|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Stay With me, reprise
Buffy and Spike start to realize the challenges they'll face with their jaded, century old, teenage daughter ...
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.
Stay With Me, Colbie Caillat: http://youtu.be/WsuYTnetvxM
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise: http://www.screencap-paradise.com/?cat=3
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.
(Next morning) Tuesday, May 3rd, 2010, 6:00am, Council Headquarters, London:
Giles sighed wearily and dropped his glasses onto the heavy desk he was sitting at before rubbing his blood-shot, bleary eyes. Last night, after Olivia had inspected the inventory of the Council building and assured him that she would contact her friend at the auction house and have a proper inventory and estimate done later in the week, they had gone to dinner then to her flat for a ‘nightcap’. Despite his heart … and certain other parts of his anatomy, wanting to stay and wake at her side in the morning, the nagging worry about all the issues that had been heaped upon him these last days forced him to crawl from her bed in the wee hours of the morning, leaving her with only a note to wake to.
He’d just finished looking through the last book in Travers’ office … searching for these prophecies that the Council Head kept spouting off about. Giles had previously heard of the Santos Veritas Prophecy and found it quoted in several volumes, including the most reliable, the Codex.
A seer of truth shall be born under the crescent moon, during the harvest’s bounty, on the day that falls one short of the month and the year. The seventh child, a daughter of fire, born to the fair, immortal warriors, guarded by the sign of Libra, shall see the truth through a veil of lies, uncover the darkness shrouded by the light, and possess the power to tip the scales.
He could not, however, find anything about ‘The Tetrad’ in the Codex or any other of the ancient tomes in the office. He looked down at his notes and read what he’d written, what the newly risen Travers had quoted to him, again …
To reap the harvest they have sown, she who brings forth The Tetrad from her loins must stand alone against the End of Days with neither friend nor foe nor kith nor kin betwixt her heart and the gaping maw of hell.
He’d read it so often, he could spew it like Travers had by now, but he read it again anyway, looking in vain for something that would tell him what it meant. He started with what he knew … ‘Tetrad’ meant ‘four’ … ‘she who brings the four from her loins’ … But hadn’t Travers just pointed out that Spike and Buffy have seven children? Isn’t that one of the points of the Santo Veritas prophecy?
“But Buffy didn’t birth all seven…” Giles muttered to himself. “She’s ‘brought forth from her loins’ only four … or soon to be four.”
Giles drew a line out from the word “Tetrad” on his paper and wrote: “Annie, Billy, Dani, and … Veritas.”
So, according to this, as yet unconfirmed and unnamed, prophecy, Buffy and Spike’s children ‘sow’ … or begin something that Buffy alone can reap … or finish. And to finish, she must stand alone against the ‘End of Days’. Giles closed his eyes, dropped his chin to his chest, and rubbed at the back of his neck. There were many references to the ‘end of days’ … nearly half the prophecies throughout history spoke of the end of days in one manner or another, but the way this prophecy spoke of it sounded like it could be a demon named ‘The End of Days’ rather than a point in time, which Buffy had to face alone. Giles had looked for a reference to a demon with that name, but could find none, although many demons promised to bring forth the ‘end of days’ one way or another, there were none, as yet, that actually called themselves that - at least that they knew of.
The part about ‘neither friend nor foe nor kith nor kin betwixt her heart…’ also left him with nothing but questions. Did it mean her physical heart or her emotional heart? Did it mean, as Travers inferred, that she would have to lose her family and friends, lose Spike, to defeat the demon or did it simply mean she would have to be physically alone for the battle?
Then there was the ‘gaping maw of hell’ … that was the only part seemed pretty straightforward, they lived on the gaping maw of hell … it was a short walk down into the basement of the high school.
Giles sighed again, slipped his glasses back on, and drank the last of his now cold tea then began gathering up his notes and the few books that actually spoke of the Santos Veritas Prophecy and put them in a box. He hadn’t told Buffy or Spike … or anyone, what Travers had said about the End of Days … he had hoped to get more information before dropping yet another worry into their laps, however, he was running out of ideas about where to look for said information.
His only consolation was that it seemed unlikely that that particular prophecy could be imminent … certainly not before the baby was born. And, since it sounded like ‘The Tetrad’ had to work together to do something, it would likely be many years after the birth of the ‘seer of truth’ before the four Weckerly offspring would be capable of working in harmony to fulfill a prophecy. At least, he hoped so.
9:30am, Clapham Common bandstand:
Buffy yawned and stretched her bare limbs as she awoke slowly from her satiated slumber. She hadn’t felt this well rested in ages, things were finally simmering down … a welcome change from the rolling boil that had been engulfing them for the last week or so. They had rescued Bess, eliminated the old Council and were working on putting in a new guard. Tonight she and Spike and Bess, along with the other Slayers, would fly home … she couldn’t wait to see Annie, Dani, and Billy and introduce them to their new sister. There would be a period of adjustment, no doubt, for everyone and they still needed to figure out a solution to their financial woes and help get the new Council Guidance Committee and Apocalypse Leadership Team in place … but things were improving and she was optimistic that they would be even better soon.
Spike’s cool, bare body was spooned against her back, his arm draped over her middle, his hand cupped protectively over their littlest bit. Buffy smiled and laid her hand over his as the memories of the previous night played in her mind. They had definitely made plenty of new, happy memories in the bandstand to replace the angst-ridden ones from 1890. Buffy looked around the pavilion. The sheer curtains hung loose around the perimeter, the breeze that had billowed through them the previous night was now still. The glittering, golden wall that surrounded the bandstand undulated slowly now, its movement barely perceivable, as the barrier kept prying eyes and people out of their magical sanctuary.
Spike stirred behind her and cuddled closer against her back before dropping a soft, sleepy kiss on her shoulder. Buffy’s stomach grumbled in hunger and suddenly she felt the baby kick … it was the first time their little miracle had expressed its opinion on such matters.
“Got another footballer, we do,” Spike commented with a proud smile as he rubbed his palm over the growing bulge in his wife’s stomach.
Buffy laughed. “Or the next Coney Island Hotdog eating champion…” she speculated as her stomach continued to rumble and the baby seemed to wiggle and squirm in agreement.
“Well then, better get that bit some nosh,” Spike suggested, stretching his lean body out with a deep moan before sitting up in the sea of pillows and looking for his clothes. “What time is it, anyway?” he wondered as he found his pants and stood up to pull them on.
Buffy stood up slowly and finally located her purse buried under a pile of the richly colored pillows. She pulled her cell phone out and her eyes went wide. “Oh my God! It’s almost ten! Bess and Giles are gonna think we fell in the river!
“We need to get going,” Buffy continued as she found her dress and pulled it back on then began looking for her shawl, thong, and shoes. “I still have to pack and get this wrap back to Olivia, and Giles wanted one more meeting before we left …”
“No worries, luv … got plenty of time for all that,” Spike assured her as he pulled his shirt on and began looking for his shoes.
As Spike was buttoning his shirt Buffy’s eyes went wide with fear. “Oh no…” she murmured, walking up to him and laying a hand on the scar on his chest. Her eyes met his … he still didn’t realize what …
“The Gem…” he mumbled, sighing heavily and lifting his face up to the ceiling. “The bloody sun’s out…” He’d gotten so used to ignoring that warning that tingled down his spine, so used to having the Gem, he’d completely forgotten to plan for how he’d get back to the hotel this morning.
“What are we gonna do?” Buffy asked, looking around for some kind of blanket or heavy cloth that he could use for cover but there was nothing like that … just the pillows. Maybe if he used a couple of the larger ones …
“I’ll haveta stay ‘ere … you go back to the hotel … or maybe there’re some shops … get a heavy blanket, yeah?” Spike began, running a hand through his curls as he started pacing back and forth. “Then find the nearest sewer entrance to ‘ere.” He hadn’t had to fear the sun in so long, he’d nearly forgotten how he used to get around in the daytime. “Can you find your way there and back?”
Buffy rolled her eyes as she pulled her shoes on. “Yes! They don’t call me ‘Douglas Corrigan’ for nothing…”
Spike laughed nervously. “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of, pet.”
When Buffy exited the bandstand, the sun was shining brightly … what happened to all that London fog? Of course, there would be no fog or grey skies on this day! She stopped a woman who was pushing a baby in a pram along the footpath and asked if she knew of anywhere nearby Buffy could buy bedding … the woman looked at her a little strangely, but shook her head ‘no’, so Buffy asked which way the closest Tube was. The woman pointed towards the south … in the opposite direction they’d come from. Buffy hoped the woman was right as she took off running as fast as she could down the footpath the woman had indicated.
It wasn’t too far before she saw the sign for the Underground and sighed in relief as she sprinted past joggers and runners who all looked a little put off by the girl wearing a fancy black dress and high heels who was outrunning them. Suddenly, just as Buffy was about to enter the Tube station, a thick bank of fog rolled in … seemingly from nowhere. She stopped abruptly and looked around … the whole area seemed to be totally blanketed with the damp, grey mist, the sun completely blotted from the sky.
Buffy turned around and sprinted back the way she’d come, nearly getting hit by a passing car as she crossed the street just outside the Tube entrance as she was unable to see it and they were unable to see her in the pea soup that surrounded them. Back at the bandstand, the fog persisted and was just as thick, keeping the deadly rays of the sun at bay. She started to run through the magical barrier, which from the outside looked like nothing at all … like the bandstand was there, but was empty, but she was knocked backwards when she hit it and landed hard on her backside.
“Owww!” she exclaimed, checking her nose for blood as she stood back up and brushed her dress off. “That wasn’t very nice…” she muttered, thinking that must be what the home barrier vampires encounter must feel like.
“Spike!” she called. “Come out! It’s ok …” Buffy waited a few moments, but he didn’t appear, then it dawned on her … they couldn’t hear the outside world from in there.
Spike? she tried again through the bond, hoping the magic didn’t block that too.
Lost already, are you? Spike replied, only half teasing.
Ha ha – you really should check on being a stand-up comic when we get home … Buffy quipped sarcastically, rolling her eyes. Come out – it’s ok … the sun’s behind the fog.
Within a few moments, Spike emerged from the seemingly empty bandstand, looking around warily. “I was sure the sun was out … I could feel it,” he commented as he pretended to cut the thick fog with his hand.
“It was … now it’s not. Let’s go before it comes back,” Buffy urged him, turning back towards the south and starting back to the Tube station at the south edge of the Common.
“Give us a minute, luv,” Spike requested, turning back towards the magical glamour around the pavilion. Spike pulled another leather satchel from his pocket, opened it and poured sparkling emerald green dust into his palm. As he began blowing it from his hand, the barrier dropped, revealing their jewel-toned sanctuary inside. Spike went back up the steps and began spreading the remaining magic dust around the room. As he scattered the dust, the pillows and curtains vanished and the remaining tatters of the golden barrier that still remained on the other side of the pavilion dropped completely.
Buffy saw the plate of food she’d saved for Bess sitting on the tray near the oven. “Wait!” she exclaimed just before he got to the food with the glittering green dust.
Buffy rushed up the steps and grabbed the plate of food before allowing him to continue.
Buffy stood at the top of the steps and sighed with a mixture of melancholy and contentment as Spike finished clearing the bandstand. She was sorry to see everything go, but glad for the time that they’d spent there, they really had made a night of wonderful memories to, if not replace, at least temper, balance out, the old ones. Buffy turned and looked down at the floor as she started back down the steps, but she stopped abruptly as confusion furrowed her brow. Buffy knelt down and ran one hand over the spot in the stone that she had cracked with her fist back in 1890 when guilt and frustration and misery had consumed her, the crack that had still been there when they arrived a few hours ago. The fissure in the stone was gone – completely healed.
Spike walked up to her and watched her hand slide back and forth over the smooth stone of the floor. She looked up at him and their eyes met and Buffy felt a serene joy wash over her. Just like their hearts had been healed, so had the evidence of their pain that had persisted for more than a century in the cold stone. Now the only physical reminder of that night which remained was a joyous one – the baby … Spike’s plan had worked perfectly.
Buffy smiled softly as she stood up and hooked her arm in his and they headed down the stairs together this time, without tears, without guilt, without remorse … with only a promise to stay … forever.
Suddenly, a cold breeze washed over the pair. Before they could even question it, the damp mist in the air turned into freezing rain then just as quickly changed again and a flurry of snowflakes began to fall from dark grey clouds. Buffy began to laugh as the snow fell even harder and crunched under their feet as they walked down the footpath towards the Underground. Spike held his hand out to catch the falling snow, awestruck by the unpredictable whim of nature. Snow in London in May? That would surely be one for the record books.
“We better hurry before she gets caught,” Buffy advised, lifting her face up to the clouds like a child and catching some of the frozen crystals in her mouth and on her outstretched tongue as they walked, her right hand still resting in the crook of Spike’s left arm.
“She?” Spike questioned. “Mother Nature?”
“Nope.” Buffy shook her head, dislodging the flakes that had settled there before looking at him with a contented smile.
“Wanda…” she clarified, leaning against his side and wrapping her arm around his waist and he did the same, settling his hand on her opposite hip. They walked arm in arm the rest of the way to the Underground in the snow … it was the perfect ending to a perfect night and a perfect new beginning for their littlest bit.
Since the sun was back out when they arrived at their destination near the hotel, Spike and Buffy parted at the Baker Street Underground station, Spike stayed underground and headed to the Council headquarters building via the sewers and deep level tunnels and Buffy headed above ground, going back to the hotel to change. She’d get Bess and they’d meet him at the headquarters building later.
Buffy had eaten the leftover cottage pie on the train, but had managed to save most of the treacle pudding and two of the candy cane biscuits for Bess. She was still hungry, but at least that had stopped her stomach from rumbling and satisfied the baby for a little while. She’d stop in and give the sweets to Bess, then order room service and get a shower and change. She might even have time to get some packing done before they had to head out for the early afternoon meeting Giles had wanted at the headquarters building. Their plane left that night, well after dark and would follow the night home to California.
As Buffy knocked on Bess’ hotel room door, she could hear Monty Python playing on the TV and Bess laughing. It was good to hear the girl laugh; Buffy hoped they’d hear a lot more of that now that she was free. Bess opened the door dressed in a too big, ‘Hard Rock Café – London’ t-shirt and apparently nothing else.
“Hi Buffy!” she greeted her cheerfully.
“Hey … looks like you’re in a good mood today,” Buffy observed, handing Bess the plate of food. “Brought you something …”
Bess took the plate, her eyes going wide when she saw the candy cane cookies and sweet pudding. “Thank you!” Bess exclaimed, picking up one of the cookies and taking a bite.
“You’re welcome. I’m gonna order room service, do you want anything?” Buffy asked as she turned across the hall to her room and began to unlock the door.
“No, thank you,” Bess replied, picking up some of the pudding with her fingers, tilting her head back, and dropping it into her mouth.
“Ok … well, be ready to head to the Council building at about noon, ok?” Buffy requested.
“Sure .. noon,” Bess agreed, stepping back in her room and starting to close the door.
Suddenly, a huge cartoon light bulb started flashing wildly over Buffy’s head. She hadn’t gotten Bess a ‘Hard Rock Café’ t-shirt …
Buffy turned around just as Bess was closing the door. “Bess!” she called, stepping back across the hall.
“Where did you get that shirt?” Buffy asked, as Bess opened the door back up.
Bess looked down at the shirt and shrugged. “From Jack … or John… maybe Jake?” she answered, trying to remember.
“Who is Jack or John or maybe Jake?” Buffy wondered.
“He’s a waiter … he works in the restaurant downstairs.”
“Aaaand …. You have his t-shirt on because…??” Buffy prodded.
“He said I looked good in it,” Bess replied with a bright smile. Suddenly, from behind Bess, Buffy heard someone snoring loudly … nearly drowning out Michael Palin on the TV exclaiming … “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
“Oh. My. God,” Buffy gawped, pushing past Bess and into her room. Sure enough, ‘Jack, John, or maybe Jake’ was tangled up in the sheets, laying on his stomach and sleeping like a rock in Bess’ bed, one bare leg, hip, and butt cheek peeking out from the white linens.
Buffy turned around to look at Bess. “You … slept with him?! Are you kidding me? Why would you do that? You don’t even know his name!”
Bess shrugged and closed the door. “He’s cute.”
“Cute? He’s cute?” Buffy stammered, looking between Bess and … ‘J’.
“I think I broke him, though … he’s been asleep forever and he keeps making that funny noise. I’ve been waiting for him to heal and wake up but …” Bess shrugged again.
“You broke him?” Buffy questioned worriedly, looking at the boy who couldn’t have been more than nineteen.
Buffy looked back at Bess. “Bess – he’s human – he doesn’t just go to sleep a few hours and heal. How did you break him? You didn’t bite him did you?”
Bess shook her head. “No … no biting allowed; no fighting, no biting, vaginal first … I know the rules.”
“So how did you break him?”
Bess shrugged. “I don’t know … we were having a good time, but then, after a while he ran out of those funny glove things and he just closed his eyes and started making that strange noise …”
“That ‘strange noise’ is a snore… people do it when they’re sleeping,” Buffy informed her. “You never heard a snore before?”
Bess shook her head. “Not that I remember. Vampires don’t snore, I guess…”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “That’s true … that is one upside to being undead and not needing to breathe. What are ‘funny glove things’?”
Bess walked to the side of the bed and began picking up used condoms from the wastebasket. One, two, three, four, five … holding them up for Buffy to see.
Buffy's eyes went wide as she shook her head in disbelief then blew out a long breath. Bess had drained him all right … but not with her fangs.
Buffy walked over to the exhausted young man and shook his shoulder. “Hey – sleeping beauty! Time to go home,” she informed him, but was met with only a moan.
“Jack! John! Jake!” she tried, shaking his shoulder harder. “Get up!”
The cute, sleepy fellow opened his eyes slowly and rolled over onto his back, uncovering his chest and abs in the process and wrapping the sheet tightly around his slim hips. He rubbed his eyes with his fingers to get the sleep out before stretching his arms over his head and yawning.
“C’mon, buddy … time to go,” Buffy said again.
The young man focused on her, then looked at Bess … then back to Buffy again as a saucy smile came to his lips. “You’re a little late to the dance, luv … but I’ll do my best to satisfy,” he offered seductively, running his hand down under the sheets.
Buffy picked up his jeans from the floor by the bed and tossed them at him. “I’m not your ‘luv’ and there will be no more dancing. Get up, get out.”
Jack-John-Jake looked at her with confusion, then turned to Bess. “Your sister’s not much fun, luv. Why don’t you ditch her and we can pick up…”
“Hey, Casanova!” Buffy interrupted him, snapping her fingers in front of his face. “I’m not her sister, I’m her mother and it’s time for you to go.”
“Mother!?” the young man exclaimed, his eyes going wide as he sat up in the bed and started pulling his jeans on, trying to keep the sheet over his groin area as he did so. “I swear she said she was eighteen! Showed me ‘er passport! I swear to Mother Mary Margaret it said she was eighteen!” he explained quickly as he stood up and fastened his pants then started frantically looking for his shoes and socks.
The young man hurried to the door, one shoe on, still carrying his socks and the other shoe. “Oh!” Bess called from behind him. “Your shirt!”
“Keep it, luv … still looks better on you,” he called back, turning his head and giving her a wink as he headed out the door and into the hallway.
Bess sighed, a small smile coming to her lips as she hugged her arms around her torso and the t-shirt as the door slammed behind the bewildered young man. “I guess he wasn’t broken, after all. I wish I’d known that earlier…”
“Bess, sweetheart … you … you can’t be sleeping with just any … ‘Jack, John, or maybe Jake’ that comes along, no matter how cute they are,” Buffy tried to explain.
“Why not? He liked it, I liked it … we had fun,” Bess pointed out.
“Because … well … it could be dangerous for one thing,” Buffy stammered. “You didn’t even know his name! He could’ve been Jack the Ripper or Ted Bundy for all you knew.”
“Jack the Ripper’s dead…” Bess pointed out. Even she knew that; she didn’t know who Ted Bundy was.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I’m just saying … bringing boys home that you don’t even know could be dangerous.”
“I’m a Slayer turned vampire with the Gem of Amarra … how could bringing a boy home be dangerous?”
“Well … yeah … ok… there’s that,” Buffy stammered again. “But it’s just … you don’t want boys to think you’re easy, do you?”
“You are … why can’t I be?” Bess argued.
“I am not!” Buffy defended.
“How many times did you have sex with Spike last night?” Bess wondered.
“That’s different … we’re married and in love … you didn’t even know that boy’s name, for goodness sake!” Buffy explained, waving her hand at the closed door the young man had made his hasty exit through.
“Oh … so you didn’t have sex until you were married?” Bess challenged.
“Well…no…” Buffy admitted.
“Then you were in love with Spike before you had sex with him?”
“Ummmm… no, but…” Buffy sputtered.
“Then I don’t see how it’s all that different … it doesn’t seem fair to me that you get to have fun, but I don’t,” Bess continued to argue, a pout coming to her lips.
“Bess … honey, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, having sex with someone should mean something … there should be mutual respect … you should at least have something in common,” Buffy pointed out.
“We had lots in common, we liked making each other feel good, he was cute and warm, he thought I was pretty … he even liked Monty Python and he liked me. Didn’t you think he was cute?” Bess wondered.
“Yeah … cute enough I guess… if you like that blue-eyed, mussed hair, hard-body, boyish Brad Pitt look,” Buffy acquiesced. “I don’t really go for that look myself…”
“Well, you didn't sleep with him and I thought he was cute,” Bess contended, missing Buffy’s sarcasm. “So, what are we even talking about? What’s your actual objection? What’s your point?” Bess questioned, her hands going to her hips.
“The point is …” Buffy sighed and looked up at the ceiling as she prayed for the answer to that question to strike her, shaking her head in frustration. What was the point? What was her objection? Apart from the fact that this was her daughter, what was the difference between what Bess did and what millions of other people do every Friday and Saturday night in clubs and bars the world over? She met a guy, she brought him home, they had fun. No one was hurt … two consenting adults. Was sex with someone you love better? For Buffy it was, but if she had asked Faith a week ago, she would’ve disagreed – Faith may still disagree, despite her admission that she wanted to find love. Faith’s favorite saying sprang to Buffy’s mind: ‘Sex without love is an empty experience; but as empty experiences go, it's one of the best!’ What was the harm in just having fun? It’s not like Bess was gonna be killed or even hurt by a guy, and she couldn’t catch anything or get pregnant – Travers had pretty much proven that.
Buffy looked back at her daughter and tried to remember that she was an adult … she may look like a teenager, but she was three-quarters of a century older than Buffy was and she’d definitely paid her dues. Didn’t she deserve some ‘fun’? Didn’t she deserve sex on her terms for a change, with a cute, warm guy that snored?
“The point is …” Buffy finally answered her question. “…you should get his name so you know what to call him in the morning to wake him up.”
Bess and Buffy arrived at the Council building at about half past twelve. Buffy left Bess and went to find Spike who was supposed to be waiting for her in the training room … she needed to tell him about Bess and … Jack-John-Jake before he heard it from their daughter, and she needed to do it in person, not through the bond. Buffy found him sprawled out on a pile of mats in one corner of the room – asleep. Buffy closed the door quietly and walked as silently as she could across the hardwood floor. A small smile played on her lips as she stood next to his make-shift bed as the events of the previous night fluttered happily through her mind.
She snorted a small laugh and muttered, “At least he doesn’t snore,” under her breath.
Spike opened his eyes when she spoke and looked up at her. “Unlike you…”
“‘Unlike me’ what?” Buffy questioned.
“I don’t snore … unlike you,” Spike clarified, sitting up.
“I do not snore!” Buffy argued.
“P-leaase!” Spike exclaimed as he stood up. “You snore like a bloody freight train … wake the dead, you do … literally.”
“You are such a liar!” Buffy accused, her eyes wide with indignation.
Spike shrugged. “Fine, don’t believe me – ask Lemon Drop when we get ‘ome. She said she couldn’t sleep the whole time you were at Red’s ‘cos she thought you turned into a grizzly bear in your sleep.”
Buffy opened her mouth, sputtering, sucking air then gasping it out – completely speechless for a moment. “I sooo do not snore. You just made that up – you don’t think I’ll ask her.”
Spike shrugged again. “It’s ok, pet … I don’t mind sleeping with a grizzly bear; I’ve kinda gotten used to it now.”
Buffy stood speechless, shaking her head. “I do not snore,” she stated unequivocally, giving him a look that dared him to argue with her.
“Whatever you say, pet,” Spike concurred with a smirk. She was so easy to rile up … almost too easy sometimes. “I assume your snoring isn’t what you wanted to talk to me about…”
“Since I don’t snore, that would be a world of no …” Buffy agreed. What did she want to talk to him about? He’d gotten her so off track she’d nearly forgotten … oh yeah, Bess and … the snorer.
“It’s about Bess,” Buffy began hesitantly. “She … ummm … well, when I got back she’d … uhhh … sort of … taken up with one of the waiters from the hotel restaurant…”
Spike’s brows rose. “‘Taken up with’?” he questioned. “As in …?”
“As in … he was snoring in her bed when I got there…” Buffy blurted out quickly, making a face like the messenger would be killed or, at the very least, yelled at.
“Oh bloody hell…” Spike moaned, plopping back down on the mats and running a hand through his still curly hair.
“I tried to tell her that it wasn’t a great idea … but … ummmm … well, she felt otherwise and she made some valid points and … well, now I’m not so sure she’s totally wrong,” Buffy stammered out, then stood waiting for the explosion to come from her husband.
Spike dropped his chin to his chest and rubbed a hand on the back of his neck as he shook his head slowly.
After a few moments of silence, Buffy ventured, “Aren’t you going to say anything?”
Spike looked up at her with resignation in his eyes, still shaking his head. “Not sure what to say, pet. She’s a hundred bloody years old … I can’t stop ‘er if that’s what she wants t’ do. I just wish she’d …” Spike sighed and looked down at his hands which he’d dropped down on his thighs and shook his head again.
Buffy sat down on the mats next to him and rubbed a hand up and down his back and Spike closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “I just worry that she’ll fall in with the wrong bloke … she’s got no confidence … no real experience with … with relationships … she hasn’t got a single buggering clue what love is, Buffy,” Spike tried to explain his fears. He turned his head and looked at his wife. “I wish she’d take time to find out who she is before she … ‘takes up’ with a bloody git.”
“Well … she seemed pretty confident to me…” Buffy offered. “Said she deserved to have fun.”
“Smoke an’ mirrors …” Spike snorted. “Right bloke comes along … he’ll play her like a bloody Stradivarius. Wrap ‘er round his finger … make her think he loves ‘er … Buffy, if she actually falls in love … gives her heart to the wrong person and gets her trust betrayed … I don’t know if she’ll ever recover from it.”
“Everyone has their heart broken at least once … gets their trust betrayed,” Buffy pointed out.
“Yeah, pet … but Bess … she trusted me – her father, and I let her down; she trusted the Weatherfords and I’m sure, in her mind, they let her down; she trusted her Watcher … he let her down. I just don’t know how many more let downs she can take without turnin’ to stone.”
Buffy blew out a long breath and nodded, leaning against Spike’s side and he wrapped an arm around her. “So, what do we do?”
Spike shrugged slightly. “Try to help her find herself … help her gain confidence … build her self-esteem. We show her that we love her, that she’s part of our family, that she has worth, and …” Spike paused and shook his head again. “…it wouldn’t hurt to make sure the backdoor’s shut and locked tight,” Spike quipped before dropping a kiss on Buffy’s forehead.
Buffy snorted a soft laugh. Giving a cat a bath was starting to look like a breeze compared to raising kids … especially century old teenage ones.
“So, we’ve got very good news from the man at the auction house this morning,” Giles announced to Faith, Buffy, Spike, Wes, and Bess in the meeting later that afternoon as he stood at the head of the table in the conference room. “He’s quite certain that we will be able to cover the expense for cargo ship transport of all the Council documents and the extensive library to California by selling most of the furnishings and artwork. His team will begin cataloguing the inventory tomorrow and should be able to put together an auction within the month.
“We will place the castle outside London, along with all its furnishings, up for sale with a real estate agent shortly, and do the same with this building shortly after the auction is complete,” Giles continued explaining the plan he and Wes had come up with.
“This will, hopefully, allow us enough funding to procure a suitable headquarters in Sunnydale and, with any luck, we will also have funds available to continue paying Slayers and Watchers their salaries for the foreseeable future. We will, however, need to formulate a long term funding plan to keep the Council viable …” he advised. “Once we have the Governing Committee in place, we can address that situation.”
“So I guess that means health insurance is out of the question,” Buffy surmised, rubbing a hand over her stomach.
Giles sighed. “I’m afraid so … there’s simply insufficient funding within the Council coffer and, of course, the Slayer Trust Fund that we set up some years ago from your life insurance proceeds ran dry about two years ago…” Giles explained.
Buffy sighed and nodded … she’d pretty much figured that already, but just had to ask to be sure.
“Who are ya gonna use to get all them bloody books up from the catacombs? If you’re already paying Slayers, why not use them instead of hiring….” Spike began to suggest.
“What catacombs?” Giles and Wes both questioned at once, interrupting him.
Spike and Buffy’s eyes met across the table. “Didn’t you tell ‘im?” Spike questioned her.
“No … I thought … I assumed … actually, I forgot … shit…” Buffy moaned, looking up at Giles. “There are … ummmm … really lots of books and other stuff stored down in the tunnels under the sewers. From the looks of it, it’s all Council stuff.”
“Can you perhaps be a bit more specific than ‘really lots’?” Wes wondered.
Buffy looked at Spike and he shrugged. “Lots and lots?” she offered with a grimace, looking back at Wes.
“Oh, good heavens…” Giles moaned, dropping his glasses onto the table and sitting back down in his seat heavily as he rubbed his exhausted eyes. How did wrenches always end up being thrown willy-nilly into his best laid plans? He was starting to understand what Spike must feel like most of the time.
Buffy and Spike took the group down into the dungeon, out the heavy metal doors that they’d originally come in through, and into the deep level tunnels that ran under the city and showed them the ‘lots and lots’ of boxes filled with ‘lots and lots’ of … stuff. Mostly books, scrolls, and diaries, some were duplicates of tomes that were in the library proper, but others were not. They also found one tunnel that was filled, floor to ceiling, with an assortment of magical supplies and sundries of the occult, all of which would need to be catalogued and researched before being sold. Giles would have to recalculate all his figures to accommodate moving all the books that were in the tunnels, which he was sure eclipsed the library itself by tenfold, at least. They were going to have to come up with a new plan to fund the Council payroll … and pretty quickly. The money Giles thought would be ‘left over’ after the move to carry them through for a while had just gotten gobbled up like pac-dots in a Pac-Man game.
As Wes punched the button in the archaic elevator to go back upstairs, Buffy thought something was wrong and looked around. “Where’s Bess?” she questioned after scanning the group in the lift.
Spike stuck his hand between the nearly closed doors of the elevator and, after they closed briefly on his palm, they began to slowly open again. “I’ll find ‘er … you go ahead.”
“Are you sure?” Buffy asked worriedly, looking through the open doors that lead to the long hallway of the dungeon cellblock, the place where the ghosts of their living nightmare still dwelled.
“Yeah … no worries. Be right behind ya,” Spike assured her as he stepped out of the lift and started down towards the cells.
Buffy nodded at Wes and he punched the button again to close the doors. Buffy sighed as the ancient lift heaved and jerked before finally starting its trek back up, she’d be happy to never have to ride this contraption again.
Spike walked slowly down the deserted corridor of the dungeon. Nothing remained of the vamps that had been here but piles of dust; no witness to the battle that had raged here between the Slayers and the guards remained, no proof of the pain that he and Buffy had endured except blood soaked into the dirt on the floor and spattered on the walls. Spike found Bess at the end of the hallway in the white room. Someone had righted the tables in the center of the room and she was walking slowly around them, running her fingers lightly across the padded tops, her eyes gazed unseeing down at the floor.
Spike stopped in the doorway and watched her in silence for a long while as she slowly circled the tables again and again. How many hours had she spent in this room over the last century? How much had she endured? How strong had she been to just survive without completely losing her mind?
“I had sex with a boy last night,” Bess said quietly as she continued her trek around the tables, her eyes unfocused, still trailing her fingers over the padded tops. “He was my first.”
Spike pursed his lips together and pondered that a moment, finally realizing that the git from the hotel was the first she’d chosen to have sex with of her own free will.
“Buffy said it was … dangerous …” Bess snorted a soft laugh. “She said having sex with someone should mean something … I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean,” she admitted, finally stopping and looking up at Spike. “Does it have to mean something?”
Spike blew out a breath and moved into the room towards her. “No … not right now,” Spike assured her as he stepped up to the opposite side of the tables from her. “Sex can be … sex – it’s easier that way, yeah? Sex with meaning … with love, it’s bloody frightening. More frightening than anything you’ve ever met ‘ere…” he told her, waving his arm around to encompass the room.
“I’ve had both in m’ life … and I can tell you that when it means something it’s … bloody brilliant. Sex without attachments… it … it burns you good, yeah? But sex with love,” Spike stopped and shook his head as he tried to think how to describe it. “Sex with love engulfs your whole being in the fire … it lifts you higher than you ever thought possible, it makes you want to stay in that place forever.”
Bess shrugged. “I stayed here forever …” she pointed out.
“Not the same, pet. Staying somewhere ‘cos you have to and wanting to stay somewhere more than anything else in the world … there’s no comparison – it’s not the same.”
Bess looked back down at the table in front of her and idly ran her hand back and forth across the vinyl covering, swaying slightly as she did so. “I want to stay with you and Buffy,” she admitted, as she kept her eyes on her hand as it made a small arc back and forth on the tabletop. “Is that what … meaning feels like?”
Spike smiled softly and stepped around the tables over to her. “Yeah, Buttercup … that’s meaning. Does it frighten you?”
Bess shrugged slightly, still looking down at the table.
“It’s ok if it does… nothing wrong with bein’ scared, pet,” Spike advised as he got near her.
Bess looked up at him as she swallowed back tears. “Will you send me away again?”
Spike furrowed his brow in confusion and shook his head. “No, pet … I … I …” Spike stammered. “I’d never send you away,” he assured her finally.
Bess looked back down at the table. “What if … the others don’t like me?”
“They will,” Spike asserted.
The century old child looked back up at him, barely contained tears in her eyes. “What if they don’t? What if … I’m not good enough?”
“Bess … Elizabeth … you could never not be good enough, pet. You’re my blood, Buffy’s blood … we love you exactly the way you are,” Spike contended, stepping a little closer to her.
Bess frowned and hugged her arms around her torso as she turned away from him. There were those feelings again, billowing softly through her mind. Was that the meaning everyone kept talking about? “I had the same blood before and I wasn’t good enough… you sent me away … sent us all away,” she pointed out with a half shrug.
“No, pet … it wasn’t you that wasn’t good enough,” Spike explained as he stepped up to her and put his hands on her shoulders. “It was me. Bess, I’d do anything in the world to change what happened … I’d give m’ life right now to take back what happened to you. You were always good enough … it was me that wasn’t worthy, luv.
“Bess, listen to me,” Spike requested, turning her around to face him. He lifted her chin with one finger and she brought her eyes up to meet his. “You are perfect,” he told her adamantly. “I love you. Buffy loves you. No one’s gonna send you away.”
Bess pursed her lips together and averted her eyes, looking past him. His eyes seemed to penetrate her soul … they made that soft breeze blow stronger, made her want desperately to believe him … this must be the thing everyone kept talking about, because it was scaring her to death. What if she couldn't live up to their expectations? What if she didn't fit in? What if ...
“Did I tell you I’d get you outta here?” Spike questioned softly.
Bess nodded solemnly, still keeping her eyes averted, looking past him.
“And we did, yeah?”
Bess nodded again.
“Now I’m tellin’ ya that we love you and no matter what, we’d never send you away,” Spike repeated his promise.
Spike stood silent, holding her by the shoulders as she shifted uncomfortably under his gaze, never looking directly at him, her arms still wrapped tightly around herself.
Bess’ chin quivered and a tear slid down her cheek, despite her best efforts to stop it. She’d dreamt of going home since the day Harold Travers had taken her away to England. She’d long ago given up on that ever happening, and this wasn’t the home that she’d dreamt of with Wanda and John, Anne and William – but it was a home. A home with parents and siblings, a home with … love. Love and hope. Love, she realized, was that soft breeze in her mind … love was the zephyr that sprinkled a cool mist of hope across the parched desert of her soul. That hope, however, was the thing that scared her most of all. Dashed hopes had crushed her more than once in her life...
Finally, she turned her frightened blue eyes back to his strong, penetrating ones. “You promise you’ll stay?” she asked, her voice sounding very much like the lonely, confused, and scared child that had been taken away from her family to stand alone against the demons.
“Always,” Spike promised, pulling her into a hug and dropping a kiss into the soft curls on the top of her head.
Stay With Me, Colbie Caillat
We simply fit
together like a piece of apple pie,
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