"Spike, you have to," Buffy said in exasperation. Spike sat on the bed, arms folded over his chest, glaring at her. "They won't let you leave."
"I don't care. I'm not getting into that bloody thing," Spike snarled.
Buffy sent an apologetic look to the woman standing in the room with them. "Traumatic experience several years ago." The woman nodded, clearly unperturbed by Spike's actions. "Spike, if you don't get in right now, I'll tell everyone exactly what happened."
"You wouldn't dare," he replied, staring at his fiancée with horror.
"Watch me," she said, narrowing her eyes.
"I'll have you know I'm doing this under extreme protest," Spike said, pushing off the bed and settling on the seat.
"The whole hospital knows you're doing it under extreme protest," Buffy replied. "And it's only a wheelchair."
"Only a wheelchair!" Spike was outraged. "I spent bloody months trapped in one of these because of you!"
Buffy gave the nurse pushing the chair a baneful look. "Are you sure you can't drug him?"
They arrived at the doors to Sunnydale Hospital, which swished open automatically to give Angel a perfect view of Spike cursing up a storm, white cast covering the bottom half of his right leg. With a snort, he opened the back door to the Summers' four by four.
"What's he doing here!" Spike bellowed, glaring at his sire.
"How the hell did you think we would get you home? Fly?" Buffy said, rolling her eyes at Angel.
"Why couldn't you drive?"
"Duh, no license, remember?" Buffy said. "And mom had to work and Giles' car finally passed away, so Angel volunteered."
"I hate you," Spike hissed at her as he maneuvered himself into the backseat, shrugging off Angel's help.
"You're the one who went and smashed your leg, not me," she told him before closing the door. She turned to Angel, her lips compressed in a tight frown. "Remind me to leave my stakes at home tomorrow."
"What happened?" Angel asked, accepting the crutches from the nurse.
"Don't you dare tell him, Slayer! You promised!" Spike yelled through the closed window.
Buffy rubbed her temples. "Let's just say Spike is not as coordinated as he thinks he is," she replied. "Come on, we'd better get him home so I can go to sleep. Classes start tomorrow night and I still have to buy our books, train with Giles, help mom with the new shipment and meet Willow for lunch. All before 6:00."
"Can we bloody go already?" Spike griped at them from in the car.
"Oh, yeah, and I have to find time to slay my fiancé," Buffy said, opening the passenger door. Spike started cursing again as his cast hit the back of the seat. "Tell me why I put up with him again?"
"Because now you can blackmail him with the story about what happened," Angel supplied helpfully.
She smiled brightly. "I'm liking the sound of that," she said, pulling the door closed. She looked over the seat with an evil smile. "Love you, Spike."
The blond vampire stared fearfully back at her, and was perfectly silent for the entire trip home.
"Bloody hell," Spike swore as he maneuvered into the kitchen on his crutches. He pulled out a chair and sat heavily down upon it, his broken leg stretched out in front of him. "I hate that girl."
With a grimace, he pulled the class schedule and books closer to him. Tonight they had their first class which met twice a week: Adolescent Practicum. *Whatever the hell that means,* Spike thought. The other two classes were Statistics and Experimental Psychology. He dropped the schedule on the table and thumbed through the textbooks, trying to wait patiently for Buffy to pick him up for class. He wasn't succeeding.
Growling to himself, he looked mournfully down at the cast covering his leg. The bone had been crushed into more than a dozen pieces, and would take awhile to heal, even for a vampire. He wouldn't even had bothered to get a cast if he hadn't collapsed on their way past the hospital back doors as the last fragment of bone holding him upright snapped.
He remembered Buffy looking at him with fearful eyes as he started to fall, and she quickly shouldered him with a startled screech, causing the orderlies unloading supplies to hurry over to them. Before he knew it, he was X-rayed, wrapped and cemented into the heavy cast on his leg.
Of course, if Buffy told anyone how he managed to break his leg, the cast would seem like a blessing compared to the embarrassment.
Spike heard the key in the door and stood, propping his crutches under his arms. "Hi, sweetie," Buffy greeted, entering the condo. "All set? Mom's waiting in the car."
"Do I need to bring anything?" he asked, trying to sound pleasant.
"Just your cute crippled self," she replied with a grin. "I have paper and pens for the both of us."
He hobbled out the door, grateful that he lived on the ground floor, and towards the car. "Tell me why I love you again?" he said, as she opened the back seat door for him. Buffy rolled her eyes. "Hello, Joyce."
"Hello, Spike. How are you doing?" Joyce asked as he daughter shut the car door and hurried around to the passenger side.
"Other than this bleedin' cast, I'm quite the jolly vampire," Spike replied.
"Buffy said you broke your leg at the cemetery," Joyce said, pulling out into the street towards the college. "But she wouldn't tell me how."
"I fell," he answered, staring out the window. The Slayer bit the inside of her cheek to keep from saying anything or laughing.
"Did it happen while you were slaying?" Joyce asked.
Buffy couldn't help the giggle that escaped. Spike glared at her. "It happened on patrol, yes," he said, sticking close to the truth. Luckily, they pulled up to the building the class was located before he had to say anything more. "Thanks for the lift."
"You're welcome," Joyce said. "I'll see you two after class."
"Bye, mom," Buffy said. She waved as her mom drove off, then looked at her injured fiancé and laughed.
"Shut. Up." Spike growled at her, moving as rapidly as he could on the crutches. She chuckled and ran ahead of him to open the door.
"Cheer up, Spike. You only have to wear the cast for a month at most," she pointed out with a grin.
"I hate you," he spat back as they made their way down the hall.
"Hey, I wasn't the one who climbed up there," she pointed out.
"Not another bloody word, Slayer," he warned, his voice low and deadly.
Buffy pressed her lips together so as not to laugh and followed him into the double wide classroom. There were others scattered about the room, some students, some teens, all waiting to begin. After Spike had settled himself in a chair, she gave him some paper and a pen, both of which he put to use immediately, scribbling morbid doodles on the paper.
"Hello, all," a young, dark haired man said at the sound of the bell, shutting the door behind him. "My name is Jason and I'll be the supervisor for this term. I see several familiar faces among the group, so what I have to say will seem repetitious."
Jason opened his mouth to continue when the door to the classroom opened. "I believe he's suppose to be in here," the security guard said, ushering in a teen.
"Ah, yes, Billy, how nice of you to join us," Jason said, nodding to the security guard.
"Whatever," Billy said, practically stalking across the room and sliding into an open seat next to Spike, who was too busy adding more detail to his scratchings to look at the newcomer.
Buffy, on the other hand, could only stare at the teen. He was tall and lean, with brown hair and blue, piercing eyes. His black jeans and T-shirt were covered by a black, leather jacket, and he wore heavy Doc Martens on his feet. His whole body screamed ‘attitude problem' and he was barely older than fifteen.
"This, in actuality, is like a Big Brother/Big Sister course," Jason said, continuing his introduction. "Each teen is paired with a student, and for two hours twice a week, you will help with homework, social concerns, or participate in athletics if you wish. You may also, if you both so desire, meet with your assigned little sibling outside of class. I'm passing out a questionnaire to be filled out so that I may match everyone up. Please complete it quickly, but thoroughly."
"Spike," Buffy hissed, trying to get his attention. He looked over at her, lifting his brow questioningly, and she handed him a sheet. "Fill this out. And don't draw on it!"
"Yes, mom," Spike replied, earning a glare from the Slayer. He chuckled and quickly filled out the paper, making sure to lie at the appropriate times. He highly doubted he could get away with putting Woodstock as the last live concert he attended.
When he finished, he gave it to Buffy, who took both to the supervisor as he returned to his doodling.
"Nice drawings, dude," he heard the teen next to him say.
Spike looked up, took quick note of his dress and posture that screamed bad-ass, and sent him a cocky grin. "Tell me, mate, should I add more guts spilling out, or would that be overkill?"
"Name's Billy, not ‘mate' and you can never have enough gore," Billy replied.
The vampire's grin grew. *Boy after my own undead heart,* he thought, adding more to the drawing.
"Spike, I think you've made your point," Buffy said while they were waiting for the others to finish.
"That your name - Spike?" Billy asked, his eyes looking the Slayer over from head to toe, pausing in hormonal lust at the appropriate levels.
"That's me and keep your eyes off my woman," Spike said. "Or I'll rip them out and make you eat them."
"She's your woman?" Billy said, ignoring the threat. "Damn, dude, you are lucky."
"Spike, I'm going to hurt him," Buffy said under her breath, knowing the vampire could hear her.
"Now, Slayer, we'll have none of that," Spike admonished, then turned back to the teen. "And you'd better watch your mouth before she tans your hide."
"All right, everyone, I have made the pairings," Jason said, bringing the attention back to the front of the room. "When I call your name, raise your hand so your partner can find you. Gina, you're with Lucy. Buffy is with Jill. Todd is with Michael. Mark is with Ron. Becky is with Melanie. Sandy is with Cassie. Colin is with Jeff and William is with Billy."
"Well, looky here," Spike said, smirking at the boy. "I guess you're my assignment, mate."
"I thought your name was Spike," Billy said as the others in the class met their partners.
"It's a bloody nickname, you twit," Spike replied.
"How did you get it?" Billy asked, nonplused by his name calling.
"Tortured people with railroad spikes," he answered honestly, knowing the boy wouldn't believe him.
"No way," Billy said, eyes widening. "Are you serious?"
Spike chuckled. "What do you think?"
"Dude," the boy answered in a awed tone.
"What did ya do to your leg?" Billy asked awhile later. Spike and the teen had been talking about everything from music to movies to video games to girls and Spike found that he was beginning to really like the boy.
"What does it look like I did?" Spike replied sarcastically.
"Dude, I know you broke it. I meant how?" Billy said with a roll of his eyes.
"By doing something bloody idiotic," the vampire answered, folding his arms across his chest. "Let me give you some advise, mate. Don't ever fall in love."
"Love is for wussies," Billy stated. "The only thing it's good for is convincing a girl to let you in her pants."
Spike narrowed his eyes. "Are you calling me a wuss?"
Billy shrugged. "Are you in love?" He nodded. "Then if the shoe…I mean, cast fits…"
"Just you wait, boy," Spike said. "One day you'll go down in flames like the rest of us. And I'll be there to laugh at you."
"Don't hold your breath," the teen muttered. Spike chuckled at the irony of his comment. "What are you laughing at?" Billy glared at the vampire, arms crossing over his chest, making him look identical to Spike.
"Nothing, kid," he replied. He looked over at Buffy, who was deeply ingrossed in conversation with her partner.
Billy noticed the soft expression on Spike's otherwise sardonic face, his eyes flicking over to Buffy, then back to the peroxide blond. "What's it like?"
"What's what like?" Spike asked, turning his attention back to the boy.
"Being in love," Billy clarified in a ‘I'm-don't really-care-but-you-might-as-well-tell-me' tone of voice.
"It's…interesting," the vampire answered after a moment. "Each time you fall in love is a different experience. I was in love with Drusilla for a hun…a long time, but it's nothing compared to being in love with the Slayer."
Spike gestured over to Buffy. "Sorry, I'm not suppose to use her…er, band name anymore," he replied.
"She was in a band?" Billy asked, enthralled. "What kind? Was she any good?"
Spike laughed, remembering the lie they had first constructed when he met Joyce so long ago. "It was a hard rock band, mate," he lied. "She played the drums."
"Dude," the teen said, staring at Buffy in a new light. "She's hot and cool."
Jason called for attention, halting any further conversation. "Alright, everyone. It looks to be about that time. We'll meet again here on Wednesday, same bat time, same bat channel." Snickers filled the room as teens and students said good-bye to one another and began leaving.
"I guess I'll see you on Wednesday," Billy said, climbing to his feet.
"I'll be here," Spike replied, nodding his head over towards Buffy. "She won't let me ditch." Billy laughed, gave him a good natured salute, then left.
"So, what's Billy like?" Buffy asked later that night as she dug through her backpack.
"Brassed off at the world," Spike replied, shifting his cast on the pillows set on the coffee table. "A regular juvenile delinquent. He's there because he has to be."
"Kinda like you," she said, uncapping her prize.
"No, I'm there because I choose to be there. Do you really think that I would do something I didn't want to, just for you?"
"Yup," Buffy replied with a large grin. He gave her an ‘I-don't-think-so' look, to which she only laughed. "Face it, Spike. I have you're undead heart wrapped around my lucky stake."
"If I were to take that literally, pet, I'd be a pile of dust wearing a cast," Spike said dryly. Buffy burst into a fit of giggles, almost getting permanent maker on her face. "Slayer, what are you going to do with that?" he asked, pointing to the marker.
"This?" she said, holding up the object. "I'm going to decorate your cast."
"The hell you will," he growled, trying to move out of reach. But the Slayer was too quick. She had his leg pinned down and he couldn't get free unless he wanted to seriously hurt. Giving up, he sighed dramatically. "Just don't put any sissy pictures on it."
Buffy gave him a wicked grin and went to work.
Willow looked up at the vampire hobbling through the door and snickered under her breath. "Hi, Spike," she greeted. "What's up?"
"I need your help," Spike said, taking a seat at the library table next to the red head. He set his crutches aside and pulled out a slip of paper from his pocket. "Can you look him up in the school records for me?"
"Sure," Willow replied, moving her mouse to the correct bookmark. "When do you get your cast off?"
"I have no bloody clue," he said forlornly. "It's taking longer to heal than I would have liked."
"It'll be a shame when it does come off," she commented, fingers flying over the keyboard.
Spike frowned at her. "Why's that?"
"Buffy did such a good job at decorating it," Willow replied. "Even if it's kinda ‘eew', as Cordelia said."
Spike looked down at his three week old cast and grinned. Buffy had expertly drawn a cat staked to a tree with railroad spikes, it's belly sliced open and innards trailing to the ground, as well as the eyeballs hanging from the sockets. It was graphic and it was disgusting. He loved it.
"Buffy still won't tell us how you broke your leg," Willow hinted as she pulled up the information he wanted.
"She better not have, or I'd have her bloody toes for breakfast," he replied, leaning towards the computer screen.
Willow shuddered at the picture his comment presented in her mind, then changed the subject. "Here you go - one Billy Markham."
"Thanks, ducks," he said as she moved out of the way so he could see better.
"Oh, hello, Spike," Giles said, entering the library, a pile of books in his arms.
"Hello, Watcher," Spike replied, eyes not moving from the screen.
"Are you ever going to call me by name?" Giles asked, setting his burden down on the counter.
"If I did, I'd have to call the Slayer ‘Buffy' all the time," he said. "And that's such a bloody ridiculous name."
"And Spike isn't?" Willow teased, ruffling his peroxide blond hair.
"Watch it, luv," Spike warned playfully. The hacker laughed lightly before picking up some books to shelve. With all the time Spike and Willow spent in the library waiting for their respective loves to finish training, they'd become close friends.
"Where's Buffy tonight?" Willow asked as she worked.
"She's out patrolling with peaches," he replied, then grinned. "Maybe he'll fall because of that girl and break open his skull, then I won't have to put up with that wanker anymore."
"Someone sounds jealous," she said in a sing-song voice.
"Am not," Spike defended. "I just don't like the prick."
"Uh-huh," she responded, not believing a word out of his undead mouth.
"Hey, Watcher," Spike called to the man who'd gone in the office. "Do you mind if I bring Billy here to the library tomorrow night?"
"N-no," Giles replied, coming into the main room. "Willow and I shall be cataloging, though."
"Perfect," he said, standing and putting his crutches under his arms. "See you then."
"Now, why am I doing this again?" Spike asked Buffy for the third time.
"Because this is my Experimental Psych project, and you're a volunteer," Buffy explained, trying to keep her voice patient.
"More like you bloody volunteered me," he muttered.
"You know what to do," she said, holding up a stop watch. "You have five minute, starting now."
Leaving the vampire in the small office with the video camera running, Spike shook his head and began to assemble the colorful pieces scattered over the desk. He was about halfway done when Buffy returned. "Time up," she said, moving to the camera. "I need you to wait here for a few minute while I write down how you did. Feel free to use the phone, read one of those books or magazines, whatever."
Spike nodded. The second she left the room again, he continued working on putting together the Lego house, oblivious to the fact that the camera was still recording. Buffy's project was centered on the hypothesis that everyone was a child inside and would continue to play with the Legos after the ‘official' experiment was completed. And Spike was proving her right.
As did Angel and Giles and Willow and Xander and Cordelia and her mom…
"And this is the library," Spike said, pushing open the door with his crutch.
"I kinda figured, what with all the books," Billy said, entering the room. "What I don't get is, why are we here?"
"Because it's time for you to put that smart arse brain of yours to good use," he replied, before yelling up towards the stacks. "Watcher! Willow! Are you in here?" His enhanced hearing picked up a squeak and the rustling of clothes. With a chuckle, he headed over to the table and took a seat, propping his cast up on the chair next to him.
"Hi, Spike!" Willow said cheerfully, her face flushed as she came into view from the stacks. "And you must be Billy."
"Dude, you sure know how to pick your women," Billy commented. Willow blushed and Spike glared at him as Giles walked out of the stacks.
"Oh, hello, Spike," Giles said, cleaning off his glasses. "And welcome, Billy."
"The Slay…er, Buffy told me to tell you that Angelus was taking over for her tonight so she and Jill can see a movie," Spike said to the Watcher.
Giles nodded. "Did she say that she would come in for tr-…uh, come in tomorrow?"
"Around three," Spike replied, then turned to his young ward. "Billy, I'd like you to meet Willow and Giles, two of my good friends."
"Hey," Billy said, sliding into a chair across from the vampire.
"Watcher, would you get me the Codex," Spike asked.
Giles' eyes widened, and he quickly put on his glasses. "Wh-what?"
"The Codex," he repeated.
"What's a codex?" Billy asked.
"It's a puzzle book," Spike lied. "You try to figure out what the message is in each part."
Willow realized what the vampire was getting at, having seen Billy's records, as well. She put her hand on Giles' arm. "Go ahead and let him have it, Giles," she said, then lowered her voice to a whisper. "It's not like he's going to know any of it's real."
Giles nodded once, then went into his office to get the oft looked at book. He set it on the table in front of Spike. "Thanks, mate," Spike said, flipping through the pages to find a prophecy that had already occurred. He never ventured too far forward in the book, afraid to find out what could happen to his Slayer. "Here, tell me what this means," he said, pushing the book over to the teen.
Billy read the passage rapidly. "It means a kid will be the one to help free a big, bad, evil dude by taking him some pretty powerful blood. The evil dude drinks it, and it's party time. Hey, is this a bunch of horror story puzzles?"
"Yes, I, er, guess they are," Giles said, amazed at what the boy just said. Neither he nor Angel had been able to decipher the entire prophecy, and this fifteen year old child did it with barely any effort. He looked over at Spike, who it with an intent one of his own. "Would you like to try another?"
"Sure, that'd be cool," Billy said, turning to a random page.
"You mean that Giles is letting someone else touch his precious Codex?" Buffy asked later that night.
"And, like I hoped, he's invited the boy back to the library to work on it anytime he wants to," Spike told her.
"So, you're not only giving Billy something worthwhile and non-destructive to do, you're giving Giles a leg up on the prophecies," she said. "And who ever said you weren't a smart vampire?" She giggled. "Oh, yeah, that was me when you climbed up on that crypt…"
"Shut up, Slayer," Spike ordered, glaring at her.
"…Trying to reach that poor, defenseless, little kitty," she went on as if he hadn't said anything.
"I mean it, Slayer," he said, his words like ice as his hands clenched into fists at his sides.
"And then to just fall right through the roof," she tisked. "Such talent."
With a growl, he grabbed the back of her head, yanking her into a punishing kiss.
What seemed like an eternity later, Buffy stirred enough to get out one final comment:
"Remind me to tease you more often if that is going to be the punishment."