|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Buffy, Spike, and Bess make it home at last … what will be waiting for them back in SunnyD?
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.
Anya, It Could be Bunnies: http://youtu.be/ke3DUitoz8w
(Just for fun) Killer Bunnies, Monty Python: http://youtu.be/XcxKIJTb3Hg
Fouettes variation: http://youtu.be/YxsI4Giuu0Q
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.
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2010, 10:00pm, London:
Bess sat by the window, looking down out at the people on the ground who were loading luggage and other packages into the belly of the large airliner. The butterflies in her stomach were on the verge of making her jump up from her seat and run from the plane … but she’d have to get by Buffy, who was next to her, and Spike who was sitting in his normal place on the aisle. Still … she could probably do it, even in these tight quarters.
“It helps to breathe,” Buffy leaned over and whispered to Bess, resting her hand lightly over the girl’s where she was gripping the arm rest. “And don’t break the seat or you won’t be able to get it out of its ‘full upright position’.”
Bess turned away from the window and looked at Buffy a moment before taking a deep breath and releasing her iron grip on the armrest.
“Everything will be fine, trust me,” Buffy assured her, patting her hand. “It’s gonna be fun.”
Bess nodded and looked back out the window as the people on the ground moved the conveyor-belt truck that had been loading the luggage away. “Just like the train, right?” Bess asked, looking back at Buffy.
“Only better…” Buffy smiled. “I was scared the first time I went on an airplane, too, but they say it’s safer than riding in a car.”
“Who’s ‘they’?” Bess wondered.
Buffy frowned and scrunched up her face in thought, then shrugged. “Probably the airlines,” she admitted. “But really, very few airplanes ever crash.”
“How few?” Bess wondered, sizing up the space between Buffy and Spike and the seat in front of them. Maybe she could just jump over the seat to make her escape and avoid Buffy and Spike altogether.
“Very few… and even fewer explode…”
“I don’t think you’re helping, pet,” Spike pointed out as the plane began moving backwards away from the gate.
“Oh … sorry,” Buffy apologized. “It’ll be fine,” she assured Bess, putting on her best, most reassuring smile. “Just breathe.”
Bess turned and looked back out the window as they taxied for take-off. She wasn’t so sure all those butterflies were from being afraid of flying so much as being afraid of landing … and what would await her in California … well, that was until Buffy started talking about crashing and exploding.
The lights on the plane flashed briefly and the air conditioning waned, then the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign blinked and dinged its last warning.
“Here we go,” Buffy told Bess, her own excitement building. For her, this was a much better flight than the one coming over. They had Bess out of her prison and they were going home. Buffy’s skin tingled in anticipation of the g-forces of take-off and she squeezed Spike’s hand on her right and Bess’ on her left as the plane began building speed.
“This is the best part!” Buffy informed Bess with a child-like glee.
Bess looked out the window as the lights of the runway starting passing faster and faster until they were just blurs. When the plane lifted off, Bess squeezed Buffy’s hand and held her breath as the g-forces pushed her back in her seat. She was pretty sure it was too late to escape now… The butterflies in her stomach began doing flip flops as the plane gained altitude and she could see the lights of London and the dark expanse of the North Sea beyond the shore. Bess pressed her face against the cool glass of the window and gazed in wonder at the lights below them as they became smaller and smaller. When the plane banked to the right, wisps of clouds streamed by the window, obstructing her view, but she kept her nose plastered against the glass anyway. She felt like she had risen up to heaven and was looking down on the twinkling stars below her – it was, in a word, amazing! She remembered Wanda telling her stories of how angels watched over them, that they could look through the floor of heaven and see everything, and in times of need, if you just listened with your heart, they would lead you to the right path.
Bess looked over at Spike and Buffy, who were starting to get comfortable now that the plane had leveled out, and she nodded to herself and then looked back out the window. Surely, there must be an angel looking down on her now, if she could just keep the door on her heart ajar … keep it open that tiny bit so she could listen with it, everything would be ok.
Despite the late hour and it being a school night, Buffy, Spike, Bess, and Faith were greeted by a fairly large welcoming committee at the airport when they arrived in Sunnydale. Xander and Anya had brought JJ, along with Annie, Dani, and Billy to meet the plane. As Faith headed for the baggage claim area to retrieve the Scythe, Buffy and Spike, with Bess following, hurried through the security gates before dropping their carry-on bags and grabbing up the children in tight hugs as they rushed to greet them. Buffy dropped kisses on Dani and Billy’s faces and they squealed happily while Spike picked Annie up in a hug and swung her around in a circle as she laughed and hugged his neck.
“We missed you!” his eldest daughter exclaimed as Spike set her down.
“We missed you too, Niblett,” Spike replied as he pulled her, along with Buffy, and, by default the twins, into a group bear hug.
Bess stood back and watched the family reunite and the butterflies in her stomach seemed to turn to bees … killer bees ... possibly mixed with hornets, which swarmed through that open door and stung her heart with pangs of fear and jealousy. How was she supposed to compete with that? Annie was so pretty, with her long, curly brown hair and there was no mistaking who her father was, with her high cheekbones and blue eyes. Billy too, looked just like Spike, his blond hair short and curly, but with the same bone structure and cerulean blue eyes. Only Dani favored her mother more, her long blonde hair falling in soft waves, but still with the blue eyes of her father.
Bess studied her younger doppelganger as the children talked excitedly about what had happened during the week Buffy and Spike were gone while the warriors greeted Xander and Anya and JJ. Dani did look just like Bess when she was younger. She remembered an old photo of her – Wanda had had one done of each of the children, along with a family portrait, when Bess was about seven, her own hair long and blonde and more wavy than curly in the photo. Bess touched her short hair, without the weight the long length gave it, it looked more like Billy’s now, her curls more untamed. Bess let her eyes wander back over Annie and Billy … she knew that Billy looked like William from the dreams she’d had with him, but didn’t realize that Annie would look so much like her sister Anne. The resemblance was … staggering.
Everyone was smiling and laughing and talking all at once … it seemed utter chaos to Bess, but there was no doubt of the love that emanated from the group. How was she ever going to fit into this clan? How could Spike and Buffy have anything left to give her? Although not a conscious thought, the possibility that she didn't deserve to have their love and affection lingered in her heart, despite all the assurances Buffy and Spike had given her, that doubt still nagged at her deep down inside.
Finally, Spike pulled away from the group and walked back to where Bess was standing, waiting, and watching. “C’mon, pet … come meet your family,” he invited, putting an arm around her shoulders and urging her forward.
“Anne Joyce…” Spike began when they got near Annie, “… this is your sister, Elizabeth Anne.”
Annie smiled at the girl and then hugged her, surprising Bess momentarily. “It’s gonna be great having another sister! We got a room all set up for you … you can decorate it later how you want, but we all put some stuff in there for you. You don’t have to pretend to like it or anything … especially the Star Wars stuff,” Annie assured her, rolling her eyes. “But until you can get your own stuff, at least you’ll have something to look at.”
“Thank you, that’s very kind…” Bess offered sincerely as Annie pulled back from the hug.
“Danielle Dawn…” Spike continued, turning Bess towards Dani, “…say hi to your sister, Elizabeth Anne.”
“I put my ninja poster in your room … Mama said you were a Slayer, so I thought you’d like that better than the ManU poster, but you can switch if you want…” Dani rambled happily. “Do you like ninjas?”
“Uhhh … I’m not sure … what do they do?” Bess asked the excited girl.
“Oh! They’re the best! They have these samurai swords and they can sneak up on anybody and … BAM! … dead!” Dani exclaimed, adding hand motions to imitate sticking a sword in someone.
“Well … that sounds amazing, yes … thank you,” Bess agreed, leaning down and giving Dani a hug.
“And I think you know this handsome lad …” Spike finished, turning her towards Billy.
“Hi, Billy,” Bess greeted him with a soft smile, dropping down to her knees to pull him into a tight hug.
“I’m glad you could come live with us,” Billy offered, returning her hug. “I told you Papa would keep his promise.”
Bess laughed lightly as tears stung her eyes and she nodded. “Thank you … I’m really … really … ummm,” Bess wiped her tears away with her fingers and tried to blink them back. “… really happy. Thank you for helping me.”
“You’re welcome,” Billy beamed proudly. “It was my first mission.” Billy looked up at Spike with a serious expression and asked, “Did you remember the decoder rings and the lightsaber?”
Spike laughed and ruffled his son’s curls as Bess released her savior and stood back up. “Yeah, no worries …”
Spike put a hand on JJ’s shoulder and pulled him up next to Billy. “And this here’s a little whelp we call …” Spike almost said ‘Whelp’, but corrected at the last moment, “… JJ. He’s our nephew … and our shadow,” Spike explained.
“Hi,” JJ stuck out his right hand like Xander and Spike had taught him.
Bess looked at him with confusion, then looked up at Spike. She’d never shaken anyone’s hand before. “He don’t bite – shake ‘is hand,” Spike advised her.
“But he has cooties, so don’t shake it too long,” Dani added. “And when you’re done, say ‘crisscross apple sauce’, then spin around three times, then say ‘circle, circle, dot, dot,’ and give yourself a cootie shot,” Dani instructed.
Bess’ eyes got wide and she drew her hand back from where she’d started to extend it towards JJ.
“I do not! You have cooties!” JJ argued angrily, scrunching up his face and sticking his tongue out at Dani.
“Girls don’t have cooties … only yucky ole boys have cooties!” Dani shot back, putting her hands on her hips.
They were silenced by a shrill whistle coming from Spike. “Shake the boy’s hand,” he instructed Bess. “You can’t get the cooties, you’re a vampire…”
Bess still looked a little confused but finally shook JJ’s hand. “Do cooties hurt?” she asked him.
“Girls!” JJ moaned, rolling his eyes and shaking his head as he walked away.
Xander stepped up to JJ’s vacated spot. “Bess, this is Xander Harris, the Whelp’s dad…”
Xander drew Bess into a hug. “Don’t worry, I don’t have cooties,” he told her. “I gave all mine to JJ; it’s traditional in our family. Some people hand down money, we hand down cooties. Welcome to the Hellmouth … the more Slayers the better, I always say.”
“Thank you. It’s nice to meet you,” Bess replied politely when he released her.
“This is my wife, Anya,” Xander continued, turning slightly and inviting Anya closer.
“Hi!” Anya greeted her brightly, waving. “Will you be taking over patrols? I’d really like more patrols on Revello Drive … Being friends with the Slayers in this town should get us some preferential treatment, but Faith says she has to concentrate on the cemeteries … which is ridiculous! Except for her, there’s no one in the cemeteries except dead people and vampires! She really should be patrolling near our house much more frequently …”
“I … I don’t know …” Bess stammered, looking at Spike.
“We’ll see, Anya,” Buffy stepped in. “The idea is to stop the vampires in the cemetery before they get to your house.”
“Well, it’s simply unacceptable. With all the Slayers in this town, we really should be able to have one of you check Revello every hour or so…”
“Anya, I didn’t check Revello that often when I lived there …” Buffy argued, rolling her eyes.
Anya matched Buffy’s eye roll and let out a sigh.
“I’ll … I’ll see what I can do,” Bess offered tentatively, looking between Buffy and Anya.
“Finally, someone sees reason! Thank you,” Anya smiled. “It’s nice to finally have a Slayer with some sense in this town.”
Buffy opened her mouth to object, but Spike put a hand on her arm. “Time to go …” he announced, pulling his wife away from the ex-demon. Even though they got along most of the time, Anya could still push Buffy’s buttons without even trying. He knew he’d hear about it the whole way home … perhaps even long into the night, but that would be better than an argument in the middle of the airport.
(The next day), May 4th, 2010:
The next day was a whirlwind of activity at the Weckerly’s. All the kids played hooky from school since they’d been up so late the night before and they all spent time with Bess. They showed her around the house, told her about themselves, about their school, about their friends, their favorite TV shows, their favorite movies, their favorite games, about how you have to jiggle the handle on the toilet downstairs to get it to stop running … they told her about everything under the sun, and, in Billy’s case, even some things above the sun.
Buffy was busy trying to get several days worth of laundry and cleaning done and she had to go to the grocery store and the butcher shop, because there was nothing in the house to eat, not even blood. Clem had stopped by to make sure they had gotten home – he didn’t want the kids to be alone after school if Spike and Buffy had been delayed, so he got to meet Bess and he visited with Spike for a while. Spike told Clem to let Willy know he was back in town and asked his friend to feel the situation out at the bar – could Spike get his job back? Clem said he’d see what he could find out, but that Willy had hired a pair of Brachen demons that used to work at The Fish Bowl to replace both Spike and Faith.
Clem felt bad for Spike, not only was he out of a job, he was surrounded by tight-skinned women and girls with thick mops of hair, small ears, and either blue or green eyes. At least this new one did have short hair and she didn’t have that hideous tan skin that the rest of them sported…
After Clem left that afternoon, Spike went down into the basement to transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, as instructed by Buffy before she left for the store. He found Bess sitting down there in a dark corner, all by herself.
“What’s the matter, luv?” Spike asked, walking over to where she was sitting on some old trunks in the darkest corner.
Bess let out a long breath. “My brain is full.”
Bess leaned back against the wall and shut her eyes. “My brain is completely full … it feels like it’s gonna explode if anyone tells me one more thing,” she clarified.
Spike raised his brows and looked at her. “I don’t think that’s physically possible, pet.”
Bess snorted a sarcastic laugh. “I wouldn’t be too sure. Did you know that a ‘flatland 360° inward heel’ is ‘super hard’ or that Bobby Charlton is the all time leading goal scorer for ManU, but Ryan Giggs was voted their best player of all time?” Bess asked.
“Yeah … actually …” Spike admitted.
“How about that
Italian Fouettes on Pointe is probably the hardest ballet step and the variation
in Dance Spirit Magazine is ‘beyond brutal’?”
“Uhhh …yeah …” Spike replied.
“And did you know that ‘Hansel and Gretel’ has an unfair representation of witches or that Luke Skywalker's original name was Luke Starkiller? Or that Han Solo was originally a green-skinned, gilled monster with a girlfriend named Boma who was a cross between a guinea pig and a brown bear? Or that the largest carnivorous dinosaur was once thought to be T. Rex, but now it’s believed to be Spinosaurus? And did you know the stars in the sky may actually not even be there anymore because they’ve burnt out, but their light is just now reaching us ‘cos they’re so far away?”
“A guinea pig and a brown bear?” Spike questioned. “Not bloody likely … the soddin’ bear’d eat the little furry rodent… couldn’t cross those two…”
Bess sighed, closing her eyes and rubbing her temples. “My brain is full,” she repeated.
Spike smiled and sat down on the trunk next to her. “They’re just trying to include ya in their lives, pet. I know it’s a lot to take in, you don’t have to remember it all … trust me, they’ll tell ya again … and again … and again.”
Bess laughed softly and opened her eyes and looked at him. “How will I ever be able to remember everything?”
“Just takes time, pet … they didn’t learn all that overnight, give yourself a break,” Spike assured her, rubbing her shoulder.
Spike stood up, patting a hand down on her thigh and went back to finishing his task at the washer and dryer. “Ya comin’?” he asked, picking up the basket of dry clothes and heading towards the stairs.
“I think I’ll just sit here a little while longer and let some of that stuff leak out of my ears …” Bess replied.
“Ok … just don’t let too much leak out … and don’t let it get on the laundry or Buffy’ll kill ya,” Spike warned as he headed back upstairs.
That evening, when Xander and Anya came over after work to pick up JJ and visit a while, Spike decided he had as many of the Scoobies as he’d get in one place for a while, so he commenced the official Scooby-gang ‘inauguration ceremony’ for Bess, Billy, Dani, and Annie.
As Xander, Anya, JJ, and Buffy sat on the couch and watched, Spike lined the four Weckerly children up in front of the fireplace.
Spike faced them and held up his right hand and all the children followed suit … eventually, first matching him by holding up their left hands, but they got it sorted out. “Repeat after me,” Spike began. “I, say your name,”
“I, say your name,” they all repeated, making their audience laugh and Spike roll his eyes.
“Do solemnly swear to be a loyal member of the Slayer’s Scooby gang …” Spike continued and the children echoed it.
“To answer the call of duty, even if it’s after my bedtime and I’m knackered, to fulfill all missions, great or small, to the best of my abilities, to help each other and the Slayer fight the forces of evil and do so in complete secrecy now and forevermore…”
The children repeated each verse of Spike’s oath solemnly, when they were done, Spike continued, “By the power vested in me by the Queen and the Slayer herself, which, in this house is one and the same, I now officially pronounce you Scoobies.”
Their audience burst out with applause and cheers and the kids all laughed and smiled proudly as Spike handed them each a super-secret Scooby decoder ring.
“And, for bravery above and beyond the call of duty,” Spike concluded. “The always feared and often deadly, Jedi lightsaber…” Spike announced grandly, handing Billy a glowing blue lightsaber. “And, because every Jedi Scooby has to have someone to spar with …” Spike finished, handing another lightsaber to JJ.
“Cooool!” JJ enthused, jumping up off the couch and lunging at Billy … and the fight was on!
“OI! Spar in the bloody training room!” Spike directed, pushing both boys in the back towards the door of the padded room. “May the Force be with you…” he called behind them as they smacked their lightsabers against each other in true Jedi fashion on their way across the great room. Annie, Dani, and Bess followed them into the training room and the doors closed behind them just as Dani started asking to try one. Maybe Spike should’ve bought more…
“You know, Buff … we never got cool super secret Slayer decoder rings…” Xander whined.
“Awww … I’m sorry, Xand … If I’da known…” Buffy cajoled.
“I don’t understand why JJ is just a sparring partner … he should have a ring and be a Scooby too,” Anya complained.
“He didn’t do anything …” Spike pointed out.
“He’s six! You’re going to give him a complex…” Anya argued.
“Noooo…I’m gonna make him earn it. That’s the problem with bloody kids these days, everything’s given to them, they don’t have to do anything to get the bloody reward,” Spike countered.
“Well, that’s not fair…” Anya continued.
“Ahn … actually … I hate to say it, but Spike’s right,” Xander stepped in. “It’ll mean more if he does something to earn it. We all had to earn our stripes ...”
Anya huffed and folded her arms across her chest. “Well … you better give him a mission so he can be a Scooby too … it’s not fair.”
“He can follow in ‘is father’s footsteps and fetch the donuts at the next research party,” Spike offered.
“Hey! Never underestimate the power of the snack! Ho-Hos and crème filling are vital parts of the cognitive process…” Xander defended.
Anya rolled her eyes, her arms still folded across her chest. Buffy reached over and put a hand on Anya’s shoulder. “Don’t worry … JJ’s a good kid … he’ll get a chance.”
“I hope so … I certainly hope he doesn’t have to marry into the gang, like some people…” Anya groused, looking pointedly at Spike.
“OI! I'm no bloody kettle, Mrs. Pot!” Spike defended.
“Okay! Okay!” Buffy quieted everyone, standing up and pulling Anya with her. “C’mon … let’s go see how our mandrake is doing…”
“Oh …” Anya winced, pulling back from Buffy. “I forgot to tell you…”
“What?! You forgot to tell me what?!” Buffy demanded.
“Please don’t slay the messenger …” Anya begged, stepping back.
“What the hell happened?!” Buffy questioned angrily.
“I’m not completely certain, but I have a theory … it could be ... bunnies…”
“WHAT!?” Buffy turned and headed out through the garage to the backyard. She stopped at the edge of the fencing around her mandrake patch and surveyed her babies in the dim light shining out from the kitchen window. At least half of what she’d planted was gone … and there was a rabbit in the patch, chomping down on another one!
“GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!” Buffy screamed at it, jumping over the white pickets and chasing the rabbit out through a hole that it had dug under her fence. “Damn it!” Buffy groaned as she looked around at her devastated garden.
“I keep telling you people about bunnies, but does anyone believe me? Noooooo! Oh, they’re just cute little, furry, hoppity bunnies …” Anya mocked as she, Xander, and Spike made it outside to the garden patch. “I told you they were demonic! Bunnies are evil, with those hoppy legs and twitchy little noses! They're possessed … nasty, vile rodents who do nothing but eat and poop and make baby bunnies!”
Buffy’s shoulders sagged as she knelt down to check what remained of her plants. All that work, all the money she’d spent on seeds, all the time she spent reading to them and weeding them and watering … gone. All that money she was gonna make … gone. “Damn it…” Buffy moaned again as she stood up then took her foot and covered up the hole that the rabbit had dug under her fence.
“That won’t help … they just dig new ones…” Anya informed her.
“I thought Mandrake was poisonous …” Buffy pointed out, looking at her friends. “Shouldn’t that demonic little bunny, like ... die now?”
Anya snorted a laugh. “Poisonous-spoisonous …” she quipped. “The only thing that kills bunnies is … keeettccch,” Anya informed her, drawing a line across her throat with a finger. "Everyone thinks the Killer Bunny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is just a joke ... humph! They're demonic – in a bad way."
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Swell…”
Buffy sat on the edge of Billy’s bed and Spike sat on the edge of Dani’s later that night as they tucked the twins in. Billy had his lightsaber in bed with him, they both had their coveted decoder rings securely tucked onto their right ring fingers.
“So, Anya and Clem said you guys were very good while we were gone …” Buffy started. “We’re really proud of both of you.”
“Clem’s nice,” Dani began. “He made worms in mud for us … twice!”
Buffy’s brows shot up. “Twice?!” Buffy shook her head … she’d talk to Clem about that later.
“But he looks funny … his ears are kinda big,” Billy observed.
Buffy and Spike both chuckled softly. That was the funniest thing about Clem? His floppy ears? “Well, nobody’s perfect,” Spike pointed out.
Billy pursed his lips together and nodded, still holding tightly to his lightsaber.
“We brought you guys something from London,” Buffy informed them, and both twins’ eyes lit up.
“Really!?” … “What!?” they asked in unison.
“Well, for m’ little footballer…” Spike started, pulling a ‘Future Legends’ ManU t-shirt out from behind his back and holding it up for Dani.
Dani squealed in delight, grabbed it out of his hands, and pulled it on over her PJs. “I love it!” she exclaimed in glee as she wrapped her arms around Spike’s neck and gave him a hug.
“Do you think I can play for them one day?” she asked with excitement in her eyes.
Spike shrugged. “Never know ‘til you try … might be the next Ryan Giggs, yeah?”
Dani smiled and held the front of the shirt out to look at it again, then looked back up at Spike. “Thanks, Papa!”
“You’re welcome, Lemon Drop …” he told her as he laid her back down and pulled her covers back up.
“And, for my brave boy,” Buffy began, pulling a book out from behind her back. “The Complete Sherlock Holmes …” Buffy announced. “It came right from his very house, which is a museum now.”
“Neat!” Billy exclaimed taking the large, heavy book from her hands. “Thanks, Mama!” he enthused, sitting up and opening the book reverently.
“You’re very welcome…” Buffy assured him, tousling his curly hair as he scanned the table of contents with wide eyes. Buffy shook her head and smiled … he looked like a mini-Watcher sitting there engrossed in the gilded tome.
“Ok … time for sleep now, you can read tomorrow,” Buffy informed him, closing the book in his lap and pulling it away to set on his bookcase.
“Ok …” Billy moaned as he lay back down.
“Good night, sweet boy…” Buffy told him, dropping a kiss on his forehead as she stood up. Spike did the same with Dani and then they switched.
“We love you guys,” Buffy called to them as she and Spike started for the door.
“Love you too…”
Down the hall, Spike knocked on Annie’s door.
“Come in,” she called.
“Hey, Niblett … ready for bed?” Spike questioned as he and Buffy came in.
“Yeah …” their daughter answered with a yawn … it had been a long twenty-four hours.
“Brought you some swag from London,” Buffy informed her with a smile.
Annie’s eyes lit up and she sat up in bed.
“First … a new poster for your wall,” Buffy announced, unrolling a Royal Ballet ‘Nutcracker’ poster and holding it up for Annie to see.
“The Nutcracker! My favorite!” Annie enthused, jumping up out of bed and digging some pushpins out of a drawer. The Nutcracker had been her favorite since Tara and Willow had taken her to see it on Christmas Eve when she was five … it was the first ballet she’d ever seen and she still dreamed of dancing as Clara one day. She’d been a snowflake twice and a candy-cane and a soldier and a mouse … but the older girls at her dance school always got to be Clara. She couldn’t wait until she was old enough to be the star…
“Where do you want it?” Buffy asked and Annie pointed to an empty spot on the wall at the end of her bed, where she could see it every morning when she woke up and every night before she went to sleep. Buffy held it up as Spike told her which way to move it to make it level and centered, and Annie poked the sharp pins into the corners, tacking it up to the drywall.
Annie backed up and admired it … it was the best poster yet!
“And,” Spike continued, pulling something from behind his back, “Romeo and Juliet,” he revealed, holding up a DVD of the Royal Ballet performing the Shakespearian classic.
"Oh, how cool!” Annie exclaimed, taking the DVD from her father and studying the cover, front and back. “Thank you!”
“You’re very welcome,” Buffy answered her. “Better put it away now … you can watch it when you get home from school tomorrow.”
“Ok …” Annie agreed, leaning it up against the light on her nightstand so she could see it in the morning just like her new poster, before crawling back into bed.
Buffy sat down on one side of Annie’s bed and Spike on the other, just like they used to do when she was little. “Thank you for keeping watch over the little bits while we were gone,” Spike began. “What you did … believing Junior, callin’ Faith … it was … very brave.”
Annie smiled and shrugged. “He was the brave one, he didn’t give up. For a boy, he’s not so bad.”
“Boys are ok if you give them a chance,” Buffy agreed, giving her daughter a knowing smile.
“No, they bloody well are not,” Spike disagreed vehemently. “Got cooties, the lot of ‘em.”
“Daaaaad!” Annie moaned, rolling her eyes.
“You did very well, sweetie,” Buffy reiterated, brushing some stray curls away from Annie’s face. “You’re a smart, brave girl.”
“You got a new bracelet!” Annie exclaimed, catching Buffy’s hand and holding it so she could examine the charm bracelet that Spike had given her.
“I did … cootie-boy here gave it to me. Do you like it?” Buffy asked.
Annie looked at it for a few moments, examining each charm on it and then looking up at Buffy. “What does it mean?” she asked, slightly confused. “I mean … I get the key and the soccer ball and the book … that’s us, me and Dani and Billy, but what are these other ones for?”
Buffy looked at Spike who sighed. He hadn’t thought about the questions the bracelet would raise when he picked the charms out.
Before Spike could say anything, Buffy answered her. “Annie, you know magic, real magic, can do some strange things …” Buffy began hesitantly.
“Yeah…” Annie replied just as tentatively, not sure where this was going.
“And you know your dad had other children before – Anne and Bess and William,” Buffy continued.
“Yeah…” Annie hadn’t actually known all their names before, but Spike had told her about them before they left to go find Bess.
“And you saw Bess … don’t you think she looks just like Dani, only older?” Buffy continued.
“Kinda… I guess.”
“Ok, well here’s the thing you don’t know … the children your father had when he was human … they’re not just his children, but mine too. Someone used magic to … well … they tried to steal you and Dani and Billy from me and … it’s really complicated, but those children were made from me and your dad, just like you guys are,” Buffy tried to explain.
Annie looked at Buffy with a furrowed brow, chewing her bottom lip and trying to wrap her head around what her mother was saying.
“So … these other charms,” Buffy continued. “… the dagger is for Bess, the Vampire Slayer, the Eiffel Tower is for Anne who wanted very badly to see it, and the stork with the baby boy is for William…”
“Who tried to steal us?” Annie wondered, as she looked more closely at the other charms on the bracelet.
“The same person that stole my memories … but I was able to get you back, the only thing was, she made … twins of all of you, and they were born back in the 1800s… I tried, but I couldn’t stop her from doing that,” Buffy told her. “But you don’t have to worry … she won’t be back, I promise.”
Annie considered this a few moments, then looked at Spike. “You didn’t tell me that part …”
“Sorry, pet … I wasn’t really sure how to tell you,” Spike apologized with a shrug.
“So … you were married to dad before?” Annie questioned, still not clear.
“No … your father was married to the woman that tried to steal you, she was an ex-demon who traveled back in time to take him and all you kids away from me, but he didn’t know that then ...” Buffy clarified. “She used magic to make … copies, like clones, of all of you … to hurt me by raising you all as hers.”
Annie shook her head and scrunched her face up in thought. After a few moments she said, “So Bess is a copy of Dani?”
“But she was born first, wouldn’t that make Dani a copy of her?” Annie wondered logically.
Spike snorted a soft laugh; their little Einstein. “When you hop about in time, who was first or second is hard to suss out … but your mum is sure you were first, before my … other wife made a wish and bollixed everything up.”
Annie considered this a minute. “So, who were you actually married to first?” she questioned.
Spike widened his eyes and shook his head, looking at Buffy for help.
“Me … he was married to me first,” Buffy assured them both.
“So I was really the first baby after all… that’s why my charm is first,” Annie concluded.
“Yes, you were…” Buffy agreed.
Annie smiled with satisfaction. “Good. I’m still the big sister, even if Bess is older.”
“Yes, you are, sweetie,” Buffy concurred. “So we’re counting on you to help her out. Everything’s new and strange here for her, she’ll need a big sister to show her the ropes.”
Annie nodded seriously. “I can help her,” Annie assured them. “What does that other charm mean?” she asked, fingering the bandstand charm, the last one on the bracelet.
“That’s for the littlest bit …” Spike answered.
“But what does it mean?” Annie asked again.
“It … uhhh …” Spike stammered momentarily.
“It’s the place where we defeated the demon that tried to steal you all from me,” Buffy took over. “It’s where I got you all back … so it’s a special place. If not for it, we wouldn’t have the new baby.”
“You beat up dad’s other wife?!” Annie wondered with a bit of surprise and a touch of satisfaction.
Buffy laughed and looked at Spike. “Yeah, we both did…”
Annie’s eyes glittered with gleeful pride; she didn’t like the idea of her dad being married before. “Good. It sounds like she deserved it.”
Buffy and Spike both nodded. “No doubt about that, pet.”
They kissed their eldest daughter goodnight and Annie went to sleep dreaming of sugar plum fairies and happy endings. All was right with the world – she was still the first born, the big sister, her mom was her dad’s real first wife, and her parents had beat up the wicked demon that tried to steal them away.
“Didn’t know you were gonna go into all that with ‘er,” Spike admitted when they got out into the hall.
Buffy shrugged. “Had to tell her something … she asked straight out, I thought she deserved the truth. Figured we might as well start treating her like she’s eleven…” Buffy advised. “And that cootie thing? You might as well forget it… that’s not gonna work anymore, either.”
Killer Bunny, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
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