By Estepheia and Marcee
Part 2 - Just Like Old Times
Life sucks, Buffy thought as she stepped out of the house. She had just spent hours doing all kinds of boring household chores, cleaning, dusting, ironing. Everybody else had important things to do: friends to visit, classes to prepare for, important books to read, spells to research.
She sat down on the porch of her house, but she didn't actually realize she was waiting for something, or rather someone, until Xander got out of his car to sit beside her. He was still wearing his work clothes.
"So, where is he?" he asked.
"And who would you be referring to?" Buffy said sullenly.
"Wiley E. Coyote?" Xander shook his head, "The bleached wonder, of course. Tara told me you occasionally sit here, just the two of you, talking..."
"And now you're wondering, what could Buffy possibly want to discuss with the evil dead," she snapped.
"And now I'm wondering, would Buffy and Spike like to join Anya and Xander at the Bronze later tonight," Xander said. "And now I'm wondering why I'm talking in the third person."
"Huh?" Buffy said, looking at her friend incredulously. *Did Spikeophobe Xander just invite me and Spike out to the Bronze?*
"I mean, I still feel kinda bad about the way you got fired the other day," Xander started.
"You mean, the way you fired me the other day," Buffy interrupted.
Xander glanced downward, clearly embarrassed, and continued, "And I guess I still owe Spike a drink, too."
"Let's just say the Xander mouth was, once again, faster than the Xander brain and I said something I shouldn't have."
He rose. "Anyway, Buff, say yes. It'll be fun. Like old times, except with Spike not trying to kill us...I hope. Let's meet at nine."
"What about Willow and Tara?" Buffy asked.
"I don't think they'd mind looking after the house and Dawn. But if you want to invite them along, just ask them. The more the merrier," he added cheerfully. "But I'm not paying for their drinks. When it comes to the witches, my conscience is clear. Well, more or less. Besides, Anya is in one of her more stingy moods again because she craves a new laptop."
"So Xander, `ere, grabbed the demon's tail and when it turned around to bite `im I grabbed the sword," Spike stood suddenly, knocking his chair back, "and ran `im through!" Spike imitated a sword thrust with his invisible weapon.
Anya clapped, "He's so gallant," she said as she patted Xander's arm.
"Thank you, Luv," Spike grinned.
Buffy just rolled her eyes and stood, "I'm getting another soda. Do any of you heroes want anything?"
"I could go for a burger," Xander mentioned.
"Me too," Anya said.
Willow chimed in, "Onion rings, please?"
Tara nodded, "And mustard."
Willow smiled, "My girl has some weird tastes."
"But good taste," Tara offered and kissed her lover's hand.
"Coming right up," Buffy said.
"Need help, Kitten?" Spike asked.
Buffy glared at him, "I can handle it."
"So, do you really think she's okay?" Xander whispered after Buffy left for the bar.
"Why do we always have to talk about Buffy," Anya demanded.
"She seems to be doing better," Willow said, ignoring Anya's outburst.
"Yeah, she seems," Tara thought for a moment, "almost happy."
Xander looked at Spike, "What do you think, Spike?"
There was a noticeable pause. "I think I need a smoke," he answered. He stood, grabbed his duster off the back of the chair and headed for the back door.
"I hate that every discussion is always about Buffy," Anya ranted, "Why aren't there ever any Anya-centric discussions?"
"Anya, please." Xander's irritation with his fiancé was evident.
The alley behind the Bronze was dark. A big metal garbage bin sat huddled against the wall by the door. Spike leaned against it as he lit his cigarette. He was halfway done with his second by the time Buffy wandered outside.
"It's getting cold," she said.
Spike put the cigarette to his lips and inhaled deeply as he gave Buffy a once over. *Why does she insist on wearing red leather pants? Does she want me to spontaneously combust?* he wondered. *Oh, yeah, she probably does.* He laughed internally.
"What about your waitressing duties?" he asked.
"Food has been delivered, Captain," she saluted.
"And what brings you out here?"
"Willow and Tara are dancing and Anya and Xander are arguing. Didn't want to interrupt."
"Ah, a love spat," Spike grinned, "We know what those are like, ay?" He winked at Buffy.
"Don't I ever," he mumbled and took another long drag.
*This is kind of nice*. Buffy thought.
*This is kind of nice.* Spike thought.
They stood in comfortable silence until Spike finished his smoke. "Shall we, Luv?"
Spike pushed the door open allowing the music to filter into the alley.
Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows...
"We shall," Buffy answered and walked through open door. The music was loud on this side of the door and if it weren't for Spike's vampire-enhanced hearing he might not have heard Buffy mumble, "Ooh, I like this song," as they crossed the dance floor. Spike recognized the new Enya song. Surprisingly, he liked it too.
And who can say why your heart cries
When your love dies...
*Does she want to dance?* Spike wondered, *With ME?* He shook his head, *No way.* But they were on the dance floor, and she did say she liked this song. *Oh, what the bloody hell!* He reached for her hand and...
"Forget it!" Anya screamed loud enough to be heard over the music and probably into the next zip code. She was heading for the door.
"Anya!" Xander yelled almost as loudly, "Anya! Wait!"
"Don't bother telling anyone anything! Because there's nothing to tell!"
"Stop Anya!" Xander hurried toward his soon-to-be-ex-fiancé. He caught up with her at the door and an emotional confrontation ensued.
Willow, Tara, Buffy and Spike were too far from the couple to hear what was said, but they all stood frozen anyway, enthralled with the events that were unfolding before them. Luckily, Spike was standing close enough to Buffy to catch her when she fainted.
Tara saw her fall and grabbed Willow. Together they rushed to her side. The music stopped, a semi-circle of patrons formed around the small unconscious girl. Anya and Xander noticed the commotion and momentarily put their argument on hold.
"Buffy?" Spike whispered to the limp girl in his arms. "Slayer?"
Continued in Part 3 - Someone to Watch over me