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Crash and Burn

Crash and Burn
By NautiBitz

Info and Author's Notes: See introduction.

Cordelia was the first to notice the party crasher. "What is that and what is it wearing?"

Buffy followed her eyes. "Ohmygod!" She spun around to face Cordelia, back to him, hissing, "It's him! Psycho Car Crash guy! What's he doing here?"

"I don't know," she stole a glance over Buffy's shoulder and sang smugly, "but he's makin' a beeline. Looks like you've hooked yourself another winner."

"Shut up!"

"Don't look now, here comes your new boyfriend..."


"Buffy," he said.

Buffy took a steadying breath and turned around. He was entirely too close to her face, and her heart was pounding in her chest. Stay casual, and be mean. "Hi." Hi?


"Hi!" Arm around Buffy, Cordelia leaned in and smiled wide at the pale-skinned anomaly. "You know, I don't remember ordering any vampires."

Spike frowned, bemused.

"Told you," Buffy explained, indicating, "pallor. What--" she pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, "what are you doing here?"

"Thought you might need this," he said, shaking the cellphone in the air.

Oh. It had totally slipped her mind the moment she saw him. But -- how could he wave it around like that? Didn't he know that if she took it, everyone at that party would jump to conclusions? Bad conclusions? "Keep it," she said with great disinterest.

What? Why would she -- Ah, he suddenly got it. Appearances. Lovely. He stuffed it back into his pocket, reading her subtle body language.

"Okay, well thanks for coming uninvited," Cordelia said. "Buh-bye!"

"Look, can I--" he glanced at Cordelia, and back at Buffy. "Can I talk to you a second?"

"Um." Her mouth went dry. "Okay. I, I guess so."

When he turned, a dark-haired lug got in his way and asked, "Can I help you?"

"Not sure what you're offering," Spike replied, and looked back at Buffy. "Gonna call off your guard dog?"

"Angel," Buffy said, "It's fine."

Feeling trapped and cornered and like a freak show on display, she followed Spike away from the crowd, leaving questioning whispers behind. How could he do this to her? How dare he. How dare he!

"Okay, that's far enough!" She snagged his arm as they reached the side of a cabana, out of sight from prying eyes but not all the way in the dark where things could get weirder. "Wanna tell me what the hell you're doing here?"

"Returning your phone," he spelled out as if she were an idiot.

"Yeah, I got that part." She pushed at that stubborn blonde strand in her face. "What I don't get is how you found me, or why you just show up on my doorstep to return a stupid phone I can easily replace!"

His jaw clenched as he leaned forward. "Do you want it or not?"

With a glare, she took it, checked it for grossness. "It's... charged?"

"Had to read the number," he explained, straightening with a shrug. "Get the address."

"You couldn't just call me? Check if I wasn't having a party first? Maybe schedule a public daylight meeting to give it back?"

Spike stuck his hands in his pockets and looked up at the stars. "Wasn't really thinking like that."

"Well, that's obvious. Thinking really isn't a strong point of yours, is it?"

Unbelievable. He shook his head. "Can't believe I came here to offer you money."

Ex*cuse* me? For... It took her a moment to reply. "For what?"

"The car. What else? My fault, I should pay."

Okay, that was a shock. Who was this guy? "You don't have to. It had insurance."

"Yeah, and deductible's what, five hundred, a thousand?"

"Something like that, but it's taken care of." This was confusing. "Look, I know you don't have a lot of--"

His eyes narrowed.

"I mean -- you... oh god. You know what I mean." She gestured at his clothes.

"No." He tilted his head. "Do tell."

She scoffed. "Why are you even trying to be nice when you know what I think of you and I know what you think of me?"

"Yeah, well, strange things happen to me when I sober up. I grow a conscience, or something. My mistake."

"Yeah, it was."

He inhaled, exhaled, cricked his neck. God, this girl was irritating. "What the hell is your problem, Summers?"

"How do you know my last name? Wait... my problem?"

"Yeah, yours." He stepped forward, staring her down. "Why can't you just let me be nice?"

"Because it makes me uncomfortable," she said, backing up. "You make me uncomfortable."

Startled by this admission and the way she said it, he squinted at her. "Why?"

She sighed, looking away. "I have to get back to my guests. Goodnight, Spike. Thanks for the phone."

"Hey--" he grabbed her arm.

"Hey!" She struggled to wrest free.

Their eyes locked fiercely for a long moment, neither letting up.

"Buffy? Is this guy bothering you?"

Spike released her, assessing the interloper.

"Parker! There you are!" Never happier to see him, she attached herself to his arm. "No, Spike was just leaving."

"Right." Spike stepped back, looked the boy over, and nodded at Buffy. "Have a nice life."

As she watched him disappear into the crowd, Parker asked, "That an old boyfriend of yours?"

Buffy burst into laughter. "No! Oh god, no. No. Really, really not."

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