|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Isn’t She Lovely?
Spike and Buffy spend some time with Bess and try to help her start to fit into the modern world.
Edmond “Eddie” Giles Rosenberg-Maclay born March 11, 2010
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle Dawn, "Dani" and William Rupert, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.
Annie was born on February 14th, 1999
Spike and Buffy were married in February 1999
Buffy was born January 19th, 1981
William/Spike was turned by Dru in
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.
The ‘Wish-World’ lasted from January 19th, 2005 to January, 16th 2010.
Isn’t She Lovely, Stevie Wonder: http://youtu.be/IVvkjuEAwgU
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:
Special thanks to 'epd4' for betaing this chapter!!
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, 12:30pm, London:
Buffy dreamt that she was walking in a forest of ‘breakfast’ … there were trees made from bacon with dozens of white eggs hanging from them like apples, at her feet were hash browns, fried crispy, and they crunched as she walked, and off to the side was a river of foamy, mocha coffee. She peeled some bacon-bark off one of the trees and nibbled on it as she walked through the forest and wondered where the ketchup was for the hash browns…
“Buffy…” she heard Spike’s voice calling her and she turned around to find him standing in the doorway of a house that was made out of thick Belgian waffles, with golden syrup running down from the peaked roof and dripping slowly from the eaves.
“Spike … do you know where the ketchup is?” she asked him, scooping up a handful of hash browns and heading towards him.
“I got you ketchup, pet … c’mon then, time to eat,” he replied, heading back inside the waffle house.
“Thank goodness. I’m starving,” Buffy replied, breaking off more bacon from the trunks of the trees and picking some eggs to add to the hash browns she’d scooped up.
“Buffy … pet, ya gotta wake up to eat,” Spike informed her, shaking her shoulder lightly.
“Huh?” Buffy questioned as she dropped all the food to the ground, breaking the eggs.
“Slayer … wake up,” Spike repeated, waving a strip of bacon under her nose like smelling salts.
Buffy shook her head and opened her eyes. “Where are we?” she questioned groggily, still half asleep.
“At the hotel in London, pet,” Spike reminded her. “Watcher got us some food. C’mon, then – up and at ‘em.”
“What time is it?” Buffy pondered as she rubbed her tired eyes.
“Time to wake up,” Spike retorted, moving away from the bed with the bacon to lure her up.
“Don’t be a wise guy … I can still kick your ass, even half asleep,” Buffy grumbled as she sat up and dropped her head into her hands tiredly.
“You could try,” Spike dared her with a smirk. “But you’d have to get out of the bloody bed first,” he pointed out. “It’s half past twelve … that’s in the afternoon. C’mon – he even got you ketchup and two double chocolate Frappuccinos with whipped cream…
Buffy swung her legs out of the bed and pulled on a t-shirt and shorts. Spike was already dressed and he was standing at the table in the room, which was filled to overflowing with food, nibbling on strips of bacon.
“You look better,” Buffy observed as she made her way to the bathroom.
“Thanks to the stubborn bint I’m married to,” Spike agreed. He had to admit that the blood she’d given him had made a world of difference. Most of his small wounds were nothing more than red blotches on his skin now, his stomach still hurt, but he could feel the muscles beginning to mend and he could actually stand up straight now. His eyes were still blackened, but just slightly swollen and, although he left the tape on his nose, it felt like it was healing alright, too.
Buffy came out of the bathroom, walked up to him and put her arms around his neck. “You should just learn that you can’t argue with me … I don’t know why you even try, because you know I’m right and you’re wrong – always.”
Spike dropped a kiss on her lips and pulled back to look into her eyes. “I’m just a slow learner, I reckon,” he teased as he held up a strip of bacon for her and she bit down on it ferociously.
“Oi! Watch the digits!” Spike objected with wide eyes, jerking his hand away from the hungry lioness in his arms. Buffy laughed as she released him, still chewing on the strip of bacon, and sat down at the table to dig into the meal Giles had gotten for them.
Spike laughed as Buffy began tucking into the food like a three hundred pound truck driver and moaning in pleasure. He was glad to see that she was alright and found one other bright spot from the time she’d spent alone in the ‘Wish World’ – the extra healing magic that had been left in the scythe. It wasn’t as good as having something that would work like the Gem of Amarra for her, but it was a close second.
“Gonna go check on our girl … see if she fancies a nosh up,” Spike told her as he turned and started towards the door.
“Did Giles get any blood?” Buffy questioned, talking with her mouth half full of food.
“Yeah – he got that and he got that bloody phone replaced. Red’s emailed him new photos of the little Munster, though – they couldn’t retrieve the old ones, so be ready,” Spike warned her.
Buffy furrowed her brows, then rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Eddie Munster … I get it,” she moaned before taking a big bite of the Belgian waffles that were smothered in the same thick, golden syrup that had been in her dream.
Bess came back with Spike, barefoot and dressed in the shorts and shirt Buffy had given her to sleep in. Spike waved a hand at the empty chair next to Buffy and Bess sat down and looked at all the food on the table.
“How did you sleep?” Buffy asked between bites.
“Well,” Bess replied as she watched Buffy gobble up another bite of waffles.
“Here,” Buffy offered, pushing the platter of waffles towards her. “Don’t be shy … help yourself.”
Bess furrowed her brows and looked at the platter of food, then over at Spike, who was warming a mug of blood for her in the small microwave in the room. “But … I don’t eat …” Bess stammered, not wanting to be rude. “I’m a vampire,” she reminded Buffy.
“So?” Buffy argued. “Doesn’t mean you can’t eat food … it tastes good – here, try this,” Buffy offered Bess the other Frappuccino that she hadn’t dug into yet. “I bet you’ll like it.”
Bess took the drink from Buffy’s hand just as Spike showed up with a mug of blood for her. “I … I don’t want to be a bother …”
“It’s no bother. Slayer’s right – it tastes bloody brilliant. Listen to your mum, Buttercup, try it,” Spike assured her as he sat the mug of blood down on the table next to the Frappuccino.
Bess looked from one to the other of the blondes and shrugged before taking a sip of the chocolaty drink Buffy had given her. Bess’ eyes went wide when the sweet, cold liquid hit her tongue and she savored the flavor in her mouth for several moments before swallowing it and taking another deep drink. Bess closed her eyes as the chocolaty sweetness covered her taste-buds and sent her mind spiraling back in time to the last birthday she’d spent in Philadelphia with her family. Their mother, Wanda, had baked a chocolate cake, which she did three times a year – for each of the children’s birthdays, since that was their very favorite, but too expensive for ‘everyday’.
Bess remembered the day like it was only yesterday – she’d gotten the pair of roller skates that she’d been begging for ever since she saw them in the window at Woolworth's at Christmastime. At the time, her mother had told her they were too dangerous, she’d break an arm with those contraptions strapped to her feet, dashing Bess' hopes that she’d find them under the Christmas tree. That birthday had been one of the best days of her entire life, and, although she did get a few scraped knees and elbows and once she banged up her chin, she never did break an arm, even when she crashed at the bottom of Lemon Tree Hill after going faster than the wind all the way down the steep street.
Bess opened her eyes and looked at Spike and Buffy with childlike wonder. “It’s … it’s wonderful!” she exclaimed. “But certainly much too expensive to waste …” she objected, setting the drink back down next to Buffy.
“If you like it, then it’s not a waste,” Buffy explained, pushing the drink back towards her. “Here … try some waffles, too – they’re ‘scrummy’,” Buffy told her, using the same word that Bess had used so many years ago to describe the treacle pudding that Nell had made that night she’d eaten dinner with them.
Bess hesitated momentarily, then picked up a fork and dug into the waffles and syrup with enthusiastic abandon, and they were nearly as wonderful as the chocolate drink, in fact, everything she tried was wonderful in its own way, and sent old memories racing through her mind of happier times with her family. She didn’t fight the feeling of warmth that washed through her body, but didn’t take time to dwell on it or ponder what it meant. Bess watched as Spike crumbled up some Weetabix and burba weed into his mug of blood, and she followed his lead and soon the three were chatting and eating, making plans for a shopping trip after their afternoon ‘breakfast’, including a stop at a sweet shop to get more of those Cadbury fudge and Wispa bars, before they had to go back to the Council Headquarters and meet with Giles, Wes, and Faith and try to sort out what to do next.
Buffy checked with the concierge about shopping in the area, and they recommended Camden Markets, which was only a couple of miles away, less if they cut through Regents Park, so Buffy put on her boots and gave Bess her sneakers, even though they were a little big on her, and they headed out … well, sort of…
Bess stood under the canopy at the front of the hotel and shook her head adamantly, crossing her arms over her chest and standing firm – out of the sunlight.
“Bess, it’s ok – the Gem will protect you,” Buffy assured the girl, but all kinds of warning bells were ringing in Bess’ head, screaming ‘danger!’ at the top of their lungs and freezing her in her tracks.
“No … I can’t,” she argued, pulling back away from Buffy when Buffy tried to guide her into the light. “Why can’t we go tonight?”
“We have to go back to the Council building tonight and figure out what to do … we don’t have much time, Bess – we need to go get you some clothes and shoes that fit and something for your hair and … chocolate!” Buffy cajoled. “You like chocolate, right? Well, to get it, we have to go into the sun. I promise it will be alright…”
Bess shook her head again. She didn’t like chocolate enough to die for it.
Buffy sighed and walked back under the canopy with her. Spike … can you come downstairs– I need some help, Buffy sent through the bond. “Bess, remember how you got stabbed and the wound just healed?” Buffy asked.
“Yeah…” Bess answered hesitantly.
“Well, this is the same thing – the Gem protected you from that, and it’ll protect you from the sun, too,” Buffy tried again, but Bess was having no part of it – the alarms blaring in her brain kept her frozen in place.
“What’s goin’ on?” Spike asked a moment later when he emerged from the hotel and joined them under the canopy.
“She won’t go out in the sun,” Buffy explained with a sympathetic frown.
“Ahhh, well now … that is a bit of a pickle, innit?” Spike questioned rhetorically as he stepped up in front of Bess. “Feels like every cell in your body wants to run back inside, it does. Makes the hair on the back o’ your neck stand up and sends tingles shooting down your spine…takes all your willpower just to stand ‘ere, yeah? Bloody frightenin’.”
Bess looked up and met his eyes and nodded thoughtfully, somewhat surprised that he knew just how she felt.
“I remember the first time I had the Gem, just like you, I hadn’t been in the light for decades,” Spike began sympathetically. “I went outside in the street and watched the sun rise over the horizon, watched its rays inch closer and closer to m’ body and I wanted to run back in more than I’d ever wanted anything before, but you know why I didn’t?” Spike asked her.
“Because you’re insane?” Bess answered, not entirely kidding.
“Nooo …” Spike assured her, thinking she sounded just like Buffy with that smart ass answer. “’Cos I could remember what the sun on m’ skin felt like. I could remember how warm it was and how it tingles when it touches you and how bloody brilliant it was. Can you remember the sun, Buttercup?” Spike wondered.
Bess pulled her top lip into her mouth, chewed on it lightly with her teeth and closed her eyes as she searched her memories … it didn’t take long for her remember the sun. She was about eleven when their parents had packed the family up and headed for Atlantic City for their summer vacation. A whole week spent in the sand and surf and on the famous boardwalk, running and laughing and swimming and playing in the sun with her brother and sister and what seemed like a million other families. Anne and Billy’s tender, alabaster skin had gotten sunburned, but Bess spent most of her time outdoors playing, not indoors reading books, and she’d just turned a golden tan by the end of that week. She’d forgotten how much she loved being outdoors, romping and playing in the sun … it seemed like a different life, a life lost a very long time ago.
Bess opened her eyes and looked at Spike as tears welled in her eyes. “I remember…” she whispered to him.
“Good…now, keep that memory right here,” he admonished her, tapping her on her forehead. “Ignore all them buggerin’ alarms and just remember the sun, can you do that?”
“I’ll try.” Bess took a deep breath and kept running the memory of that trip like a video loop in her mind, concentrating on it with all her strength to keep it in front and pushing the warning bells to the back of her mind.
“Good, now reach out and take Buffy’s hand,” Spike instructed her, motioning to Buffy to step out into the sun at the side of the canopy.
Buffy backed up into the sunlight and reached her hand out towards Bess and Bess hesitantly reached her hand towards Buffy. When she got to the spot where the sun met the shade, she stopped momentarily and closed her eyes, running the scenes from Atlantic City in her mind faster and faster. Bess opened her eyes and swallowed hard then quickly reached the rest of the way out to grasp Buffy’s hand in the sunlight.
She stopped and waited for the sun to burn her, for the pain, for the smoke … but nothing happened; nothing except the warmth of the sun tingling and heating her skin. Bess’ eyes went wide with joy and wonder and she looked back at Spike. “I did it!” she exclaimed. “It doesn’t burn!”
Spike smiled at her as she practically danced out from under the canopy into the sun, holding her arms out away from her sides and lifting her face to the rays. “Oh my God! I’m in the sun! It’s really true! It won’t hurt me!”
Buffy met Spike’s eyes with hers as he stayed under the safety of the canopy and she could see tears glistening in his eyes for his girl; tears of joy, tears of pride, tears of regret that she’d been kept from such a simple joy for so long. Spike nodded and gave Buffy a smile and Buffy began guiding the giddy girl down the sidewalk towards the marketplace. If Bess thought that was fun, wait until they got to the shoe shop.
Spike let out a sigh as he watched them walk away … watched them go where he couldn’t any longer, but his self pity was quickly replaced with a peaceful gladness that he could give that joy back to his daughter. When the girls turned a corner and disappeared from sight, Spike turned around to head back into the hotel and found a small group of people had gathered around them, watching the spectacle. “What’s the matter, never seen anyone cured of heliophobia before?” he asked the group with disdain as he pushed past them and went back inside.
Shopping with Bess was more of a challenge than Buffy had anticipated … styles had changed drastically since Bess had been in the world and it was hard to convince her that girls could wear things other than modest dresses that fell below the knee. Buffy finally convinced her to try on some jeans and she bought two pairs, along with two soft, stretchy, colorful and wrinkle-free tank tops. They also bought a simple cotton dress that Bess liked and got her some strappy, flat sandals to wear with it, a pair of boots, and a retro, tie-die t-shirt that Bess was intrigued with. Underwear wasn’t a big problem, although Bess was a bit surprised by the lack of actual material in the current version of bloomers, making her wonder if there was some kind of shortage in that particular type of fabric. Bras were a challenge … Bess was somewhere between a B and a C cup, the B was too small, the C was really too big. Buffy had seen half size cups at the department store back home, but they didn’t have any in any of the shops in the marketplace. The dilemma was solved when they passed a sporting goods store … sports bras would work perfectly. While they were in there, Buffy picked out a one piece bathing suit for Bess, too, just in case they found an actual swimming pool.
Buffy held her breath at the last store they stopped at, the candy shop, hoping that she hadn’t maxed out her credit card. Who knew it was so expensive to clothe a teenager, even meagerly? Even with just the basic toiletries, two pairs of shoes, a backpack she could use as a carry-on suitcase, and not even enough clothes to make a week without having to do laundry or re-wear an outfit, it had completely blown the breathing room they’d had on the one credit card they normally used. She had two others – one had the airline tickets and hotel bill on it, the other was clear, but she was trying hard not to run up more debt, especially since they were now both officially unemployed.
“Sorry … it was declined,” the young girl behind the counter told Buffy nonchalantly, handing the card back to her.
“Oh … I’m sorry … ummmm, here, try this one,” Buffy stammered embarrassed as she handed her the other card, but the girl didn’t bat an eye as she re-ran it, apparently having cards declined wasn’t anything new to her, but it was to Buffy.
“Ow! Ow! Ooow! Ow!” Bess exclaimed as Buffy tried to comb the tangles out of her daughter's long hair later that evening.
Buffy sighed and stopped pulling on the comb, dropping her hands to her sides in defeat. She’d already used half a bottle of creme rinse and two bottles of Johnson’s ‘No More Tangles’ on Bess’ thick hair … but it was no use.
They’d gotten back to the hotel, showed Spike their purchases and had late afternoon tea, then Buffy tried to get Bess’ hair combed out for the first time in God only knew how many years before they had to head back to the Council building.
“I’m sorry … I don’t think we’re gonna be able to get it,” Buffy admitted, laying the comb back down on the dresser. “I’m gonna have to cut it …”
Bess scrunched her nose up and frowned deeply. “But girls don’t have short hair … it’s not proper,” she complained.
Buffy let out a long breath. “It’ll be alright,” she assured the girl. “Nowadays girls have any length hair they want … believe me, no one will think anything of it. It’ll be cute … and it’ll grow back, trust me.”
Bess sighed as she ran her hand over the damp mass of tangles. “If you’re sure…”
“Beyond sure … it’ll be fine,” Buffy confirmed as she pulled a pair of scissors from one of the shopping bags – happy that she’d anticipated this possibility earlier when they were at the market.
Buffy started by trying to cut about half the length off Bess’ hair and see if she could get the rest to detangle … but it was no use; it was like trying to detangle Bob Marley’s dreadlocks… it wasn’t happening. Buffy snipped Bess’ hair shorter and shorter until it was a chin length bob, then she went back to trying to detangle what remained. Finally, after an epic battle of wills, Buffy prevailed over Bess’ thick, blonde curls. Buffy massaged some mousse into the girl’s hair and let her curls take over, running her fingers through her short, blonde locks and just letting them fall naturally around her face.
Willow had called earlier and asked for a photo for the passport, so Buffy turned her attention to Bess’ face – she was supposed to be eighteen, not fourteen. Buffy shaped the girl’s brows and applied some makeup, eye shadow, rouge, lipstick, and mascara, all in natural tones that complimented Bess’ creamy white complexion, and gave her a slightly older look. When she was done, Buffy sat back and looked at her – it was like looking at a completely different girl than the one they’d brought out of the dungeon. All cleaned up with her hair short, and now curly, and the makeup … Bess’ beauty had been let out of its dungeon as well.
“You look beautiful,” Buffy told her, turning the girl around by the shoulders to face the mirror.
“Do I?” Bess questioned, running a hand through her short hair – it felt funny to be so short, but it was really fluffy and soft, too, which was a change from the old matted tangles she’d had for so long.
“Yes, you’re a lovely young lady,” Buffy assured her, but then moaned when she looked in the mirror and realized her mistake. She turned Bess back to face her, away from the empty mirror. “Sorry…” she muttered as she picked the smart phone up off the dresser and tried to remember how to take a picture with it … Giles had just showed her a little while ago when Willow had called.
“Ok, let’s see … Oh, yeah, I remember now,” Buffy said confidently as she held the phone up and framed Bess’ face. “Ok, say ‘cheese!’” Buffy instructed brightly and Bess looked at her with confusion. “Never mind, just smile…” she amended. “Like when you walked out into the sun…”
Buffy took a few pictures and showed them to Bess on the phone. Bess looked at the photos of herself with a mix of wonder and amazement … she pretty much looked the same as she remembered, except she’d always had long hair and it had been more wavy than curly, but her face looked the same. The makeup made her look a little older, she supposed, but basically, she hadn’t changed at all.
“You have your father’s eyes,” Buffy pointed out to her. “The most beautiful blue … and so expressive.”
Bess looked back at the photo and thought of Spike’s eyes as she ran a hand over her face, trying to feel what she could see reflected in the photo. “And I think your mouth … and nose …” Bess observed with a touch of wonder, looking from the photo up to Buffy’s face. “Are you sure my hair’s not too short? People may think I’m a boy,” Bess worried.
Buffy snorted a soft laugh. “I can guarantee that no one will think you’re a boy. I think it looks really cute on you – honest.
“Ok, we better get ready to go and I have to give the phone back to Giles so he can email that picture to Willow and we can get you a passport,” Buffy told her, taking the phone back from Bess.
“Are we … am I to go back to California with you?” Bess wondered.
“That was the plan … Do you want to go back with us?” Buffy questioned, suddenly realizing that they had assumed she would want to go, but no one had ever actually asked Bess.
“Would I be … I mean … would I live in your house with your other children? Do you have room?” Bess asked as she considered Buffy’s question.
“We have plenty of room,” Buffy assured her then sat down on the chair next to Bess. “We know you’re not a child, Bess, but the world has changed a lot since … well, since you lived in it. You could live with us, we could show you how things work now, you could finish high school if you wanted to, maybe go to college even or … well, whatever you wanted to do.”
Bess looked down at her hands, which were folded in her lap, and nodded. She’s always dreamed of getting out of the dungeon, but she’d never really thought about the reality of being out. Never considered where she would live or what she would do or even how she would fit into the world – a nineteenth century vampire in the twenty-first century. “I … I hadn’t really thought about, you know, what I would do,” Bess admitted, looking back up at Buffy. “I very much appreciate the kindness you’ve shown me. I think I would like to stay with you, if you’re sure it wouldn’t be a burden … Billy says California is nice.”
Buffy smiled softly and reached out to brush a stray curl away from her eyes. “Bess, you are not a burden or a bother – you’re a joy to us. Spike and I are both sorry for all you’ve been through, we hope we can make it up to you … give you good memories to replace the bad ones,” Buffy reassured her, dropping her hand away from the girl’s face and laying it over Bess’ where she had them folded in her lap and giving them a squeeze.
“Now, we better get going before Giles sends a St. Bernard with a cask of whiskey to come find us,” Buffy teased, as she stood up. “We’ll meet you in the hall in ten minutes, ok?”
Bess nodded and stood up as well, dropping the towel that she’d had wrapped around her body since Buffy had re-washed and crème-rinsed her hair, and picking up a pair of the new jeans that Buffy had bought for her on their shopping trip. She sighed as she started to pull them on, she still wasn’t sure people wouldn’t think she was a boy in trousers and short hair…
“Who is this vision in blue?” Spike questioned when he stepped out in the hall and saw Bess already waiting for them. She was dressed in blue jeans and a blue tank top and the boots that they’d bought that day.
Bess smiled shyly and tucked a strand of her hair behind one ear. “Does it look alright?” she questioned, waving her arms out to encompass her outfit.
“Looks like you’re waiting for an unworthy berk to pick you up for a date … too bad you’ll have to settle for us,” Spike observed with a smirk. Buffy was still getting ready, she’d sent him out to tell Bess she’d be just a couple more minutes. Spike had taken the tape off his nose, it seemed to be set back in it's proper place, but his eyes were still a bit blackened and swollen.
“Is my hair … it’s not too short?” Bess questioned, running a hand through her curls and tousling them.
“The do’s quite fetchin’,” Spike assured her. “You’re just as beautiful as your mum.”
Bess smiled again and looked down at the ground, fidgeting nervously. She’d had lots of men compliment her skills in the white room, but none had ever actually told her she was beautiful … Her mom and dad used to tell her that, but they didn’t really count, certainly every parent thought their child was beautiful. Bess frowned suddenly … was that what this was, too? Spike was her father … her real father, as Anne used to say, when she told her stories of their life ‘before’.
Bess looked up and met Spike’s eyes. “You’re just saying that … all parents think that,” she pointed out.
Spike’s brows shot up and he pursed his lips together. “Do they, now? Right then, maybe we should go downstairs and take a survey. I bet you won’t find one male, from the pimply-faced bell hop to the geriatric doorman that wouldn’t agree. What do you say? Ready to be proven beautiful?”
“You wouldn’t…” Bess protested, wringing her hands nervously, but at the same time curious about what a ‘real man’ … not her father, would think about her outfit and hair.
“Wouldn’t I?” Spike questioned, cocking a brow, just as Giles emerged from his room. It had taken him longer than expected to get the photo emailed to Willow … he still didn’t remember exactly what he’d done to finally get it to work. Maybe later Olivia could help him master that, as well…
“We can start right here,” Spike informed her with a smirk. “Watcher, what do ya think of our girl?”
Giles looked up from the phone at Bess and his eyes widened in surprise. He wasn’t sure he would’ve recognized her if they’d simply passed on the street. “She looks quite … clean,” Giles offered.
“Clean?” Spike questioned incredulously. “That the best you got? Clean? It’s a wonder that girl a’ yours didn’t toss you out of her car on your bloody ear before you cleared the soddin’ airport.”
“I … well … ummm,” Giles stammered, not sure what Spike wanted him to say.
“Quite fetchin’, ain’t she?” Spike prodded, turning Bess to face Giles.
“Indeed,” Giles agreed dryly.
Spike rolled his eyes. Rupert wasn’t playing along. Spike really wanted to instill some self-confidence in their girl; the wankers at the Council had broken her down, she needed to believe she had worth. She needed to really believe that she was beautiful and smart and strong, like Spike knew she was … otherwise, she wouldn’t stand a chance out in the real world. Without a sense of her own worth, she’d fall in with the first blighter that winked at her and that could only lead to even further erosion of her self-esteem and heartache and make it even harder for her to trust anyone, and that wasn’t what he wanted for her.
“You can’t deny, if you saw this lovely bird sitting alone, you’d chat her up in a heartbeat,” Spike continued.
Giles raised his brows and looked at Spike. What was he playing at? Spike widened his eyes and nodded at Giles, encouraging him to answer as he stood behind Bess, out of her view.
Giles removed his glasses and scrubbed them furiously with his handkerchief, finally replacing them before answering. “At the risk of being pummeled by her father …” Giles began hesitantly. “Bess is a lovely girl who’ll no doubt be breaking hearts from London to Los Angeles very shortly, and yes, if I were a few years younger, I’d definitely …errr … ‘chat her up’.”
“She’s a hundred and ten,” Spike reminded Giles with a smirk.
“Indeed, well then, perhaps if I were older …” Giles amended.
“What’s going on?” Buffy asked as she walked up behind Spike and Bess.
“I believe Spike is trying to create an excuse to pummel me…” Giles offered. “Shall we go before he succeeds?”
Buffy looked quizzically at Spike, but Spike just shook his head and rolled his eyes as the three blondes followed Giles down the stairs and out into the cool London night.
As they walked the short distance from the hotel to the headquarters building, Giles’ phone rang. It was Willow letting them know she’d gotten the passport taken care of, they just needed to go to the American Embassy and tell them they’d lost it and they would issue another one – it would show up on their computer as having been originally issued two months ago. She also said she was ready to perform the re-souling spell anytime they were.
Buffy looked at Spike who frowned deeply. He knew it had to be done, but worried what it would do to this girl that was just starting to find some joy in the world.
Spike … you know it has to be done. Without us, it will be the only thing to guide her – we can’t be by her side twenty-four hours a day to make sure she doesn’t do anything…bitey, Buffy urged him silently through their bond.
Spike met Buffy’s eyes with his as they walked and finally nodded his acquiescence. Giles told Willow they’d call back when they got to Council headquarters and she could go ahead and do it right off.
In the Council building, the foursome commandeered an empty office, which wasn’t hard because they were all empty. Spike sat Bess down in one of the guest chairs in front of the desk and knelt in front of her.
“They’re gonna put your soul back, pet,” Spike began softly. “It’ll hurt right here,” Spike rubbed his own chest to illustrate, “for a minute or so. What you need to remember more than anything, is what happened to you isn’t your fault. You were a good Slayer, you were just alone,” Spike assured her, repeating what Buffy had told him when they’d read Harold Travers’ diary about her ‘demise’. “But you’re not alone anymore – we’re here, your mum and me and Rupert and back home you’ll have the Nib… you’ll have Annie and Dani and Billy. We’ll all help you, you can talk to any of us, anytime, yeah?” Spike continued in a reassuring tone. “Nothing that’s happened was your fault … remember that.”
Bess looked at him with confusion on her face, not quite understanding what he was trying to say, but nodded anyway, he seemed to need her to understand and she didn’t want to disappoint him.
“Right then,” Spike concluded, looking at Giles and nodding, giving him the go-ahead to have Willow do the spell.
The group waited in the musty office. Buffy looked around and idly wondered if it was mandatory for all Watchers to have old books in their offices to make them smell … what was that supposed to smell like? Was that what intelligence smelt like? Or perhaps it was arrogance. Whatever it was, she was glad she didn’t have it.
“What’s taking so long?” Buffy wondered after about fifteen minutes of idle pondering.
“It does have to travel halfway around the world … I would guess it would take longer than if we were right there,” Giles offered.
“Wouldn’t China be halfway around the world?” Buffy questioned. “I mean, Mom always said if you dug straight down through the Earth, you’d come up in China … not England.”
“Actually, I believe, from California, you’d end up nearer Madagascar than China,” Giles corrected her dryly.
“Madagascar? Ewwww … they have really big, angry termites there,” Buffy quipped, but was met with blank stares from Giles and Spike. “Never mind, inside joke.”
“Inside what?” Giles wondered.
“The black hole that is my warped and sometimes brilliant mind,” Buffy offered with an eye roll as she made a mental note to not perpetuate the myth her mother had passed on to her about digging through to China. No wonder she was always horrible at geography.
After half an hour, just as Buffy was about to tell Giles to call Willow back, his phone rang. “Willow, have you completed the spell?” Giles questioned without preamble, putting the phone on ‘speaker’ so everyone could hear.
“Yeah … well, that’s just it. I did it, just like before, but nothing’s happening. The orb isn’t capturing it from the ether …I tried it three times. I was hoping it had skipped a step and just gone right there,” Willow told him with disappointment. “I guess not, huh?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” Giles replied, looking at Bess who hadn’t moved from her chair or been in any distress at all.
“Well … maybe I was wrong about the distance not being a problem,” Willow offered, not really believing it, but it was the only hope she could think of to cling to.
“Perhaps…” Giles agreed halfheartedly, also not believing that was the problem. Although he wasn’t sure what the problem was precisely, he didn’t think distance was it.
Isn’t She Lovely, Stevie Wonder
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