And Then There Was Buffy
Of the two and a half years that Buffy Summers had spent in Sunnydale High, witnessing monsters and demons and things she was better off never remembering, she’d never been more certain than now that Principal Snyder was, in reality, a demon.
“I’m serious,” said Buffy, very seriously. “He has to be some sort of cave demon. Or a people-hating demon. Or—ooh! Another bug demon! The way he stares at you with those big, beady eyes? Very demony.”
Xander raised his hand. “Can we make a pact right here and now never to bring up demon bugs, ever again? I’m still having nightmares over the last one that tried laying its eggs in me.” Xander shuddered violently and wiggled in his seat.
“I dunno, Buffy.” Willow idly swirled a French fry on her tray. “He seems pretty of the humans to me. What’s not human is how much he hates people. He’s like the lovechild of The Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge.”
“Hey, I resent that analogy.” Xander crossed his arms over the lunch table. “The Grinch’s heart swelled up and all the little Whos sang, and Scrooge ended up being a nice old guy who gave everyone presents. Snyder would rather have a hernia than show any human emotion besides annoyance.”
“But that’s not—”
“Guys,” Buffy said loudly, and Xander and Willow paused. “We’re completely missing the point here. Snyder. Me. Detention on a Friday night—tonight! And our operating theory that said principal is of demonic origins and should potentially be slayed before tonight’s Bronze-y plans?”
“Sorry, Buff,” Xander said sheepishly. “It’s just, you can’t slay everyone who’s mean to us. Sometimes people are just plain old mean, no demon qualities included.”
“Y-yeah, and besides, it’s just a few hours,” Willow added helpfully. “Maybe you’ll even get out early and make in time to see the Dingoes play.”
“Still going, then?” Xander asked. His tone was somewhat hesitant.
Willow swallowed, nodding. “Yeah. Yes. Because I want to be supportive, and—and really show that I care. About Oz. And you,” she pointed at Xander quickly, “cannot be, um, be too attached at the hippy now that Buffy is in detention. We can’t…we can’t make it seem like we’re…”
“I get it, Willow. No proximity.” Xander held up his hands. “And it’s just the way I like it, because I don’t, in fact, have any sort of lusty or otherwise feelings for you. All in the past. Right?”
“Right. Super duper past. And I…” Willow faded off, her gaze following after Oz from across the cafeteria. He had gotten up to throw his trash, ignorant of Willow’s attention, and she let out a soft, unhappy sigh. “I miss him.”
Buffy gently stroked Willow’s hand. “We know you do, Will. You’ll get through this.”
Willow smiled at Buffy before it sharply turned into a panicked frown. “Oh god. Buffy, I’m so sorry. Here I am being Mopey Gal when you’ve just had the whole Angel experience too.”
Buffy forced a smile and shook her head. “Don’t worry about that. I’m…I’m getting through it. I’ll be fine.”
“You sure?” Xander tilted his head, leaning a little closer. “Want us to sock the guy in the eye for you? Give him the ol’ razzle dazzle?”
“No sockings please.” Buffy hid a smile. “He doesn’t deserve it. You can’t blame someone for having feelings.”
Willow and Xander exchanged a pointed look, then quickly looked away. Buffy suppressed a sigh. She wondered how long that particular weirdness was going to last.
Finding out about Willow and Xander’s secret, illicit romance had been the bizarre cherry on top of the nightmarish day she’d had two weeks ago. The tangible discomfort around Angel, the unsettling words Spike had departed with before gleefully storming out of Sunnydale, and the metal rod that had Cordelia hospitalized for three days, were a lot to digest alone.
Honestly, Buffy didn’t fully understand what had happened there with Willow and Xander. The second they were found out, it was as if all that heat and desire between them fizzled away instantaneously. What had been the point? Why risk compromising the amazing relationships they’d already had?
Buffy didn’t understand, and she definitely didn’t understand when her own backbone had grown strong enough to permanently end things with Angel. Ended it, and hadn’t cried yet. God, that had to have made her some kind of monster too.
Still. She might not understand any of these things, but she’d be damned if she wasn’t going to do her best to get past it and support her friends who needed her the most right now.
“Alright, guys. Back to Snyder. I’m thinking: ask Giles about demons who like administrative positions in public schools. There’s gotta be something, right?”
“Sure there is,” said Xander agreeably. “Good old Giles will have just the thing to get you out of detention tonight so you can have some serious TLC at the Bronze.”
“I still can’t believe he gave you detention for staring into space during class,” Willow shook her head in disbelief.
Buffy rolled her eyes, shaking her head. “Yeah. And when he realized I was actually paying attention to every word in class, he dished out detention for the length of my skirt instead. What is this, the fifties?”
“I hate that. I can’t even begin to unpack how sexist and antiquated that rule is.” Willow glowered, pushing away her tray of food. “And you know it was specifically directed towards you—there were at least five other girls in class wearing skirts way shorter.”
“Yeah. I do consider it a consolation that Cordelia’s got detention too,” Buffy said cheerfully. That had been particularly satisfying. After Snyder had assigned Buffy four hours of detention (two for the skirt and another two for Buffy’s unsavory gesture behind his back), Cordelia had unwisely cracked, “Does generally poor IQ qualify? I’d add on a few more hours, sir.”
The look Snyder had given Cordelia was almost worth the detention tonight. Almost.
“Don’t worry, Buff. Late detentions like these are usually unsupervised,” Xander told her. “Willow and I can come sneak you out halfway through. Then you’ll definitely be able to make it to the Bronze tonight. Perfect plan, right?”
Buffy sighed, propping her jaw on her hand. “Yep. Perfect.”
Principal Snyder sucked.
S-U-C-K-E-D. Buffy traced the words repeatedly in bright, glittery pink ink in her notebook.
And not in the more often than not too literal I-want-to-suck-your-blood way that was common in Sunnydale thanks to its vamp population; but in the very real possibility that he was a spawn of Satan way. What kind of tyrant assigned detention on a Friday night? Seriously? Who? And a Friday night that the Dingoes were playing at the Bronze, no less? He was positively evil.
Giles and his arsenal of demon books, unfortunately, said otherwise.
Buffy went over the ‘S’ again, this time glaring pointedly at Snyder. He stared back, hands neatly folded atop the teacher’s desk at the front of the classroom and eyes eerily wide.
She was a good half hour early to detention, another thing she hated. She hadn’t the heart to tell Joyce about the detention. She ended up leaving home with the excuse of heading to Willow’s, but went straight back to school instead, 5:30pm sharp.
So far only one other student was in the room. He was already there by the time Buffy walked in the room, sitting in the very back of the room and curled over the desk fast asleep. His black hoodie was over his head and completely hiding his face
Buffy glanced at the clock. 5:32.
Snyder stared at her, and though not a single muscle moved on his face, she could’ve sworn he looked smug.
Buffy sighed. Part of her wished a demon would come crashing through the window, if only to make the time pass by faster.
Spike, the demon of choice for Buffy’s future predicament, did not come crashing through one of Sunnydale High’s windows. Hundred-year-old, esteemed vampires didn’t just crash through. The second Spike had become a Master vamp on the Hellmouth, he’d made that a rule.
No, Spike didn’t need theatrics anymore.
He would simply strut in.
It didn’t take long to find the bint. There were only three places the Slayer would haunt—her school, her home, or the piss poor excuse of a club downtown. He’d barely walked ten steps from his car to the school when he caught her scent.
Smirking, Spike indulged in the luxury of leaning back against a tree and observing her through the window.
The sun had set low enough at this time of year that he didn’t risk an accidental dusting. It worked favorably for him. Not a lot of sunny interruptions retracing his steps to Dru or the hellish drive back to California. Not that he really minded, no. He’d come back to Sunnyhell with single-minded focus.
You taste like ashes.
Spike clenched his jaw and fixed his attention to the window. The Slayer, with all honeyed skin and blonde sodding hair, was sitting in a classroom. Alone. Odd, that. Didn’t school get out earlier than this to let all the kiddies do their schoolwork?
He leaned in a little further. No, not alone. There was a bloke in the back of the classroom, snoring. Spike made a mental note to snack on him after he killed the Slayer.
Spike peered closely. He could sense a third heartbeat in the room and followed it to an older man sitting at the front. Come to think of it, he looked familiar.
Suddenly, Spike was grinning.
“Sugarplum Slayer got herself a time out, did she?” Spike chuckled richly and returned his gaze to the Slayer, pressing his hands against the window.
He saw the moment she sensed him. Her back suddenly straightened, shoulders rising up. He watched with amusement as her head slowly, haltingly turned to the window. Green eyes connected with blue.
The color drained from her face.
Well, fuck. What a sight that was! Seemed like the prissy little bitch who’d stomped all over him two weeks ago had fled, leaving behind a chit who was on her guard just at the sight of him.
A pathetic loser, was he? Not any fucking longer.
With a grin, Spike rolled his weight forward on booted toes and waved.
Her eyes went wide and she shot up from her seat, and Spike knew it was time. Leaving the Slayer with a parting smirk, Spike leisurely strode around the school building and straight through the front entrance, strutting down the halls while whistling a jaunty tune.
He had a Slayer to bag, after all.
“Sir, we need to leave now.”
Snyder gave her the strongest of loathing. “Sit down, Summers, or I’ll make sure you have detention every single Friday until you graduate.”
“You don’t understand,” Buffy said through her teeth. She glanced worriedly at the door. Her skin was prickling with alarm. She could feel him inside the school, feel him getting closer. This wasn’t like last time where he’d come to her, sniveling and weeping with half-cocked threats and imploring at an empty bench. This Spike had smile wickedly at her with clear intent in his expression.
This was going to be a fight to the death. Again.
“If you don’t leave now, you will die. Do you understand?” Buffy pleaded desperately.
Snyder gave Buffy another look of disdain. “No, I don’t believe I will die. I won’t ask you again to take. A. Seat.”
Glaring, Buffy stood her ground. The tinglies, edged with a shuddery curl down her spine that she was starting to associate with Spike, prickled warning along her skin.
He was here.
A shadow fell over them. Buffy and Snyder looked up to find Spike towering at the threshold of the classroom, his hand wrapped around the doorknob. A grin curled over his lips and he said, “Hello, gorgeous.”
Buffy ignored the shiver down her spine and pursed her lips, glaring. “Spike.”
Snyder looked between the two of them and stood up quickly. “I remember you.” He pointed at Spike. “You’re one of the kids that broke the windows of our staff room.”
Spike quirked a brow and Buffy could see the pure joy he was getting out of this. “You caught me.”
“Principal Snyder—” Buffy began, narrowly shifting to block his view from Spike, but Snyder held up his hand.
“You.” Snyder glared at Buffy. “Go back to your desk. And you,” he pointed at Spike, “take a seat.”
Spike’s smirk only seemed to widen even further. “Over there, yeah?” Spike nodded at the rows of empty desks. Snyder’s eyes narrowed. Spike sauntered towards them but not before stopping in front of Buffy. His eyes glittered with amusement. “Don’t know if you realize, sir, but this one here’s a troublemaker.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Buffy hissed, rounding on Snyder. “He doesn’t even go here! Just take that other sleeping kid with you and leave before—”
Snyder slapped his hand on the desk, making Buffy jump a little. “Not another word! Sit down this instant, the both of you. Now.”
Spike gave an eerie smile. With a flair of his coat, which he then shrugged off and folded over the back of a chair, Spike slid into the seat directly behind hers and clasped his hands atop the desk. He was the picture of obedience, even throwing in a genially innocent smile. Buffy imagined all the ways she could dust him where he sat.
Part of her considered landing a solid hit on Snyder’s head and getting this over and done with now, but that still left the sleeping kid at risk of getting hurt. Buffy glanced at Spike again. He was sitting perfectly still, waiting to see her move. What game was he playing?
Buffy bit her lip. One thing was certain: if she didn’t go along with this, she’d never know. Holding in a frustrated sigh, Buffy returned to her seat.
A tremor ran down her neck when Spike leaned in to whisper, “Oi, you got last week’s English notes?”
“Shut. Up.” Buffy said through her teeth.
Spike leaned back against his chair. Three seconds later he pitched forward again. “I hear Stacy got to second base with the football captain, you reckon that’s true?”
She could hear the laughter in his words, his breath tickling her ear and making her visibly shiver.
She heard him hold his breath. Could feel him watching her. She did not need a soulless killer filing away what made her tick, instead inclining her head a little to glance at him. “I ‘reckon’ I’ll fit your dust in a jar if you talk to me again,” Buffy whispered, flicking her gel pen against her notebook. Spike didn’t take to the threat and leaned even closer to her, lifting a little from his seat.
“What are you doing?”
“Ooh, see what you’ve written there, Slayer. Could show you where to put that word to use. I wouldn’t mind a bit.”
Buffy frowned and looked at her notebook. Eyes going comically wide, Buffy slammed the notebook shut. She heard him chuckling again; patronizing little worm.
“No talking,” Snyder barked.
Spike settled back, smiling. Buffy rolled her eyes, tearing out the page he’d called her out on and crumpled it tightly into a ball.
The tension in the air was cut when suddenly the phone rang. Snyder gave Buffy a hard look at before standing and picking up the phone. “Snyder.” He slipped outside and closed the door just enough for the cord to remain undisturbed.
In an instant Buffy was up with a stake poised in the air, and Spike was growling around his fangs.
“So, Slayer, tell me. What naughty thing did you do to wind up in here on this Friday night?”
“You shouldn’t have come back,” Buffy said in a low, deadly voice, her fingers gripping the stake tightly.
Spike’s mouth quirked. “I can’t say I feel the same. There’s nothing more I’ve wanted to do in a long time.” He paused to think about it, tilting his head. “In fact,” he said, slowly straightening and meeting her dead in the eyes, “it’s something I should’ve done the second Angelus had his sword at your throat, all those months ago.”
The name made Buffy flinch, despite her efforts to stamp it down. Spike caught it anyway. “Oh. That stung, didn’t it? Not so friendly-like anymore with my dear sire, is it?”
“What was it this time? ‘It’s not you, it’s me’? But I thought you two were such great friends?” He was openly laughing when the door swung open, and the sound got stuck in his throat.
Caught in a mutual glance of indecision, Buffy and Spike dropped their stances and slid back into their seats. Snyder strode in, replacing the phone on the receiver and started gathering his papers from the front desk.
“Are you leaving?”
Snyder glanced at Buffy. “As much as I’d enjoy spending my Friday watching over delinquents, I have work to do in my office. Don’t think for a minute that my absence means you are not being watched. You are always being watched.”
With a parting glare at the Sleeping Kid, Principal Snyder left the classroom.
The desks squealed from the speed Spike and Buffy jumped up.
Spike got the first blow; just as Buffy whirled around in attack he clipped her on the jaw, sending her reeling backwards into another desk. Regaining her balance quickly, she jabbed two uppercuts that he frustratingly blocked. His hands locked around her wrists and yanked her closer.
“This is it, Slayer,” Spike panted, deadly excitement lighting his eyes. The blue of his irises was dwarfed by how black his pupils had expanded, cataloguing every shuddering breath that left her, every muscle that twitched her mouth. “You an’ me. No Acathla, no Dru or Angel, not sodding truce or spell or whatever have you. This time I’m gonna kill you.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Why are you even here?” Her hands twisted around his grip to clamp on his wrists as well. She let a sneer slip into her voice. “Dru dump you again? Left you for another Chaos demon?”
“It was a Fungus demon this time, and it doesn’t matter why I’m here!” Spike cursed when Buffy yanked out of his grasp and sent him flying across the room. She didn’t give him a chance to gather himself before she grabbed him by the lapels and hauled him roughly against the wall.
“Why? Why does this keep happening to me?” Buffy shoved Spike harder against the wall. “Can’t I just have one day when nothing happens? Just the one! One damn minute where I can sit and mope and be a teenager but nooo, there’ll be a demon or a nest of vamps or Spikes or Angels and I’m sick of it! I’m done! I’m tired and I’m done and I have other things to do than kick your sorry ass, which I’m going to have to do. Again!”
“Poor little Slayer, her life is so hard,” Spike snarled and shoved Buffy off. “Newsflash sweetheart, life is hard. This is it.” He spread out his arms. “Leave the fairytales for your pigtail days, baby, because it will never get easier.”
Buffy threw three consecutive punches and relished as Spike jerked back by each one. She clenched her jaw, forcing the wave of emotion to stay down where it threatened to rise in her throat. “That’s not good enough.” Her lips curled around those words with disquiet.
Roaring, Spike stormed to her and Buffy charged at him, their fists raised for attack.
“Uh, am I interrupting something?”
They froze, fists paralyzed midair.
Cordelia stood at the doorway, arms crossed and a pearl white pump tapping against the floor.
“Cordy. Get out of here,” Buffy said through her teeth. Spike was poised in front of her, unmoving, his hands still closed into fists. Slowly, he tilted his head to look at Cordelia.
She blinked, recognition lighting her eyes. “Hey, I know you.”
“Cordelia.” Buffy’s stare was emphatic. The Sleeping Kid let out a snore.
Cordelia looked away from Spike and rolled her eyes. “Right. I can see you’re busy with vampire nonsense as usual. Call me when it’s over—I am not redoing detention just because you decided to wreck the school again.”
Buffy retrained her eyes on Spike. He tilted his head at her. “What, not concerned for the sod over there sleeping?”
“I won’t have to. You’ll be dust before you could even get near his neck,” Buffy said boldly. She believed it for the most part. He started on her again, lips curled back in a sneer, and she noticed for the first time that he wasn’t wearing his demon face. Wasn’t that something all vamps did? Attacks went synonymously with bone-crunching demon faces. Spike didn’t look even a little incline to drop his.
He didn’t wait for Cordelia’s complaints to end before launching himself at her suddenly. It caught her by surprise and damn—damn, damn, god damn—he managed to get her in a chokehold. Not a very good one, but still a serious dent on her slayerly ego. She kicked her feet high in the air and managed to use the momentum against him, throwing him up and over her shoulder and straight onto his back.
Near the door, Cordelia cleared her throat. “Uh, guys? Not to interrupt, but…”
The pure look of contempt that Spike threw at her made her pause. “You’re holding back.”
“Um, you guys…”
“You. Are. Holding. Back.” Spike leveled a seriously pissed off glare at Buffy as he pushed off the floor. He loomed over her, eyes flashing yellow. “Bloody fight me, Slayer.”
“I literally just tossed you to the ground!” Buffy exclaimed, her anger rising. “Where do you get off saying I’m not trying to kill you?”
“Never said you weren’t trying,” Spike replied. “You’re just not giving it your all. Is this what it’s come to, Slayer? One blip in the romantic end of things and you’re as weak as a hairless kitten?”
“You’re one to talk,” Buffy laughed incredulously. “Who was in my kitchen two weeks ago crying over his ex-girlfriend? You couldn’t even fend off a wooden spoon.”
“That was different,” Spike growled lowly.
“Listen, I get that you two are having a moment, but something’s seriously wrong here,” Cordelia interrupted them again, exasperated.
“What?” Buffy snapped.
Shooting Buffy a dry look, Cordelia held up her hand. “I can’t leave the room.”
She moved her hand through the doorway but an invisible force stopped her before she could go further. A barrier rippled around her fingers, distorting the view of the hallway and the row of lockers ahead. She did it again and the invisible barrier pushed her hand back.
Ignoring Spike’s look of confusion, Buffy ran past him and Cordelia moved out of the way. Buffy tried to leave the classroom and gasped when she felt a rubbery, invisible force repel her backwards. The doorway rippled again just as it had around Cordelia’s hand.
“No,” Buffy whispered, panicked. She pushed—again and again. And in turn, she was thrown further and further back by the barrier.
From the end of the classroom, Spike started laughing as the last attempt had Buffy thrown back and falling flat on her ass. “This is almost more fun to watch than my kicking your arse. Do it again.”
Buffy ignored him. Scrambling to her feet, Buffy felt along the doorjamb. It cold—chillingly so. She hissed as the intensity of it burned her fingers and reared back her hand.
Cordelia peered over Buffy’s shoulder and frowned. “Did you just get frostbite?”
“I…yeah.” Buffy glanced up at Cordelia with dazed wonder. “It…it’s a spell. Someone’s cast a serious spell and now we’re all trapped in this classroom.” Her gaze traveled reluctantly to Spike, who was finally showing the first signs of alarm. “Together.”
“Did you just say spell? We’re under a spell?” said Spike, his voice losing all mockery at her expense. He rounded on one of the windows and threw it open. Buffy watched as Spike attempted to shove his arm through, only to have himself forced back.
Breathing hard, Spike’s eyes met Buffy’s. “For fuck’s sake, Slayer, can’t you have one bloody normal day where I can kill you in peace?”