Chapter 22 - Deal With the Devil
“Oh, my, goodness! That is so embarrassing!” Willow squealed.
“What’s embarrassing?” a masculine voice interjected.
Both girls immediately flicked their gazes toward the intruder, paired exhalations of relief leaving their mouths when they recognised Xander.
“Nothing,” Buffy replied with a rueful smile, twin pink dots rising on her cheeks.
“Y-yeah,” Willow stuttered. “Girl stuff.”
Xander sat down beside his two friends, an exaggerated pout on his lips. “You girls have so many secrets, I never get told anything anymore.”
“Oh, Xander,” Buffy cooed as she wrapped an arm around her friend’s shoulder. “You know we love you, right?” she added with a pointed tilt of her head as she looked at Willow.
“Yeah, we do, lots,” the redhead added, before she wrapped her own arms around him.
“Well, that’s alright then,” Xander replied with a nod, a goofy grin spreading across his face as he soaked up the attention.
The bell for homeroom rang and the trio of friends begrudgingly stood to make their way to class. Xander groaned about the pending pop quiz he would be taking this afternoon, earning encouraging words from Willow. With a wave he bid the girls adieu and headed for class.
Buffy walked in silence, a fact not missed by Willow.
“Buffy, are you all right?”
Blinking out of the daze she’d been wandering in Buffy nodded. “I’m fine. Just thinking is all.”
“About Spike?” Willow probed. The answering blush on Buffy’s cheeks was all the response Willow needed.
“I really like him, Will,” Buffy confessed. Memories of her time spent with Spike over the weekend brought a soft smile to her lips.
“I know,” Willow replied, a smile of the mischievous variety lighting her face. “Can’t say I blame you. I mean, have you seen him without his shirt on? Boy, those swimmers sure are pretty to look at.”
Buffy giggled before vehemently nodding in agreement. “Oh yeah, I’ve seen.”
The girls laughed all the way to class.
Gravel scattered in every direction as Spike’s car squealed to a standstill in the parking lot. First period had already begun and he was seriously late. All he could hope for was that Snyder was otherwise indisposed. If the snivelling little dictator were wandering the halls when Spike walked in, it wouldn’t be good. With countless detentions, several overdue papers, and a suspension for fighting, the last thing he needed was another black mark on his permanent school record, for tardiness no less.
With bated breath he darted toward the school, bounding the steps three at a time before throwing his full weight at the door and rushing down the hall toward study hall, the slap of his boots against the linoleum floor the only noise he encountered. A door behind him opened with a squeak of its hinges and Spike silently cursed himself as he ducked into the library, hoping the little weasel hadn’t caught him. Bag dropped unceremoniously beside the table near the stacks, he reached for the nearest textbook and opened it, just as the library doors swung open. To the casual observer Spike would appear immersed in study.
The click of expensive heels identified the entrant as a non-Snyder like, female person.
“Hard at study I see, isn’t this a surprise.”
A head to toe glance identified the intruder, but her identity was exposed entirely in the sarcastic tone of her voice. Expensive shoes, hands on cocked hips, designer outfit, heady perfume, all added up to one Miss Cordelia Chase.
“To what do I owe this…” Spike scrunched up his nose in displeasure. “Delight, of your company?” His tone was as barbed and sardonic as hers.
“Now, now, Spike. No need to get catty,” Cordelia chastised. She perched herself upon the desk, making a show of crossing her legs. On any other male the action would have elicited a long, deep examination of the length of her supple legs. But not Spike. No, he was infatuated with the little blonde thing on the swim team. That’s why she did it, to irritate him.
“Do you mind? Can’t you see I’m busy?”
“I can see,” she replied with faux sincerity. “Reading last year’s Biology textbook.”
Spike slammed the book closed and made a move to lift in his seat but Cordelia stopped him with a heel on his chest.
“I’ve got a proposition for you.”
“Flashin’ skin my way now, Cordelia?” A brow lifted skyward, his eyes remained fixed upon the unkind twist of her smirk. “Why don’t you go peddle your wares to the football team, I’m not interested.”
With the over-dramatised gesture of a hand pressed to her breast Cordelia feigned hurt feelings. “You cut me, Spike.” With a roll of her eyes she slid off the edge of the desk and stood before him, arms folded over her chest. “You’ll want to hear me out.”
“I think not,” Spike snorted in response, lifting himself from his seat and making his way toward the library doors.
“Guess, who’s, ba-ack,” she sing-songed in response.
Spike halted, his back facing Cordelia for several long moments before he slowly spun.
“What are --”
“Angel,” she interrupted.
Spike was never one for gaping like a fish, but at that moment it took considerable restraint to keep his jaw still. Teeth clenched he balled his hands by his side.
“Oh, Spike,” Cordelia sighed, continuing with the over-dramatisation. “I thought you’d be happy to hear of your friend’s return to Sunnydale. And with Angel back, you know what that will mean for your budding relationship with Buf--”
“What do you want?” Spike growled. There had to be some ulterior motive, some reason why Cordelia Chase was giving him the heads up. Not that Angel being back was an entirely terrible thing; the two of them had been great friends for several years. No, it was what the self appointed Queen of the high school was alluding that had him barely containing his rage. There was nothing more he would like at this moment than to wipe the smug grin from her face.
“We have a common goal, Spike. We both want the same thing.” The teasing, the sarcasm, it was all gone from her voice. Cordelia was dead serious.
“And what is that?” Spike spat out.
“Buffy, not with Angel,” she answered simply.
“Buffy’s not with --” Spike began, but once more Cordelia interrupted him.
“Not now she isn’t, but what happens when she bumps into him at the Bronze? Or at the Espresso Pump?” she conspired. “Or in these very halls?”
“Buffy wouldn’t, she --”
“Is with you?” Cordelia laughed. “That didn’t stop Drusilla, now did it? What makes you so sure Buffy won’t do exactly the same thing? You two have been together for what, a week? Do you think that’s long enough for her to forget about her past interest in Angel?”
Straight for the jugular… Bluntness was something Spike had once admired in Cordelia. Being on the receiving end made him see just how truly vindictive the girl could be. As much as Spike wanted to dismiss her accusations, predictions, whatever, he found that he couldn’t. He cared deeply about Buffy, and Cordelia had very cleverly planted the seed of doubt in his mind. Spike was afraid of what would transpire between them when tall, dark and broody returned.
“What’s your point?” It was meant to be a snarl, meant to express the anger he felt toward Cordelia. To his ears his voice sounded defeated. Judging by the confident glint that had appeared in Cordelia’s eyes, his ears had not deceived him.
“Angel will be arriving tomorrow morning but he won’t be returning to school until next Monday,” Cordelia began to explain.
“How do you know all this?”
A manicured brow lifted in much the same manner as his had just minutes ago. “Do I need to remind you of who my father is? I told Daddy how upset I was that Angel and his father were being forced to move across to country. Strings were pulled and voila! They’re back.”
“How… considerate, of him.”
“I always get what I want,” Cordelia stated.
Part of Spike wanted to grin smugly at the brunette. Cordelia proclaimed to being able to get whatever she wanted, yet in the case of Angel, Buffy had stood in the way without even trying. However these feelings were quickly suppressed at the thought of losing Buffy, when he’d only just got her. Spike knew he couldn’t take that. With a regretful sigh he nodded.
“What do I have to do?”
“Just keep her busy.” Inside Cordelia was dancing. When her father had first informed her that Angel was returning to Sunnydale she was elated. Elation soon faded and gave way to apprehension. With no desire to lose the object of her affections to the little blonde swimmer a second time round Cordelia knew she had to take action.
Angel was honourable. If he saw Spike and Buffy together, happy, he would do nothing to step between them. However Spike’s new romance was only in its early stages and Cordelia was all too aware of just how long it had taken Buffy to stop moping over Angel’s departure. If he reappeared now, before a concrete foundation for the new relationship had set, it could mean disaster. Keeping Angel occupied over the weekend before he returned to school was going to be easy. So long as Spike held up his end it would be smooth sailing from here on out.
“Keep her busy? That’s it?”
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “You’re at the beginning of a new relationship. Butterflies in the stomach, goofy grins and happy sighs are about what Buffy would be feeling at this time. Romance her. What you need is for those butterflies to become elephants, elephants that will blindly crush any outside influences.”
“Such as Angel.” Spike rolled his eyes. “And I suppose you’ll be around to pick up the pieces.”
“Of course,” Cordelia replied smugly. “Not that I expect him to be too broken up about it. After all, it was only one kiss.”
Part of Spike agreed with her sentiments but he kept his mouth shut.
“You’ve got five days to make her fall for you Spike, or risk losing her and ruining my happiness.”
The bell sounded for the end of first period.
“Shoot, I’ve got to get to class.” A smug grin spread across her face. “Daddy said he’d buy me a new Mercedes if I had perfect attendance this semester.” With a flick of her hair Cordelia swept past Spike and pushed through the library doors.
After a moment’s hesitation, he followed.
Buffy exited class with relief, glad it was over. One down, five more to go…
“Hey, what are you doing after school this afternoon?” Willow questioned as she fell in step beside Buffy. “Got any plans with Spike?”
Buffy shrugged her shoulders. “Not sure, haven’t seen him this morning.” Of their own volition her eyes began to roam the halls in search of her missing boyfriend. “I wonder why he --”
The sentence died on her lips when she spotted him leaving the library.
“Oh, there he --” Willow began before she too noticed he wasn’t alone.
Spike had walked out of the library with Cordelia. It looked like they were going their separate ways, but then Cordelia turned around and whispered something in Spike’s ear. The bleached swimmer nodded once before he turned to walk down the hall and stopped when his eyes fell on Buffy and Willow.
Buffy’s first reaction was to turn and walk away. Sensing her friend’s confusion Willow linked arms with Buffy to keep her from moving. “I’m sure it’s nothing,” she whispered her reassurance.
With less confidence than she felt, Buffy nodded.
“Hey,” Spike greeted Buffy warmly, leaning forward to press a soft kiss on her cheek. Not ignoring the fact they had company, he turned to nod his greeting to Willow. “‘lo Red.”
Noticing the halls were beginning to clear Willow unlooped her arm from Buffy’s and waved at the pair. “See you at lunch.”
“Hey,” Spike repeated.
“Hey,” Buffy replied.
Spike wasn’t blind, he could see that something was bothering Buffy. “Everythin’ alright, luv?”
“Ah huh,” she nodded.
“So I was thinking we --”
“Cordelia looks nice today,” Buffy blurted out.
Spike frowned for a moment before realisation dawned. Buffy was jealous. The question was on the tip of his tongue, ready to be spoken out loud but he held it in. The last time he’d called her on being jealous the outcome hadn’t been too pretty. He wisely kept his mouth shut but couldn’t help feel a little pleased with the knowledge. It settled some of his insecurities the brunette bitch had dredged up earlier. Maybe everythin’ will be alright… he thought. But he didn’t want to take any chances.
“Really? Didn’t notice,” Spike shrugged. “Too busy appreciatin’ my girl.”
A blush rose on Buffy’s cheeks and her brow unfurrowed. With a deep exhale she blew out her jealousy. It was nothing and she shouldn’t be worried.
Standing on her tiptoes, Buffy pressed a gentle kiss to Spike’s lips, breaking away a moment later. “See you after class?”