Higher Learning


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

LXV & LXVI | LXVII thru LXXII



Higher Learning LXII - Having a Cuppa



Spike kissed her. "I love you! I love you! I love you!"

"Spike, it's only a television," Joyce said, laughing lightly at his actions. She shook her head in a motherly fashion. "Now, if only my daughter would greet me that way..."

The blond vampire grinned at her. "Joyce, your daughter is a-"

"Spike," she warned.

"-Wonderful girl," Spike finished with a wink.

"That's right, she is," Joyce said. She gestured to the back of her forerunner, which was backed up to the open garage door. "I hope I got one that you wanted. I asked the salesman, and he said as long as you have all the receipts, you can bring it back."

Spike followed her over to the back of the automobile and hefted the brand new, boxed television out of the trunk. "This'll be lovely, Joyce," he told her. He started back towards the door to the house. "Would you like to come in for a cuppa?"

"I'd love one," Joyce replied, shutting the trunk and following him inside. "As long as I get the grand tour."

"I think that can be arranged," he said.

Joyce closed the door behind her and set her purse down on the kitchen table, glancing at the neatly stacked workbooks and papers sitting side-by-side on the otherwise pristine surface. Two pencils were lined up perfectly beneath them. She headed in the direction Spike had gone with the television, entering the foyer and then the living room, looking over everything with a curious eye as she went from room to room.

"Do you have a cleaning service?" she asked, noting the supreme neatness of the home.

"No," Spike answered. He set the television box in front of the entertainment center. He'd already put the old, broken television in the garage to be taken out with the trash. "And before you ask -- yes, I'm a bloody neatnick."

Joyce smiled. "There's nothing wrong with that. I only wish my house looked half as good as this."

Spike straightened and turned to her. "Now, how 'bout that tour?" he said, then gestured to the room he was in. "This is the living room."

The Slayer's mother took in the soft beige carpeting, the pale blue walls, the boarded-over picture window behind a plush, light brown couch with a colorful throw across the back, flanked on either end by chestnut end-tables with a lamp adorning each. A matching chestnut coffee table sat in front of the couch and across the room rested a large, filled entertainment center, the only empty spot being where the new television was going to be. A neat stack of magazines sat on the coffee table, a precisely placed pad of paper and pen sat on one of the end tables, and a pretty, deep blue vase held a few violets rested on the other end table, which Joyce recognized as coming from the violet garden lining the front of the ranch house.

Then she looked up. "What happened to your ceiling?"

Spike raised his gaze to the hooks, strong bolts and two-inch rope holes that littered his living room ceiling. "Your daughter's what happened," he grumbled. "She and that bit- er, brunette Slayer stuck all my furniture on the ceiling the other night."

Joyce smothered a smile. "And why did Buffy and Faith do something like that?"

"Because they're mean," the blond vampire hedged.

"Spike."

"Fine. It's because I went and stole all of the Slayer's clothes and made those two twits embarrass themselves to get her stuff back," Spike told her.

"So you're the one who did that," Joyce said. "It's a good thing Buffy didn't go through with all the gruesome things she ranted about for three solid hours, or I'd be attending your funeral."

Spike shook his head and sighed. "These kids today..." He looked over at her and grinned rakishly, then gestured towards the foyer. "Shall we?"

The tour ended back in the cheery kitchen a short time later. Spike put two mugs of water in the microwave as Joyce made herself comfortable at the kitchen table. He was feeling very domesticated, which would normally make him wince, but after his childish tantrum earlier that day -- and the fact that Joyce had gone out and bought him a new television -- he was happy for the company.

Plus, the longer she stayed, the longer he could put off studying.

"So, how long have you been here?" Joyce asked.

"Since April," he replied, moving to the pantry to take out a box of cookies.

"And why didn't you tell me you were living here again?"

He gave her a sheepish look over his shoulder. "Sorry, luv. I didn't want your daughter knowing I was back in Sunnyhell."

"I haven't told her that we've spoken on the phone numerous times," Joyce pointed out.

"True," Spike agreed. "But I rang you at work, not home."

"And you'd go on and on about this lovely 'friend' you never named the few times you called over the summer," Joyce said.

Spike was thankful the microwave beeped. He busied himself with making the tea so he wouldn't have to face her. "Well...er...that is..."

"I knew you had a crush," she said. "I just hadn't realized it was on Willow."

The blond vampire scowled at her as he handed her the cup of tea. "I don't have a crush on Willow."

"Mm-hmm." Joyce took a sip of the hot brew, giving him a motherly 'if you say so, dear' look over the rim of her mug.

"I don't," Spike insisted, taking the seat across from her. "She's my friend, my closest one at that, but only a friend."

"Spike, don't deny it. Willow is special to you," she said.

"I'm not." He frowned down at his tea. "She's the best thing that's come into my unlife since..."

"Since Drusilla," Joyce finished.

"Yeah," he agreed sadly. "Since Dru."

Joyce reached over and put her hand on his wrist, squeezing gently. "It's been nine months, Spike, since you called and told me you two broke up. It's okay to move on if you want to. Although I do think Willow's a little young for you."

"By about a century or so." Spike raised his head and gave her a half-smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Doesn't matter, though, ducks. Kitten and I are just friends, no more, no less."

"Well, as long as you're happy, that's all that really matters," Joyce said.

"How someone as lovely as you ended up with an obnoxious twit of a daughter is bloody unfathomable," Spike said.

Joyce's eyes sparkled as she picked up a cookie. "She takes after her father."

Spike laughed and the two settled into a pleasant conversation that lasted the remainder of the afternoon.




Higher Learning LXIII - Dinner With Her Parents

Willow wondered if gouging her eyes out with her fork would hurt. She was extremely tempted to find out. She loved her parents dearly, but being subjugated to dinner with them was a torture equal to that which Spike could devise.

"We just want you to be prepared," Sheila Rosenberg told her daughter. "You are an adult now in the eyes of the law, and with becoming an adult comes responsibility."

"She's still too young to be having sexual relations of any kind," Ira Rosenberg grumbled, stabbing a piece of fish with his fork.

"Now Ira," Sheila said pacifistically. "We've raised Willow to be a mature, productive and responsible member of society. I'm certain she will not take the decision to engage in intercourse lightly." She looked at Willow. "Isn't that right dear?"

"Right," Willow agreed. She smiled tightly and refrained from telling her parents that she'd already slept with all the men who's last name started with the letter 'A' and was currently working on the 'B.' It would be a major lie, considering she was still a member of the virgin brigade, but it may actually get them to stop lecturing. Of course, with her luck, the lecture would change from safe sex to the horrors of venereal disease complete with detailed symptoms guaranteed to make her throw up her fish dinner all over the dining room table.

"Now, do you have a current suitor?" Sheila asked.

"Well, I have a date on Sunday," Willow admitted, a real smile crossing her lips.

"I trust it's not late on Sunday," Ira said. "You have classes on Monday. School is more important than boys."

"Men, dear," Sheila corrected.

"Don't remind me," Ira told her grumpily.

"It's not late," Willow reassured her father. "Tris and I are only going to see a movie on the campus' big screen."

"Tell us about this young man," Sheila prompted. "His name is Tris?"

"Tristan Montgomery," Willow said. She knew the information her mother wanted and recited the facts in a precise order. "He's 21 and a junior majoring in architecture with a high GPA. He's from Eureka, and his parents are still married. This is our first date and I'm really looking forward to it."

"He sounds nice, Willow," Sheila said.

"Architecture, hmm?" Ira grunted. "Drawing is not a lucrative profession."

"It's a highly specialized area, Dad," Willow said, defending Tristan's choice of major. "It takes five years of schooling to receive a degree in architecture and you have to take a three-day exam to get licensed."

"Ignore your father, dear," Sheila told Willow. "He could find fault with the founder of Habitat for Humanity." She cut another piece of her dinner. "Now, do you have plans for this weekend? You know Ira and I are going to a convention in San Francisco early tomorrow morning and are staying overnight."

"I know," Willow said, feeling guilty at the quick wish that they had left today instead of tomorrow morning. "I'm just going to visit with friends-"

"Not that Bunny girl." Sheila tisked. "She's not a very good influence."

"Yes, I'm going to see Buffy. And Faith and Xander and Giles and Spike and we're going to have an orgy with lots of drugs and alcohol," Willow stated blithely. "Then I'm going to do my laundry."

"Well, you are an adult now," Sheila said. "Your friends are your own to choose. Just remember that the company you keep reflects on you personally and professionally." She paused. "Did you say you were going to do laundry?"

Willow rolled her eyes and her Mom's selective hearing. "Yes, I'm going to do laundry."

"Be sure to use the Energy Saver if you're going to do multiple loads," Sheila told her.

"Yes, Mom."

"You would not believe how expensive it is for something as simple as doing a load of washing..."

Willow wondered if it wasn't too late to purposely choke to death on a fish bone.




Higher Learning LXIV - Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

"Yo, Red, what up?" Faith asked cheerfully as Willow joined the table at the Bronze.

"Is it still illegal to kill your parents?" Willow asked in reply.

Buffy laughed. "I take it you got the sex lecture again."

"Yep," Willow said. "Ever since I turned 18 it's been family dinner, lecture on-on...that."

"Come on, girlfriend, you can say it," Faith said. She slowly sounded out the word. "Ssssss-ex."

Willow blushed. "Faith."

"Sssss-ex," Faith repeated. "Sssss-ex." Buffy joined in. "Sssss-ex."

"Fine!" Willow exclaimed. "Sex! Sex! Sex! Sex! Sex! You happy now?"

"Depends on if that's an offer or not," Xander said from behind her.

Willow squeaked and buried her bright red face in her hands as Faith and Buffy burst out laughing. "I hate you both," she whined loudly.

"So, who's having sex and how can I get some?" Xander asked, pulling up a seat.

"No one!" Willow exclaimed.

"I can't have sex," Buffy said. "If I do, Angel will try and kill us all again."

"That does sort of put a damper on the orgasmic festivities," Xander said.

"Guys-" Willow pleaded, glancing around the filled to capacity Bronze in embarrassment.

"I'd love to get me a little unh!" Faith grunted. "Sex-u-al feeling."

"Isn't that a song?" Buffy asked. "Sexual feeling? I think I heard it on one of Mom's radio stations."

"'I want your sex,'" Xander warbled. "'I want your lo-o-o-ove.'"

"That's Mr. Whackin'-in-the-john George Michael," Faith said.

"I think it goes 'I want to get some of that sexual feeling,'" Buffy crooned in a breathy, fake Marilyn Monroe voice.

"Will you guys please stop?" Willow begged.

"How 'bout this one?" Faith stood and started to dance dirty beside her chair. "'Let's talk about sex, bay-bee. Let's talk about you and me. Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let's talk about sex. Unh!'"

"Hey baby," Xander said to Faith in a horrid accent. "How 'bout chew an' me go in the back of mah motor and you kin gimme some-a dat wahild thang?"

"I was always partial to that song called 'Rub Me,'" Buffy said. "You know, 'come on and stroke and rub me the right way.'" She wiggled her brows. "Angel sure does."

Faith chortled. "So you and sexy-vamp do that whole touchy-feely-bitey-"

"But no sex-y thing? Yeah," Buffy replied. "It...well, he," she grinned wolfishy, "sucks."

Xander shuddered. "Now that's something I never wanted to know about you and Goldenfang, Buffster."

"Jealous?" Buffy asked sweetly.

"Yup." Xander nodded. "I want me a huge beefstud like Angel to call my very own."

"I didn't know you swung that way, Xand," Faith said.

"I'd swing any way if it got me sex," Xander said with a grin.

"Will you guys stop talking about sex!?" Willow exclaimed loudly...

...At the exact same moment the music stopped.

All eyes turned to stare at the redhead, who shrunk down on her stool, her face matching her hair. "I hate all three of you," she muttered.

Buffy, Faith and Xander just gave her innocent smiles.



Higher Learning LXV - Tennis Match



"So, Wills, what are you doing tomorrow?" Buffy asked, glancing around the Bronze in a casual baddie check. She caught Xander pretending to stake himself as he waited in line at the bar for drinks.

"I'm going over to Spike's at ten and, after his test, we'll probably spend the day together," Willow replied.

"And night?" Faith said, waggling her brows. "In bed?"

Willow blushed. "Faith, Spike and I... we don't... we're just friends."

"Friends fuck friends," Faith said with a wicked grin.

Willow began to sputter.

"Faith, we don't want Willow to have sex with Spike," Buffy said. "That's just... blech."

"Blech?" Willow looked affronted. "Me having sex... see, I can say it... me having sex is blech?"

"No!" Buffy replied quickly. "You having sex is not blech. You having sex is fine. You having sex with Spike is blech."

"Why is me having sex with Spike blech?" Willow said. "He's nice and fun and sexy-"

"And a vampire," Buffy interrupted.

"You've had sex with a vampire," Willow said. "Does that make Angel blech?"

Faith grinned as she looked at Buffy. This was like a tennis match, she thought.

"It's different with Angel."

Serve.

"He's still a vampire."

Return.

"But he has a soul."

Stroke.

"Which he loses and turns into a homicidal maniac if he does have sex!"

Slam.

"And Spike is always a homicidal maniac!"

Save.

"But at least I know he won't try and kill me after we have sex."

Point.

"No, he'll probably kill you before you get that far."

Set.

"Well, we'll just see about that!" Willow jumped to her feet, her red hair flying around her, as she stormed away from the table.

Match.




Higher Learning LXVI - Vacuum Lines



Spike knelt down on the floor, bent forward and laid his cheek on the carpeting. Closing one eye, he looked down the beige track the vacuum cleaner had made.

Then, he stood, started up the runner, and went over the carpet again.

He could practically hear Aaron's raucous laughter and comments about the size of the pole up his arse. Well, bugger him. Unstraight vacuum lines got on his nerves.

Besides he needed the break. He spent twenty-one-point-five minutes straight studying the last time around. His goal after he vacuumed was to reach a full twenty-two.

There was no way in hell he was failing his test.

Not after the dream he'd had.

Joyce had left shortly before the sun had set to prepare dinner for Buffy and Faith. After Spike had done the dishes and cleaned off the table, he'd decided to catch a few z's because he knew he'd be up all night not studying for his level two reading exam.

Falling to sleep had been no problem for him for once. Of course, if he'd known he was going to dream, he might of stopped sleeping altogether.

Spike started vacuuming extra hard as the wisps of his dream came back to him. Willow's laughter drifted through his mind first, followed by the image of her vibrant red hair trailing down his chest. His muscles tensed as he felt the phantom woman's lips brushing over his bare skin, moving lower and lower. In his dream, her little hand then had wrapped around him and he could feel her hot breath, making him arch his hips towards the warm, wet cavern he wanted so badly to feel.

Then, she had looked at him, smiled and said, "You failed," before she'd released him and flounced out of the bedroom.

He'd woken up yelling her name in disbelief and raw need with a hard-on that could've punched holes through brick.

Spike began to viciously swear as his foot became tangled in the vacuum cord because of his memories of the dream. He shut off the runner at the same time the doorbell pealed. He shook his leg, trying to unwrap the cord as he hobbled towards the front door. All he succeeded in doing was unplugging it and winding the black cord more tightly around his ankle.

"Damn it, get off my leg, you bloody stupid cord!" Spike growled. The bell rang again, increasing his annoyance tenfold. He grabbed the doorhandle, twisted and yanked the door open. "Will you quit ri-"

One hundred ten pounds of red-headed witch came flying at him, cutting him off mid-word. He staggered back on impact, the cord tripping him up, and the two of them crashed to the foyer floor.

Spike's arms went automatically around her, trying to cushion the fall with his body. He hit the floor with a grunt, Willow flat on top of him.

"You okay, kitten?" he asked immediately.

Willow dropped her knees to either side of him and put her hands flat on the floor by his head to push her self up slightly. He saw her eyes flashing with angry green and silver specks, and he briefly wondered if he'd made her mad.

"I'll show her blech!" Willow exclaimed, confusing the hell out of him.

"You'll do wha-"

Spike's questions was abruptly interrupted by Willow's tongue plunging into his open mouth.




Higher Learning LXVII - She Thought, He Thought



**Oh my goddess,** Willow thought. **I'm kissing Spike! I'm kissing him! That's my tongue in his mouth! Oh my goddess! I can't believe I'm doing this! And he's kissing me back! That's his tongue brushing against mine and making my toes tingle. I have tingly toes. And tingly lips. I wonder if his lips are all tingly? They're nice and firm and pressed against mine, but are they tingly? What if it's one-way tingliness?

**Oh wow, can he kiss good. He gets an A-plus in kissing. I wonder if I'll be able to grade his test fairly tomorrow? Does kissing count as bribing the teacher? Boy, I bet he could teach me a few thing about kissing and stuff. He's only had a couple hundred years of practice. Gosh, I wonder how many girls he's kissed? Or boys, cause he's a vampire and they do that sort of cross-kissing. I know he's kissed Angel. Ooh, naughty image there. Bad, Willow. Bad, bad, baaaaaad, Willow. Angel, Buffy, not Angel, Spike. Oh, but to see all that yummy naked vampire goodness. Angel, naked. Spike, naked. Oh boy, I'm going to pass out now. Yep, I'm going to keel over into unconsciousness, right in the middle of kissing Spike.

**Oh goddess, I'm kissing Spike! I'm kissing Spike and imagining him naked! This is Spike! My friend -- my best friend -- not the man I'm supposed to be playing smoochie with or picturing naked. This is all Buffy's fault. Evil Slayer woman. Make me come over here because she said me having sex with Spike is blech. Me and Spike having sex is not blech. Me and Spike having sex...

**Oh my goddess! What am I doing?! What am I thinking?! Me and Spike and sex should not be put together in a sentence! He doesn't think of me in sex-like ways. He thinks of me in the best friend way, and here I am, kissing him like a... like a floozy! He's probably only kissing me back to save me from embarrassment. Oh goddess, he's pity kissing me! This is not good. I am so embarrassed. How am I going to face him after this? This is bad. This is very, very bad.**

**Sweet mercy,** Spike thought. Then he stopped thinking altogether.






Higher Learning LXVIII - Panic



Willow felt her face flaming as she pulled herself away from Spike. She didn't dare look at him as she scrambled off his body and to her feet. She couldn't believe she just embarrassed herself by kissing him like that. She couldn't believe she literally threw herself at him and kissed him like a hussy or a... a... tart! **I really needed to stop watching old movies with the gang at school.**

"I'm sorry... it's all Buffy's fault... I'm going now... see you tomorrow -- oh goddess, tomorrow!... um, going now... bye," Willow babbled rapidly. Then, she turned and ran out the open front door.

"Willow!" Spike exclaimed, trying to get to his feet as the redhead disappeared into the night. The cord still wrapped around his leg, however, had other ideas. He managed to get two steps before he fell, face first, back to the floor. He grunted as a certain very hard portion of his anatomy was squashed under him.

He turned over, sat up and started to unwind the cord from his leg. "Bloody... damn... cord," Spike growled between his tightly clenched teeth. When he finally was free, he jumped to his feet and was out the door in seconds, barely remembering to yank it shut behind him.

Spike would have sworn that he'd catch up with Willow, but as he turned down her street, he had yet to see her. His sock-clad feet pounded minimally on the pavement and then across the grass as he ran up to her balcony doors. There was no light on in her room, but that didn't mean she wasn't in there.

"Willow," Spike tapped on the glass of the French doors. "Let me in."

There was no answer.

He grabbed the handle and wasn't too surprised to find it unlocked. She'd once told him that she always kept the doors unlocked because she was constantly coming in and out at all hours of the night while helping to save the world. He'd told her it wasn't safe, but then she'd reminded him that there was no real criminals in Sunnydale because they got eaten if they were out trying to burgularize at night.

"Kitten?" he called quietly as he stuck his head into the room. She wasn't there and, from the open bag on her bed, she hadn't been there since she'd gotten home from school.

Panic immediately ran through him. He should have been able to catch up with her and he hadn't, and she wasn't home. What if she'd been attacked? What if she was lying somewhere, dead? What if it was a vampire? What if she was in the middle of being turned right now and the next time he saw her, she'd be like him?

"No," Spike growled, turning and running even faster back the way he'd come, his yellow eyes searching the darkened streets. He didn't want his Willow to become a vampire. He liked her all warm and caring and soul-having. He liked her awkwardness and innocence and sweetness and pure Willowness. He was a great, big poof, just like his bloody Sire, when it came to her... and that was perfectly fine with him.

**Buffy!** Spike thought, almost skidding across the pavement in his haste to change directions. There was no doubt in his mind that the Slayer would aid him, enemies or not. And if she wasn't home, Joyce would help him find the little twat so she could help him find his Willow.

It took him less than five minutes running at full speed for him to be at the Summers' house. He hopped over the back railing and banged on the kitchen door, startling Joyce, who he could see through the window. He tried the handle, but the door was locked. "Joyce, let me in!"

Joyce quickly walked to the door and opened it. "Spike, what's wrong?"

"Is the Slayer here? I need her right now. Willow ran off and I think she got attacked because I didn't catch up with her and she wasn't at home and I don't want her to be a soddin' vampire, I want her to stay Willowy, but if I don't find her, she won't stay like that, and I need the bloody Slayer's help to find my kitten-"

"Spike, stop," Joyce interrupted the game-faced vampire's fast-paced speech. "You're not making any sense. Take a deep breath and tell me what you need -- slowly."

"I need the Slayer," Spike repeated, his voice tight with panic. "I need her to help me find Willow."

"Willow's here," Joyce said. "She arrived just a few minutes ago. They're up in Buffy's room if you want to go-"

Spike dashed past her into the house.

"-up and see them," Joyce finished. She shook her head and shut the door. "I will never understand vampires."






Higher Learning LXIX - Beyond A Closed Door



Spike was about to shove open the Slayer's closed bedroom door when he heard his Willow's sweet voice. He literally slumped in relief, his yellow eyes falling shut as his hand fell from the doorknob. He leaned forward slightly, resting his ridged forehead against the wood door, and just listened to her agitated speaking as he tried to bring himself back under control.

"Willow-"

"Don't you 'Willow' me, Buffy!" Spike heard Willow say through the door. "It's your fault that I kissed him! And don't think I don't hear you laughing, Faith."

"Sorry, Red," Faith answered, amusement heavy in her voice as it also drifted through the closed door to Spike. "But it is pretty laugh-worthy."

"No, it's not!" Willow exclaimed. "I kissed Spike! That's just...just...just bad! As is not good... and wrong... and very, very bad!"

Spike was stunned. Willow's quite unexpected kiss had been a shock, but he didn't think it had been a bad thing. Hell, his body had stood up, applauded enthusiastically and had wanted an encore that involved much more kissing and a lot less clothing.

"Didn't you enjoy it?" Faith asked with skepticism.

"No, I didn't enjoy it! I'm embarrassed beyond belief!" Willow replied. "How am I going to face him tomorrow morning, huh? How am I going to look him in the eye and tell him that I kissed him because I was mad, not because I wanted to kiss him?"

A knot formed in Spike's throat as he pushed himself away from Buffy's bedroom door. He made his way rapidly back up the hall and down the stairs, wondering if the unbelievable pain squeezing his heart would kill him before he was able to leave the Summers' house.

"Is everything okay, Spike?" Joyce asked from the living room.

"Yeah," Spike replied, forcing himself to respond. "Everything's peachy."

"Well, don't be a stranger," Joyce told him as she came into the foyer.

Spike shook his head as he pulled open the front door, being careful not to look at her. "I won't. Night, Joyce."

"Goodnight, Spike," Joyce said.

The blond vampire quickly left the house before Joyce noticed the pain etched across his human features. He wasn't up for hot chocolate and sharing. He didn't know what he'd tell Joyce, anyway. Sure, he liked Willow a lot, but that didn't explain his feelings of heartache over what he'd heard.

"Oh, bloody hell, I'm getting soft," Spike grumbled to himself. "Running after a silly little mortal -- in my stocking feet, for chrissakes -- all because she kissed me, then took off. It wasn't that good of a soddin' kiss anyway. She didn't enjoy it, and I definitely didn't enjoy it. My days are not going to be filled tossin' off to the memories of her body on top of me and how perfectly she straddled me, or the feel of her tongue in my mouth, rubbin' against mine and makin' my toes tingle, or how she tasted like chocolate and mocha and that cinnamon toothpaste she uses, or how frickin' good she smelled..."








Higher Learning LXX - Behind A Closed Door II



"Willow-"

"Don't you 'Willow' me, Buffy!" Willow aimed an angry finger at the blond Slayer sitting on the bed. "It's your fault that I kissed him!" She whirled and glared at the brunette sitting at the desk. "And don't think I don't hear you laughing, Faith."

"Sorry, Red," Faith said, a huge grin on her face. "But it is pretty laugh-worthy."

"No, it's not!" Willow exclaimed. "I kissed Spike! That's just...just...just bad! As is not good... and wrong... and very, very bad!"

"Didn't you enjoy it?" Faith asked with skepticism.

"No, I didn't enjoy it! I'm embarrassed beyond belief!" Willow replied. She began to pace back and forth in front of Buffy's bed. "How am I going to face him tomorrow morning, huh? How am I going to look him in the eye and tell him that I kissed him because I was mad, not because I wanted to kiss him?"

"Willow, don't worry," Buffy said. "Tell him it was a bet or a dare or something. It's just Spike."

"But I was having naughty naked thoughts about him while we were kissing!"

Buffy's and Faith's mouths dropped open.

"Hot diggity damn!" Faith recovered first, slapping her leg. "Shy little Red wants to have wild monkey sex with the peroxide stud-vampire."

Willow turned beet red for the millionth time that night. "Yes! I mean, no!"

Faith laughed loudly. "Nice slip of the tongue, Red."

The redhead sank to the floor and covered her face with her hands. "What am I going to do? Spike is my friend and I was having thoughts I shouldn't be having about a friend. That's like having naked thoughts about Xander."

Buffy grimaced and Faith's mouth curved up in a sly smile. "Are we talking the full on monty naked here?" the brunette Slayer asked.

"Faith!" Buffy exclaimed. "Eew!"

Faith shrugged and refocused on the hacker. "So, Willow, babe, you gonna find out if that hunk of white chocolate male looks as good naked in the flesh, so to say, as in your head?"

"You know, I thought of yummy white chocolate, too, when I was kissing him," Willow said conversationally as she raised her head. Then, her eyes widened as she realized what she'd just said and made sounds of panic.

"Calm down, Willow," Buffy said, moving to the floor to sit beside her friend. "It's not that horrible. Okay, Spike, big ick factor on the whole smoochie thing you did with him, but that's my Slayer opinion, not my girly opinion."

"What's your girly opinion?" Willow asked.

"Oh, come on, have you seen that vampire with his shirt off?" Buffy said. "I'd have to be a eunuch not to think lusty about that man."

"But what about Angel?"

"You want Angel to think lusty thoughts about Spike?" Buffy asked, staring in shock at Willow.

Faith snorted.

"No!" Willow said. "Spike and Angel don't think about each other like that anymore... well, except for that one time when Spike was in a sharing mood and he had to adjust himself a couple times as he told me about..." She saw the look Buffy was giving her. "...Um, never mind."

Faith joined them on the floor, a wicked expression on her face. "You can tell me, Red. I want all the juicy slashy details. With diagrams if possible."

"Faith!" Buffy glared at her sister Slayer. "This is my boyfriend you're wanting to hear about."

"So?"

"So no!" Buffy said. "No thinking or talking or diagraming of Angel with anyone except me!"

"But Buffy can't boff the buff boy's big boner." Faith grinned. "Hee."

Willow burst into giggles, followed closely by Faith letting go with her raucous laughter. Buffy sputtered for several seconds before she gave in and joined her friends.

Finally, Faith brought them all back around to the conversation. "Okay, Red, truth time. What's the real deal? You didn't enjoy the kiss because you were embarrassed or you are embarrassed because you didn't enjoy the kiss?"

"Huh?" Buffy said. "That's the same question twice."

"No, it ain't," Faith said. She gestured to Willow. "Brainiac here knows what I asked."

"Yes, I get it, and it's the first one," Willow said. "Spike kisses really, really, really good, but I can't sit here in blissful enjoyment of the memory because I'm so totally embarrassed that I pounced on him like a... like a... like you, Faith."

"Thanks." Faith puffed up proudly.

Buffy rolled her eyes at Faith and turned to Willow. "I have a question. Would you do it again without the whole embarrassment thing?"

"Well, yeah," Willow said. "If he really wanted to kiss me, which he doesn't. Spike's made it way clear that he only thinks of me as a best friend and not a potential smoochie partner."

"Then you have no problem," Buffy said. "Go the 'it was a bet' route, you both get a laugh over it and move on."








Higher Learning LXXI - Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap...



"It was a bet."

Willow dropped her eyes to Spike's bare feet and bit her lower lip. She stood just inside the front door, having arrived at Spike's house at ten o'clock on the dot, Saturday morning, as planned. The first words out of her mouth had been what Buffy had told her to say instead of a normal greeting that almost all people used.

"A bet," Spike said without inflection.

"Uh, yeah," Willow said, keeping her eyes cast down. "A bet. That's what it was. Just a bet."

"Did you win?"

"W-win?" Willow nodded quickly. "Yes, I won."

"What?"

"What what?" Willow raised her head to look at him in confusion. The second she met his emotionless blue eyes, she wished she hadn't. He looked so...cold.

"What did you win?" Spike asked.

"What did I win? What do you mean... oh! The bet. Yeah, the bet," Willow said, wracking her brain. "I won... uh..." She glanced down and saw her bright blue fingernails with butterfly stickers on them, courtesy of Shay Lin's boredom on Thursday night. "A manicure! See?"

"Looks nice," Spike commented, glancing at the hand she waved under his nose. He turned and headed for the kitchen without another word.

Willow stared after him, puzzled by his behavior. She expected laughter or some ribbing at her expense, not the cold shoulder. She quickly went after him and found him sitting at the kitchen table, idly tapping a sharpened pencil on the spotless surface.

"Spike, is something wrong?" she asked as she set her backpack down on the table across from him.

"Why would there be?" Spike said.

"I don't know," Willow replied. "You're just acting all weird."

Spike shrugged and changed the rhythm of his tapping pencil.

Willow searched his face for some sign of what was going on, but it was as if he was wearing a blank mask. Dropping her eyes, she pressed her lips together as she began to take out the test things she'd brought. She began to wince each time the pencil hit the hard surface of the table.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...

"Stop it!" Willow exclaimed suddenly, her head jerking up. The pencil flew out of Spike's hand and impaled itself in the wood boarded over the kitchen window.

Spike arched his scarred brow at her, but said nothing.

Willow exploded. "What is wrong with you?! Is it because I kissed you? I said it was a bet! It didn't mean anything! You should be laughing at my embarrassment, not doing the whole stoic guy routine. Friends laugh at friends when they do something stupid. And we're friends, right?"

When Spike didn't answer her immediately, she felt as though someone punched her in the gut, knocking all the air out of her. She felt her lower lip start to tremble and she dropped her chin as her vision became blurred. "Oh. I'm sorry. I'll just..."

She didn't bother to finish her sentence as she picked up her backpack, uncaring that it was still open and its contents were spilling out. She headed out of the kitchen in as dignified of an exit as she could make it.






Higher Learning LXXII - Lost Chances



Spike watched as Willow left the kitchen, papers falling from her backpack, and he cursed. Why the hell was he acting like such a prick? She was giving him an easy way to continue their friendship without the awkwardness of a mistaken kiss hanging over their heads, and he was pushing her away. She didn't know that he'd overheard her telling the two Slayers that she thought kissing him was disgusting. She didn't know that her words had an effect on him he hadn't realized was possible, as well as cutting his male pride to ribbons.

And, if he didn't go after her that instant, he'd lose his best friend on top of the chance he'd already lost in furthering their relationship. A chance, until early that morning, he hadn't realized he'd wanted.

But that possibility had been quashed already, and he was about to drive Willow out of his unlife entirely if he didn't get off his butt and go after her. His plans for doing exactly that flew out the window at the bleak thought of never seeing her again.

"Willow, wait!" Spike called, bolting from his seat and tearing out of the kitchen. He caught her by the backpack just as she was going out the front door and into the sunlight. With a hard yank, she was pulled back into the safety of the house and right back into his arms.

"Spike!" Willow squeaked in surprise.

Spike wrapped his arms around her waist and held her tight against him, her back to his chest. "I'm sorry, kitten," he said. "I'm being a bloody pillock and cocking up the best part of my unlife."

He sighed and released her. "I'm stressed," he lied, taking a step back as she turned around. He gave her a half-smile. "I don't want you to be disappointed in me." That part, at least, was the truth.

"So, you're not upset over the... the two pairs of lips thing?" Willow asked, looking up at him with her slightly teary green eyes.

"No," Spike shook his head, "there's nothing to be upset about. It was a bet and I helped you win it, like chums are supposed to do, eh?"

"Like friends are supposed to do," Willow agreed. "And we're friends, right?"

"The best," Spike immediately replied.

The smile that lit up her face was like pouring acid on an open wound. Spike wondered how he was going to make it through the rest of the day, let alone the rest of her life being just friends with her. As he gestured for her to lead the way back to the kitchen, he mentally cursed himself for being so stupid and not just letting her go.

Joyce was wrong in saying he had a crush on Willow.

He didn't have a crush.

He was in love with her.



Continued