slayer’s spine.
“Yeah,” Spike says as his eyes flutter down to Buffy’s lips then back up to her eyes. Buffy notices their movement.
For a second Buffy thinks back to when they had kissed in that very alley after singing their hearts out. She had needed him then, needed him to help her deal with being alive. That kiss made her feel and made all of the troubles she had been dealing with at the time disappear. She wonders to herself for a moment if she kissed him now if all her problems would disappear once again, even if only for a short while. Her breath hitches in her throat and she looks him straight in the eye.
“We should go back inside,” Buffy then blurts out. The rational part of her brain sending out words to keep her thoughts in line, a part of her really did want to kiss him there, but Buffy knows she doesn’t have the time to deal with things like that.
Abruptly Buffy turns from Spike and walks back inside. Spike stands in the ally alone for a moment replaying the last few minutes with her in his mind. He wonders if she had been thinking about the same thing as he had, about kissing her right then and there. No, he knew she had been but he shakes his head in dismay annoyed that she can’t ever just do what she really wants. Spike turns and walks back into the Bronze.
Spike takes his seat at the table next to Buffy and listens in as Xander speaks. He picks up the beer that has been set in front of him and takes a long sip from the bottle. Xander is telling some story from his youth that Willow, Anya and Buffy seem to be amused by, but Spike himself can’t seem to focus much on Xander’s words. Spike notices Buffy glance at him as she takes a sip from her red colored drink with pink umbrella which sticks out and pokes her in the nose as she raises her glass. Then just as quickly her glance moves off of him.
About a half hour passes by where Spike sits silently slumped in his chair listening to the scoobies before him talk of various memories, some of which he found rather amusing. After hearing about the time Buffy was turned into a rat he saw Buffy’s eyes bulge wide and thought to himself that he’d have to bring it up later to tease her about it. He’d noticed Buffy glance at him more then once but she’s yet to speak to him since they’ve come in from their demon goose-chase.
“Oh remember the time at the zoo when we got to see the zebras mating,” Willow says enthusiastically.
“Oh yeah, the time I was possessed by a hyena, lets not talk about that one kay Will,” Xander says.
So far the music has kept a quick beat and occasionally Spike’s eyes would wander over to the dance floor to see Faith grinding on some random guy or Dawn dancing among the potentials, but now the pace of the music has slowed down. Spike watches as Willow catches someone’s eye from across the room. He turns around to see Kennedy leaning against the pool table; her eyes look at Willow and then glance back at the dance floor as a smile crosses her face. Spike turns back around and watches the red-headed witch set her drink down on the table.
“I’m gonna go guys,” is all Willow says as she gets up from the table and walks over to Kennedy who leads her to the dance floor.
Soft calming notes flow through the air in a smooth rhythmic breeze. The notes softly push at the inhabitants of the room causing them to sway to the tune. Back and forth Xander and Anya move as music glides through their ears. Like a siren it calls them to the dance floor as well.
“We’ll be back in a bit,” Xander says as he stands and lets Anya lead him out for a slow dance.
Buffy watches them walk off as she takes another sip of her drink twisting the pink umbrella away from her face. Then as her eyes adjust away from the tiny umbrella she sees Spike’s hand outstretched before her. Buffy sets her drink down and looks up at Spike with a quizzical face.
“What are you doing?” Buffy asks.
“Asking you to dance.”
“Why?” Spike drops his hand.
“Come on Buffy. Don’t get all defensive on me… night off remember,” Spike says putting his hand out for Buffy once again.
She looks at his hand for a short while thinking over her options then slowly she takes her hand out of her lap and places it in his. For just a fraction of a second shock crosses Spike’s face then it disappears so fast that Buffy’s not sure she saw it in the first place. Buffy stands and lets Spike lead her to the dance floor where slow music sways those in the room.
Spike stops walking and turns to face Buffy. Spike moves his hand around her waist and slowly Buffy brings her hands around his neck. It occurs to her now that her friends will see her and as she looks over Spike’s shoulder she sees Faith eyeing her and Spike up, however; the look on her fellow slayer’s face is one of approval not dismay. Buffy loosens up a little after that and lets her arms rest more comfortably. Feeling Buffy relax against him Spike tightens his grip around her waist pulling her closer and then finally Buffy allows herself to move with the music and let everything else fall away. Buffy rests her head on Spike’s shoulder and the two of them sway to the music completely lost in each other.
The smell of freshly washed cotton and Marlboros floats into Buffy’s senses as she closes her eyes and lets Spike lead her around the dance floor. She takes in the feel of his muscles beneath his shirt and how gentle his fingers are as they hold her back. For the first time in months Buffy completely let’s go.
The music rolls on and for the next three minuets all thoughts of fighting, uber-vamps and the First are free from Buffy’s mind. Even after the song comes to an end and the band starts to play a more upbeat tune Buffy and Spike continue to sway softly. Buffy then opens her eyes and she sees that the rest of the scoobies have gone back to sit down at their table. Spike looks down at her in that moment as it’s become obvious to both of them that the song is over. Blue eyes meet green and then without thinking Spike leans in. Eyes flutter shut and soft lips meet.
Buffy paces back and forth in the kitchen. The scoobies have all gone off to bed and the potentials are uncomfortably sleeping in the living room. After Buffy and Spike returned to the table the conversation with the scoobies continued as if it had never been interrupted by a slow song and no one mentioned Buffy and Spike dancing together none the less their short kiss. Buffy did notice a few looks from Xander but if he had wanted to say anything he refrained. Now Buffy stares at the basement door unsure if she should walk through it or not. Then Buffy’s concentration on the door is broken as Faith enters the kitchen.
“You should go down and talk to him,” Faith says.
“Look B, I know I’m probably the last person you’d ever take advice from, but… you should go down there… you should tell him how you feel…”
“No, don’t do that thing where you deny everything, I saw you tonight… I saw how you were with him. You may not have a lot of time left to tell him how you feel. You should do it now.”
Buffy’s eyes fall to the floor then float back up to look Faith in the eye. She’s right is all Buffy can think as she reaches for the door knob. Within seconds Faith is watching Buffy disappear into the basement and all Faith can do is smile.