It Starts With Faith
There were many types of cooties apparently.
This was a fact that Faith hadn't known but was now well aware of. She was well aware of this because of the detailed explanations of each kind that Buffy gave her.
It was enough to make her want to stake something. Luckily for Faith, she happened to be on patrol and that left her staking options very open.
"Buff, you don't have cooties," said Faith with a sigh as she scanned the cemetery eagerly for any sign of newly born vamps about to be awakened. She REALLY had a desire to stake something and stake it quickly. "I'm thinking they're just too chicken to ask you out, that's all."
"Chicken? Why would they be chicken?" Buffy pursued as she frowned. "Do I inspire poultry behavior in the male of the species? Is that it? I convert them into the behavior of poultry and enforce clucking instead of talk?"
"You're analyzing too much," Faith said, now spinning the stake in her grip like it was a baton. She had it resting on her index finger as she walked along. "What I meant was they're probably all afraid to ask you out. It's not like you're not a hottie or anything. You just got all the same whacked out rumors about you like me."
"Rumors? What rumors?" Buffy immediately jumped on Faith's words and jumped on them so quickly that Faith instantly regretted saying anything.
"C'mon, you know, the whole Buff is a big gym burning down psycho who hangs out with Faith the other big psycho who likes beating people up," replied Faith in careless tones as she shrugged. "The same old crap."
"I'm a gym burning down psycho?" asked Buffy, the despair evident in her voice. Tilting her head back she looked up at the sky and wailed, "I'll never get a date!"
"Not if you keep shouting like that," said Faith with a smirk. Rolling her eyes, she grabbed the other girl's arm and dragged her along after her. "You need to chill, Buff, sooner or later some guy is gonna get so hot for you that he doesn't care about the rumors. Trust me, I know about this sorta stuff."
Considering this, Buffy said, "I guess so. I mean, you got Cordelia to go out with you despite the rumors."
"Exactly," Faith nodded. She paused to form a sly smile then added, "But I'm also way hotter than you."
"Whatever," Buffy rolled her eyes as she put her hands on her hips. "Need I remind which one of us has less split ends and the more expansive wardrobe?"
"That's true," acknowledged Faith. She leaned forward to smile widely then making sure to pause during each word, she said huskily, "But... I... wear... leather."
With that, Faith walked off, her hips swinging in a rather triumphant manner as she did what Cordelia liked to call 'Faith's sexy swagger', a walk that she had patented.
"I can wear leather too!" Buffy cried out as she went dashing after Faith to walk by the dark Slayer's side.
Eyeing Buffy carefully, Faith said, "No, you can't."
"What? I can so!" said Buffy indignantly. She paused to study Faith then asked, "Why can't I?"
"You wouldn't wear the leather," said Faith with a slow smile and a sensuous drawl. "The leather would wear you."
"And...?" Buffy blinked.
"Forget it," Faith chuckled. "It just wouldn't look right on you, Buff. Besides, it's not like you need to wear it to attract the guys. They may think that you're a gym burning psycho but they're still hot for you."
"You think?" asked Buffy curiously.
"Please," said Faith in a long drawl, much different than the sensual one she so often used. "The whole school is hot for you. They're just scared of you, that's all."
"And fear isn't a good thing in dating," Buffy murmured.
"Oh, I dunno," Faith smirked. "It has it's uses."
"So says psycho girl number one," said Buffy in teasing tones. Pausing in her walk, she said, "Vamp rising at... something o'cl... oh, hell, at my left."
"You really need to learn army time," remarked Faith before dashing over to the grave and kneeling down in anticipation for her would be kill.
"Like I have time for that," Buffy scoffed. "I have school, slaying, and much needed whine about my lack of love life time. That leaves no time to explore the wondrous world of army time."
"So leave out the whining part, that'd sure help me save on Advil bills," said Faith in sardonic tones. Her dark brown eyes narrowed as the grave moved. The vamp soon rose up out of it and she pulled back the stake to promptly bury it in his undead heart as she said, "Gotcha."
"I can't stop whining until I get a date," said Buffy with a morose sigh. "And don't make fun of me again, okay? You don't understand, you have someone who knows all about the slaying and what goes with it." Looking up at the sky, she said quietly, "It's hard to fall for someone and let them fall for you when you've got secrets from them."
Wiping off her hands on her pants, Faith's expression softened and she said, "You can tell them what the deal is, Buff. No one would ream you for it."
"Yeah, I know," Buffy offered a wan smile. "But how many guys are going to believe my story? They'll just think that I'm more insane than the rumors say I am."
"So find a girl who'll believe you," suggested Faith while she formed a mock leer at the other Slayer. She paused to lean forward then said in rather dark tones, "Buff... come over to the dyke side. It is your destiny..."
"What are you? A recruiter?" asked Buffy with a giggle as Faith neared her looking almost ominous.
"I want my toaster oven!" Faith boomed before she suddenly made a sharp pouncing movement at Buffy.
Releasing a shriek, Buffy turned on her heel to run away from the dark haired Slayer who was hot on her tail as they ran at top speeds through the cemetery, sometimes stopping to stake newly born vampires, before they returned to their rather silly and fun filled pursuit.
And what did Faith do once she caught Buffy?
Well, lets just say that tickle fighting is a sport that is highly underrated when it comes to competitive spirit.
Especially when two Slayers are involved.
Today Frank Baze, the well respected but not well known owner of the Bronze, discovered something interesting.
And what he discovered was that it's entirely possible to play dueling banjos on a piano. And he also discovered that when it's done it's very, very, very, and emphatically very some more, disturbing sounding.
"Yeehaw!" Charlie shouted in a horrible mock hillbilly accent as he slapped his leg. "That there was some mighty fine piano banjo playin', little missy, yes it was."
"Nah, my Pa could play piano banjos better'n that any day of the week 'n' skin a possum too," said Derrick in an equally bad hillbilly accent. "Durn right, he could."
"I won't have you ig'nants insultin' Red's piano banjo playin', not likin' you could do much better," Vince drawled in the worst hillbilly accent of them all.
Laughing loudly, Willow wiped away her tears then in a bad hillbilly accent of her own she said, "None of youse has proper learnin' anywho... this here is classical way of playin' dueling banjos, dontcha know."
There was a long pause of silence before the entire band erupted into monstrous laughter before they all called out together incredulously, "Dontcha know?!"
"Gee, Red," said Charlie though his wheezing laughs. "I didn't know we were impersonating hillbillies from Minnesota. You want some pop, eh, eh?"
"Oh, Bobby, dontcha know," Derrick mimicked.
"Here we are... in the snowy plains of Minnesota, searching for the long lost hillbillies of the ice, said to be lead by the artist formerly known as Prince but now known as Prince once again," said Vince in an announcer voice.
"Hey, there can be hillbillies in Minnesota," said Willow in huffy tones. "You guys just are hillbilly bigots. I bet that they migrate from state to state all of the time."
"The rare hillbillies of Minnesota," Vince said, still using his announcer voice. "A noble creature that is now nearing extinction due to increased bathing and hygiene."
"And gangrene deaths," added Charlie, smirking.
"Ewww," Willow squealed as she scrunched up her nose. "I really didn't need that visual, Charlie."
"Sorry," said Charlie a bit sheepishly.
"This is probably why we got kicked out of Red's house," remarked Derrick as he tuned his guitar. "That and the whole Charlie breaking her valuables issue."
"That was an accident!" Charlie exclaimed, looking wounded. Turning to face Willow, he said, "You know that it was an accident, right? I didn't mean to break that vase, honest."
"I know," said Willow, giving Charlie a reassuring smile. "And it's no big deal, really. We just can't practice at my house anymore if we don't want my Mom to freak out."
"She does that a lot, huh?" asked Charlie.
"Sort of..." Willow replied slowly.
"You mean that she sort of only freaks out when we're around, right?" Vince said. He was studying Willow as he asked, "She doesn't like us much, does she, Red?"
"Well... you could... I don't..." Willow stammered.
"It's okay, Red," consoled Derrick with a crooked grin. "We know that she wants to push us out into traffic. We just sorta want to know why she feels that way."
"Is it because we're not Jewish?" asked Charlie seriously as he leaned forward. "Because I can convert."
"Or because we call you Red?" asked Vince, looking equally serious.
"We call her big Red too," Charlie reminded.
"Oh yeah, that too," Vince murmured thoughtfully.
"No, it's not that," said Willow as she laughed. "My Mom is just really uptight, that's all. She wouldn't like anyone that I'm in a band with. Her perfect vision of me is someone who eats, sleeps, and studies. Having only extra curricular activities that will help me get into Harvard."
"That's... horrifying," commented Derrick.
"Yeah," said Vince with a nod. "That's no good. What about what you want? Doesn't she care at all?"
"I don't think so," Willow said, sighing. "But at least she's starting to bother me less about it. My Dad's helped some, convincing her that as long as I keep up my grades then it doesn't matter if I'm in a band or not."
"I guess that's cool," Charlie murmured. "Anything that keeps you in the band, right?" He formed a silly smile then said, "Whatever keeps our Red with us works."
"I second that!" exclaimed Derrick with a grin.
"Triple my portion of that," said Vince quietly, offering Willow a tender smile.
Returning their smiles, Willow ducked her head, turning to regard her piano as a random thought popped into her head. If anyone would know if it was right, they would, she was in a band with them and they did see her play more often than anyone else.
"Guys?" began Willow hesitantly. "How do I look when I'm playing? I mean, what do I look like to you? My expression... the mood that I give off when I play. What is it?"
They were all silent for a moment before Vince answered, "Thoughtful and at peace. Like that's all you need for everything to be right with the world."
"Yeah," Derrick agreed with a nod. "Peaceful."
"You look sorta dreamy to me," said Charlie who reddened when Derrick and Vince turned to stare at him for saying this. "What?! She does! Red's got this lost in a really kick ass dream look about her when she plays."
"I guess I can agree with that," said Vince with a chuckle. Looking at Willow carefully, he asked, "Why did you want to know about that anyway?"
Forming a slow smile, Willow replied, "No reason. I just wanted to see if something a friend told me is true."
"Well, is it?" asked Derrick curiously.
"Yes," Willow murmured, her smile widening to reflect a true happiness. "So far, it is."
"I think my butt's asleep."
Keeping her eyes locked on her newsprint sketch paper, Cordelia said, "I don't see how it can be. It isn't like you've been sitting still this entire time."
"Funny, sweets," Faith grumbled. She decided to neglect to inform her girlfriend that she really had an itching feeling underneath her nose and her back was also starting to hurt from this whole experience. "Tell me again why I'm doing this when you know how much I hate pictures."
"This isn't a picture, it's a portrait," Cordelia reminded, her eyes still focused on her drawing of Faith as she held the charcoal thoughtfully in her hands. "And it's an assignment for my art class, you know that. Besides," she looked up and smiled sexily. "Who else would I want to draw? You're the woman of my dreams."
"Yeah, well, my butt's still asleep," muttered Faith, trying not to blush from Cordelia's compliment but failing.
"I'll kiss it later," said Cordelia a bit distractedly as she went back to studying the portrait intensely.
While Faith tried her very best not to laugh loudly at Cordelia's comment, and not doing the greatest job as she had a look of pain about her from doing this, Maria entered the den carrying a tray with drinks and snacks on it. Following close behind her was Monet, who was positive that one of those snacks was meant for him and him alone.
"Always with the dirty talk, hmm, Cor?" teased Maria, setting the tray down on the coffee table in front of the couch. Pausing, she looked at Faith who was still in her 'thoughtful girl sitting in a windowsill' pose that Cordelia picked especially for her. "My," said Maria with a smile. "Don't you look pretty, Faith."
"I feel stupid," Faith mumbled lowly.
"Nonsense," Maria dismissed. "You look lovely." Turning around, she walked over to Cordelia and smiled at the brunette who turned the portrait her way so she could get a good look at it. "It's a wonderful likeness," she said softly. "It almost looks like she's alive in there."
"I used different color tones for the shading," said Cordelia a bit shyly, explaining what she did to Maria.
"Well, whatever you did it looks beautiful," said Maria warmly as she smiled at Cordelia.
"Don't mean to interrupt, but can I move now?" Faith asked with a pleading expression on her face. "I'm sorta hungry and that food looks real good to me."
"I don't know," said Cordelia in slow, deliberative, tones, seeming to consider her options. Finally, she gave a teasing chuckle and said, "Go eat your food, bottomless pit. I know that you're hungry. You haven't eaten in five minutes."
Faith didn't even reply as she went scrambling towards the tray which was already starting to be inspected by a curious Monet. A quick hand out of some of the turkey from her sandwich got the cat what he wanted and Faith went about her meal with a speed that was amazing to both women watching.
"Does she always eat this quickly?" Maria asked in somewhat dim tones as she observed Faith.
"Pretty much," replied Cordelia humorously.
"Doesn't she get sick?" asked Maria with concern.
"Inwouieruow," Faith mumbled between bites.
Frowning now, Maria said, "Swallow first, dear, then tell me what you just said."
Doing as Maria said with a rather sheepish expression on her face, Faith repeated, "I could never get sick from food as good as yours, Maria."
"You said all that?" Cordelia asked playfully.
"Something close to that," Faith smirked. Now finished with her meal, she was petting Monet who had jumped onto her lap only moments ago, obviously trying to get some attention for himself. "I'm talented, y'know."
"Oh, I know," said Cordelia in sensuous tones that caused Faith to blush as she looked at Maria.
"Well, now," Maria said slowly as she smiled indulgently at the blushing Faith. "I think I'll be going now and let you girls get back to your business." She walked out of the den and said, "Have fun posing, Faith."
Immediately after Maria said this, Faith's face fell as she saw Cordelia get that same look about her.
"Sweets, I'm--" Faith began.
"Back to posing," Cordelia interrupted.
"But I'm--" Faith tried again.
"Posing," Cordelia enforced.
"But my b--" Faith attempted.
"Pose, now," Cordelia ordered.
Heaving a huge sigh, Faith gently lifted Monet off of her lap and went back to her thoughtful girl sitting in the windowsill pose that Cordelia liked so much.
"Y'know, you're lucky I love you," Faith mumbled with a slight scowl. "I'd never do this for anyone else."
"Mmm-hmm," Cordelia murmured as she worked on finishing off the portrait. "And that's why I love you."
Watching them from where he had stretched out on the couch, Monet pondered just why his new Mistress didn't seem to enjoy his favorite sunning spot like he did. It was the best place in the house to get warm, after all.
Maybe humans just didn't appreciate the sun.
It wouldn't be the first thing they missed out on.
Kakistos was smiling.
For both Iris and Trick, the experience of just watching him do so was more than slightly disturbing.
"Nerine," said Kakistos in slow tones that echoed of a deep pleasure that couldn't be explained. "Is reborn?"
"I'm not sure," Iris stammered a bit. "She said that she was Nerine of Ithaca but she could be--"
"Lying? No," Kakistos smoothly interrupted. "The girl is telling the truth." Leaning back into his chair, he formed an almost fond expression on his face and murmured, "Nerine was a truly great Oracle but not many know of her. Least of all innocent looking young girls."
"What do you want to do?" asked Trick quietly.
"First we must eliminate the Slayers," said Kakistos calmly as he steadily met Trick's eyes. "We've just arrived in town and already they've made themselves a nuisance by interfering with our work." He rested his eyes on Iris then said, "You said something about one of them..."
"The blonde, Buffy," spat out Iris as she scowled. "She seems to be taking the duty of guarding Nerine onto herself. I think she'll give us the most problems if you have any plans for contacting Nerine later on."
"Is that so?" murmured Kakistos thoughtfully. Forming a slow smile, he said, "We'll just have to take care of her then." Looking to Trick, he continued, "Won't we?"
"Yes," Trick said with a nod. "I'll do that tonight."
"What about Nerine?" asked Iris hesitantly.
Regarding Iris with eyes that reflected a cold fire inside of them, Kakistos said, "Only one thing can be done with Nerine."
"And what's that?" Trick inquired.
"Turn her," Kakistos growled, now forming a rather vicious and nasty smile.
It was a smile that made both Iris and Trick shiver with certain delightful anticipation.
They were going to be having fun tonight.
Oh yes, lots of fun indeed.
"I've decided that free things are good," announced Xander magnanimously. "In fact, I will go further to say that free things are very good. Exceptionally good even."
"You're really happy Will got us put on the permanent guest list, aren't you?" Cordelia asked with a smirk on her features. "It's just made your lifetime, right?"
"My millennium too," Xander replied. He paused to look utterly solemn then said, "Now if she could only get them to give us free food and drinks..."
"Well, we've already got a booth of our own," Amy pointed out. Holding up the reserved sign that was placed on the table, she made it do a little walk across the table as she said in a deep and booming voice, "This is the Scoobies table. Beware and stay away or else many ouchie bad things can occur! Jinkies!"
"Very funny, Velma," said Cordelia, chuckling as she turned her attention to Faith who was busy scanning the club with Buffy. But upon listening to the two Slayer's conversation Cordelia soon discovered that they weren't searching for vampires as she originally thought.
"How about that one? He's buff, Buff," said Faith, gently elbowing the other Slayer in her side.
"Bad hair," Buffy replied instantly. "It's a mullet melding with Flock of Scary Gulls hairdo. Not good."
"Him?" Faith pointed out a guy by the bar.
"Tight pants, I can see his lack of package," said Buffy as she squinted. "Barely," she added humorously.
"Didn't notice that," said Faith, following Buffy's inspection of the guy. "Damn," she muttered. "Poor dude."
"Poor package," said Buffy, snickering now.
"Poor pants," said Faith, snickering with Buffy. She ceased laughing and looked at the blonde then said seriously, "C'mon, Buff. Help me out here. What're you looking for in a guy anyway? You keep shooting down every guy that I suggest for you."
Averting her eyes from Faith's, the blonde Slayer bit her lip and said slowly, "It's just..."
"Just what?" Faith asked, peering at Buffy. "I thought that you wanted to score yourself a hot date."
Buffy bit her lip again as she stared into Faith's luminous brown eyes, looking as if she was trying to figure out just what to say to appease the dark haired Slayer.
And the only person noticing Buffy's plight far more than Faith, who admitted to being dense at times in the reading emotions department, was Cordelia.
"Faith," said Cordelia in sensuous tones as she ran her fingers lightly up the Slayer's arm. "Dance with me."
"Sweets?" Faith asked, turning to her girlfriend.
"Dance with me," Cordelia repeated, forming a slow and sexy smile as she rose to her feet. "Please?"
Rising to her feet, Faith accepted Cordelia's outstretched hand and looked to Buffy then said, "Sorry, Buff, but I gotta do what my lady asks. We'll talk later?"
"Yeah," said Buffy with a nod and a small smile. "Later."
And when Cordelia looked back at Buffy as she walked with Faith out onto the dance floor she saw the blonde give her a look of thanks and couldn't help but smile.
Mission accomplished. And now she got to dance with Faith during one of Willow's more sexy songs.
Which was a definite plus in Cordelia's book.
She wanted to date, didn't she?
She thought that she wanted to date... she was sure that she wanted to date. She focused on it enough.
So why wasn't she excited when Faith pointed out all of the more eligible and nice guys at Sunnydale High to her?
Why, why, why, and why some more?
Pondering this was giving Buffy a headache but she kept pondering it because it made absolutely no sense.
What was going on with her? One day she wanted a boyfriend, someone to be with, someone to understand her, and the next... she just wanted Faith to be quiet about her wanting one and just... well, talk with her.
Talk with her like when they were on patrol.
Joke around, kill vamps, and just have fun. Well, fun in a special Slayer sort of way. But still, it was fun.
She had fun when she was with Faith.
And understandably less fun when Faith was busy trying to hook her up with any available guy in sight.
In fact, it made her annoyed and cranky. It almost put her back into the ultimate bitch mode Amy spoke of.
Of course, Amy claimed that Cordelia could turn into the ultimate bitch fighting champion at sheer will. Not that Buffy had ever been witness to that happening. She'd just heard all of the tales about the tall brunette who seemed almost docile while she was around Faith. Or at least that was Buffy's opinion.
Maybe she was just crazy. Maybe she didn't know what she wanted anymore. Maybe being a Slayer had just destroyed her ability to make any decisions in her life.
But somehow that didn't seem so feasible to her.
"Choo choo, the hormone train's in town!"
Buffy turned to look at Xander and blinked at his comment before she asked blankly, "What?"
Instead of replying, Xander merely pointed out at the dance floor and Buffy followed the movement with her eyes to immediately see what he was talking about.
Faith and Cordelia dancing.
Dancing quite close. Dancing quite intensely. Dancing quite erotically. And dancing up quite a show.
A public show as everyone in the Bronze was fixated on the couple. Which was rare, since Willow was playing and the redhead had a tendency to be magnetizing onstage.
Their dancing, however, was more magnetizing.
They way that they moved together, in perfect synchronization with the music, teasing each other with a light touch here and there. Their hands roaming over one another as they melded together, their lips inches apart, parting sometimes to say something that would almost always cause the other to chuckle or smile widely. The obvious joy in their movements, in each other, caused from merely being together, being so close.
And just when you thought their dance couldn't anymore intense, the song ended and the couple pressed together for a long and passionate kiss that sent shivers of desire through every person who observed it.
"Choo, choo, is right," Buffy said in dazed tones. Shakily rising to her feet, she said distractedly, "I've got to get going. See you guys later, okay?"
Before either Xander or Amy could reply, she was out the door, and out of their sight.
But one other person noticed Buffy's departure and from the stage, Willow frowned. She then looked to Vince and said, "Lets take our break now, all right?"
"Sure," said Vince easily. He studied Willow for a moment then said, "You go after that friend of yours, Red."
Looking surprised, Willow smiled then said in soft and tender tones, "Thanks, Vince. I will."
Watching as Willow announced to the audience that they were taking their break, Vince said, "I hope that friend of yours knows what a good thing she's got."
An alley isn't a good place for a Slayer to sit.
But that's where Willow found Buffy. Sitting in the alley outside of the Bronze, staring at the stars in the night sky with a lost expression on her pretty features.
"Buffy?" asked Willow quietly.
Turning in Willow's direction, Buffy smiled as she saw the redhead approach. "Hey," she greeted. "What're you doing out here? Aren't you supposed to be playing up onstage and making everyone fall in love with you?"
"They're already in love, my duty has been done. I'm giving them a break so they can all get me gifts," Willow replied with a teasing smile, moving to sit next to Buffy.
"Really? I hope my gift lives up to theirs," said Buffy, forming a mock worried expression as she began to rifle around through the pockets of her blank pants.
"Buffy... I was joking... you don't..." began Willow, her expression one of clear shock and surprise.
"Too late, I already did," Buffy replied, smiling. She handed Willow the small object she fished out of her pocket and pressed it gently into her palm. "I got it for you after we had our little talk. I saw it and it made me think of you."
Opening her palm, Willow's face was instantly graced with a smile as she saw a small yellow happy face button smiling up at her with the word 'prozac' underneath it.
Trying to hold back her emotions, Willow looked at Buffy with watery green eyes and said huskily, "I'm not on prozac."
"That's what you say now," said Buffy playfully, reaching out to take the button from Willow and gently place it on the redhead's blue tanktop, her hands brushing up against the singer's skin as she did so. "There," she said with certain satisfaction. "You look happier already."
Touching the skin that Buffy's hand had brushed up against and wondering at the tingles of pleasure that were left in the blonde's wake, Willow locked their eyes.
"Buffy," said Willow quietly. "Why did you leave?"
"What?" Buffy blinked in confusion.
"Why did you leave the club?" Willow elaborated.
Moving her gaze away from Willow's, the blonde Slayer wore a distant expression as she said, "I could feel them."
"Feel them?" echoed Willow.
"Faith and Cordelia," explained Buffy. "When they were dancing... I could feel what they were feeling. At least, I think I could. It seemed like I could." She got that same lost look on her features as she said, "And what they were feeling was just so beautiful... and I was spying on it... on what they were feeling. I just had to leave. To get away from that."
"Buffy," said Willow in gentle tones, touching the Slayer's arm softly. "You weren't spying on them."
"Then why could I feel them?" Buffy asked, tears of confusion swimming in her eyes. "Why, Willow?"
"I don't know," Willow replied honestly, now holding Buffy's hand in her own. "There's never been two Slayers before so I'm not sure how this works. It's possible that you both might share some kind of special bond. You might have just been feeling Faith's emotions, that's all."
"Her emotions?" Buffy asked, her eyes turning thoughtful as she looked inward for the answer. "You're saying that I can feel what Faith is feeling now?"
"Possibly," said Willow. "I'm not sure... we would have to ask Giles and Faith about it. Having two Slayers in our midst is a new but entirely happy thing, you know."
"Happy for you, but not for us."
Both Buffy and Willow jerked their heads up and were greeted by the familiar sight of Iris standing next to a handsome black vampire in a power suit. And behind them were several more vampires who just looked like cronies.
"Nerine of Ithaca," said the vampire in a suit, appearing to be the group's leader. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, I'm sure. My name is Mr. Trick but feel free to call me Trick. All of my close friends do."
"I'm not your close friend," Willow retorted, her green eyes narrowing as she rose to her feet with Buffy.
"I'm hurt," said Trick, covering his right hand with his heart. "You just broke my little undead heart."
"So sue her," Buffy replied sarcastically, pulling a stake from her jacket and moving into a fighting pose. She looked over at Iris then said, "You missed me, didn't you?"
"Oh yes," Iris said in a low purr. "I missed you very much. So much that I've brought a present for you."
"Let me guess," began Buffy in sardonic tones. "My present is a nasty gory death, am I right? Gee," she formed an exaggerated expression of disappointment. "I'm not really in the market for one of those right now. Come back in a few hundred years with a blue light sale and I'll be raring to go."
Iris looked like she wanted to pounce at Buffy and kill her right then and there but she held back as Trick had his arm resting in front of her to block the way.
Watching this, Buffy eyed Trick carefully. There was something about this guy. The way that he talked and carried himself. It spoke of utter confidence in himself.
Confidence, not arrogance. Not the thing that helped Buffy to destroy her enemies the most easily. The thing that had helped her against Iris before. No, Trick was clearly different. He wasn't underestimating her and that could cause a definite problem in the fight ahead.
Giving a low and easy chuckle, Trick said, "I like you. You've got the instincts of a shark."
"Then what're you? Shamu?" Buffy jibed.
"Nice one," said Trick, giving another chuckle. Seconds later, his easy going mood disappeared as he morphed into his game face. "Remember," he said with a pleasant and charming drawl. "Me killing you really isn't anything personal. It's just business, nothing more."
Somehow, his words didn't make Buffy feel reassured.
Who knows why?