Chapter 1: Take One for the Team
“No!” Buffy cried, staring at her friend as if she had lost her mind. “No, Willow, absolutely not!”
“Come on, Buffy,” Willow said in a pleading voice. “It’s for a good cause.”
“You have got to be kidding me!? It’s archaic and…and antifeminist,” she finished, jutting her chin out defiantly.
“Buffy,” Willow said, losing her patience. “You’ve been in how many beauty pageants, and you’re talking about feminism?”
“That is so not the same thing,” Buffy replied, throwing her fork down on her tray. “And besides, I was a lot younger then. That was my Mom’s decision, not mine. I haven’t been in one in over five years.”
“Auction Day is a week away and there aren’t enough girls in it. We need more volunteers, and I told the committee that I had someone who’s interested.”
“Well, tell the committee you were wrong.”
“I’m going to do it,” she said with a hopeful expression.
“If there aren’t enough girls, why don’t they just ask some guys?” Buffy asked, looking around the lunchroom of the exclusive Sunnydale Academy.
“That’s not the way it works,” Willow said with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah,” she replied. “And you know why? Because the Board of Directors or whoever puts on this stupid auction is probably a bunch of sexist men who want to see women auctioned off like cattle.”
“Actually, it’s a group of women who feel strongly about the tradition of the school,” Willow shot back with a raised eyebrow. “Why don’t you tell me what’s really bothering you?”
“It’s just…it’s not a date auction, Wills. This thing…you have to be a slave for a week to whatever jerk turns out to be the highest bidder. You have no say in the matter and it’s just…aren’t you a little nervous?”
“No,” Willow replied, shaking her head. “And that was a nice try, but now tell me the real reason.”
Reaching for her fork, Buffy began stabbing at the food that was left on her plate before letting her eyes wander around the cafeteria. They finally came to rest on Spike Lawson. He was sitting with his friends, a bored expression on his handsome face as he seemed to be zoning in and out of their conversation. She saw him smile at something as everyone else at the table began laughing. The girls seemed to be holding a conversation, probably talking about whatever they happened to buy on their latest trip to the mall, while most of the guys watched them with false interest.
Buffy sighed as she turned her attention back to Willow. “What if no one bids on me?” she asked softly.
Willow’s eyes softened as she smiled at her friend. “Don’t be ridiculous, Buffy. I’m sure the guys would be lined up to bid on you.”
“Yeah,” she said with a scoff. “They’ll be lined up to bid on poor little Buffy.”
“No, don’t say it,” Buffy said shaking her head. “I’ll do it.”
Willow smiled at her pouting friend. “Thank you, Buffy, you won’t regret this! And all of the profits go to charity, so it will be worth it.”
“If you say so,” she replied doubtfully.
“Come on,” Willow said excitedly as she grabbed her friend’s hand and dragged her out of her chair. “We have a few minutes before the bell rings- let’s go get you signed up.”
“Wonderful,” she said grudgingly as she allowed herself to be dragged from the lunchroom.
* * * * *
Ten minutes later, Buffy and Willow walked out of the office as the bell rang.
“This will be great,” Willow said with an excited hop. “And you’re excused from our schoolwork the week of the auction.”
“Willow, you do realize we’re excused because whatever slave-driver happens to ‘buy’ us will be working us too hard to get anything else done.”
“It won’t be like that,” Willow said with a skeptical look.
“You can’t honestly be this clueless about what we just signed on for,” Buffy said, raising an eyebrow at her friend. “These are high school boys who aren’t big with wanting to do the courteous thing and be nice to us.” She groaned when she saw Spike standing in front of her. “Case in point…”
“I’ll see you after school, Buffy,” Willow said with a smile as she left Buffy alone with the one person she really shouldn’t be alone with.
“So,” he said with a smirk. “Buffy Summers is going to be in the auction, is she?”
“I’m sure you’ve already got girls begging you to bid on them,” she said with an air of indifference as she tried to ignore the stab of jealousy that coursed through her body. “What do you care if I’m in it?” Buffy asked, walking around him as he turned around to walk with her.
“Just wondering who would want you for a week,” Spike replied as she turned to face him, leveling him with cold eyes. She should have known. Spike Lawson would never want a simple conversation with her- he only wanted to trade insults, and Buffy wasn’t about to disappoint him.
“Gee, Spike,” she replied, widening her eyes to give her a more innocent appearance. “I guess it’s a good thing that they didn’t want men to be in it or you wouldn’t even be able to qualify.”
“Oh, believe me, Summers, I am more than qualified,” he said with a smirk. “Never had any complaints before.”
“Yeah,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “I’m also willing to bet that you’ve never had anyone who could recognize her own name, much less know whether she’s got a good thing or not.”
“You wanting to find out?” Spike asked, raising an eyebrow and biting his bottom lip as he watched her in amusement.
“Has it ever occurred to you to think with a different part of your anatomy?”
“Why should I do that?” he asked with a chuckle. “When I have so much more fun this way.” Buffy watched as he turned away from her and began walking down the hallway. “Don’t worry, Summers,” he called over his shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll get someone great. I hear the new guy Andrew has a thing for you.”
Buffy could hear the smile in his voice as she glared after him. Leaning against a wall, she ran her hands through her hair. “How did I let Willow talk me into this?”