Title: Dear Friend (2/?)
Summary/Teaser: In a tale as old as inked parcels, Buffy writes to a normal penpal she falls for. Except, he’s not normal and she hates him; right?
Era/Season/Setting: late 1990s, early 2000s / ~ Seasons 2 -> 5 / Sunnydale, California
Warnings: referenced Spike/other and Buffy/other to begin with (tamer than the show)
AN: Hi all! Here’s the 2nd installment. I finally got the second chapter to where I wanted it! I welcome constructive criticism from all of you. This banner was made by the wonderful teragramm.
Rating: PG (Warning: some foul language)
Fic: Dear Friend (1/?)
Disclaimer: I do not have, nor have I ever been in, contact with any of the creators or producers of the television show Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, nor the films, plays, and radio broadcasts which this work is based upon: Parfumerie, The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime, She Loves Me, and You’ve Got Mail. Some of the lines from these and recognizable scenes and bits of shared dialogue will be played out and paraphrased, but only in tribute and not for anyone’s profit. I also do not own an iota of William Shakespeare’s work, but am borrowing a quote from him presently.
Jackhammers stutter in the darkness, broken only by the bright lights focused on the work area underground and by the head lamp he wears on a hard hat as he studies his latest letter. The scent from it briefly reminds him of the slayer, but he shakes that thought from his mind as ludicrous, completely forgetting the smell underneath the perfumed stationary when he spies the suggestion at the end. A grin of delight forms on his visage and he leaps to his feet with exhuberance, dashing past the working demons who pay him little mind.
Bright and early, Buffy bounds into the Post Office, nearly mowing down Mrs. Picket in her haste to reach P.O. Box 237. After carefully removing the awaiting envelope, she eased it open and reads it on the spot. Unable to hold back her grin, she departs dreamily.
Days later, frustration mounts as he continues to track the scent of his missing employee. He’d left to get a piece of equipment and hadn’t returned. In the meantime, the rest had broken through to the Tomb of Amara and Spike had quickly gained his prize and given an inspirational speech on working together as a community. With this jaunt being all business, Spike is unable to bask in the first warmth of sunlight on his skin in over a century. There is no time to simply breathe in the morning air or to humorously wonder over ridiculous things, like if his pristine complexion, his human set had obsessed over keeping, would be ruined with freckles and a tan.
His mind, instead, is on the trail of that employee, hoping his own future prospects in Sunnydale won’t be hampered by losing someone on the job. On top of that, his frustration is mounting because his meeting with Dear Friend is in a few hours. If he doesn’t find the demon before then, he knows he’ll keep on looking.
Hearing radio chatter, he cocks his head (a leftover mannerism from his human years, where he’d often employed it to better focus on softly spoken words). After a moment, he grins in anticipation and breaks his employee out of the cabin of a sturdily armored van without any trouble. The only guards are in the front box. Taking note of the scents, he catalogues them in his mind and then they make their escape, with no followers.
Buffy is in the dorm, excitedly preparing for her date with Dear Friend. Willow has to go soon and so does she, but she wants to look perfect.
Spike basks in the warmth as he strolls along, smelling the freshly cut grass. “This is great, seeing you like this,” Clem comments.
“I’m glad she convinced me to hire local when I wrote about my archaeological interest,” Spike replies, “or you and I might’ve just been indifferent acquaintances who play poker.”
“I’m grateful too. By the way, is she pretty?” Clem inquires of him.
Spike doesn’t respond for a moment, slowing his gait. Clem slows too, matching his hesitance. “She has such a beautiful way with words, such passion in what she says.”
“Oh,” Clem remarked, “so she’s not attractive to you physically.”
“No. I,” Spike paused his steps even as he stilts his speech. Frustrated college students grumble under their breaths as they dodge past the “slowpokes.” “I’ve not actually met her yet.” They resume walking. “We’ve just been exchanging letters for a little over a year, never written anything too personal or specific. Today’s the first time we’re meeting in person.”
“Wow, so she could be anyone. She is female, isn’t she?”
Annoyed, Spike glares enough to bore twin holes into the oblivious Clem. “Yes, she’s female; I can smell that on the letters,” he states matter-of-factly, whilst tapping the side of his nose.
“So, we’re going where for you to meet her?”
“‘Coffee shop at U-C-S-D,’ she wrote. But that makes no bloody sense. Any nit knows it’s too close to UCLA and UCSB to be a real UC; got to be a satelite campus at best. Didn’t this used to be that other hob knobby college awhile back?”
“Yeah, they lost funding after some snake demon, Machida I think, was taken out a couple of years ago by the slayer. Apparently, his favor on that fraternity was the only thing keeping the college afloat.”
Spike sniggers. “Yeah, figures that the funds went under after the slayer took a poke at the demon who ran the roost. Bet he looked confused as hell when she gutted him.”
“Actually, I heard it was a beheading. Anyway, the other college sold the land back to the city and it was a community college for awhile. Ever since the mayor blew into bits, the new mayor has been coordinating with people to get something going because this place represents a large amount of income for the city. They’ve even expanded the campus boundaries. Suddenly, they’ve gotten loads of funding from private investors and the federal government. The town’s been really excited about it. Apparently, it’s got lots of UC compatible classes and that’s why the locals call are calling it UCSD. Hey! That must mean your date must be a local girl! Which is great, because you’re already forming friendships and business relationships here. Seems to me, that you could do with a little more to invest in. Don’t deny it; you thrive when you have reason to. Oh! We’re here.” They stop across the way and stare at the facade.
“Clem,” Spike speaks after a long moment of students passing by, chattering all around them. “Would you, would you peek inside and tell me if she’s, well, what she looks like?”
Clem starts. “Why? You already seem smitten with her and my ideas of what’s attractive is very different from yours.”
Spike flounders, seemingly insecure for a moment. “I don’t want her to be too beautiful. I’d go out of my mind thinking she doesn’t really want me, that she might believe that she can do better.”
“You’re a real nutcase. I’m not a tightskin like you, but I know that if she feels the same way about you from just letters, that your,” Clem gestures at all of Spike, “appeal will see her focused on nobody else, like your letters are the ice cream and your looks are the Maraschino cherry on top. Does it really matter if she’s a cherry too, or the whipped cream, or the nuts? From what you say about her, you really think she’d rather be dessert with someone else?”
Looking unconvinced and vulnerable, Spike silently implored, begs Clem, to look for him. Sighing heavily, Clem concedes, “Fine. What’s your penpal supposed to be wearing, or holding?”
“A book by Tom Harding entitled Far From the Madding Crowd and a rose,” Spike speaks softly. They draw closer to the café windows and Spike turns away from them, facing the passing crowd of students that seem to be becoming more frantic. As it is approaching the hour, Spike knows that they are anxious to make it to their classes on schedule. “Anything?” he questions, though he isn’t looking at Clem.
“Well, I see a girl. I think tightskins these days would call her, ‘hot’.”
Spike’s anxiety ratchets. “Really?”
Slyly, Clem remarks, hoping to break the tension, “Yeah, but there’s just a textbook and notebooks next to her.” Spike turns and gives him an unimpressed stare at the deflection. Chuckling a bit, Clem returned his gaze to the window and chokes, immediately stopping his laughter. “Uh, wow. Uh, I see a girl with a book and a rose. She’s kinda got, well, she — do you think that the slayer’s attractive?”
Turning his head to glance sideways at him, Spike stares at Clem for a moment. “What does that ‘ave to do with anythin’?”
“It’s a simple question. I’m a looseskinned demon and I don’t know what you may find attractive and this girl has looks similar to the slayer’s. She’s blonde, got the same kinda face,” Clem pauses and squints, “and greenish brown eyes. Even her body shape has really tight skin, and is really small like a reefo demon.”
“Clem, tell me what you are hiding,” he commands. “You sound nervous.”
Fear and desperation arise in his tone. “Nothing! You find the slayer attractive or not?”
Not fooled, Spike turns fully about-face and practically glues himself to the picture window, next to Clem, and sees…
“Hey,” Clem unconvincingly plays at only just being surprised, “isn’t that the slayer in there with a rose and a book? What are the chances? She must be here on a date too!” Spike’s jaw unhinges in mild horror and takes in every detail of her appearance and hopeful mien that extend to her body language in a nervous jittering of her crossed legs and her overbrushed hair she had pulled into and out of various hairstyles. He can tell this because her hair had developed creases and is sticking to her white and pink, polka dotted cardigan with static cling. Her dress is wrinkled as if she’d thrown it on and off and on again. Her lip gloss covers hastily discarded lipstick, which hadn’t come completely off of her chapped lips. There are marks on her well formed ankles from shoes she had tried on before settling on the strappy, white sandals she currently wears. Her eyes, whose reddened lids attest to having been the subject of makeup application, removal, and reapplication, keep shifting towards the door every few seconds. And she is utterly — splendid, glowing with enthusiastic anticipation.
Meanwhile, Clem frantically is scanning the shop for anyone else that fits the description and, finding no one, says, “Hey maybe your date’s late. After all, lots of people meet through correspondence and bring books and flowers on dates! At the same times even! Maybe the slayer’s even on one of those blind-date-things I’ve heard about. You know, you never really know who you’re supposed to be meeting unless a friend introduces…”
“Clem,” Spike interrupts. “Shut up. We’re leaving.”
“Good idea,” Clem loudly stage whispers with his hand poised to block anyone inside from reading his loose-skinned lips; not one is looking at them. There’s a certain anonymity in the crowd that reminds Spike of New York City and he takes advantage of it by grabbing for Clem and dragging the frightened demon away, down and over the bricks in the walkway, made to look like cobbled tiles.
Absentmindedly, Spike pulls his own rose he’d purchased hours ago from his coat pocket. Fingering the dethorned stem, he regards its sad, drooping state, the same soft pink as the rose on Buffy Summers’ tiny table for two, and, he realizes, the same shade as her dress. Brief anger overtakes him, as he recalls her hopeful glimpses towards the door, knowing she’s looking for him, and yet not him, knowing she’s seen him weak one way, a wheelchair flashes across his memory, and another where she saw him drunk and crying, out of his wits, and criticizing her ridiculous “friendship” with Angelus while she was, apparently, writing letters to himself. And now, if he lets her, she has ammunition to tease him relentlessly from those letters alone. Then, the rejection of Cecily weighs heavily on his chest as he labors his breathing, picturing Cecily and the bullying vulgarians morphing into Buffy. In his panic, he crushes the sad flower in his fist. The sweet smell floods his nose, jolting him from his memories and he calmly considers the crushed petals and the snapped stem, before overturning his loosened fist and watching it thud onto the pavement.
“Do you think she saw us?” Clem finally asks him.
“No,” he replies. “She’s so focused on the door that she’s not paying attention to the rest of her surroundings.”
Clem’s flaps of skin are quivering almost as much as the slayer’s legs were in her pretty pink dress that ended well above her tiny, dimpled knees. “Oh thank GOD! My life was flashing before my eyes!”
“Let’s go Clem.”
He burns. His blood actually burns. Well, not really, but his mind is whirring at 80 miles (near 130 kilometers) per hour. He is furious. No, he’s angry. He is this close to pulling out his hair, tearing something apart, going on a rampage, and, once again, he is convinced that God hates him. So, he’s pacing and he wants to hyperventilate. But, his undead lungs aren’t cooperating. He wants to get dizzy and he wants to black out. He wants to get so drunk, that he won’t care anymore.
He was discomposed before; but now, he just wants to know whatever is so wrong with him that SHE was the one who answered the ad, that SHE was so perfect in the letters, quoting Elizabeth Browning and other poets. Why is it that this, this, jailbait slayer that he’d obsessed with fighting to the death, in a glorious showdown, was in fact, his… No. The only way to solve this is to go there and to rip her apart before she ever has any notion of seeing him, intimidating, Master Vampire, Spike, being anywhere near poncy William, the Bloody Awful Poet. He cannot bear it, not now, not bloody ever.
So, with an unclear head, full of steam hot enough to whistle, he marches back alone, with his fists clenched, near to rough enough to dislodge the brick cobbles with his thunderous tramping. He barely notices people giving him a wider berth, even though classes are about to resume.
And there she is, near tears, stooping to pick up something from the ground, her pert bum in the air and nearly exposing her knickers. Oh; it was the bloody flower he’d crushed.
“Get stood up slayer? All gussied up for some bloke you don’t even know, like in some screwy fairytale, how bloody pathetic.” No, he’s pathetic, his breath catching at the scent of perfume that clings to her skin, the same as had been applied to each and every piece of stationary from, her it seems. She’d never worn it around him before. He can’t help but notice the perfume mingling with the plasma in her veins; it wafts sweeter and richer in the warm, California air than it ever has in the cold depths of the earth or the blackened heat of his precious DeSoto.
Hearing him, she snaps to attention, a bit slow to react. Her wet, reddened eyes widen and he hears the sharp intake of her breath, smelling a latte and pastry intermingled with the blood that runs through her lungs a moment later. “Spike,” is all she says for a moment, perhaps stunned to see him here, now.
He takes advantage, feeling somewhat vindictive on top of his outright terror. “I see you’re reading Far from the Madding Crowd by Tom Hardy. That for an English Lit. class?”
She blinks, seeming off kilter by his bland inquiry and briefly glances down at it peeking, haphazardly, out of her bookbag. “No, as a matter of fact, a friend of mine recommended it to me.”
He laughs a bit derisively. “Friend, right. A dear one? The blighter whose just stood you up?”
Self-righteous fury floods her features. “He didn’t stand me up! He had to leave in a hurry. It’s obvious some kind of emergency came up.”
He snorts in feigned amusement. “Looks to me like the lad ran off in a bloody terror. Don’t blame the poor bloke; he’s not the only one who will take one look at you and run screamin’ in the other direction.”
“For your information, there’s plenty of guys who want to date me! Several guys at the local bar and some really nice guys at a frat party and even at the freakin’ bookstore have all expressed interest!” Something possessive curls and pulls deep within him at the boast. He can barely keep himself from growling at her.
“I don’t have time for your messing around Spike; who I date is none of your business. What’s my business is how the hell you’re out in the sun and only at risk of getting a tan.” She rises slowly from her position and her face is hardened, like an avenging angel. Her eyes flash like lightning before the thunder has issued. The cute, little table creaks and groans under the immense strength radiating from her barely restrained palms that press into it. A part of him acknowledges how gloriously effulgent she is, her hair gleaming and shining in the shafts of sunlight that touch her golden crown and her bronzed skin. For that moment, he forgets how to breathe. Transfixed as he is, he let her rant on for a mo’.
Something she says about him gets his goat though and he interjects, “You never really know anyone. You’d be surprised if you ever cared to get to know someone, scratch beneath the surface.”
“I don’t wanna scratch you,” she says suddenly and rudely. “Even if I did, I already know what I’d find: instead of a heart, a pile of dust, and instead of smarts, the next lame-ass plan you have to defeat me.”
“I bloody well could if I want to!”
“You? Defeat me? Ha!”
“Shut up, you dumb chit! What a bollixed up mixture of poetry and meanness. Can’t you see what’s right in front of your damn nose?”
“Me, dumb?” She jabs a finger into his chest, advancing on his position. “I got accepted into Northwestern. You’re not even a smart bad, let alone a Big Bad. Face it; you’re nothing but a washed up vampire who lost his girlfriend.”
“You cold bitch. You have no bloody idea what you’re saying. You may, occasionally, have lovely thoughts, but it’s plain that you hide them from everyone! All that comes outta your mouth are insults, so awful, the fledges wish they’d stayed dead for ’em! An’ if all you do is push away bloke after bloke, the least bit interested in you, all you’ll be left with is your cold, dead heart!”
His chest heaves and they stare into one another’s faces for a solid minute and a half. Wanting desperately to tear something up, he suddenly grabs ahold of a lamppost, tears it from the concrete, and bends it into a pretzel. Moments later, he slams it into the brick “road” and the glass, from the lamp, shatters. He takes one last look at her, still furious, and he storms off.
Hours later, when he’s curled up on Clem’s blowup mattress, he whispers, “I am slain by fair cruel maid” (Shakespeare, Twelfth Night Act II, Scene IV).
I made this up:
Reefo demon – a small demon, attracted by the smell of burning marijuana, that makes humans hallucinate and feel great
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/714624.html