“…I like going to the movies. And Monster Trucks. Do you like monster Trucks?”
Buffy sighed. She was seriously fed up. This evening was nowhere near as fun as she’d thought it was going to be. When Willow had found the ad in the local paper, it had seemed like just the thing to cheer her up, something to stop her moping over Riley’s departure to the jungle or worrying about whether Glory might snatch Dawn. ‘Speed Dating Night!’ the advert had proclaimed. ‘Find your perfect date in minutes!’ and for a while Buffy had looked forward to it. Dating she could do, and twenty-five choice hunks eager to romance her couldn’t be bad, could it? Maybe one of them would be that elusive one .
So far, hunks had been in short supply. Not one of the suitors had matched the image in her head of whom she’d thought she’d meet – a lean and muscular hottie, tanned and chiselled, and witty to boot. Instead, they had proved to be a parade of Sunnydale’s’ finest geeks and losers. They were a pathetic bunch: stamp collectors, gangsta rap never-bes, and college boys looking for an easy lay. Not one of them had listed weaponry or even Kung Fu amongst their interests, and who knew how un-fascinating Babylon 5 could be? And. Every. Single. One. of them had listed ‘going to the movies and hanging out with friends’ amongst their hobbies. How original .
“Not really, no,” she replied to the latest one, a skinny, pimply kid whose body swam in what looked like his father’s out of style suit.
The young man was oblivious to her lack of enthusiasm, however. “Maybe I’ll take you sometime…”
Luckily, Pimply’s offer was interrupted by the tinkly bell, which indicated that the five minutes the suitors had to sell themselves to their potential dates was up. Buffy shrugged as the boy got up to leave the table. There was no time to swap numbers – not that she would have – the next suitor was on his way. Hopefully this time it would be that perfect handsome bachelor that would appreciate her super strength, her tendency to roam cemeteries at night and her occasional icky wounds. She wasn’t asking for much. Right?
She just had time to plaster on her best dazzling, yet insincere, smile for the next guy, who at first glance, was really drop dead… Spike .
“What are you doing here?” she said through gritted teeth as he settled into the chair opposite.
“Finding a date, if you must know.”
“These are living people Spike!” She couldn’t believe his nerve. “You are dead; as in, not living.”
“Yeah,” he shrugged loosely. “So? Demons won’t bloody have me anymore. Have to take it where I can find it.”
“Please leave. Now .”
He sprawled back in his chair, getting comfortable. “I believe I get five minutes first.”
” Here ? With me ?” A mild panic began to send her heart rate into some jittery freeform jazz jam. Groovy . She didn’t want to be in the same room, planet, universe, with Spike any longer than she had to. Five minutes was going to feel like an eternity.
“If you’re offering,” he grinned and waggled his eyebrow in a way she was sure was obscene. “Bit public, but I’m not fussy.”
“I am so not offering. Leave .”
“Can’t,” he waved an arm towards their host. “Valkyrie lady over there gets a bit put out if the dates walk out. Buggers up the numbers.”
Buffy glanced at Miss Morris, the Reubenesque woman who ran the night with an iron fist. She was, indeed, stalking the hall, watching for anyone who might get out of line, in the same manner that she might survey a battlefield for the corpses of the brave.
“She’s a Valkyrie? That explains a lot ,” Like the bulky gold armour she’d glimpsed earlier under the woman’s voluminous white dress, Buffy thought. “You’ve been here before?”
“Every Friday, now Harmony’s buggered off. Gives the old wrist a rest.” He unnecessarily demonstrated what he meant with an obscene hand gesture that made her blush.
“You are so gross, Spike!” she spat out a little too loudly.
Miss Morris’ uncannily acute hearing picked up her sharp tone and she was over in an instant. “I hope there isn’t a problem?” her voice thundered in a booming soprano.
“No, no problem,” Buffy said weakly. Something about this woman terrified even the Slayer.
Miss Morris smiled, which was a frightening sight in itself, and Buffy doubted that many of those dying warriors were carted off to Valhalla by choice. “Good to hear. Play nice. This evening is supposed to be fun!”
Buffy smiled back, reassuring the woman. “We’re good. Thanks.”
Miss Morris seemed satisfied with that, and she disappeared as quickly as she had arrived, and Buffy was left with her main problem. Spike.
There was a moment’s pause, an awkward silence that neither of them was exactly sure how to fill. Buffy glanced at the clock, which seemed to be running in slow motion. Four minutes left. Predictably it was Spike who managed to find something to say, much to Buffy’s disappointment. The silence might have been uncomfortable but it was better than having to listen to Spike’s big mouth.
“I believe I get to ask you some questions,” he said.
“Like what? What would Spike like to know about Buffy? What colour my underwear is?” she replied tersely.
“I already know what colour your underwear is,” he licked his lips. “I particularly like that red set with the lacy…”
She wanted to punch him. Wipe that leer off his face. Right Now. She even balled her fist ready, but when she felt Miss Morris’ looming presence, she thought better of it. Maybe later. “You disgust me,” she hissed.
Spike smirked, and Buffy checked the clock again, only three and a half minutes of his company left to survive.
He leant in closer. His eyes were doing that earnest puppy dog thing he seemed to think might get her to forgive him. “Look, I know I might have gone a bit far the other day; Dru was in town… it was a bad moment.”
“‘A bad moment’?” She was incredulous. “What about the chains, Spike? Like chaining me up would get me to announce my undying love for you!”
The puppy eyes shifted into a more sheepish expression, but she still wasn’t going to forgive him. “Worked with Dru. ‘Sides was the only way I knew to get you to listen to me!”
“I’m not some mental case vampire, Spike! This is not going to make any difference to how I feel.”
“You’re still angry, I get it. One day you’ll see.”
“See what? I could never be with you, Spike. I want a living boyfriend. I want to have picnics in the sun and…”
Spike made a short humourless snort. “Huh, a white picket fence? Believe me, you’re not made for that.”
Buffy wondered how he came up with these bizarre notions about her. “You’ve been theorising about me since we met – and sometimes you are even good at it, but this time you are wrong.”
“Am I?” His eyes caught hers again.
She wrapped her arms around herself, uncomfortable under his scrutiny, right then any other subject would be better than his amateur psychoanalysis. “Ok, what do you want to know?”
“Right then,” Spike straightened. “What does the Slayer look for in a man?”
Her tone was acid. “I dunno, Spike. A heartbeat? A soul? Good taste in footwear?”
He looked at her as if she was insane. “A soul? Like what Angel has? Complete with a right royal pain of a curse? Bugger that.”
“I’m not talking about vampires! And certainly not you. I want a…”
“Human? You need more than that, Slayer.”
“You’re right,” she nodded in faux agreement. “What have I been thinking? A serial killer is just what I’ve been missing in a boyfriend! Should I ask out the Boston Strangler?”
Spike scowled, his eyes narrowing in irritation. “Why are you such a bitch?
She leaned in. “Why can’t you take no for an answer?”
He leaned forward to meet her, his stare boring into hers, their lips closer than either had planned, a fact the were both acutely aware of.
“Answer my question.”
She looked into his eyes, they blazed in the subdued romantic lighting and she was drawn in. She found herself breathless, her mind groping for a witty put down. The bell tinkled.
“Time’s up,” she whispered.
Spike pulled away sharply, glaring at her. She saw a hundred expressions of annoyance and disappointment cross his face like clouds in windy weather sweeping across the sky in turbulent time-lapse. Angrily, he stood up, pushing his chair in with an aggressive shove, not caring about the racket it made as its legs tangled with the table’s in a noisy metallic clatter. He was gone with a dramatic swoop of his duster.
As he walked away, Buffy felt all the tension that had built between them ebb away with the tide of her emotions. There was something about him got her so riled every time they spoke to each other. He was infuriating, and he was always hanging around where he wasn’t wanted – which was everywhere. And to think that he desired her as well… Ugh, that was a thought she firmly rejected. She hated him. Why didn’t he understand that?
She looked over to where he was settling into the chair at the next table. It would be just her luck though that Spike would be some sort of chiselled Adonis beneath that stupid leather coat – which was way too big for him anyway – and the punky radioactive hair.
He was starting to turn his charm on to his next date, a pretty black girl. The young woman looked up at him, radiant with the open desire that sparked in her eyes. Spike leaned in close to whisper what was probably some filthy inconsequence into her ear. Buffy wondered what kind of line he was feeding her when she giggled with delight. Then he glanced over and met Buffy’s eye, sourly holding her gaze for a moment, before turning his back on her.
So that was how he was going to play it. Fine with her, she thought. She had her next suitor, her last for the evening, to talk to, and maybe even seduce too if he was cute. But when he plopped into the chair opposite, she hardly noticed him; she was a world away and she barely listened to what the young man said. Fortunately, he seemed to like the sound of his own voice and Buffy was free to spend the remaining time wondering what business a Valkyrie could have in Sunnydale and watching Spike seduce his date. Didn’t that woman notice the deathly pale skin or the bad fashion sense?
Apparently not. The woman fluttered her eyelashes at him in wanton invitation and Buffy felt kinda sick.