Buffy frowned. Or, at least, frowned as much as one could in the presence of chocolate. Which, admittedly, wasn’t very much.
But, still, it was puzzling. A box of chocolates, left on her back porch, with no note or any indication whatsoever who had left them. A part of her was concerned: After all, this was the Hellmouth, and nothing was to be trusted. Another, very large, part of her was more inclined to the position: ‘Fuck worrying. My boyfriend just dumped me to go play GI Joe because I couldn’t accept the fact that he got suck-jobs from vampire hookers. Mmm, chocolate.’
Guess which side won out. Go on. I dare you.
Chocolate box number two materialized exactly one week later, after she and Spike had had their usual evening snarkfest interrupted by a Whizzle Demon. This demon’s name, contrary to all rational belief, had very little to do with urine. The creature did, however, emit a seeping, yellow ooze that stained all shoes – especially expensive ones that Slayers on low budgets couldn’t afford to replace – a filthy puce color.
The first box of chocolate had resulted in no nefarious consequences other than providing a blissful surge of serotonin to block out all sucky, dumped feelings. So box number two was consumed quickly in recompense for the agonizing ceremony of dispensing of yet another pair of really cute shoes.
Buffy had no clue who was leaving the chocolate, but she was convinced that she was in love.
Box number three taunted her the next week.
Curious at this trend of sugary ecstasy, she’d done a little investigating the week before. Subtly, of course.
“Bugger! How the fuck should I know?” Spike whined as she twisted his arm painfully behind his back after interrogating the rest of the Scoobies had yielded no results. Ah yes, subtlety, thy name is Buffy.
Xander shifted on his feet uncomfortably as he watched her press herself up against Spike’s back and whisper death threats against the curve of his ear. “Gee, Buff, do you think that maybe we should not make the dead guy’s kinky little wetdreams come true?”
With a sigh, Buffy chucked Spike away from her and returned to pouting about her latest problem. Although the fact that some creepy demon wasn’t leaving her unseasonal valentines was an encouragement. “I just have no clue who it could be!” she complained.
That week’s chocolates were in the shapes of hearts with neat little stakes instead of Cupid’s arrows through them. Truly, this was a mystery for the ages.
“Hey!” Buffy screamed in indignation as she swung the door open, ambush set and sprung. “You’re stealing my chocolate!”
Week four’s oh-so-crafty plan had been to wait behind her door and burst out of the house violently as soon as she heard someone outside.
Spike froze, eyes wide, still bent over from where the chocolate box was mere inches from the ground. “Er…” he began confusedly. And then: “Uh, yeah. Caught me in the act, Slayer. Stealin’ your chocolate. Exactly what ‘m doing.”
Buffy shoved him up against the wall and got right in his face. His eyes shut tight, and shiver ran through his entire body so she knew he was good and scared. “Did you see who left it?” she asked hopefully.
He just shook his head, jaw ticking with tension like he was trying to hold something in.
Buffy slumped with disappointment and let him go. “How on earth does this guy keep getting by me?”
“Clearly, he must be some malformed freak of nature,” Buffy concluded glumly the fifth week, taking of sinful bite of chocolate and pecan. “It’s the only explanation.” She sighed wistfully. “Just my luck…”
On the couch across from her, Willow, Tara, and Dawn exchanged awkward looks. Because, honestly, to anyone who wasn’t in the land of DeNile, the solution to this little mystery had been blindingly obvious since the confrontation last week…
“I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” Willow offered hesitantly. “Maybe whoever it is is just…er, unsure of how you’ll react.”
“Because he’s a hideous side-show freak?” Buffy suggested around a mouthful of chocolate-covered-cherry.
“Maybe because you haven’t led him to believe that you’d respond favorably?” Tara suggested instead.
“He’s bringing me chocolate!” Buffy insisted. “How could I not respond favorably? Unless he’s hideous.”
Finally, Dawn just couldn’t take it anymore: “He’s freaking gorgeous, jeez! Just open your mind to outside possibilities for once!”
Buffy looked at them all, wide-eyed in sudden realization. “You all know!” she accused.
They exchanged nervous glances.
“Is it Ben?” she asked hopefully.
“No,” they answered in perfect, frustrated chorus.
“Then, who?” she inquired, oblivious.
It would have been nice if all three of their heads had hit the desk in front of them simultaneously. But there wasn’t a desk in Buffy’s living room. So, yeah, they didn’t.
“Why won’t you just tell me, already?” Buffy wheedled Willow as they patrolled Shadyhill cemetery a week later.
“Maybe there are some things you should figure out for yourself,” Willow suggested, snagging one of the white chocolates that Buffy never ate.
“What’s this now?”
Willow let out a startled little yelp as the vampire in question suddenly emerged from a copse of trees. “The chocolate mystery continues,” she offered with a cough.
Buffy brandished her stake in Spike’s direction. “You know, one of these days I’m going to stake first, ask questions later when you interrupt my patrols.”
“Aww, Slayer,” he practically purred, pressing his chest up against the tip of her stake, “didn’t know you cared.”
“Care about kicking your pasty white ass all over this cemetery if you steal yet another kill from me tonight,” she answered perkily, pushing him aside and continuing the stalk her way past the Hoffman Mausoleum.
“See if I ever try to help you again…” Spike grumbled under his breath as he trailed behind them.
“But, back to important matters,” Buffy returned to her conversation with Willow, “seriously, you have to tell me.”
Willow glanced at Spike and then back at Buffy. “I think maybe Dawnie’s right on this one. Think outside the box…”
“Like there are so many gorgeous guys hanging around me right now?” Buffy demanded, holding out her arms expansively to indicate the complete vacancy that was her love life.
Spike hadn’t anticipated her sudden stop in time, and she accidentally wound up hitting him in the chest, sending him staggering backwards.
“Oops. Sorry,” Buffy winced. “But seriously, Willow, who?”
Willow resisted the urge to bang her head against a headstone repeatedly.
“Do you think that maybe it’s Angel?” Buffy asked hopefully in week seven as she dug around in her slaying chest for a sword to deal with that Grevil that had been engulfing toddlers in downtown of late.
“Angel?!” Spike exclaimed in horror. “Like that bloody poofter has a romantic bone in his body!”
Dawn just winced at her sister’s continued obliviousness. “It’s not Angel,” she decided to kill this train of thought before it could derail further.
Buffy pouted and grabbed a spare axe to toss Spike’s way. “Let’s go kill things,” she sighed.
“A woman after my own heart…” Spike commented as he trailed after her.
Dawn just shook her head as Buffy proceeded to not have a clue.
Later that night, a box of chocolates arrived of little angels with all their heads chopped off.
“Are you sure it isn’t Angel?” Buffy demanded.
Dawn decided her sister was completely hopeless.
“It’s been two months,” Buffy grumbled as they lurked outside the entrance of the Eeker Dragon’s lair that night. “I don’t think my secret admirer’s ever going to show his face…”
Tara gave Spike a pointed elbow to the gut.
He gulped, and opened his mouth to speak…
And, of course, the Eeker took that moment to fly out of its cave, jaws spitting fire. Three hasty decapitations and more than their fair share of singeing later, Buffy found herself carrying a very unconscious vampire home that night.
“I don’t care who it is,” she sighed as she set a painfully burned Spike down onto his bed and pulled off his boots instinctively. “I’m going to need that chocolate tonight.”
Tara bit her lip as Buffy pulled the blanket up over Spike’s chest and brushed the white curls back off his forehead with something surprisingly approaching affection.
The next morning, Buffy’s shoulders slumped when her weekly chocolates hadn’t materialized yet. “Just great. Even my secret admirer’s ditched me,” she sighed.
“I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by this,” Tara insisted. “Maybe he just couldn’t make it last night.”
Buffy offered her a wan smile. “Thanks for trying. But, let’s face it, my life is all blood and guts. Really, I don’t have time for anything else.” She slung her purse over her shoulder. “Speaking of which, I have a comatose vampire to go nurse back to health.”
Tara and Dawn exchanged a look.
“Does this count as things working out?” Dawn wondered curiously.
Tara just shrugged.
Week nine passed, leaving Buffy even more depressed. She stalked into Spike’s crypt that night, slamming the door behind her so that he cringed and then began coughing painfully.
“Oh, don’t be such a baby.” She ran her hand over his forehead, illogically checking for a temperature before she headed for the microwave to heat up his blood for the evening. She set the microwave for one minute and six seconds – exactly the time needed to get it to 98.6 degrees – and tapped her foot impatiently. “Have I mentioned lately that men suck?” she grumbled rhetorically.
“Oh?” he ventured cautiously, wincing as he sat up in bed. The burns the Eeker had inflicted were the worst he’d suffered in years, and it still hurt to move even after a week in the Slayer’s tender, loving care. Not that he was complaining about the tender and loving part.
“They make you feel like just maybe you’re special after all, and you’re not doomed to a miserable life alone, and then: Poof! They’re gone, and you never even knew who they were.” She pulled the mug from the microwave and moved over to sit of the edge of his bed.
He took a sip of the blood from the cup she held for him, indecision warring in his eyes. That box of chocolate he’d meant to leave last week was weighing uneasily in the cabinet right next to the bed where he’d never had the opportunity to deliver it.
“You know, I’d accuse you of nicking my chocolate again, if you could move,” she pouted.
He took a final sip and considered. “Check the drawer, Slayer,” he finally offered nervously.
She gave him a puzzled look and set the mug down as she opened the drawer, and sure enough… “How on earth…?” She blinked in surprise. “You can walk?”
“Er…no,” he offered nervously. “Sort of why the box was never delivered, right?”
Confusion crossed her face for a moment before realization finally, finally dawned. “But…” she began slowly, carefully, “you hate me!”
He rolled his eyes and slouched back against the pillows. “Right. Hate you so much I watch your back every bloody night.”
“You do that to annoy me!” she insisted.
“Well…yeah.” There was really no arguing with that.
“You hang around me all the time and make annoying comments and steal my slays and…” Realization dawned fast then. “Oh god…” she breathed, eyes wide, as everything finally computed.
“Right, then,” he grumbled. “Mystery solved, and you got your chocolate to boot.” After all, it really had been too much to hope that one week’s care meant any more than that she felt a bit guilty for having an ally fall in battle.
Buffy gulped, eyes wide as she fingered the chocolate box in her hand. Dawn and Willow really weren’t kidding when they said ‘think outside the box’…
“So, now that you know, I could use some shut-eye,” he finished glumly.
Buffy nodded slowly and then, surprising even herself, she leaned in and pressed a soft kiss against his lips. “Get better soon,” she requested, eyes darkening with something that looked suspiciously like lust as she looked him over in a sexual light for the very first time. Gorgeous, indeed. How did I manage to miss that scrumptious body all these years?
“Slayer…?” Spike looked lost and hopeful all at once then, confusion and something that looked like blind adoration in his eyes.
With a more confident smile, she leaned in and kissed him again, this time feeling him respond in kind, her tongue teasing his lips and tasting him just for a moment.
“Why?” he sighed, nose nuzzling into her hair affectionately. “Thought you hated me…”
Buffy blinked at him in surprise. “Hello? Are you slow or something?” she teased lightly. “You brought me chocolate!”
And, in the end, that was all that really mattered.