Higher Learning XV - Floor Meeting
Everyone was sitting in the hallway on the floor, crowded as close together as they could in front
of the RA's, or Resident Assistant's, door. Sixty-three men and women of various ages, races,
religions and sizes laughed and chatted together as they waited for the RA to begin the floor
It was easy to tell who the freshmen were, for they tended to stick by those they'd met during
orientation and were relatively quiet. Willow and Lisa, however, had struck up individual
conversations with Hunk-with-the-Glasses and Hunk-with-the-Trunk, respectively.
"Architectural design," Tristan, the Hunk-who-also-lived-next-door, said to Willow. "I have two
years left. What about you?"
"Uh, the make-it and bake-it major," Willow replied, repeating what Lisa had said on Thursday.
"I never met someone who was able to get into that program before. Strict requirements and
everything," Tristan said. "So, tell me, Willow, are you as smart as you are pretty?"
Willow blushed, but she replied, "No, I'm prettier. My rocket scientist IQ just can't match my
Tristan laughed, and the redhead noticed he had a great smile and dimples. Of course, she had
noticed that earlier, but she was noticing it again because she was ever the observant girl. The
Junior was tall and reminded her of the sexy guy from the khakis commercial, where he kept
getting dunked in the water by his girlfriend. However, Tristan wore black, wire-rimmed glasses
that seemed to emphasize his almost black eyes, rather than detract from them.
"If I can have your attention, ladies and boys," the RA, Jackson, said over the din of conversation.
When everyone quieted, he continued. "Thanks. As you know, I am Jackson Reese, your RA for
this year." Several people broke out into applause and others laughed. Jackson bowed, his
dread-locks falling forward as he did so. "Thank you, thank you."
"Hey, J.R.," someone called. "Nice tam!"
The multicolored, handwoven, Jamaican tam that covered the top of Jackson's head bobbed when
he nodded in thanks. "Alright, we have a few rules to go over," he said to the accompaniment of
groans. "Rule number one, quiet hours begin at midnight Sunday through Thursday, two on
Friday, Saturdays and the day before a holiday. That means, when my clock says twelve a.m., I
expect the stereos to be down and the doors closed."
"Someone reschedule the mattress jousting!"
Jackson continued over the titters. "Rule number two, the alcohol policy. You all read the school
rules concerning alcohol on campus..."
"They make a great pillow!"
"...but I know you'll ignore them," he said over the laughter. "The policy on my floor is this: if I
don't see it, it's not there. Understand?"
"Yes, J.R.," a small knot of football players chorused along with their cheerleader girlfriends.
"There's is the party room for this dorm," Tristan whispered to Willow. "Keggers every
Saturday night. A good place to avoid unless you're into cramming as many people into one
room as you can."
"Um, no," Willow whispered back.
"Rule number three," Jackson said. "Overnight guests. Since this is a co-ed dorm and a co-ed
floor, there are no rules against it. If your guest is going to be here for more than the weekend,
be sure to get a guest pass from me so security won't tow their car come Monday morning.
However, the rule stands against co-ed showers..."
"Aaww," someone moaned in disappointment.
"...So don't do it," Jackson said. "Keep the sex in the rooms and not in the showers. There are
condom dispensers in both the men's and women's bathrooms, and I cannot emphasize enough -
practice safe sex."
Willow was as red as her hair as others joined in Jackson's 'practice safe sex' line. She couldn't
believe it. She couldn't even say the word 'sex' and here she was being told to practice it and use
the condom machine in the bathrooms. She hadn't even known it was a condom machine. She
thought it was one of those sample perfume dispensers next to the sanitary products dispenser.
"Last rule, smoking - of anything," Jackson said. "In the rooms only. If I see it in the hallways or
in the lounge, you're written up. And for each write up after two, you're fined. That's it for the
rules." The applause was thunderous and he rolled his eyes. "Now for the fun part. There's
going to be a Welcome Back dance on Friday in the ballroom, everyone's invited. And the
football team is playing on Saturday at noon against Berkeley."
"GO UCLA FOOTBALL!" the football players and cheerleaders yelled.
"That's it. Good luck in classes and if you need me, I live right here," Jackson told them, leaning
back on his closed door with the white stenciled 'RA' on it.
Students stood and began meandering back to their rooms. Lisa grinned at Willow, then followed
her hunk towards his room. Willow smiled at her new friend's good fortune.
"Well, I'm going to head to dinner," Tristan said, as they walked down towards the east end of
the hall, where rooms 405 and 407 were located. He looked down and the hacker and asked,
"Want to join me?"
"Sure," Willow said, then blushed at the enthusiasm in her voice. "I just need to get my keys.
And my ID. And leave a note for Lisa. Or do you think I should tell her? But I don't want to
bother her with that guy she was with..."
"Willow," Tristan laughed. "Just knock on my door when you're ready."
"'K," she replied, then went into her own room and shut the door. She leaned back against it and
grinned like a idiot. "Wow. I'm going to dinner with a cute upperclassman. I like college."
Higher Learning XVI - Monday Night
"Hello?" Willow gasped.
"Is something the matter, luv?" Spike asked over the line, concern evident in his voice.
"Wrong?" she said. "No nothing's wrong. Oh! You're wondering why I sound like I ran a
marathon. I was in the lounge and had to run a marathon to get the phone." She giggled. "I'm
glad Lisa and I got a loud ringer, or I wouldn't have heard it at all."
"Ok then," he said, slumping back against the kitchen chair in relief. For an instant, he'd been
worried that something had happened between talking to her on Saturday and that evening. "So,
kitten, how was your first day of university?"
"Classes were...different," she replied. "I had English, World Civ and Calc today."
"Er, I understood English, but you already know how to speak that, pet," Spike said, confused.
He supported the phone between his shoulder and ear, picked up a small screwdriver and began
undoing the tiny screws on the back of a watch he'd found.
Willow giggled again. "English Literature," she said. "And the others are World Civilization,
which is a history class, and Calculus."
"Ah," he said. "That makes more sense."
"Well, it doesn't make dollars," she said.
Spike rolled his eyes and groaned. "That was just bloody pathetic, kitten."
"I know," Willow said.
"What classes do you have tomorrow?"
"A computer one and a science one," she answered. "The computer class is my only elective this
semester. Everything else is required."
"How many requirements do you have before you can take anything you want?" Spike asked,
interested because he'd never gone to school or had even heard about what it was like at
"Twenty-one hours are required courses, then I have to choose six more in English, three in
History and three in Humanities," Willow replied.
"I lied when I said you already knew how to speak English," he said. The back was off the watch
and he was poking around inside with the small tool kit, trying to make the mechanism run.
"Ok, I'll explain it as best I can," she said. "One hour is equal to one credit. My English class is
three hours this semester, so the class is worth three credits towards graduation. I need one-hundred and twenty credits to graduate."
"So you have to take one-hundred twenty hours of classes?" Spike said. "Doesn't seem like
"It is when a three credit hour course means that it meets three times per week for one hour,"
Willow said. "And that's the whole semester. This one, I have five classes, which equals
seventeen hours, because my computer class and science class both have labs and are four hours
"That means you are in class seventeen hours per week, right?"
"Right. The rest of the time I'm going to be studying or doing college stuff, like playing
cards...Playing cards!" Willow exclaimed.
"I didn't realize it was that exciting of a game, kitten," Spike said.
"I was playing cards when the phone rang and it's probably my turn and I'm not there," she
"Then I guess you'd better go," Spike told her, not happy that he'd only gotten to talk with her
for ten minutes. He didn't even get a chance to tell her about the ridiculous-sized fish he'd caught
the night before when he went fishing with the guys. "I'll talk to you tomorrow night."
"Yeah," Willow replied. Spike heard the phone being covered, then her saying, "I'm coming,
Tris." Then the phone got clear again. "Spike, I gotta go. Tristan says Martin's going to look at
my cards if I don't hurry up."
**Tristan and Martin?** he thought, jealousy rising inside of him. He forced himself not to let a
trace of it in his voice. "Then you'd best hurry up, kitten. Have a good night."
"I will," she said. "Bye."
"Bye," he replied, then sat there a moment after she'd hung up the phone. He reached over to the
jack on the wall and hung up the receiver, then muttered, "And I miss you, too."
Higher Learning XVII - Phone Days
"Er, is Willow there?" Spike asked, wondering if he dialed the right number or not.
"She went to the snack bar with the guys. Can I take a message?"
"Yeah, tell her Spike called," he replied, disappointment coursing through him.
"Oh hey, I'm Lisa, Will's roommate," Lisa said cheerfully. "That girl couldn't stop talking about
you during orientation."
"And you are still on the line?" Spike joked, perking up at the news.
Lisa laughed. "Yeah, well, I already learned to take whatever that witch says with a grain of
sourpatch kids. She can tell some stories. I'm surprised her nose isn't three feet long. Well, I'll
tell her you called."
"Thanks," he replied. "Bye."
"You've reached the black hole. Will and Lees have evaporated into nothingness. Leave a
message if you believe the Enterprise will pick them up in the next millennia. Beep."
"Willow, it's Spike. Give us a ring, alright?"
"You've reached the black hole. Will and Lees have evaporated into nothingness. Leave a
message if you believe the Enterprise will pick them up in the next millennia. Beep."
"Willow, it's Spike. Again. Ring me."
The Welcome Back Dance was in full swing. A DJ was set up in one corner of the large
ballroom, tables and chairs ran along the edges, and students packed the center, gyrating to the
beat. The turnout for the dance was huge, everyone wanting to find old friends and check out the
'fresh meat.' Willow had been dragged out of bed, where she spent most of her time after classes,
and prodded by Lisa to get dressed up for a night of loud music and foot-crushing fun.
College life had take the redhead hostage and refused to ask for ransom. She got up ten minutes
before class, threw some clothes and Spike's baseball cap on, and rushed out the door for a quick
trek across campus -- with a brief stop at the coffee machine - to class. In between classes, she'd
go to the library and do her homework, stopping only for lunch and to shower. When her last
class was over for the day, she'd go back to her dorm room and sleep until dinner. Then she'd be
apprehended by her new friends and did not set foot back in her room until close to three every
morning. After that, she'd go to sleep and start all over again the next morning.
And she'd only been at school for a week.
"Did you want to hit the snack bar after this?" Tristan asked Willow. Willow grinned and
nodded. She launched into a goofy Xander-dance as a fast eighties song came on, laughing when
her new friends joined in.
There were six of them in the small group, including Willow. Tristan, her hunky next-door-neighbor; Martin, a tall, lanky, pale, red-headed math major complete with horned-rimmed glasses
and pocket protector; Rafael, a drop-dead gorgeous Latino that oozed sexual charm and made
Willow want to learn Spanish; Jason, a stereotypical computer science major, who wore ratty
clothing, drank too much coffee, and was awake close to twenty-four hours per day; and Shay
Lin, a soft-spoken, petite, Asian, senior, entemology major, who had different bug tattoos almost
all over her body.
Every once in awhile, Willow would see Lisa. The roommates had already formed separate
friendships, but the two groups intermingled often. It helped that almost everyone lived in the
same dorm and the floor lounges were the place to be during the week.
The song ended and Willow followed Tristan out of the ballroom. "Goddess, I don't think I'll
ever hear anything again."
"What?" Tristan mocked, cupping his hand to his ear.
"Very funny," Willow scowled at him. They headed for the basement of the Halas Student Union
building, were the snack bar was located, Jason and Shay Lin trailing behind them.
"Hey Will," Jason said. "Are you staying on campus this weekend?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Willow asked him.
"Some people go home on the weekends," Shay Lin explained. "Especially those who live close
"And the frogs," Jason added.
"I still can't believe I'm called a frog," Willow said. "I'm afraid of the slimy amphibians. Blech."
"Hey Dave," Tristan greeted the student behind the snack bar counter. "The usual."
"Hi Dave," Willow said cheerfully.
"Howdy, Will," Dave replied, adjusting his glasses nervously. The short, stocky brunette gave
her a shy smile, then turned to prepare the gang's food.
"You know what we can do tomorrow?" Shay Lin said as they took their usual table in the mostly
empty snack bar. The official name of the friends' hangout was the Halas Union Bistro and it was
one of the least popular places to gather on campus. Which made it perfect.
"What Shay?" Jason asked.
"Fountain run," Shay Lin replied. She turned to Willow. "You brought your swimsuit, right?"
"I think so," Willow said.
"Fountain run!" Jason exclaimed, banging on the table like it was a set of drums.
Willow looked at Tristan for explanation. "Basically, we run around like idiots between Carver
Fountain, McCaby Fountain and the pond," he told her. "The only purpose is to get wet in this
"That sounds fun," Willow said, grinning enthusiastically.
"Food's up," Dave called to them.
"It's my turn," Jason groaned, standing to retrieve and pay for their food.
Rafael and Martin entered as Jason returned to the table, yelling out their orders to Dave. They
took the last two seats at the table. "What are we speaking about?" Rafael asked.
"Fountain run," Tristan answered, eating a french fry. "Tomorrow."
"I will be there," Rafael said.
"Don't wear your Speedos this time, Rafe," Jason said.
"A girl almost drowned in her own drool because of him," Shay Lin whispered to Willow.
"I could see that happening," Willow replied quietly. The two giggled.
"The ladies, however," Jason continued with a leer. "Feel free to wear as little as possible."
Willow blushed and Shay Lin laughed. "I bet Martin is going to want to count my bugs again,"
Shay Lin said.
"Have you gotten more?" Martin asked, a mathematical gleam in his eyes.
"You'll have to count and find out for yourself," she replied with a wink.
"I bet you look gorgeous in a swimsuit," Tristan whispered to Willow at the same time.
The redhead's blush grew deeper and she pushed her fries around the basket. She lifter her head
and gave him a nervous smile. Then her mouth slowly dropped open as someone standing near
the doors caught her eye. Black Doc Martins. Black jeans. Black t-shirt. Leather duster.
Cheekbones. Piercing blue eyes. Scar. Peroxide-blond hair. Attitude she could feel from where
she was sitting.
"Will, what's wrong?" Tristan asked, concern lacing his voice. He and the others were looking
back and forth between the redhead and the newcomer.
Rising from her chair, she walked slowly across the small room until she was two feet away.
Eyes-wide, she whispered questioningly, "Spike?"
"In the undead flesh, pet," Spike said, sardonic smirk curling his lips up.
Willow let out a loud squeal and launched herself at him. She wrapped her arms around his waist
under his duster and hugged him tightly. "Oh goddess, you're here! It's so good to feel you!"
Spike hugged her back lightly. "It's good to feel you, too, kitten."
Willow released him and took a step back with an embarrassed blush. "I meant see."
Spike smirked, his eyes dropping to focus on the area covered with a short-sleeve t-shirt with a
cartoon cat on it. "I didn't."
She frowned and crossed her arms over her chest, wary from his actions. He seemed standoffish,
reminiscent of their pre-friendship days. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
He shrugged. "I was in the neighborhood. Thought I'd stop."
"Hey Will! Fries are getting eaten!" Martin called.
"Will you...are you going to stay awhile?" Willow asked timidly.
"Doubt it," Spike replied, glancing past her with a bored expression on his face.
"Oh," she said, disappointed.
"Well, can't say it's been fun," he said, returning his gaze to her. His eyes were very cold and
uncaring. "I have places to go, people to kill, drained bodies to leave on the street."
"You're feeding from humans again?" Willow asked, unbelievingly. "But I thought you'd
"Things change," Spike said with another shrug. "If you'd rang me back, you would've known
"Rang you back?" she said, confusion in her voice.
Spike sighed heavily. "That telephone thing, where you call a bloke back when he rings you and
leaves a bloody message."
He growled. "Are you daft? I left friggin' messages on your bleedin' machine and with that
roommate of yours all week. But I gather I'm not important enough to warrant common
He spun and went to storm out of the snack bar, but Willow was too fast. Using her magick, she
slammed the doors shut in front of his nose. He turned and glared at her, his nostrils flaring in
anger. "Open the doors, pet," he ground out.
"No," Willow replied, stalking to him, her own temper growing.
Spike narrowed his eyes. "No?"
"Guess you don't need to get your hearing checked," she mocked.
"Watch it, luv," he warned.
"No, you watch it," she said. She poked him in the chest. "I don't know what your problem is,
but you'd better end the Mister Big Bad Vampire attitude before I get really mad."
"I have the attitude?" Spike said incredulously. "You're the one who can't even take the bloody
time to call me back."
"I never knew you called!" Willow exclaimed.
"Is everything ok, Will?" Tristan asked, coming up behind her.
Willow turned and saw her friends watching with interest and Tristan's glare at Spike. "I'm fine,"
she reassured him. "We'll be right over. Don't let Martin eat all my fries."
Tristan dropped his eyes to her and studied her for a moment, then nodded and returned to the
table. Willow faced Spike again and saw he was staring intently at Tristan's retreating back.
"Spike, I would have called you back if I had known you'd called."
Spike looked down at her, frowning. "Who's that?"
"Tris?" Willow said. "He's a friend."
"You probably call him back," the vampire muttered.
"I don't have to, he lives next door," she said. "And I told you I would have called you back if I
knew you called to begin with. I planned on calling you Sunday afternoon so we could have a
bunch of time and I didn't have to worry about being distracted. But now that you're here, I
don't have to call. Unless you're not staying. If you're not, then I'll call."
"I don't know yet," Spike told her. "Can I be honest with you?"
"If you ever ask me that again, I'll turn you into the first vampire newt ever," Willow said.
He gave her a lopsided grin. "Sorry, kitten. Dumb question." He held out his hand. "Walk with
"I'd love to," she replied. She looked over her shoulder and called, "Be back soon, guys." Then
she took Spike's hands and they went through the doors she'd released.
The music from the dance drifted down to them from the first floor as they headed up the stairs.
Once outside, Spike led Willow away from the Student Union building, quietly walking beside
her, holding her hand. "I missed you," he finally said.
"I missed you, too," Willow told him immediately. "I wear your hat every day. Some of the
baseball players in my classes are jealous."
"Hopefully it won't disintegrate on you," Spike said. "I got it in 1958."
"Wow," she said. "Oh wow. I don't know if I should keep wearing it, then. It should be in a
"No, wear it," he said quickly. "I'll dig up another one from somewhere in my car and donate it
"Spike, what's wrong?" Willow asked, not wanting to wait any longer for him to explain his
He was silent for a few moments, then started to speak quietly. "I'm going to sound like a bloody
nancyboy when I say this, but you weren't there when I called and I wanted to hear your voice,"
he confessed slowly. "I wanted to tell you about the Slayers and how I think they've been
following me around, I wanted to ask you how to purchase one of those computers like you have
and right now I want to stop whining like a wanker, so I'll shut up."
"Oh Spike, I'm sorry," she said, stopping their walk in order to hug him. "I made some new
friends that I've been busy getting to know better and I've neglected you in the process. I'm a
bad person. I'm evil. Like you. Before you were not-so-evil to me. But I'm bad."
"It's ok, luv," Spike said, hugging her back. "I think the older I get, the more I'm like my idiot
sire. I've started to brood and everything. It's friggin' awful."
"Like father, like childe," Willow teased, looking up at him with a grin.
"Promise me you'll turn me into the first vampire newt if I ever become him," Spike begged.
"I promise." She impulsively went up on her toes and kissed him on the lips. "I really did miss
you," she whispered, blushing at her forwardness.
"Cor, Willow, I missed you, too," he replied. "So bloody much."
"Stay?" Willow asked.
"I already got a room at that place we stayed during the nerdology convention," he told her
Willow laughed as she stepped away from him, then she took his hand again. "Come on, I want
to introduce you to everyone. I know Shay's been dying to meet you."
"Um, kitten, that's not something you should say to a vampire," Spike told her with a smile.
"No munching on my friends allowed," she told him firmly. "Or newt-vamp you will be."