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Not Just a Study Session

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Buffy stared at the computer screen, frustrated Buffy mode is in full swing tonight she thought. She glared at the screen of her laptop as she typed the final part of her argument for her paper due for AP Literature the next day. She whined, “Can someone please explain to me why analyzing Hamlet is necessary for me to graduate?” She finished typing out her final sentence and spun around sounding off dramatically, “I absolutely hate English. I hate it with the fiery passion of death from the bottom of my soul.” She placed her hand upon her heart for extra dramatics.

Spike looked up from the book he was reading with an expression of amusement, “Hey, hey, there will be none of that talking about English in this space. This is a safe space for English, yeah? Hamlet is not that bad, pet. Now I wouldn’t sign up to reread Macbeth any time soon though. That one just made my skin crawl.”

Buffy wrinkled her nose and turned around to face him more fully. “I have never liked English. You know what subjects I like to study? Science, History, Math, Physics…something with facts. Subjects with a definite answer. Literature is interpretive bullshit with millions of answers to one question. No, thank you. I’ll take the straight forward any day.”

Spike scoffed, “Interpretive bullshit? Right, well suit yourself, love. It’s official, then, our friendship is doomed. I’m a literature major. And just so you're aware, pet, science, and all those other fancy subjects do not have definite answers.” He bit the skin next to his thumbnail raising his eyebrows.

“Just because I don’t like literature as a subject doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, Spike.” Buffy teased, “It just means one of us lives in the real world…while the other one prefers a fictional world. What made you want to be a literature major anyways?”

He pointed the book he was reading at Buffy and said, “Hey, I resent that comment. I live very much in the real world, goldilocks, and you would do well to remember that.” He paused for a moment and swung around walking over towards the table Buffy was sitting at, “Ever since I was a young kid I’ve enjoyed poetry and books. I’m bloody awful at writing and there’s no money in that anyways. So…that leaves teaching which if I can understand what these poofs are trying to tell people like you I guess that’s what I should do with an English degree.” He sat down at the table where Buffy was sitting turning his blue eyes on the small petite blond in front of him.

Buffy smiled rolling her eyes. “I guess that’s a reasonable explanation. So that’s what you want to do when you finish school? You want to teach?”

“Ah. You mean wanting to be a teacher means you’re reasonable and live in the real world’?” Spike chuckled his eyes twinkling, “Yes, that’s the plan for now.” He countered, “So what is it you want to do, bit? Do you know what you want to major in once you attend college?”

Buffy shifted uncomfortably. Why is he always asking these questions? She hated talking about herself. Could we just go back to joking about Spike's English degree, now?

“I’m not really sure. Sometimes…I think about being a counselor in a high school. It’s such a tough age you know?” Buffy offered.

Spike gave Buffy a warm smile, “Yeah, I don’t remember much about being 17, I’ve probably repressed it all, but from what I remember, that age is complete shit.” He studied Buffy for a minute and then said, “I think you’d be good as a counselor. After what you’ve gone through? Yes.” Spike offered, but immediately noticed a change in Buffy's attitude. Spike’s eyes searched the face of the small girl in front of him wishing he could read what it was she was thinking in that moment. What did that shift in her emotions mean? She wouldn’t look him in the eye, she seemed to be staring off somewhere beyond, he cut into her thoughts with, “Listen, Rupert talked to me….”

Buffy looked up at him pulling herself from her revere, “Yeah, I know. Dawn told me,” she whispered softly.

Spike’s mouth snapped shut unsure of how to press forward.

“Don’t feel like you have to say anything. There’s nothing to say and I really don't want to talk about it.” Buffy felt like she was starting to suffocate with the turn of this conversation. Buffy feared the variable amount of questions or comments out of Spike’s mouth that she was not ready to talk with anyone about, especially not someone she didn't feel like she knew very well. She knew Spike meant well, but this topic was off limits between them even if he was easy to talk to and made the effort to check up on her. She got up from the table closing her laptop. She placed her hands on the top of her laptop and opened her mouth to thwart him off further her green eyes flashing with a warning, “It’s-“

Spike, without a blink, held up a hand to stop her speech. Buffy studied his flaked black nail polish as he said, “You can just stop there, pet. I know that you’re not ready to talk about what happened. You’re a strong woman, I get that, don’t need a man mucking it all up and trying to make it worse, yeah? Probably don’t want or need any more complicated in your life. That’s fine, but maybe at some point you’ll want to talk? Would you at least keep me in mind? That’s all I have to say. No lectures…from the much hated future english teacher.” His lips twisted up into a devilish grin.

Buffy smiled, appreciating the respect he’d shown her by not pressing the subject.

“I’ll think about it.” She said quietly and resumed packing her laptop and study materials.

--

Later that night in her room Buffy sat in her bed fixing her hair into tiny pigtails. She thought about when she was little and her mom used to brush her hair before school. She’d fix her hair into curls with pretty pink, white, purple, or blue ribbons. She closed her eyes wishing she could recall her mother’s voice while she talked to her while doing her hair, but the more days that passed after the accident, the less Buffy could recall about the small details of her parents. Buffy could not understand how the brain could forget small details from those she loved so much, who raised her, and supported her. Didn’t her brain understand those small memories were all she had left of her parents?

She curled up into her bed, turning the bedside table light off, and closed her eyes. She could smell the pine trees long before the nightmare began and she smelled them long after she thrashed awake sweating and blinking blearily into the darkness of her room.