Higher Learning


by Saber ShadowKitten
Continuation of Short Silly Fics - The Summer Series






Higher Learning I - Miss You




Spike missed her already.

He pressed the button on the garage door opener, watching through the small, clear spot in the blacked-out windshield as it slowly rose like a giant mouth. And he was going to drive into it and be swallowed by loneliness. **Alright, mate, enough with the sappy metaphors,** he thought, pulling the De Soto into the garage.

He shut off the engine and climbed out of the car, planning on putting Old Yeller into the VCR to give him an excuse to be emotional. So into his depressed thoughts, he almost missed the guy wearing brown shorts and shirt carrying a box up his driveway.

"Excuse me," the man called out. "Are you Billy Smith?"

Spike frowned and walked to the end of the shelter of the garage. "Yeah," he replied, wary of anyone knowing his real name.

The man went over to him and held out a thick, calculator-like object. "Package for you," he said. "Sign here."

Spike looked at the thing he held out in confusion, then back at the man with 'UPS' stitched onto his pocket. "Do what?"

The UPS driver set the box on the floor, removed the red plastic pen and pointed where Spike should sign. "Sign here."

The blond vampire took the computerized clipboard and pen, then awkwardly scribbled his name in the black square. His brow went up when he saw his name appear on the display. When he finished, he handed both objects back. "Have a nice day," the UPS man told him.

"Right," Spike replied, watching as he went back down the driveway to the large, brown truck parked in front of it. He picked up the box and entered his house, shutting the electric garage door on his way in.

He set the box on the kitchen table, got out a knife and slit the tape. Opening the cardboard, he pulled out some crumpled newspaper packing material, then grinned when he saw the contents -- six books and a card.

"'Keep w-working,'" he read, recognizing Willow's printing. "'I will be checking up on your prog-ress.'" There was a stick-figure drawing of him, complete with fangs, reading under a tree next to her signature and a post script at the bottom of the card. "'P.S. I'll miss you.'"

Smiling to himself, he closed the card and set it on the table. "I miss you, too," he said.

The house never seemed so empty.








Higher Learning II - The Dorm Room


Willow thanked the driver for his help in carrying her trunk, then looked around what was to be her room for the next eight months.

The door room was small, with painted cement blocks for walls and a single window that went from mid-waist to the ceiling across from the door. On either side of the door were wardrobe closets, and small dressers with mirrors above them flanked each one. Two twin beds lined the walls, followed by a desk and mounted bookshelf. The only floor space was directly down the center of the room. It also looked as though her roommate had already been there, because one of the beds was made up.

"Hi! You must be Willow," someone said from behind her. "I'm your roommate, Lisa."

Willow turned around and saw a tall, lithe, African American, wearing a pair of tights, a black leotard and pink, wrap-around skirt. "Hi, I'm Willow," the hacker said. "But you already know that. Um...hi."

Lisa laughed. "Hi back again," she said, moving gracefully into the room and taking a seat on one of the beds.

"Are you a dancer?" Willow asked.

"What gave it away?" Lisa replied with a grin. "Yeah, my major is dance. What's yours?"

"Um, Independent," she said.

"Ooh, the make-it and bake-it major," Lisa commented. "Either you're really smart or really not smart."

Willow giggled. "Depends on who you ask."

The redhead moved to the desk and set her laptop case on it. She removed her backpack and hung it around the desk chair. "Are you going to orientation?" she asked Lisa.

"Yeah," Lisa replied. "I heard that it's the only time you'll ever learn where everything is located. So, unless I wanted to be lost all year..."

"Do you...would you like to go together?" Willow asked.

"Sure," Lisa answered. She grinned at the hacker. "That way if we get lost on the way there, I don't look like the only idiot."

Willow laughed as she began to empty her luggage. She put her Disney collection on the top shelf of the mounted bookshelf, along with pictures of Buffy, Xander and her at the park; the entire 'Scooby Gang' including Faith, Angel and Giles; and one of her and Spike in camouflage taken at the armory by their paintball friends. Then she tacked up the Star Wars ticket stub on the bulletin board from her first outing with the blond vampire.

"Who's the hottie?" Lisa asked, pointing to the last picture.

"That's Spike," Willow replied.

"Boyfriend?"

"I wish," she muttered, before replying louder, "No, just a friend."

"Well, if he isn't taken by anyone, you can give him my number," Lisa said. "Because he is H-O-T-T."

**Over my drained body,** Willow thought to herself. She adjusted the old Dodgers cap on her red hair. **He's mine.** Then the hacker thought of what her roommate had said. "Oh, do you have our phone number? Do we even have a phone line? What about Internet access?"

"We have all of that," Lisa said, standing and moving over to Willow's desk. She pointed under it. "The top one is the computer modem line. It's free. You just have to fill out some paperwork down at the computer admin's office, according to what I read. The bottom is the regular phone line. The phone number is around here somewhere." The tall girl began to look through her things on her desk.

"How do we call long distance?" Willow asked.

"Like normal. The charges are billed to our room," Lisa explained. "Then I guess we divide it however." She pulled out a sheet of paper. "Voila! We have a number."

Willow took the sheet and tacked it up on the bulletin board. "This way we won't lose it," she said, grinning. "Now all we need is a phone."








Higher Learning III - Out of Tissue

First came Old Yeller.

Then Bambi.

The Old Mill was next.

Which was followed by Dumbo.

Next came Beauty and the Beast.

And finally, Lady and the Tramp.

Spike would have continued watching more Disney movies, but he'd run out of tissue.






Higher Learning IV - No, You Do It



"No, you do it," Xander said to Buffy.

"No, you," Buffy replied.

"You're the Slayer."

"You're her oldest friend."

"Guys!" Faith snapped. "I'm on my last nerve here, and you're both getting on it."

"Sorry," Buffy apologized. "But, I still won't do it."

"Me either," Xander added.

"Fine, I'll do it," Faith said. She stomped up the walk to the door and banged on it.

Giles opened his door and looked at the trio standing outside. "Yes? What's wrong?"

"It's confirmed, Watchful," Faith said. The other two nodded behind her. "Billy is Spike."










Higher Learning V - Up On The Roof



Spike couldn't keep still, which was normal for him, but without Willow being close enough to keep him company, he was doubly hyper. Not even a second after the sun faded, he was out the door to find someone to eat. Usually the specified hunt took longer than ten minutes, but the blond vampire had stumbled upon a knifing and he quickly drained the man.

Then, because he needed to keep busy -- and he was all out of tissues anyway - he got his car and drove down to the hardware store.

Half an hour later, he had all the supplies he needed to re-shingle the roof.

Spike changed into a pair of well-worn black jeans from his old stash of clothing, strapped on a tool belt, clipped the portable phone to one of the loops and returned

outside. He propped the ladder up against the side of his ranch home, climbed up, and proceeded to rip the old shingles off. Each one got tossed into his backyard for later disposal.

After that was done, he descended the ladder, hefted the new shingles over his shoulder and made repeated trips to the roof. Once everything was easily reachable, he pulled several nails from the pocket of the tool belt and stuck them into his mouth. Then he started nailing down the shingles.

If anyone were to stop and notice, or complain about the man hammering on his roof at nine-thirty at night, they would have left him alone. His physical presence alone spoke of someone trying to drive away some emotion with each strike. Which he was.

How could he miss one person so much in such a short amount of time?










Higher Learning VI - Undead Hottie



"My turn," Faith said, snatching the binoculars away from Buffy.

"Hey!" Buffy protested. "I only had a minute."

"Yeah, but you have your own undead hottie to lust after," Faith told her. "You don't need another one."

Buffy scowled, but turned her attention back to the figure on the roof, driving nails into it as if there were no tomorrow. The two girls had been passing by Spike's house for the second time that day -- the first being when the three friends had broken into the garage to confirm that Billy was Spike - when they saw him up on the roof.

Shirtless. With his black jeans riding low on his hips, a tool belt around his waist.

It was the Coke commercial come to life at night.

Faith had immediately told Buffy to wait there and took off back to her place. Ten minutes later, the second Slayer returned with a pair of binoculars, and the two of them proceeded to ogle Spike. They'd been doing it for roughly an hour, and neither the blond vampire, nor the girls were ready to call it quits.

"Ok, my turn again," Buffy said, grabbing the binoculars back.

"I can't believe that Red kept that hot specimen of male under wraps," Faith commented. "If I was doin' that fine thang, I'd be showin' him and all his assets off. Did you see that vamp's package?"

"Faith!" Buffy hissed. "Willow hasn't had sex with Spike!"

"Then what did she and Billy do all weekend in LA?" Faith asked. "Watch tv?"

Buffy lowered the binoculars to glare at her sister-in-arms, and the brunette snatched them back. "She would have told me if she had sex."

"Uh-huh," Faith replied. "Just like she told you she was seein' a member of bloodsuckers anonymous? Damn, what I wouldn't give to get a piece of that."

Buffy thought about the night she saw the silhouette of Willow on the curtains. Would the redhead have lied to her?

The hammering suddenly stopped and was replaced by a quiet ringing. The two Slayers exchanged glances, then Faith continued to peer through the binoculars. "He's on the phone."

"Spike get's phone calls?" Buffy said, taking the binoculars away again.

"What you should be askin' is - why did Spike take the phone up to the roof with him?" Faith said. "Could be he's expectin' a call from a certain redheaded fuck-monkey."

"Faith!"






Higher Learning VII - The First Call



Spike answered the phone with a hitch in his voice. There was only one person who had his number. "'Allo?"

"Hi Sexy Knickers!" Willow's happy voice greeted him on the other end of the line. "What's up?"

"Me, at the moment," he answered, taking a seat on the apex of the roof.

"You're up?" she said with confusion.

"On the roof," he replied.

"Do you think you're Dick Van Dyke?" Willow asked.

Spike laughed. "If I were the chimney sweep, at least my accent would be true." With the scenes from the Disney movie flitting through his mind, he hopped up to his feet again and began using the apex as a balance beam. "How was orientation, kitten?"

"Good. Long. Hot," she replied. "It was located in the science quad, not to be mistaken for the math quad or the arts quad or the humanities quad or that strange quad with the statue of the naked people doing naughty things virgin eyes shouldn't see."

"Did you cover yours up like a good girl?" he asked, coming to the end of the roof. He balanced precariously on one foot for a moment, then jumped around so he was facing the opposite way, and made his way towards the other side, dancing up on his toes.

"Nope," Willow stated. "I stared blatantly at it and wondered if anyone could really get into the position they were in."

"But I'd wager you were a red as your hair."

"Like a stop sign," she agreed. "Oh, I have a phone number and address for you. But I don't have a phone or my Post Office key. So it's not like either one would do you any good at this time."

"Where are you calling from then?" Spike asked. He leapt up on the metal vent pipe sticking out of the roof and executed a turn right out of the movie.

"Payphone in the lobby of my dorm," Willow answered. "Which means I have another two minutes before the operator comes on and asks for more money. The greedy woman."

"Oh." Spike felt his jovial mood plummet and he stopped cavorting about. He sat down once again and rested one bare arm on his upraised knee. He cleared his throat and tried to keep his tone light. "So what's on the old agenda tomorrow? More statues?"

"Tomorrow I have to register for everything," she replied. "Classes, with the computer admin, with the Post Office, with the bank, with student services, with my RA. The list goes on and on. I think Lisa and I will probably get lost at least three times before we find all the buildings."

"Lisa?"

"My roommate," Willow said. "She seems really nice. And she thought you were cute."

"Cute?" he scoffed. "Like some fuzzy bunny?"

Willow giggled. "Like Bunnicula."

Spike groaned. "Great. Now I'm an undergarment and a vampire rabbit."

"To continue this call, please deposit thirty-five cents for the first minute," the mechanical voice of the operator interrupted.

"Damn," Willow said.

"Bloody hell," Spike said at the same time. "I guess you gotta go, kitten."

"Yeah," she replied. "I'll try and scrounge up some money to call tomorrow night."

"You can always use that annoying AT&T commercial," he suggested.

"Maybe," she said.

"Please deposit thirty-five cents."

"I gotta go," Willow said. "Behave."

"Who me?" Spike asked innocently.

"Yes, you," she said. "And I expect you to read at least one of those books before Saturday."

"Very well, kitten," he sighed dramatically. She giggled, then grew quiet. "Luv?"

"I miss you, Spike," Willow said softly.

Spike felt his heart expand and drop at the same time. "I miss you, too, Willow. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

"'K," she replied. "Bye."

"Bye."

When she hung up, he hit the button on the phone and let it dangle between his bent legs. After a few minutes, he hooked it back onto the belt, then picked up the hammer again.

His strokes were much slower.






Higher Learning VIII - Deflated

Buffy and Faith exchanged looks after the impromptu dance show was over. They watched for a little while longer, until he went back to work.

"Did you see the way he just kinda deflated?" Faith asked as the two Slayer left the vampire's house. "Like someone told him his favorite fish was ate by a drunk frat bro?"

"I saw," Buffy replied. And it had given her a lot to think about.








Higher Learning IX - Waiting in Line

If Willow had to stand in one more line, she was going to use the magick spell she'd learned and turn everyone into newts, just so she could move to the front. Her feet hurt, her back hurt, her head hurt, and her fingers hurt from filling out form after form after form.

**Where's Spike when I need him?** she thought. **He could have made the time pass by in the blink of his beautiful, ice-blue eyes.**

She really, really missed him. And this was only the second day.






Higher Learning X - Couldn't Sleep

Up. Down. Up. Down.

Spike was on the floor.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

He couldn't sleep.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

He thought perhaps a little exercise would help.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

Five hours later, he was still awake.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

But it was the longest he'd ever stayed on one task.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

His muscles were actually burning from the repetition.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

Sweat coated his body in a fine sheen.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

Yet, he wasn't going to stop until he dropped from exertion...

Up. Down. Up. Down.

...or Willow called.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

His arms bent, and he lowered himself until his nose almost touched the ground. Then he pushed himself back up, his arms shaking from the constant use.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

He really missed Willow.

Up. Down. Up. Down.

A lot.






Higher Learning XI - I Hear A 'But'

Spike slid across the kitchen floor in his socks, crashing into the refrigerator in his rush to get the phone. Cursing, he snatched the receiver off the wall and rubbed his knee. "Hello?"

"Hi," Willow greeted cheerfully from the other end of the line. "Found some money."

"I told you that you could call collect, luv," Spike said. "I don't mind."

"Well, I'll be getting a phone tomorrow, so it won't matter anyway," she replied. "Then I'll call you with the number. Oh, that reminds me, we should set a specific time to talk. I'm sure you have other things you'd rather do than sit around and wait."

"Kitten, you left. I don't have anyone to do things with," Spike confessed quietly.

Willow was silent for a moment. "Spike, I miss you, too."

"I hear a 'but' in that," he said.

"Yeah. There is," she replied. "You've been alive for two centuries now without having me as a friend. I don't want to feel like I'm bringing you down because I'm not there..."

"You're not," Spike protested. "I just haven't readjusted to not having you around, that's all." **Liar.**

"Well, ok then. But go out and do things," Willow told him. "And I'll go out and do college things and we'll miss each other, but in a good way. Not that not doing things with you is a good thing..."

"Willow?"

"Yeah?"

"How does eleven sound?"

"Perfect," Willow answered. "I'll call you tomorrow at eleven and then we'll alternate or something."

"I'll be here," he said. "Now, tell me about your day. Mine was bloody repetitious."






Higher Learning XII - An Audience

As promised, Spike went out with one of the books Willow had gotten him to practice reading. He tried to read in the house during the day, but it wasn't the same without the redhead sitting in the kitchen with him. He knew that he was getting pathetic and very much like his brooding sire, and he forced himself to remember what he did the entire time he'd been in Sunnydale before he'd caused Willow to faint in his arms.

His paintball friends had returned to college as well, which meant most of them were gone, although a few went to the local university. He called and made plans to do a little late-night fishing with some of the guys on Sunday night. He'd also planned to purchase a computer to see what was so interesting about cyberspace.

Heading into the park, Spike took a seat on one of the swings and smiled when he remembered pushing Willow. He'd loved the way her laughter rang out into the night, her hair flying about her face as she swung back and forth while standing on the swing. Then, the night before she left, they'd returned and the rain interrupted what he'd wanted to say. But that had led to something much better than words.

His eyes moved towards the small shelter he and Willow had hid under while the rain poured down. He closed his eyes and felt the press of her lips against his, the softness of her mouth, the taste of sunshine he'd gotten when they kissed. He'd wanted to kiss her all summer, but was glad in the end that it happened when it did, because he'd gotten a chance to develop a strong friendship with a wonderful young woman. One that he missed deeply.

Shaking off his sigh of depression, Spike opened his eyes and the book. He wrapped one arm around the chain of the swing, and pushed lightly with his toes as he began to slowly read. "'I am Sam. Sam I am. That Sam-I-am! That Sam-I-am! I do not like that Sam-I-am.'"

Willow had told him that the rhyming books were the best learning tool, even if they did seem a little babyish. He didn't correct her in saying that, because he didn't want her to know that he enjoyed the books. They were fun. "'Do you like green' e-g, e-gs, eggs. 'Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham.'"

Since the words were all similar on the page, Spike had to read slowly to catch each one, rather than glossing over them like he used to do, which was the exact reason why the redhead had chosen the books. Even then, some of the words were hard to puzzle out, despite the early level of Dr. Seuss. "Er, w-old, word? No. Oh, like kitten would say, duh. 'Would you like them here or there? I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-am.'"

Spike looked up as he turned the page and froze. Standing in front of him were four little kids, dressed in shorts and t-shirts. "Aren't you the singing man?" one of the boys asked.

"What?" Spike said, frowning in confusion.

"At the fireworks," the boy said. "You know all the songs from the cartoons."

Spike groaned mentally, but responded in a pleasant tone. "Yes, that was me."

"What'cha doin' now?" a little girl asked.

"Reading," he replied. He held up the cover of the book so they could see.

"Can we listen?" a third asked.

"Where's your mums?" Spike said. "It's late for you to be outside."

"They're having a coffee-clutching," the fourth answered, pointing to a group of houses that lined the park.

"Coffee-klatch?" Spike clarified. The girl nodded. "Do they know you came to the park?"

"Yeah, we told them," the first boy replied. "Can we hear the story now?"

Spike grinned inside. He always liked children, and not as something to eat. "Have a seat," he told them. "Now, I'm not very good at reading, so I'm going to go slow."

"Are you prac-ting?" the third child asked. "Mrs. Kniel said prac-ting makes perfect."

He chuckled. "Yes, I'm practicing. And Mrs. Kniel is correct. My teacher told me to practice, too."

"Aren't you a little old to be in school?" the second asked.

"I have a private teacher," he replied. "I didn't go to school when I was a boy, so I didn't learn how to read properly."

"But you're learnin' now, right?" the first said.

"Right," Spike agreed. He reopened his book and silently chuckled. He'd never read in front of an audience before. Willow would be proud that he would even dare to try. "Here we go. 'Would you like them in a' hoo-ss. How-ss. House. 'Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a' er, 'mouse?'"

The children were enraptured, despite his butchering of the words and he felt good about himself and his burgeoning ability. He couldn't wait until eleven to tell Willow all about it. "'I could not, would not, on a boat. I will not, will not, with a goat. I will not eat them in the rain. I will not eat them on a train. Not in the dark! Not in a tree! Not in a car! You let me be! I do not like them in a box. I do not like them with a fox. I will not eat them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse. I do not like them here or there. I do not like them anywhere!'"

Little did the blond vampire know, however, that he not only had children as an audience. On the other side of the bushes, sitting side by side, Faith and Buffy were listening with amused matching smiles.


Higher Learning XIII - Upperclassmen





"What's going on?" Willow asked Lisa, as the tall girl opened their door and folded herself onto the floor between the doorframes.

"Upperclassmen," Lisa answered, giving her a grin.

"What are they doing?" the redhead inquired, setting down the notebook paper she was putting in a binder and joining the black dancer.

"Moving in," Lisa said.

"Those are boys," Willow hissed when she saw several males go by with bags and suitcases.

"It's a co-ed dorm," Lisa said. She gave Willow a questioning look. "Didn't you know that?"

"No!" Willow said, shaking her head violently. "I just put wherever for dorm choice."

Lisa grinned again. "Then you're in for a treat. My sister was here two years ago and she loved it. She had hunky men living on either side of her and her roommate."

Willow's eyes widened as a well-built, shaven-headed, black upperclassman walked by, carrying a trunk on his shoulder, his muscles bulging. "Oh goddess, I'm living with boys!"

"Honey, you're not living with boys," Lisa said, leaning out the door to track the upperclassman with the trunk. "You're living with men."










Higher Learning XIV - Living With Men





Willow didn't know what to do other than stare at the upperclassmen that continuously walked by her door. There were forty rooms per floor in the dorm she was in, which had five floors total. Each floor had a lounge and two bathrooms, a women's and a men's. Willow had thought that the men's was there for convenience, not for men to shower and do other naked things in. Her parents would flip if they knew she was living with men. Luckily, she doubted they would ever visit or even ask. Sometimes having non-attentive parents was nice.

**Oh goddess,** she thought, noticing the number of big men coming in and out of the various rooms. "Do we have the football team living on this floor?"

"Now that would be nice," Lisa said.

Willow blushed bright red as a very good-looking, dark-haired upperclassman paused at the room next door. He flashed a smile at her and winked before entering his room. "Did you see that?" she squealed to Lisa.

"Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome winking at you?" Lisa teased. "Gotta love a man who can look that fine in a pair of specs."

The redheaded witch was thinking the exact same thing.







Continued