"So, how's everybody...the Scooby's," Spike asked once they had settled into the booth.
Buffy shrugged. "Umh...Willow's a mom now."
"Yeah!" Spike was surprised yet happy for her, "...how'd she manage that, she still...she still with Kennedy?"
"Off and on, with Kennedy, so they say, and sperm donor, I guess...really don’t know. Tara Rose, she’s...almost five now. Kennedy spends most of her time away, South America, Asia and Australia."
"Wil’d make a good mum," he chuckled a little,"...and Xander?"
"He’s doing okay, has a small construction business on the side, but mostly he helps Giles run the place. I guess he and Faith are sorta together, off and on, when she’s here. She’s in charge of the east coast squad; they’re based out of Boston."
"And Anya," he asked wondering where she was in all this.
"You didn’t know? No, how could you know. Bringers got her; she didn’t make it out of the High School."
"Sorry, Love. I didn’t know. How’d the boy take it?"
She shrugged again. "He was tore up, wouldn’t admit it, but a few months later, the calls...it was pretty bad, but he...”
"Don’t say ’got over it’, Pet," Spike commented.
"I won’t, he didn’t."
"Giles," Spike asked changing the subject.
"Giles is...Giles. Overworked."
"You said you two weren’t that close anymore, what happened," he asked.
"You know what happened."
Spike hoped that was not the real reason, but her eyes said that it was.
"I’m sorry," he said with a heavy sigh.
"It’s not your fault," she said.
"Yeah, how’d you figure that," he asked knowing a lot of the distance between the two was because of him. "Buffy, you need him, he’s more your dad..."
"...than my Dad," she finished for him. "Yeah. I know. Wasn’t just that, I mean…he knew and he didn’t tell me. There’s been a lot of that and not all of it lately."
"I’m sorry," he whispered and nursed a sip of his drink. "What about the little boy, Andrew," he inquired after a slightly uncomfortable silence.
"Uh, he’s still with us...work in progress," she said. They both had a faint laugh. "Actually, he really does a lot to keep us all together."
"He has L.A., about thirty to forty girls. I’m surprised you two haven’t..."
"No, we haven’t. Most of the Slayerettes I’ve run across ...well, they’re pretty much...rogue."
"Yeah, seems to be an issue," she said quickly under her breath. She was getting tired of talking shop and was ready for a topic change.
Slowly she leaned close and kissed him. He felt her tongue slip between his lips and glide across the edges of his teeth.
After a prolonged moment of wondering if she tasted like sweet almond or cyanide, he pulled away, deciding on both with a hint of wormwood: intoxicating, addictive and deadly, and simply looked at her.
"Was that confusing," she asked. "I can clarify it," once again she leaned close and he did as well.
A little later, the sound of plates being set on the table broke the spell of the moment.
Spike took a sip of his drink and exhaled slowly, with the second sip he downed it.
"You okay," Buffy asked taking a sip of hers.
"Too fast," he said his voice hoarse from the straight whiskey or the kiss or both.
"That’s what you get when you slam it," she commented reaching for one of the empty appetizer plates and a fork. She started poking at the hot selection of goodies on the platter that had appeared on the table a few minutes ago while they were preoccupied.
"No, not the drink," he said still raspy, vocal cords still stinging, "...long time." He cleared his throat and reached for the other plate.
She looked at him with a little half smile and said, "yeah, right." There was more than a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"No...really," he said cutting his eyes toward her as he speared a shrimp.
"Really," she asked with sincere surprise.
"Well, yeah," He said.
She laughed. “You mean, seven years and you haven’t…” Buffy began popping half a spring roll into her mouth.
“Not even once,” she questioned, “…with anybody? “
“Well…half,” he added quickly turning his attentions back to the plate of appetizers.
Buffy noticed his evasive shifts in position, the subtle sullenness of his tone and she couldn’t resist it, an opportunity to make him uncomfortable, like manna from heaven …must be the Slayer in me that makes me jump on every opportunity to torture him, neah…he’s just so cute when he squirms.
“Half,” she said carefully timing her next tidbit for maximum effect and almost losing the entire mouthful in the process. “What do you mean half…” she paused, “there is no half. You either did or didn’t.”
He wobbled his head slightly and scoffed as he thought how he would say it. “Harmony, and yeah… Half.”
Harmony she could handle, but the half was puzzling her.
“Half?” She asked again.
“We were under the influence of supernatural forces, started, didn’t finish. She tore into me. She wasn’t herself and I sent her arse end over…” he paused eyeing the prawns, “… appetite,” and settling for a stuffed mushroom instead after sniffing it for stray garlic.
“Just once or…” Buffy began, eyeing him sideways while picking at her plate. She had never considered Harmony a threat in any way, mortal or vampire, but Harm and Spike did have a thing going for a while.
“Pl-ease,“he said, “Harmony?” He scoffed lightly. “Half,” added ardently and speared another shrimp.
She gave the little half-shrug that meant she was satisfied with that response, but kept staring at him.
“Aren’t you going to ask?”
“Aren’t you curious?”
He sighed. She was not going to let it alone until he answered.
“Cause it makes me crazy to think about you with….anyone, so I try not to think about it at all,” his voice tapered to a whisper. “So, no, rather not know.” He was extremely happy to see their meals on their way to the table. Food, one of her best diversions, he thought, relieved at getting off the hook.
The trays no sooner hit the table when the pager went off.
Faith hung up the phone and sighed heavily. Not too serious… they‘re gonna be alright…cops! Humgph! She was relieved that Stacy and Janice hadn’t been hurt badly, but she was extremely annoyed that the Boston P.D. thought it necessary to haul them in for a drug test. Dumb ass’s, they spend half the night saving your sorry ass’s from things that you take one look at, drop your doughnut, and head for the station shrink and what, you see them on the street obviously in need of some medical attention, limping home...so, they were a little wobbly on their feet…had good cause.
Stopping at the fridge on her way back to the bedroom, she drained the last of the milk straight from the container; giving it a toss at the trash. Two points for me… she thought as the milk container settled in on top of yesterday’s Thai take-out boxes. She scanned the contents of the refrigerator …no more Thai?… and settled on half a ham salad sandwich left over from Xander’s lunch and a handful of grapes.
Padding lightly into the bedroom while popping the last grape into her mouth, she carefully got into bed and reached over Xander to put the phone back on the hook. Xander took the opportunity to give her a surprise tickle in the ribs as the phone settled into its cradle and she jumped nearly knocking him out of bed.
“Don’t do that!” She shrieked and gave him a playful slap.
“Sorry, couldn’t resist,” he said, shifting position and not bothering to turn on the bedside light as Faith nestled in next to him, “…everything alright on the Boston front?”
“No, well…yeah,” she said settling back onto her pillow, “…nobody’s seriously hurt, just two of the girls had a run-in with Boston’s boys in blue.” Again…she added to herself.
“They doing anything to deserve it,” he asked, knowing that most of Faith’s own clashes with the police were self-inflicted.
“No, just walking home after a fight, couple of Bvashkavars, cops thought they were a little wobbly, hauled them in for a drug test.”
Demon’s got them that bad? He asked.
No…yeah, they did a little damage, but Janice said somebody was shooting darts at ‘em…after,”she said,”…one nicked Stacy, made her a little… stoned.”
“Bvashkavar’s using dart guns now,” Xander asked.
Spike pulled into a parking space across from the booted rental. "Couldn't
have found a better space, Pet," he asked, noting the twenty minute parking
restrictions on the signs on that side of the street.
“It was out of gas," Buffy said, "…I was lucky I got it out of traffic…I
can't afford this." She took the stack of tickets off the windshield and looked
at the boot. "We could…" she began.
"No. We couldn't" Spike said taking the stack of tickets from her. He
sighed, "I'll take care of it. Get your stuff." He squinted to read the tow
notice stuck on the driver's window. "Get the paperwork too, the rental
agreement…" He sighed heavily and pulled out his phone. "It was scheduled to get towed about two hours ago…good for us they‘re running late." He punched in the number from the tow notice, "…paperwork, Love…" he said holding out his hand.
She handed him the envelope. Spike popped the trunk on the Saab as the call
connected, and the tow truck had turned the corner and was backing into position as he was hanging up.
He put the towing and impound fees on his credit card. Buffy had to sign for
the receipt of the vehicle. They gave her the forms with the information to get
it straightened out with the rental company. All she could do was stare at it.
She sat down on the curb. Spike took them from her and put them in the envelope with the rest, throwing it all on the dash.
"I can't afford this; there must be four hundred dollars’ worth of tickets…."
"Closer to six," he interjected.
"Paid it," he said.
"Did you have a security deposit?"
"Uh, yes, thirty five hundred," she said.
"Credit card," he asked.
"Cash, don't have a credit card."
"That…might be a good thing," he said half under his breath before he asked,
"how much overdue was it?"
"Uh, almost three weeks."
"Over mileage," he asked.
"Out of gas, towed and impounded, kiss that cash goodbye, Lamb, then
"That was all I had," she said.
"I'll get the difference, Love, and the tickets. It'll be okay."
"I can't pay you back…"
"Don't worry about it, Pet. I got it. Come on, promised you dinner, let's
She snuffled and wiped her eyes as he helped her up from the curb.
Rupert tossed in bed unable to get to sleep again. He blamed the August heat
and a late night of pouring over the compounds bills for tonight’s bout of
insomnia. Willow, Andrew and several of the girls who had good bookkeeping
skills did the actual accounting; the figures were always accurate, that was the
There simply was not enough money generated by the trusts to sustain the main
compound let alone the satellites. Just in the past three years, they had to
reduce health insurance coverage four times, to where it was now virtually
worthless for a group of young women who were often prone to injury simply by the nature of their calling and required more than the normal amount of trips to the emergency room. In addition, caring for the institutionalized Slayers and
Potentials, though their numbers were dwindling in proportion with those being
called, was also fast becoming an issue. They would soon have to look further
into the possibility of handling that task in-house, which they were damn ill
equipped to do adequately.
Rising fuel costs had severely limited travel reimbursements as well, and the
whole organization was on a “no non-essential personnel movement authorized” restriction for the last eighteen months. Even Faith, who had been visiting rather frequently in recent months…why is she here this time… he wondered, had been taking the bus and paying for it out of pocket. Not to mention the phone and internet bills.
He had already called in all his markers and fairly begged all his contacts who had the means for help, with some success; but it was still not enough. It
seemed as though they could handle all the evils that the world could throw at
them, but not their creditors.
Buffy was finally coming home and the last thing he wanted was for her to
arrive to a financial disaster; she had enough monetary woes after Joyce had
passed away. There were enough other things for her to deal with.
Damn, it’s bleeding hot! He thought, flinging off the sheet and tugging at his t-shirt. He cursed the main house’s lack of central air. The small unit in the window was virtually worthless.
Reluctantly, he arose, depositing the sweat damp t-shirt on the bed post.
Intent upon adjusting the bloody thing to its highest setting, electric bill be
damned; he’d tap his retirement fund again to pay it next month.
“Bloody Hell!” He suddenly scowled picking his bare foot up off the soaked
carpet nearly half way from the bed to the window. As if on cue, the unit began
to vibrate and rattle. Gingerly, Rupert tried to skirt the wet carpet that was
squishing water between his toes…that’s going to smell horribly before it
dries in this heat, another sodding thing we can’t afford to fix…to unplug the bleeding thing.
Succeeding with only a minor electrical shock from the outlet when he yanked
out the cord, he proceeded to the balcony door. There may be some breeze off
the sea tonight… he thought, fumbling in the moonlight with the latch. Opening it, he supposed he had heard something fluttering in the leaves of the rubber plant on the balcony and stepped outside to check. Nothing there… not even a wisp of breeze, sleep deprivation taking its toll, Ripper… he thought. Spying the unopened bottle of Glen Livet on the dresser, he headed across the room for it. There would be no going back to sleep tonight in any case. He would forgo the glass, taking the entire bottle with him down the stairs to the study.
He turned on the desk light and swiveled his chair round to face the credenza
behind the desk. He pulled the cover off the mirror Willow had presented him
with as a gift years ago.
While she was pregnant with Tara Rose, Willow had taken a sabbatical from
teaching; she had spent a lot of her spare time scouring the thrift stores and
antique shops around the Bay Area looking for whatever called to her. The mirror was something that had called to her; though she recounted to him that she hadn’t expected it to do so literally, and certainly not to call her by name and plead with her to buy it and give it to him, which is precisely what it did.
After gazing into it for a moment to no avail, Rupert gave it a hearty slap
on the side of its frame.
“Wake up you sot!”
The glass misted over slightly, giving off a faint glow and then dimmed
again. “Wesley!” He shouted at it.
It responded with a string of slurred British slang worthy of a merchant
“Oh-ho,” he scoffed,”…quit your complaining, you dozy berk, you’re dead what bloody reasons do you have for always being pissed?” He took a swig from the bottle and set it down on the credenza.
The spirit of the late Wesley Windom-Pryce in the mirror sobered somewhat,
“…looks like you’re well on your way to joining me…”
This section is actually a last minute addition, I needed something to break up the Spike/Buffy retrieving the rental car sections so they wouldn't get boring and thought, hey, we haven't heard from Giles since prolog two.
I had planned all along to re-introduce Wesley as an active part of the Slayer world, while still keeping him conveniently dead, in this story and this seemed like as good a spot as any to do so.
"You got the keys," Spike asked as he checked his pockets making sure he had everything.
"Yes, I’ve got them."
"Where exactly is it?"
"I don't know, exactly. Uh, catty-cornered from a demon bar, not the closest one…maybe second closest?"
"Flashy techno-type or more like Willy's?”
"More like Willy's."
"I know it; ‘bout a forty minute drive." Spike looked at her for a moment then
reached out a hand to smooth Buffy's hair. His hand brushed her cheek and she instinctively leaned toward his touch. His fingers lingered intertwining with
the loose tendrils behind her earlobe.
He slowly pulled his hand back revealing a tiny errant orange cube. "Carrot," he said.
"Argh," she sighed.
"Not as bad as broccoli," Spike said with a chuckle as he deposited the
offending vegetable in the trash. "Come on." They headed for the garage.
It was the Saab that chirped and flashed when he clicked the key.
"Saab? Not what you usually drive." Buffy commented.
"First one I ever had to pay for, Love, usually just nicked 'em." He started the
"Spike, how did you ever end up here," she asked as soon as they pulled out of the garage.
"Long story, Pet. How much of it do you already know?"
"Just what they told me, the official report…I guess."
"Yeah, ha, right," he scoffed.
"They said…Andrew said, you were working with Angel at Wolfram and Hart. He told me what went down when he came to get Dana…" Buffy looked at Spike to make sure he knew who she was talking about. It was obvious he did.
"Ah, yeah, Miss Psycho Slayerette with the hacksaw, like to forget that one, Love, but the arms still twinge now and again."
"Not as bad as burning up or…other things."
"Andrew should have told me then, he shouldn't have waited two years."
"I asked him not to."
"Why," Buffy asked.
"I dunno… champion…sacrificed to save the world, blah, blah… it meant
something, but not…"
"Spike, it means something, it means a lot…and you should have told me."
"I know," he said quietly.
Buffy realized she wasn't going to get any more explanation so she changed the subject.
"You worked with Angel, that's hard to believe, I mean you don't like each other. The only times I've ever really seen the two of you together you were pretty much trying to kill each other."
"Great, you taking his side now," Spike commented.
"No, no…just trying to understand how you got tangled up with Wolfram and
Hart. They told me about the amulet and about the ghost thing, I just didn't expect that you would..."
"I didn't, not right away, got played by this ex-Wolfram and Hart cowboy
lawyer for a few months first. Never really fell in with that fighting evil from the belly of the beast crap. I didn't…join up until Illyria, ‘til Fred."
"Illyria? That's some demon god, one of the 'Old Ones'. It killed Fred," Buffy continued hesitantly, not entirely sure of the facts in that matter.
Spike nodded. "Killed her, hollowed her out. Destroyed her soul and used her body to walk the earth again."
"You killed it, you and Angel," she asked.
"No…" He laughed. "She joined the team."
"Wow, no wonder nobody trusted you guys back then."
"Nobody trusted Angel," he corrected her, "…we didn't either, so smart
move, Love. Cordelia,” he began before she interrupted.
"Cordy was there, I thought she was in a coma or something?"
"Cheerleader’s all dead now." Spike paused, he didn't know if Buffy knew that, and by her face, she did not. "Sorry," he added quietly then went on. "Cordelia came out of it long enough to help us call out cowboy lawyer Doyl…Lindsey, and gave Angel some vision or whatever about taking down the Circle of the Black Thorn, the senior partners' lackeys on this plane."
"And you guys did it, took them all out,"
Spike felt the need to correct her again. "Well, except for one," he said.
"There's one left," she inquired.
"Angel was a member of the Circle?" She was stunned by that revelation. They had left that part out when they recounted the story to her.
"Got himself inducted, all part of the plan, of course," he added more or less sarcastically.
"You gotta be major league bad for the Black Thorn to…" she started to say. Spike just looked at her with his 'I told you so' look.
"Anyway," Buffy said trying to route the conversation away from a place she did not want to go to right now, "…the Senior Partners retaliated."
"Yeah, don't remember much after the battle, falling down and passing out
mostly. I think it was Illyria who brought us to the Mission. They found Gunn…" He noticed from her puzzled look that she did not know who he was talking about and added, "Charles Gunn, a mortal...one of Angel's Avengers. They found him, uh, what was left of him anyway, on the street in front of the Mission; at least they got him to a hospital. He's still alive, sort of. Last I heard he was learning to talk again, but he'll never… They found Angel and me smoldering in the sun by the back retaining wall, where the courtyard is now, three or four days later, it was an empty lot then. There's a month, month and
a half, that I don't remember much of anything, pain…chained down in the
basement of the rectory, brown and black robe-types tendin' us…"
"Obviously, they got you back to health," she said.
"Obviously. Five or six months later Angel left, went after…you know about his mongrel, right," Spike was hoping that she did.
Buffy nodded, "Nina? Yeah."
He went on, "Angel went after his mongrel. I left about a month later."
"And…" she probed.
He sighed. "Bad move…no place to go, no money to get there, and having a soul severely cramps the typical vamp lifeslyle, about six weeks later…you get tired sleepin' in alleys and eating rats. Ended up in all the wrong places at all the wrong times."
She just looked the 'and' at him this time.
"…like in hand cuffs at the county jail and not willingly."
"You coulda got out easily enough."
"Pet, a hundred and thirty plus years of running, angry mobs, slayers, demon hunters, other demons...gets old. It was time to stop running. I had one phone call, I used it, and the Mission was the only number I knew. The rest…well…" he left it at that, "...and you," he began again before she could ask him to go into detail. "The little boy said you went to Europe, rounding up stray Slayerettes, never figured you for the ex-patriot type, Love. Why'd you stay?"
"Ran into Dad in Rome," she said, not elaborating further.
"Big family reunion, yeah," Spike probed.
"Huh, yeah." She answered unconvincingly.
Spike gave her the 'and' look again. She tisked then sighed.
"Mom never told us, when Dad went…incognito, he remarried."
He still had the 'and' look on his face when she looked over.
"Hate her. Dawn hates her, too. At least Dad put a better roof over our heads than I could and he got Dawn back to school. She hated that too, at first, had to repeat tenth grade after she failed the placement test, but she got through it okay, college too," she added.
"What about you?"
"What, school? I tried for a couple semesters, too distracted, so, yeah, still 'too dumb for college' Buffy.''
He laughed a little at the comment. "Too distracted," he asked.
"…with the slaying, and the rounding up, and the long-distance conferencing," she explained.“Jet-setting, er, Metro-ing’s more like it, across Europe after stray wanna-be’s, extremely tiring.
"Ah-huh, Dad doesn't know, does he? Thought you learned that lesson with your Mum."
"Mom at least understood the Slayer thing…well, eventually, sorta…Dad
would never…and Step-Bitch, that's what Dawn and I call her behind her back,
ha…she was constantly getting on our case, especially Dawn's, and not just at
first, she kept at it. They were always fighting." Buffy scoffed then went on, "I really wanted to bring Dawn back here, but…he's our dad." She was starting to get misty-eyed.
Spike decided it was time to change the subject before the water works started. "You said something about issues, Slayer-type issues…pending apocalypse, yeah," he asked hopefully.
"No. I wish."
"Yeah, so what then?"
"It's not that simple."
"So explain it to me, Love."
"Guess we've got the time," she conceded, taking a moment to organize her
thoughts before continuing.
"It’s just, it’s too much, we don't have the resources, we don't have the Watchers, we don't have…okay, it’s like there are too many girls, too many
Slayers to…manage…control…guide, keep track of, train…not just physically… the power is too…" Buffy sighed.
"Oh, I get it, Pet," he said, glancing her way while negotiating the turn on to the freeway.
Buffy wondered if he really did or if he was just humoring her.
"Giles can't do it all, I mean, he tries…but even what he's teaching them, the Slayer doctrine, whatever…it was never…entirely right. He's not using the old Watchers Council guidelines, thank God, but…" She glanced at him checking if he was getting it.
"Still right there with you, Love," he nodded.
"Unless we're monitoring their every move, they're going off in their own
directions, following their own rules. It’s like they don't have the judgment to be a Slayer…not without, making it worse, or hurting themselves or the people around them, or getting themselves killed, for the stupidest reasons…and what's left of the Watchers Council, the few that survived and the former Watchers, they…" she trailed off with a scoff.
Spike finished for her, "…they can't really help you, Love, cause they're not onboard either, and some of them are against you."
"Right. I shoulda just asked you," she said.
"Wouldn't hurt once in a while," he added.
"Yeah, I know," she said quietly, then continued, "…and the Power, the
Slayer power… it’s not consistent, it’s fading in some and…"
"Like ebbs and tides," he commented.
She nodded, "and organized evil, here at least, after Wolfram and Hart
pulled out of L.A. …"
"…too busy scrambling for the crumbs, but… crumbs are almost all swept up
"Yeah…and the First: scrunched, but not gone and definitely not the only
source of evil in the world." She let out a long sigh.
"That's the nature of evil…"
"…and the Hellmouth…"
"…put a stopper in it, just blows out somewhere else…"
"That about covers it, and I miss Willow and Xander…and Giles," she
scoffed, "…even though we haven't been…close, in a while…and I missed
"Yeah, right. Is this the place," he asked.
"I think so, uh, looks like it."
"…and I'll wager it's the one with the big orange boot on it," Spike said
nodding at the sedan parked across the street from the space he pulled into.
I said I didn't hold the comics cannon (never read them,) and I guess this section proves it. It is generally recognized that if there were any survivors after ATS:NFA they would have been Angel and Spike (and IIlyria, and Lorne too, if you think about it, I mean he left town before the final battle,) I am keeping Gunn in this world as well, (no good deed should go un-punished,) don't expect him to just pop up and be normal again, in fact, don't expect to see or hear of him for quite a while, but I do have some plans for him in a future story.
Also, I thought I'd add my word count to theses blogs - for some reason the word count is different in Microsoft WPS and Word than when the section is uploaded to either site I post on.
Dawn knew the contents of the trunks well, Buffy didn’t know that she knew, but she did, she knew them extremely well. She had watched Spike pick locks many times back in Sunnydale and being the curious child that she had been, she secretly cultivated the art on her own: neither the trunk locks or the additional padlocks on them proved to be much of a challenge.
Many days after getting home from school or from one of her sessions with the Monsignor, when she was alone in the apartment while Buffy was out slaying or reconnoitering for potentials or was unconsciously trolling for the next in the string of doomed-before-they-even-began relationships, she would lock herself in the utility room and go through the contents of the trunks, always careful to bring the acid-free gloves snatched from the restoration rooms of the Vatican
galleries, so as not to add any further deterioration to their contents, some dated to antiquity, though most of the contents were relatively modern.
It was only the small foot locker that she was intent on today and its contents, while not the newest of the collection, were the most interesting to her.
Dawn was stressed out, first day of classes was on Monday, and she had only gotten her registration confirmation today in the mail, …snail-mail, with a 3:40 pm delivery …what…Stanford’s never heard of e-mail?... That meant not much time for planning. She would even have to stop at the book store between classes, assuming that she could find it, and her classes and assuming the BART and bus schedules were half-way right and she even made it there for class.
She needed some relaxation, some light reading…besides, need to make sure
nothing got broken in shipment, right…
She remembered when Buffy had found them, it was shortly after Andrew had let slip that Spike was alive and well and living in L.A. or at least had been - after his un-ghosting and before the firestorm, the fall of the L.A. branch of Wolfram and Hart. It had been the only time Buffy had ever laid hands on Andrew in anger, not even anger really, more like pure rage.
I don’t believe I jumped in between them that day, dumb me… she mused, giving the hairpin a final twist and popping the latch open. It was scary to see her like that. It was even scarier to see Buffy the way she was for weeks, even
Dawn understood it though. Buffy really did love him and though she still couldn’t admit it to anyone, at the time, especially to herself. She had seen him burn, disintegrate into a pile of sparkly ashes in the bowels of the Hellmouth, cleansing it with the white light of his… soul. Dawn let out a louder chuckle than she had intended and had to look around to make sure there was no one to hear.
Buffy had refused to talk about it, but Dawn knew. When the pillowcase was still drenched from tears when she made her sister’s bed for her in the morning, she knew. She knew who the tears were for, especially when that stupid Zippo would fall out and she’d have to crawl under Buffy’s bed to get it and put it back. God! Don’t eve rtouch the Zippo!
Dawn had ached for her sister then; she had watched him die for Good, only to be told, accidentally and years later, that he didn’t, but then that he did, again, most likely. They hadn’t heard anything from Angel for over a year after Giles told had gone to L.A. to identify Wesley’s body and then that was only him calling Giles and Willow for information about some ancient Hawaiian lava demon who had resurfaced and was frightening the tourists with bad ‘Tiny Bubbles’ karaoke; he never said anything about Spike.
Buffy had been pretty upset with everybody when she found the trunks.
It had been during one of the seismic upheavals that periodically rocked the Apennine peninsula from time to time, this one had collapsed one of the subterranean TrenItalia tunnels into some hitherto undiscovered catacombs and there had been sightings of unusual beasts, so Buffy went to check it out.
She looked like hell when she’d gotten back to the apartment that day, dirty, bruised, her shirt ripped, cursing at Step-Bitc…Teresa… It was obvious that she and Hank’s latest wife had had it out over Buffy’s wanting to borrow the car again. Plus she had fallen through a catacomb floor into another concealed
chamber. She had told Dawn that she had found some stuff down there, not icky stuff, just some trunks and that they needed to get them before anyone else found them.
Dawn had borrowed their neighbor Giovanni’s old delivery truck, he had a crush on her so it wasn’t difficult to get the keys and she could drive a standard. Buffy had been surprised her little sister could flirt so well in Italian, when she could barely get by even with a phrase book.
The trunks had been with them ever since. Like part of the family… Buffy never allowed her to get in them… as if … allow me… Dawn scoffed to herself. She always said the contents were just research-y stuff for Giles and Willow, but never sent them to them. After Dawn figured out how to work the old tape machine…BetaMax…who knew… Buffy had bought at Giovanni’s pawn shop and stashed in one on the mid-sized steamers, she knew why.
No videos today…she thought as she lifted the lid and began to feel her way through the packing peanuts. Pictures, maybe later…and…she pulled out a bubble wrapped parcel then reached in deeper...there it is! It was old and tattered but still kept its contents safe and secure.
The portfolio still held the receipt from the little shop in Coventry where Lydia
had purchased it over a decade ago. Dawn unzipped it but only pulled its
contents out far enough to carefully leaf through the pages, each one separated by its own protective acid-free cover.
Ahh…the camel, one on my favorites…she pulled it all the way out and began to read.
13 March, 1857
My Dearest Anne,
My deepest apologies if this post reaches you later than expected, horrid weather has forced a diversion of our journey. Our plans to travel by ship from Istanbul have been replaced with an overland sojourn through Turkistan. I admit some disappointment on my part as I had hoped to see the Black Sea again as lovely as when we last saw it together. The delay will still allow us the reach Chowringhee by 1st May barring further delays.
Young William did have opportunity for his promised camel ride earlier than expected. I believe he is presently recounting the event to you in his letter, needless, it will not soon become his favorite transport, his camel spat and was
unruly and I believe he was queasy the entire ride, though he soldiered on right
honorably. We will be traveling by coach through to Lucknow and I am told that the rail is now part done from there.
William’s lessons are proceeding quite well and I must confess that I am not minding the endless hours of recitation of Childe Harold though be assured that I am taking care with my replies to his many requests for clarification of the meanings of the stanzas. Since his father was never one to pay much heed to poetry it is best that we finish all the cantos before we arrive.
His penmanship is much improved, as you have noted, the techniques from the New Orleans charter are indeed far better than trying to force the use of his right hand. We are presently working on reducing it to a more normal size, but I fear he will never have a neat hand.
His French, however, is horrid and I strongly recommend to you to consider King’s on Strand again as the languages are better learned there than at Harrow upon his return. As you have the next two years to decide, please pay company one day to one Maximillian Le Fountaine at King’s, he is head of lingua franca studies there and one conversation will attest that this is so.
In response to the concerns of your last letter, my contacts among my former regiment fellows have wired me that there is some slight trouble among the Sepoys, merely some confusion as to the new munitions. It is nothing to concern yourself with, be assured that I will keep your son safe until he is delivered to his father, indeed until I have delivered him back to you in good stead as well.
With my Love always,
Reginald W. Hartleigh
Capt. 19th Bengal Ret.
This one never failed to make her smile. She was tempted to unwrap the pictures that, more or less, went with the contents of the portfolio…same era anyway. Buffy had wrapped them herself over two months ago for shipment and Dawn didn’t think she could get the tape off the bubble wrap without it ripping it…mangled bubble wrap always a dead give-away. But that dress is to die for...Hell! I have bubble wrap and tape in my room!
She tore into it.
It felt so right to write Dawn this way, still up to some of her old hijinx and I am going to try really hard to keep her both her old self and more grown-up.
As a product of the American education system, it sometimes amazes me how little we are taught about events that are important in countries other than our own, this section alludes to one that was important to an entire empire and there will be more as I delve deeper into the background I am giving Spike, (and again I am not strictly following the history that fandom has created for him - though I admit to using some of the names.)
We all wondered what William the Bloody's last name was, and I think Joss Whedon has officially came out and said that it was Pratt, fandom has used others, Hartley was among them, and honestly I don't know who first used that one, I would give them a credit if I did, hence I am using Pratt and Hartleigh both as surnames associated with the character. More will develop on this later in the series.
She was so nervous. Brother Duncan had given her a very quick run-down of the process; he had set up the computer on the appropriate windows and stuck post-it’s on all the pertinent pages of the desk guide. He had told her she would do just fine and ushered in the first family in with a smile.
Then he left. How could he leave? She wondered, I can’t do this, I don’t know how to do this., I haven’t done anything like this since I worked for Principal Wood at Sunnydale High, that was years ago. This is important stuff, how could he just leave me all alone to do it. I’m gonna mess it up. She realized that the family was staring at her while she was having her lack-of–confidence-in-herself attack. “ Please, sit down,” She said anxiously, looking at the application card the man handed her, “…Mr. and Mrs... hope I don’t mangle this too much…Ravishankar…God, I really hope that was the last name, not the Ramaling-,ling-,gashar part. She smiled hesitantly as she gestured for them to sit even though there were six of them, counting the children, and only four chairs. “My name is Buffy Summers, how can I help you today?”
“My parents don’t speak English well, but I do.” The girl, who was the oldest of the children spoke, she looked to be about ten or eleven years old with the composure of someone much older, and had stayed standing while the other three children scrambled up on the two remaining chairs left by their parents. “My name is Parvatii, and I usually translate for them.”
“Well, okay, great, Parvatii,” Buffy tried not to wince, it didn’t roll off her tongue quite the same way it did off the girl’s, and she hated messing up people’s names. From the way the little girl smiled back at her, she could tell that she did maul it, but not too badly.
“I’d be very happy if you could translate for me, to them, as well. Would you?”
“Surely,” the girl said back.
Buffy sat down in the chair behind the desk. Well, that’s a start, I guess, she thought.
The scenario repeated itself a total of fourteen times before the line of families waiting in the corridor dwindled to nothing.
“Tired?” Father Francisco asked as he looked over the stack of finished forms and report print outs she handed him.
“Is it like this every day? That was so many.” Buffy commented a little drained by the day’s activities. It had been a few months since she had a ‘day’ job, she had forgotten what it was like and she had also forgotten to take a break which, was sort of on purpose. She didn’t want to keep anybody waiting in the corridor for longer than a quick bathroom trip . So, yeah, I am tired, but a little bit satisfied. She felt like she had done some small bit of good, and without killing any demons – it felt really good.
“School starts in five days, so next week will be just as bad, after that things slowly gets back to normal,” Cisco said, scribbling on a post-it pad and sticking them on a few of the reports.
Buffy thought that‘normal’ was probably pretty hectic too.
“Did I do okay? I hope I didn’t mess them up too badly,” she said craning her neck to see what he was sticking on the reports.
“No, you did well. Missed a few programs here and there on some of them, just supplemental stuff, nothing major. Spike can fix them next week. Overall, you did good.” He tucked the stack into a folder and smiled. “Now, see, it wasn’t that bad was it? You got the hang of it really quick too; we were only expecting you to process about four or five. We can close up shop early and that’s always good on a Friday night. Spike’s got some plans, I think.”
“Really?” She found that idea very pleasing.
My storyline has Spike as being here at the Mission pretty much since the end of ATS, first both he and Angel recouperated there, having been found by the Monks. Angel left, Spike having no place else to go (again!) stays there. Needless to say, the Monks not wanting an idle vampire on their hands, (scores of trouble, that, especially to the semi-demon oriented Order of Dagon,) put him to work.
Buffy gets a chance to see that she is capable of doing something other than killing and actually feels good about it.
Next up: Trunks, letters, wet pillowcases and bad karaoke.
She turned to find a monk in brown robes addressing her. He had a pleasant and friendly voice, but she could not help staring at the scar on his cheek.
"I'm sorry," she said when she realized that she was staring at him. "You must be Duncan, uh, Brother Duncan?" She took the hand he extended to her and shook it.
"Yes, I am. You can call me Duncan or even Dunk, if you like, and you are Buffy." It was not a question though it did ask her permission to be on a first name basis.
"Yes," she said.
"Spike has told us a lot about you over the years. I feel that I know you."
"I thought you were a priest," she asked hoping that was not too intrusive a question.
"When Spike and I first met, I was, technically I still am. I'm just not currently...serving in that capacity." He said leaving the subject open.
"I'd like to welcome you to our Mission, please feel at home. Father Sebastian, head of our Order, has asked me to extend his welcome as well. He regrets that his schedule today will not allow him to speak with you personally: he has asked me to schedule some time, tomorrow perhaps, to meet with you. He has some business he would like to discuss with you...Slayer business...nothing of an immediate or pressing nature, of course. Is it safe to assume you will be staying with us that long?"
"I, uh, don't really have a schedule to keep," she said, "...so yeah, I'm free and I guess I'll be staying here, if that's alright?"
"Yes, certainly." Duncan went on "...Father Sebastian has also asked me to see to your accommodations."
"Uh...you are staying with Spike...if another room would be more suitable
we can certainly make one available."
"No, that's okay,' she said then realized she was talking to a priest...monk? "Oh!" She added quickly, "...Is that okay?"
"Actually, according to staff rules," he paused to mentally review them, "...it should be fine, but officially," he added lightly touching the girdle of his robes "...no."
Buffy thought her face must have dropped when he spoke because the monk's
tone became noticeably lighter with his next words.
"No, it's just...the staff rooms are small and Spike can be..." he trailed off. "Don't get me wrong, I am his friend, but..."
"Yeah, I know how Spike can be," she said, "...No, I'm okay with the accommodations.”
"Good, well...from the friend, not the priest," Brother Duncan said confusingly.
Buffy understood him.
"Father Sebastian doesn't really need to know," he said with an air of conspiracy, "...but, Buffy, if the accommodations do become a bit, um...you will let us know, myself or Father Francisco," he gestured to the priest now manning the main desk by way of introduction.
"I will, thank you," she said. "I was hoping to find Spike, to talk to him, but I can see he's busy." She could see him talking with someone in one of the cubicles that flanked the area behind the desk.
"Yes, it's back-to-school time, very busy for us. We offer a variety of programs within the community, at the moment we are matching children and their families with the specific social service agencies that can help them: subsidized lunches, English as a second language, tutoring, family counseling, backpacks with school supplies, special educational needs, it is a busy time. If it's urgent I
"No, no, not urgent," Buffy said. "I met Sister Kate in the shower earlier; she said you could use a hand in the kitchen?"
"Ah, yes...corn...yes, hands are welcome in all capacities here. I'll take you to her; perhaps give you a small tour of the Mission along the way."
"Thank you." She was going to ask about the 'corn' but figured it had something to do with the 'peas'...succotash?"
"I'd like that," she said.
"Did Spike tell you about the basement," he asked, as they started toward the kitchens.
Diced carrots, they were evil, and banana cream pudding, and many, many children, small children, pre-schoolers. By 1:30 in the afternoon the Slayer sat, defeated, in the middle of the pre-school lunchroom wiping pudding off her arms with a napkin. She needed another shower and they had pulled her hair completely out of the hair tie in directions she didn't know were possible and she was sure there was pudding in it and carrots down her top. Defeated, utterly.
Father Francisco rescued her from the cleanup.
"Spike said once that you have some counseling experience," he asked not
seeming to notice her total lack of composure after two hours in the 'war room'
as the other kitchen helpers called it.
"Just high school guidance type stuff. I'm not really qualified..." she answered still wiping the pudding and other foodstuffs off.
"You're good with kids."
She shrugged and looked at the mess in the room around her.
His look conceded that it probably was not as bad as she thought it was. "School aged," he added," and you can use a computer, yes?"
Again, she shrugged and nodded. "A little, I guess."
"And you survived...this, so I think you can handle it. We are short handed up there. Do you think you could pitch in? It's just matching kids with the appropriate social services on the computer, and there is a good desk guide. It's mostly in the interviewing process. We could really use your help." His smile, let alone with the sparkle in his eyes, could convince her.
She had to admit he was very persuasive and sorta cute, for a priest. Buffy could not tell how old he was, he had that ageless look, and there was a look of mystery about him. She wondered, briefly, if he was a vampire or some other type of demon; but no, he was just charismatic. She thought maybe she could help out. It had to be better than this.
"I'll try," she said as she took the arm he offered to help her up off the floor.
"That's all we ask. Thank you. Uh, you might want to..." he pointed to her hair, "...carrot. The next appointment wave doesn't start until two, see Brother Duncan, he'll show you everything."
As he left her to straighten her ponytail and shake the carrots out of her hair and top, Cisco mentally flipped the switch that allowed him the sanity to function in the real world off briefly to allow the facts of his read of the Slayer in to his consciousness.
Spike isn’t far off in his perceptions of her, is he? Cisco thought as he headed up the stairs to the offices, even if they are colored by his love, they are accurate. She’ll do, he thought, she will do.
It was exactly as they were hoping,yet that only made him feel more uneasy.
The shower felt extremely good. It had been four days since her last one and that had been in a seedy motel in East Los Angeles. She had actually been rather wary about being naked long enough to get the soap rinsed off.
The room had been cheap enough, it had to be, she couldn’t afford much; that’s why she was only getting a room every three or four days. The guy in the office had been scarier than any of the demons she had seen in the neighborhood and he was human. The room smelled funny and the air conditioner dripped and rumbled loudly, and while the room had looked clean, it just didn’t feel that way. She had not even turned down the bed that night, but slept on top of the covers. The tub there had been old, yellowed and worn with scratches and rust stains on the bottom and sides, the water hadn’t been hot and did not come out of the showerhead evenly and she could hear the pipes rattle even worse than the AC when the toilet flushed in the room next door.
This might be a community bathroom shared by everybody, but it was clean and bright and shiny, with burnished stainless steel fixtures and creamy ivory and blue tile. It smelled good, clean, piney fresh. The water was hot and came out fast, and the showerhead adjusted to just the right pressure. It made her feel like singing. She restrained herself to a loud, cadenced humming of a song she had heard on the car radio a few days ago as she robustly scrubbed, dancing in the streaming water in time.
She hadn’t found any soap or body wash in the stuff Spike had gotten her, only antiperspirant, shampoo, conditioner and some lotion, so she had raided what was obviously his stash of manly personal care items in a plastic bin on the floor of the wardrobe. Ya just gotta love a man with more toiletries than me, she thought.
In a mesh bag that was still a bit damp she had found a bar of very hard brown soap in a case. She did not recognize the writing stamped into it, as obviously he had used it and it was not as deeply embossed in the bar as it would have been fresh out of the wrapper; it looked foreign, Asian or Arabic-like maybe, but it had smelled simply wonderful when she sniffed it: sorta lemony, spicy vanilla-y with a hint of fresh cut lawn.
She shut off the delightfully hot water and reached for the towels; wrapping her hair in one and herself in the other. A gust of steam billowed out of the enclosure doors when she opened them. She was vigorously rubbing her hair with the towel and absently heading in the direction of the bench where she had left her clean clothes and toiletries,still bouncing with the rhythm of her hum when she unexpectedly tripped over something cold and hard at mid-thigh level. She stumbled but managed to keep her footing, at least until momentum made her take another step. Her foot came down a tad too hard knocking over something that sounded very metallic and slosh-y. The bucket went over, its soapy disinfectant contents spilling across the tile floor. The hair towel was down leaving wet, shampoo tangled hair falling over her eyes, the other one was coming loose as well, and her next step sent her sliding across the slick tiles. Luckily, slender, but strong, female arms caught her before she landed on her ass.
“Whoa there. Are you okay?” The young woman helping her up was unusually tall and very slim, gangly, with dark lank hair, but she had the most astonishing bright green eyes and a pleasant smile.
“I’m fine. Thank you. You caught me before I hit,” Buffy said pushing the hair towel up and securing both it and the other one better when she saw what she had tripped over: A middle-aged woman in a wheelchair holding a mop.
“You got to keep on the no-skids when it’s wet,” The woman in the wheelchair said reaching down to set up the mop bucket and wringer, “…slimier than a Chaos’ antlers when it’s all soaped up, don’t ya know,” she finished. The bucket now righted, she wheeled over to check out the rescued Slayer.
“Can’t have Spike’s Slayer all bruised up in a showering accident. That won’t do, “ she said giving Buffy a once over, satisfied that she was uninjured only startled by the near fall.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. Clumsy. I didn’t hurt you when I tripped over you did I? “ Buffy apologized. Her feet began to slide on the wet tiles again and the lanky woman steered her to the bench by her clothes.
“You’re Buffy, right,” The wheelchair woman did not wait for her to answer, she knew she was, “…I’m Sister Katherine, call me Kate, assistant administrator here.”
“And I’m D’shelle,” the tall woman said handing Buffy an extra towel to dry off with, “I just work here. You are as pretty as he said you were.”
“We probably should have waited until you were done before we started. Our fault. Just wanted to get a jump-start on the chores. We rotate cleaning duties in staff quarters.”
“I didn’t mean to disrupt the schedule,” Buffy began still drying her hair.
“Oh, no, Child, you didn’t, floor probably needed another go over anyway, as long as you’re alright. Like I said, just wouldn’t do for you to get hurt here, from the way he talks about you, Spike would be all bent out of shape if you got so much as a scratch here, outside of the line of duty. Boy’s in love with you, don‘t ya know.”
“So Spike talks about me a lot?” Buffy said drying off her legs.
“Well, not obsessively, no, but he’s been with us for over seven years, get him started on his Slayer and…”
“So you know I’m The Slayer?” She was relieved when she did not have to hide her calling; it always made things so much easier.
That got a chuckle from both women and Buffy blushed, wondering just what
he had told them.
“And that he’s a….”
“Seven years,” Kate cut her off, “…boy talks a lot, don’t ya know. All the staff knows, most of the regular volunteers too, but not the residents.”
“Unless you’ve been here as long as I have,” D’shelle added, “…you find out after a while.”
“God, you are as pretty as he said you were,” Kate blurted out when Buffy had finally finished drying her hair and shook it out, “…but I thought you were a blond?”
“Sometimes,” that actually made her blush more than the fact she was wet and naked beneath the towel, “but not lately.”She had decided not to bother coloring her hair quite a few years ago, about the same time Dawn decided to start bleaching hers and only highlighted occasionally. Suddenly she was acutely aware that it probably needed some brightening up and that she should have done that before she got here …before he saw me.
I must look a sight, she thought… like something the vamps drug in. Definitely not his ‘goldilocks’anymore… Summer’s hair was naturally on the brunette side leaning towards auburn.
“Anyway Child,” Sister Kate said turning her attentions back to the mop, “…we should let you get dressed. D’shelle’s almost got the floor cleaned up and we have work to do elsewhere. Always busy don’t ya know.”
Buffy could see the lanky woman sigh as she wrung out the mop and suddenly felt that she should make up for them having to do the floor twice. “Is there something I could do to help? I mean, I don’t really have anything to do while I‘m here, Spike‘s working and…”
“Sure we could find you something to keep from getting bored. We can always use help in the kitchen, especially this time of year, “ Kate said.
“I really can’t cook very well, “Buffy said. “I usually burn the Jell-O.”
“Nothing so complicated as that Child,” Kate replied.
D’shelle blanched when she understood where Kate was heading, that’s not where they usually start out, she thought, cleaning and making beds were easy, that is a test of fortitude usually reserved for seasoned volunteers.
“Just helping out the little ones in the lunchroom. “ Kate continued helping D’shelle put the mops and bucket in the utility locker. The lanky woman cringed slightly, but Buffy did not see her.
“Oh, I could do that!” Buffy exclaimed, excited at the prospect of being useful.
She might be a demon slayer, D’shelle thought, but she doesn’t know what she is in for.
“Righty then,” Kate added as she wheeled to the door, “…lunch is at twelve and kitchen’s in the basement, just wonder on down, they’ll put you to work.”
The Lanky woman stuck her head around the door on her way out and said, “It’s not too bad, really, just watch the peas.” She let the door close behind her and tried to catch up to Kate’s wheelchair. “They’re evil, “ she continued quietly so Sister Kate would not hear.
“Peas?” Buffy said aloud with a wrinkly nose as she gathered her clothes to get dressed.
"Morning Sunshine," Spike said. He was sitting cross-legged atop the fridge at the foot of the bed pecking away at the laptop's keyboard.
"Huh…oh…morning," Buffy yawned and stretched.
"Ready for breakfast?" He nodded toward the shelf an arm’s length from the pillow without looking up from the keyboard. There sat a breakfast tray with milk, juice, toast and cereal, and a small vase with three sunny little flowers. "Got eggs and sausages in the microwave."
"Yum," she yawned again. "What time is it?"
"Ten-thirty," he was still typing intently.
"Good sleep," she stretched, "…you said there were eggs?"
He shut the microwave door with an elbow and it started to hum.
Buffy looked at the tray. She picked up a flower and sniffed it. "You're going to make me fat," she said, putting the flower back in the vase. "Smells good," she added quietly.
The microwave dinged.
"You could stand a few, Love, and besides…" he said, finally looking up
from the laptop. He opened the microwave and handed the plate across the bed to her. "…there weren't many leftovers from last night."
"Yeah, I was hungry. What cha working on?"
"Oh, uh…dissertation…final….it's late."
"Uh…ha…behavioral sciences…….need it for here. Uh, got you some stuff," he said as he went back to pecking at the keyboard. "…shower stuff, and some
"Sorry, ripe," she asked, pouring milk over the cereal, the eggs and sausages already gone.
"No…not too…just thought you might like…."
"Yeah, pretty grungy."
"Done," Spike said, pushing the send button. He closed the laptop and slid off the fridge.
"I gotta go back to work," he said, plugging the charger into the laptop and depositing it on the shelf. "There's clean towels in the wardrobe and, uh…you'll need the badge to get back in if you leave staff quarters. We'll go get your car and stuff tonight."
"It's a rental…not mine…have to turn it in soon."
"We can do that too. Come out when you want. I'll be in the offices…uh…they're back the hall behind the main desk."
"Kay," she said and he was out the door.
Maybe I should make an appointment,she thought.