Chapter Six: Burning Like a Fever Inside You
She stood in front of his desk, arms crossed in determination and eyes blazing with strength. Giles took his glasses off to clean them. He could scarcely believe what she had told him. In fact, he had half a mind to call Xander in immediately and ask what he'd been thinking to take William on an outing such as that. Buffy's final proposal had served to distract him, however.
"Train William?" Giles echoed back to her. He shook his head. "I don't think that's such a good idea, Buffy. He's still adjusting."
"Yeah, sitting around works real well in helping him to adjust," Buffy replied. "He needs something to do besides the paperwork you've given him. He needs a purpose, Giles. And, according to Xander, he completely kicked that other guy's ass."
Giles raised his eyebrows. He hadn't seen William since the previous day. Giles had had the luxury of retiring early and hadn't heard William come in. The younger man had been gone when he'd awakened, but he'd been assured by Dawn that she'd seen William at breakfast so he'd paid it little mind. Indeed, he'd been happy to see William socializing as such.
But fighting? Giles couldn't put William in that situation.
"I'm sorry, Buffy. I just don't think it's a good idea."
"Well, I do." She said. Giles looked up at her, putting his glasses back on. "And it's my call, Giles. I offered the opportunity to him. He said yes. I'm not asking your permission. I'm just letting you know."
She lingered, looking uncertain at her display of authority for the briefest of seconds before turning around and walking out. Giles sighed, a resigned smile forming.
Buffy was sitting in her office. She had little experience with offices. She'd had that brief stint as a guidance counselor last year, but she'd never gotten used to the office atmosphere. Desks, pencil holders, sticky-notes, huge laminated calendars that you write on with a dry-erase marker. It was a completely different world from the cemeteries she was used to.
True, it hadn't seen much use. Since she'd gotten the office, she'd pretty much kept herself in the field. But she finally felt it was time to sit down and try some of this paperwork thing that Giles kept bugging her about.
It wasn't very exciting, when you got down to it. There were reports. Lots of reports. Injury reports. Initiation reports. Status reports. Resignation reports. Resignation. Girls could resign from being a Slayer. How weird was that?
Buffy carefully read through her stack of papers and signed whatever was needed. Her email was full of requests for her to pass down decisions. Most of those had been handled by Giles while she'd been working elsewhere. However, she took up some of the new requests that had come through. A new base was forming at the Hellmouth in Cleveland and there was discussion about how to distribute these bases in the future. She'd have to call a meeting on it.
She laughed at herself. Calling a meeting. That was a strange thought.
A knock at her open doorway caused her to look up. William was standing nervously at the entrance to her office. He'd obviously just been training. He was still even wearing his athletic clothes that she'd manage to find for him. Athletic pants and a tank top. It was a good look.
He'd spent the previous night at Xander's cubby. Then, later in the morning, Buffy had taken him to Kennedy's training class. Buffy had been determined to do some officework so she didn't have the opportunity to train him, herself. Which, considering the way her eyes kept lingering on the soft outline of his muscles through the tank top, was probably a good idea.
"May I come in?" William asked.
Buffy nodded, smiling and putting aside the file she'd been looking at. She motioned to the plush chair in front of her desk.
"What's up?" she asked.
He kept his gaze on her desk as if afraid to look her in the eye. He wasn't wearing his glasses. Maybe he couldn't see.
"I just finished the training," he said.
"Yeah. How'd that go?"
"Actually," he looked up. "Not so well. I don't think I'm cut out for that sort of thing."
She frowned. He looked like he wasn't quite telling her everything. She decided to probe a bit more.
"Why not?" she asked.
He glanced down. "The women that were training...they're very strong. I was...out of my depth."
She grimaced. Dumb, Buffy. Stupid, stupid, Buffy. Throwing William into a room full of Slayers and expecting him to train with them? Of course he'd be all making with the nervousness.
But she couldn't let him get discouraged. She remembered his breakdown last night, and she knew she had to do whatever possible to avoid that. She was the one who had brought him here, after all.
"I'm sorry, William," she said. "What about tonight, after I finish some of this paperwork, you and I do a one-on-one session?"
"Well, Xander and Mr. Giles were to help me move into my own cubby tonight."
"We can meet after that's done. I have a lot of paperwork," she grinned, trying to show a chipper face for him. Truthfully, she wasn't too thrilled with a one-on-one session. She knew his body far too well to be comfortable in such close quarters with him.
He didn't seem entirely happy with the arrangement, but he nodded anyway. "Very well. I look forward to it, then."
Buffy continued to smile as he left her office. Once she was alone, though, she let her smile relax. She could do a one-on-one training session with him. After all, it was William. Not Spike.
She shuffled through the papers on her desk, trying to pick back up on her train of thought from before William had entered, but it wouldn't come to her. She sighed, biting her lip. So much for getting some paperwork done.
It was late by the time they met in the training room. Buffy had forced herself to concentrate on all the work she had to do, but her impending meeting with William had kept her sufficiently distracted.
She hadn't expected Xander to tag along. Xander and William had become pretty good friends, which was majorly weird. Both the boys were still bruised from the bar fight last night. Their wounds weren't serious, though. Buffy knew that she'd have to go easy on William anyway.
"Hey, Buffy. Don't, you know, kick him across the room or anything." Xander said, sitting on the floor against the wall. She rolled her eyes, not even bothering with a response as she walked to the mat in the center of the room.
William stood quietly, shifting his weight from foot to foot. Xander was holding his glasses for him, and Buffy immediately thought of Spike when she first looked at him. She shook her head, trying to get the image of the bleach-blond vampire out of her mind. This wasn't Spike. This was William.
"Okay, William," she said. "Let's see you throw some punches." She raised her hands. She'd equipped herself with padded gloves, though she probably didn't need them. He'd probably just find it easier to punch at her if he were aiming for a glove and not her hand.
He took a strange stance and hesitantly hit at her right hand. He was obviously uncomfortable throwing a punch at her as he withdrew his hand nearly as soon as it had made contact with her glove.
"Come on, William!" Xander shouted from the side. A bag of chips had materialized from nowhere and Xander was suddenly snacking. "That's not what you did last night."
"I wasn't hitting a woman last night," William muttered. Buffy knew that he hadn't meant for her to hear that so she ignored it.
This time when William tried to punch her, she forcefully blocked, pushing him back a couple feet. He look up sharply, obviously surprised by her display.
She shrugged. "No need to be gentle, William."
He nodded, jaw set with determination. This time, his punch landed solidly. He had a good deal of strength, though it was pretty unfocused. He obviously had never been very active in his lifetime. And he was lacking the supernaturally-granted super-strength that Spike had enjoyed.
They concentrated on throwing punches for a while. Right, left, blocking. The entire time, they were accompanied by the steady munching of chips by Xander.
After a good half hour, Buffy could tell that William was getting tired. He was sweating and panting. Admittedly, so was she, though she wasn't tired. She'd been so active lately. Especially since she'd been going out to hunt vampires. Her fighting had never seemed like much of a release, though. That was only being heightened now, training with William. Her every sense was hyper-aware, and she felt as if her nerves were buzzing. She knew why. It was the familiar body. The familiar voice. The familiar presence that made her skin itch. It would have been impossible to work with him so closely and not feel like this.
But, damn, it was frustrating.
Buffy smiled, calling a stop. She wanted to get back to her room and take a shower. She needed to release the tension somehow.
She had a sudden thought: Why bother with a shower? She knew William could fight if need be. It could be like a part of training. She remembered her fights with Spike in the past had always proven to be very helpful in releasing any pent-up tension she may have.
But this wasn't Spike. It was William.
Buffy decided she just didn't care anymore.
After she took off her gloves, she turned back around to William who was talking quietly to Xander and threw a punch to his stomach.
To her delight, he blocked her. Clumsily, yes. But it was something. Both of them seemed to run on instinct as Buffy engaged him in a sparring match. William dove into it, throwing a counter punch of his own.
Buffy held back. She had to. She couldn't go all out on him. He was a human who barely knew how to fight. But her holding back was starting to work to her disadvantage as she was distracted with trying not to hurt him.
William surprised her by kicking out, hitting her shin and dropping her to the padded floor. She quickly flipped back up, though. He had a proud smirk on his face, and he just shrugged in response to her look. He'd realized she was holding back and had done that on purpose. What's more, he was taking a large amount of glee in it.
It should have annoyed her. No, it should have angered her. Instead, it excited her.
This may not be Spike, but William was getting pretty damn close.
Buffy swung a soft punch at his nose, moving too quickly for him to block. As he recoiled, she grabbed his arm and flipped him over onto his back on the mat. She straddled him, pinning him down with some satisfaction.
"I win," she smiled.
Looking down at him, his smile slowly faded back to his normal nervousness, chest rising and falling rapidly from his exertions. Buffy wrinkled her forehead. Why would he be nervous?
Then she felt his own excitement as he squirmed under her. Her eyes widened. Whoops. Way to make the Victorian guy all uncomfortable. Apparently, like with Spike, fighting got William hard. She should have moved off him then, but she found herself frozen, unable to resist prolonging this familiar position. Instinctively, her hips rocked against his, making him grunt in response.
It took Xander to snap Buffy out of it. "Gee, what a surprise. The Slayer wins!" he said.
Buffy quickly stood up and stepped away from William. Xander seemed largely oblivious to what had went on, but he stepped forward to help William stand up. William, for his part, seemed to have trouble making eye contact with Buffy.
"I think the guy's got a natural talent, don't you think, Buffy?" Xander asked.
"Uh, yeah," she said. Her pulse was pounding. Her plan for releasing her tension definitely hadn't worked.
"Are we to train again?" William asked, still not looking at her.
Great, he was putting the ball in her court. After she'd just pretty much violated him on the floor of the training room. Suddenly she felt like some old lecherous perv who took advantage of young, innocent, Victorian men for her own sexual satisfaction.
"Well, William," she said, trying to sound nonchalant. "It's up to you. If you want to, we can put you back in the training class. You definitely have potential. Just...whatever you want."
He nodded, but didn't answer immediately. When he did, it was to sidestep the question. "I think I'll rest and consider my options."
Xander started babbling to William about some TV show that was starting up tomorrow, and the two of them left. Buffy exhaled in frustration. Now she was going to feel too guilty to take care of things in the shower.
The water was freezing, but William still felt the burning inside him. It had been such a frustrating day.
First, the training. He'd never been in the company of so many women before. At least, not when there weren't an equal number of men. And as much as he kept telling himself he was just admiring their strength while exercising, he couldn't help the desire that washed over him. It was subtle, but there.
In his own time, he hadn't been as tempted as the women were always modestly dressed. Women in this current time did not grant him that luxury. He'd been taunted for a full hour with tantalizing glimpses of glistening flesh moving with a mesmerizing grace. He knew, from the television, that things were different now. That this was acceptable. But he still wasn't accustomed to it.
Then Buffy had suggested they train one-on-one. He imagined she misunderstood his reasons for disliking the training. True, all the women had been, far and away, possessing of more physical aptitude than him. However, that wasn't the primary reason for his discomfort. He certainly couldn't explain that to Buffy, who had shown such faith in him the previous night.
Moving into his own cubby had allowed him time to calm himself before seeing her. But then...
The final fight with her. That had done him in. Their final position had left her fully aware of his desire. She was probably disgusted that he'd reacted in such a way to the violence of the situation. In fact, her behavior afterward had proved it. She had avoided eye contact and had expressed no wish to train with him again.
She found him repugnant.
William leaned against the wall of the shower, closing his eyes. His mind flashed back to the sparring match. The scent of her sweat. Her flushed skin. The grunts she made while striking at him. It had been exhilarating. Like a dance. Brief glimpses of skin-on-skin contact. Never lingering. Friction giving way to arousing heat. And then her on top of him, straddling him. It had been glorious.
He'd begun stroking himself while reminiscing, barely aware of his actions until he reached a climax. He cried out to no one.
Shame took the place of pleasure as he came back to his surroundings. He picked up a washcloth and mechanically began to wash himself.
He didn't often engage in such behavior. It had been drilled into him as a child that the solitary vice was unhealthy and improper. While men may feel that desire, he shouldn't give into those urges. William had lapsed several times, but he'd maintained a purity in that area as best he could.
And yet, he knew that Buffy had encouraged him to disregard those values last night. His experience watching the television suggested to him that sex was regarded in such a way that onanism may no longer be considered a vice. This way of thinking made sense to him, as the act harmed no one. Still, he couldn't help the guilt that came after.
Especially as the act was done while thinking of Buffy. The thought of soiling a woman such as her was unforgiveable. She was above that sort of treatment. Above him, if he thought honestly about it. The feelings that he was beginning to experience for her rivaled anything he'd felt back in his own time.
William shut off the water, reaching for a towel as he exited the shower. In this more modern time of blatantly open sexuality, perhaps he could use that openness to his benefit to settle his conscience. It's not as if he didn't have somebody who was imminently suitable to discuss this with.
Xander's muscles still ached from the fight a couple nights ago. He was way out of shape. He'd considered doing some training along with William, but he would probably end up embarrassing himself. Especially after seeing him fight with Buffy last night. The Victorian guy was a natural fighter. That should have made Xander uncomfortable given the whole Spike connection, but Xander had decided to just ignore that detail.
He'd spent the day with Dawn, tracking down new recruits. He'd probably have to go off traveling again sometime soon. The traveling was nice, but he was disappointed. Things were starting to go right here now. Buffy was coming out of her post-apocalyptic funk. Dawn and Willow were happier as a result. And Xander had a buddy to hang out with in the form of William.
And, speak of the devil, Xander was surprised when William took advantage of his open invitation to visit. He greeted William happily, thinking about chilling out with some beer for the evening. Maybe watch some sports. Guy stuff. Oh, wonderful, wonderful guy stuff.
William sat down on the couch while Xander grabbed a beer from the kitchen. William declined a drink. Guess he still wasn't over the fun night at the pub yet.
Xander sat down on the far end of the couch, beer bottle in hand. "So what's the plan tonight? Movie? Sports? Bar fight?"
"Actually, there's something I wish to discuss," William said.
"Okay, what?" Xander asked, taking a chug of beer. William seemed to be a bundle of nerves, almost ready to bolt out of the room. Something had the guy spooked.
"It's something of a delicate matter," William replied. "However, I gather it's an acceptable topic of discussion in this time, so I hope this is not breeching any social boundaries."
"I...well," William stuttered. "I wish to talk about sex."
Xander couldn't help the goofy grin from forming on his face. The mere mention of the word sent him immediately back to junior high maturity. William looked down, obviously off-put by his reaction.
"Right. Sex," Xander rubbed his hands together. "What about it?"
"I know that it's treated differently now. There are a couple things I'm uncertain about. The first being...masturbation." William looked back up at Xander.
"Okay, masturbation. It - well - it happens." Okay, now Xander wanted to bolt out of the room. Talking about masturbation with a guy from the Victorian period? Not high on his list of fun things to do. He just hoped William didn't want a demonstration on technique.
"And it's considered normal? To partake in the act?" William asked eagerly.
"Yeah," Xander dropped the grin. "I mean, especially for guys. It's normal. No big deal."
William nodded, looking relieved.
"Then the second thing I wanted to discuss is a bit more personal," William said.
"More personal than masturbation?" Xander felt like he was standing on the edge of a cliff, about to be shoved off. He should have had more alcohol before this talk.
"Well, yes. I'm afraid I may have offended Buffy last night during our sparring match." William said hesitantly.
"She didn't seem offended."
"Yes, you see. The fight left me rather - er - aroused, and she undoubtedly noticed at the end."
And William pushed him off the cliff, leaving Xander to tumble into the chasm of wrongness, limbs flailing helplessly. That was something Xander definitely, absolutely, completely, did not want to know about. "Oh, right. Cause the whole fighty, close-quarters thing. I gotcha." Too much like Spike. Way too much like Spike. And...just weird. But Xander couldn't tell William that. The guy would probably cry. Xander couldn't handle crying. Instead, he decided to placate him. "But Buffy wouldn't get offended by that."
William frowned. "She should. It was absolutely improper to have that reaction to her."
"William, it happens to guys. Girls know that. Buffy knows that. Trust me, she wouldn't be offended."
William still looked confused. Xander knew that Buffy probably wouldn't be offended. He knew it would make her uncomfortable because of the whole Spike thing, which he was not thinking about. Xander told himself that William would have reacted that way to any girl. It's not like this pre-Spike guy had a thing for the Buffster. That'd be a monumentally impossible coincidence. Just...no.
"Xander, do women enjoy sex?" William asked, breaking Xander from his thoughts.
Xander's grin was back. He thought of Anya. "Well, yeah. Listen, girls like sex. Guys like sex. People like sex. We just try to work things out so we're all having sex with right people. That's it." And Buffy's not the right person for you to have sex with. So don't, Xander thought.
"I'm sorry if that seems like a daft question. It is believed, in my time, that women do not enjoy the act of intercourse. Sex is something only men desire. To think that a woman may want sex is...people from my time would consider her a fallen woman."
Xander shrugged. "I'm glad I live in this time."
William smiled. "I think I'm beginning to feel the same way."