Two written offerings in two days ... don't worry, I'm not going to make you suffer like that regualrily! Still, yesterday it was only a drabble, so not to SPAM-worthy ... I hope!
Here's the next chapter of my fic, I just hope that it doesn't feel too drawn out. Thank you everyone for your positive comments of my story, so far ... Here is the next bit, again beta'd by the brilliantly patient mabel_marsters
"Come on, Buffy, if we don't leave now we will be late." Tara was getting slightly frustrated with the varying excuses she had been hearing over the last hour. After all, how many times did a girl need to visit the bathroom?
"OK. I'm coming," Buffy eventually said as she picked up her purse, and checked - yet again - that she had everything that she needed.
By this time, Tara was taking no more chances, so was standing on the porch, and as soon as Buffy stepped through the door, she set off towards the sidewalk.
They strolled along in silence and arrived at The Bronze before the allotted meeting time ... much to Buffy's annoyance. It was hard to think that she had decided to do this, without having to sit in a public place and wait. They slowly walked up to the bar, bought a soda each, and headed to an empty table at the side of the room.
As they sat, Tara slowly began to relax, having spotted Spike in the opposite corner, and knowing that her task was almost complete. On the other hand, Buffy got tenser as the seconds ticked past, making Tara wonder if she would explode before eight o'clock.
"Hi, Spike, glad that you were able to come this evening." Tara rapidly filled what could have become a gap, as Buffy had literally jumped at the sound of Spike's voice.
"Well you did ask, and I agreed, so you shouldn't be all that shocked, should you?"
Tara just smiled in reply.
“You don’t have a drink yet. Let me go and get you something, any preferences?” Tara was already on her feet and had taken a step towards the bar as she spoke. To her surprise she didn’t get an answer from Spike, as he was taking a chance to look at Buffy, while she was carefully studying the ice-cubes in her glass.
When Tara returned with the JD for him, she was pleased to note he had sat in the empty seat, and had obviously asked Buffy how the “bride and groom” were doing.
“We haven’t heard from either of them, but I know that Anya is with D’Hoffryn, so I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.” Buffy was looking worried as she finished her comments.
“Sadly, there’s nothing you can do until they both return, luv, so wait till then to find out what, if anything, you have to face.” As ever Spike had a comforting answer that brought a smile to Tara’s lips, if not to the girl he was actually speaking to.
The three of them slowly sipped their drinks, allowing the background noise to wash over them, and letting them relax in the comfort of spending time with friends. However after a few minutes Tara knew she would have to give Buffy a push as to the reason they were together this evening.
“Buffy,” she started to say, but the glare in the slayer’s eyes made her stop ... for a moment, before her resolve returned, and she continued.
“Buffy, don’t you have something you want to ask?” By leaving the question open ended she hoped that neither of her two companions would be spooked.
Now it was up to Buffy. She may be able to fight demons three times her size, stop an apocalypse or stand serving burgers for hours, but when it came to simple words she tended to back away ... quickly.
Tara looked at her with all the positive vibes and compassion that she could muster. She knew how much Buffy was hurting, but having come so far, Tara hoped that she would be brave enough to speak to Spike about what was going on, because she knew that once the slayer began to soften, Spike would take any crumb that he could.
“OK.” Buffy finally snapped out the short phrase, and turned towards the vampire, who certainly needed his increased hearing to listen to the next phrase –
The silence that settled in that corner of the building was more deafening that the surrounding bustle. Tara gently kicked Spike in the shin as the silence stretched and the slayer’s head dropped even lower.
“Oh, um, what?” His voice sounded unnecessarily loud, so instead of an immediate answer both girls looked at him with surprise. He was, however looking at Buffy, and as she glanced up he just raised an eyebrow reminding her that the question had been directed at her.
“Spike, I’m sorry,” she said again. This time the words came out a bit clearer, as if by just saying them once had conditioned her brain to the phrase.
“What for, pet?” Spike’s answer came out more softly this time, and glancing at both the girls he hoped that there was a positive reason that Buffy had said those words to him.
“For letting Riley blow up your home.”
It might not have been the answer that he had wanted to hear, but to hear his tough girl admitting to something meant a lot.
“Buffy!” This time the two sets of eyes turned towards Tara, as she had sounded totally shocked.
“You knew it happened, Tara, because he thought Spike was The Doctor.”
“That’s not the point, though. Is it?”
Spike studied the two girls as they both stared at each other, and he was fascinated to see a slight colour spreading up over Buffy’s cheeks. He saw her take a deep breath to calm herself, and then watched in shocked disappointment as she stood up. The shock then increased as Buffy moved to stand next to Spike and move the table slightly so that she could focus on him.
“Spike. I’m sorry that Riley blew up your home, but I’m also even sorrier for ignoring you most of the time.”
Spike went to speak, but felt more pressure on his leg from their companion.
So, after another deep breath Buffy continued, “I want to know if we can spend some time together, so will you go out with me some time?” She finished with a rapid rush of words, but physically stood her ground.
Over the day of chatting with Tara, while trying to avoid thinking, she had realised that she had enjoyed having the company. Tara was more special that she had noticed before, so had decided to make this evening partly about the three of them.
As the moments stretched out, Buffy wondered if she really had lost him, but she needn’t have worried. He lifted his hands and clasped her fingers loosely and she got the answer she was both scared to hear, but hoping to get.
“Yes, pet, I’d like to spend some time with you. How about I pick you up after work tomorrow and we come here for a drink, before going on patrol?” It surprised neither girl, that he knew her schedule, nor the fact that she still had to be The Slayer.
Tara’s smile was soft as she watched the scene unfold before her. As Buffy settled back into her seat, after moving it closer to Spike, she started to collect her purse to leave the two of them together, but was stopped by Buffy’s voice.
“Tara, stay, I owe you a lot.”
“Yes. Let me get you another drink, don’t rush off.” Spike added his words to their companion.
At her agreement, Spike wandered off to get some more drinks, and a plate of Buffalo Wings, for the three of them to relax and enjoy a peaceful evening. Although as he returned to their table he did wonder what he had truly let himself in for, as both girls turned towards him and smiled.
However, his girl was happy, so he was as well. They had done hectic and hidden, now was time to rediscover friendship and to look towards the future.