"No, but we gotta go. I'll explain on the way," he motioned to the waitress.
"Yeah, yeah,” the peppy waitress said, "...know the drill. Puppy box coming up." He slid the credit card on to the tray and flashed an obviously forced smile as she loaded it with their plates.
He lifted his glass but found it empty. Spying hers, he reached across and helped himself to a hefty draught of it making a face at the sweetness of the amaretto.
“Hey,” she said wondering what it was that was making him all bad moody, “…I'm not the one driving, so don’t be getting yourself all…influenced."
"One drink, vampire constitution, I'm fine," he snapped, sliding out of the booth. “Let’s go.”
Rhonda packed up their meals and even salvaged the rest of the appetizers which she handed to Buffy in a styrofoam container on their way out the door.
“Is this something Slayer-y or can I eat now?” Buffy asked after fastening her seatbelt. “I mean, what could possibly be so important to merit a page at 11:22 on a Friday night.”
“Have at it, Love,” he said, searching the CD pocket on the visor, obviously looking for something. “…and not exactly gonna put in for the day turn, don’t fancy turning into a big pile of dust cause it's a nice day in Northridge, Pet.”
He flipped down the visor and all the papers from earlier, his and hers, scattered.
“This what you’re looking’ for?” Buffy asked, wiping sauce from the food container it had landed in off of it. Another badge, she strained to look at it under the Saab’s dim courtesy light. William P. Hartleigh, State of California, Dept. of Human Services, Certified Crisis Counselor, she stared at it in the dim light, not quite believing her eyes.
“You’re a f**king rape councilor?” She blurted out, not knowing if it was the fact that surprised her more or her reaction to it.
“S-sometimes,” was all he could manage without an awkwardly long pause. “There’s more to it than that,” he said fumbling with the pile of paper that had suddenly acquired a life of its own.
“Over compensating a little aren't we?”
“No, yeah…no, maybe…I dunno… didn't want to go there yet,” he mumbled under his breath still trying to collect the rental paperwork that now cluttered the floor of the driver’s side, succeeding only in having the bulk of it slip beneath the pedals.
“Hand me the torch, would you,” he asked, “…it’s in the glove compartment.”
She opened it and began rummaging through its contents.
“Buffy,” he began after a long breath “…I can’t say as I don’t know why…I know why, can give you a thousand reasons why…
“Thought you didn’t want to go there,” she fairly snapped at him. She knew the why…figured that out long time ago, sometime between the time you ran out of the bathroom and Xander came in. But she still couldn't help the scowl she was now giving him.
“Can I please finish before you give me the face?” He said calmly. “That’s really cheating you know.”
She gave a shrug and an eye roll and returned to searching the glove compartment intently. Don’t really wanna go there either, she thought.
“What I still don’t know is,” he went on, “really…why I didn’t.”
“Oh, what, you wish you had raped me?” She asked angrily.
“No, that’s not what I…” he sighed and shook his head, discouraged. “And no, it’s not overcompensating, getting the…” Just stop talking now, Spike, you’re in deep enough as it is.
Finally finding the flashlight, she hands it to him; their fingertips touching briefly as they had many years ago and the memories came pouring as if only moments had passed since.
You were going to use a spell on me…it wasn't for you…I wanted something…anything to make these feelings stop…I just wanted it to stop …I have feelings for you…I do…but it's not love…I could never trust you enough for it to be love…I know you felt it ... when I was inside you...gonna make you feel it…ask me again why I could never love you...Buffy, my God, I…because I stopped you...something I should have done a long time ago.
Words, memories came flooding in, loose-ing a hoard of personal demons she’d thought she’d slain long ago.
He’d felt them too; but for him, they were all too familiar, demons he lived with every day.
“Look I …”
“No,” she stopped him, “…you were right … let’s just not go there…yet, okay. Neither one of us is ready for it. “After a few calming breathes she added “…besides, Slayer here.” She stared out the window as he started the car and pulled out.
Uneasy silence was a demon she had grown accustomed to over the years from her friends, her family, herself, and now it was here in the car threatening to choke them. She had to say something soon or she knew the demon was gonna win.
“I just don’t get it,” she said calmly…trying, really trying here.
“Had to earn my keep…what you think the monks just let me stay there out of the goodness of their hearts”… God! Could you have said anything lamer than that, Willie-boy, they run a Bloody mission for God’s, sake. “They put me to work.”
“So you’re Mister Social Worker Vampire now?”
“It sure as hell wasn’t my idea, I mean it’s what they do…well, on top of the demons and such…” he trailed off. ”County of Los Angeles had a lot to do with it too.”
She crinkled her face in curiosity.
“The handcuffs,” he referred back to their small talk earlier over dinner, which now seemed like days ago to her, ”… Sebastian got me out and got me off with community service.”
“To be served at the Mission,” she said, “…convenient.” She wished she'd asked Rhonda for a plastic cup for the drink before they left the restaurant, she could so use it right about now.
“Just saying… I pay my debts. Can’t say as I fancied changing beds and doing laundry for the rest of my un-life, and gets Bloody boring just manning the desk, anything else…”
“Requires a degree in social services; behavioral science.” William the Bloody… scourge of Europe…slayer of Slayers… “They sent you to school.”
“More like sent school to me, on-line, great for the sunlight impaired.
Had to intern to get all the credits, never took m'self off the list, I guess. Besides, after tonight didn't think you'd bitch so much about something I actually get paid for.”
“You seem to work enough at the Mission.”
“Don’t actually get paid for that. I mean, there’s a stipend, not much, goes right back to the coffers, Love.”
Saint Spike…can I heave now? “Guess if it pays the parking tickets.”
“That it does,” he conceded, “…that and data processing, paper work for the state.” Even he was embarrassed at that.
She let out a “K-heh” and tried to stifle a laugh.
“You laughing at me?” he asked. “You are laughing at me.”
“No!” She said adamantly, trying so hard not to let the sheer hilarity of it show and nearly dumping the forgotten food container all over the floor and dashboard in the process.
“Worse'n wearing a dozy cow-hen on your head.” He murmured.
It all made sense so, maybe she could deal. The Big Bad gets anymore goody-goody and I don’t think I can stand it!
“If that’s how you get your money now, guess it beats the hell out of kitten poker.”
“Still play,” he said, “…and the regular kind too and this is part-time only three or four nights a month, when nobody else is available, not like its every day.”