Title: Not My Reality
Rating: NC-17 for later chapters
Summary: Buffy is a single, twenty-six year old assistant manager at Bloomingdale's department store. Buffy and her best friend, Willow, love to watch reality TV shows. When Angel is the runner up on the Bachelorette show and then becomes the next Bachelor, Willow sends in Buffy's photo and details to the casting team. What's a girl to do when she goes on a reality TV show to get to know a man she'd been attracted to only to fall for one of the camera guys instead?
Betas: mabel_marsters & xtanitx.
Previous Chapters Here
Not My Reality
Spike took his sunglasses off as he entered Bloomingdale’s and paused just inside to hang them on a belt loop. He glanced around at the brightly lit and opulent displays of overpriced clothing. After spotting the signs directing shoppers to different departments, he went to the left, feeling out of place in his jeans and t-shirt. A hopeful sales associate smiled seductively at him as he passed menswear, but he just kept going. Spike was not interested in the clothes or the woman. He had his own style and Buffy was all the woman he needed.
Willow had her back to the counter as Spike approached but there was no mistaking that red hair. As much as Spike longed for alone time with Buffy, he had enjoyed the few outings that the he’d gone on with her friends, and Willow was his favorite.
“Hey, Red, does Buffy know you’re such a slacker on the job?”
Willow whirled around with a big smile on her face and placed her palms on the glass counter.
“What are you doing here? It’s Buffy’s day off.”
He leaned towards Willow, motioning her forward. His voice was low, though his smile showed just how much fun he was having. “I know, but I need your help with something and I don’t want Buffy to know.”
“Ooh, really? What are you going to do?”
Spike looked at the gems on display under them and pointed down. “I need you to help me pick out one of these.”
Willow let out a tiny squeal and jumped up and down before she put her hand to her chest and calmed down. “But you guys haven’t known each other that long.”
“When you know, you know. But I’m not going to give it to her right away. I just know that I’m in love with her and I want to marry her some time soon. I’m a bit impulsive, so I figured if I got the right ring and just carry it around with me, when the time was right, I’d be prepared.”
“That’s so sweet,” Willow said.
He shrugged. “Don’t want to look like a fool if I blurt out a proposal and then have no ring to go with it.” Spike tapped the glass and grinned at her. “So which one of these beauties has she been eyeing?”
Taking out her keys, Willow opened the case and pulled out a tray with solitaire diamonds. “Well, let’s see. I know she doesn’t like the gaudy, overdone settings.”
~ * ~ * ~
A few days later, Spike walked down an ABC studio hall, humming a little tune. He’d put in a full day of work on the set of Ugly Betty and was looking forward to spending some quiet time with Buffy at her apartment. He grinned when his cell phone rang. It was probably Buffy requesting some sort of take out for dinner. Without looking, he flipped the phone open.
“Hey, pet, I’m just getting off work now.”
“Spike?” Ray Collins asked.
“Yeah, sorry,” Spike said as he paused and leaned against the wall. “Thought you were someone else.”
“Listen, I know it’s your quitting time, but I need to see you. Can you come to my office right now?” the director asked.
“What’s this about?”
“I’d rather talk about it in my office.”
Spike turned and went back the way he came. “I’m heading there now.”
He hung up and as he walked, he called Buffy and let her know that he was stuck in a meeting and would be a little late. He entered Ray’s office and his secretary sent him right in. Spike stopped short when he saw all the producers and an executive who were also present.
“Come in, Spike. We’d like to discuss something with you.” Ray pointed to the only empty chair. “Have a seat.”
Spike tried to gauge the mood of the people around him, but they were all quiet, just staring at him. His heart started to race. Somehow, they’d been found out and he was going to get fired. But why wouldn’t they just have his immediate boss do it? Spike was just a low man on the totem pole and while he took directions from the director on set, they never hired or fired him.
Ray spoke. “Can you guess why you’re here?”
After running his hand through his hair, Spike said, “I have a pretty good guess, but I think I’ll wait to hear what you have to say.”
“Show him the tape,” one of the producers said.
Behind Ray, the wall opened up to reveal a TV screen. A grainy black and white picture of two people on a bench at night in front of the Bachelor House was paused. Spike knew instantly that it was him and Buffy.
Ray pushed the play button on his remote and said, “Security was going over the surveillance video for the front of the house before deleting the files and came across this. We know it’s you because no one else on set has hair like that. We have a good idea who the woman is, but we’d like to know for sure.”
Spike’s mind reeled as he tried to decide what he should or shouldn’t say. “I just want to say that none of this is Buffy’s fault. I take full responsibility. I pursued her and—“
“Buffy?” one of the producers asked. “That’s not Darla?”
Spike scrunched his nose and shook his head. “Darla? I wouldn’t touch that for anything.”
Another producer stood up. “So, Buffy was going behind our backs with you all that time?”
“No! I mean, I kissed her once, she kissed me, but Buffy told me that she didn’t feel right messing around and we cooled it.”
Ray said, “So, you never got together again?”
“Well… We have.”
Ray stood up and shook his finger at him. “That’s why she asked Angel not to give her that rose. Am I right?”
Spike nodded, seeing his career as a cameraman going down the tubes. “We just sort of clicked, the two of us. Now that she’s out of the running, we’ve been dating – but we’ve kept it really quiet.”
“Wait,” the studio executive said. “Are you saying that the two of you are in a relationship now?”
“Yes. In fact,” said Spike as he dug in his pocket. “I bought this the other day and I’m waiting for the just the right moment to pop the question.” Spike turned his head slowly and stared at each man in the room. “Why are you all smiling like that?”
~ * ~ * ~
“You have such pretty hair,” the hair lady said as she swept Buffy’s golden locks up and pinned it securely.
Buffy smiled at the lady through the mirror and tried to appear relaxed with all the other rejected bachelorettes either sitting at a station or waiting their turn. She’d arrived with Spike who was only going to be an audience member since he wasn’t working on the show anymore. He hadn’t wanted to be apart from her when the Bachelor took the girls to Ireland for the last few dates and to meet his family who lived there, so Spike had asked to be reassigned.
It was nice to know he would be there for moral support. Willow, Oz, Xander, and Jesse had also gotten tickets. No matter how many friends she had out there, she was still terrified of being in front of a live audience. It was much easier when it was just a bunch of television crew around in a house isolated from the rest of the world. She could forget that she was going to end up on TV.
Spike and Buffy had spent the last few of weeks watching the episodes as they aired and she couldn’t believe how different everything came across once the editing was done. She had no idea how sweet Cordelia was with Angel or how fake some of the other girls had been in the house or all the snide remarks that were made about Faith and her behind their backs.
They’d watched the episode where she had taken Angel off to the side and asked to not get the rose. The way they edited the scene, it make it look like she had whispered most of what she’d said. And the press was going crazy trying to figure it out.
When she’d first arrived at the studios, she bumped into Fred and they had a happy reunion. Even she started digging for information, wanting to know what Buffy had said to Angel to make it so she didn’t get a rose.
“There. You’re all set,” the hairdresser said and then called out, “Next!”
“Fifteen minutes, people!” Andrew yelled into the room. “You’ve got fifteen before everyone needs to be on that stage!”
Fred linked her arm with Buffy’s and they slowly made their way to the stage. The Texan said, “I just saw Gwen. She seems to be in a good mood after being eliminated in the latest episode. I can’t wait to find out who Angel chooses. I hope he chooses Faith over Cordelia.”
“It’s exciting, isn’t it?” Buffy said, smiling as she thought about how happy Faith probably was now that she was one of the last two. “I’m just sad that we won’t get to see her tonight.”
Once they stepped on stage, they were swept up in a whirlwind of activity. Much of the audience was already seated and someone pointed them to the director’s chairs lined up and they were told to look for their names. Because they were set up in the order in which they’d been eliminated, Fred and Buffy couldn’t sit together.
Buffy took her seat next to Gwen in the front and smiled at her. “It’s good to see you again, though I’m sorry you got eliminated.”
Gwen stood, leaned down to give her a hug and sat back down. She shrugged. “If it wasn’t for whatever you said to Angel the night you didn’t get a rose, I think our seats would be switched right now or you’d still be in the game.”
Once everyone was present on stage, Ray came out and gave them a little pep talk about being candid with their answers and ended it by saying that they should be prepared for a few surprises. Buffy shielded her eyes while they waited for taping to begin and spotted her friends standing and waving in the second row.
Spike was not sitting with them, but she smiled when she saw him in the front row. She squinted against the lights and shook her head to clear her vision. When they had arrived, he’d been wearing his jeans, t-shirt and a nice red silk shirt, but now he was in a suit and a tie. She’d never seen him dressed like that; there was no mistaking that it was him though.
The announcer introduced Chris and the audience stood and cheered for him.
“Thank you, thank you. Well folks, we have a lot in store for you in this edition of the “Women Tell All.” This season has been filled with romance, drama, and surprises at every turn, but it’s not over yet. Angel is here.” He had to pause while the women in the audience went crazy with applause. “The women will get a chance to ask him some questions, and he has a few for them. Unfortunately, one of our bachelorettes won’t be here with us today because as everyone saw on the episode, she is currently incarcerated, awaiting trial.”
Buffy endured the next twenty minutes of questions and answers and flashback videos, trying not to wring her hands with nerves over having so many people watching her. She laughed with everyone else when they showed the blooper reel and she smiled at Angel when he came out on stage. Soon, Gwen was called to sit on the couch and they talked about the last episode when she was eliminated.
With Gwen and Angel still seated at the couch, they took questions from the audience. A lady stood up and a microphone was handed to her.
“I’m dying to know what Buffy whispered to Angel the night she was eliminated.”
The woman sat down, the crowd cheered, and Buffy stared at the camera with the green light like a spooked cat.