|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
Big Boy Toys
Some good news, some bad news, and life goes on. Spike and Buffy meet Sammy and Sue-Ann when they come to town for the Slayer Olympics. Just how will the two disparate 'big boys' get on?
July - August 2011
Music Referenced: Big Boy Toys, Aaron Tippin http://youtu.be/tvdZOZBgyWg
|Thanks:||Thanks to YOU for reading! Without you none of this would mean anything! Giant thanks also to Anona for betaing this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|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 day. Mid-morning, Wednesday, July 6th, 2011:
“Did the mail come yet?” Buffy asked for the tenth time that morning. Despite the lack of actual sleep the previous night, she felt wired, a little nervous, and well, giddy, all at the same time. She and Spike had gotten back to their tent a little after sunrise. They’d been able to get a couple more hours sleep before the kids had succeeded in making enough noise to literally wake the dead.
“No … I don’t think so,” Tara answered as she put up the dishes from the morning’s meal. “What are you expecting, anyway?”
Buffy’s eyes went wide. “Expecting? Oh … uh … nothing really. Just something … from … uhhh … Giles. It’s the whole … FBI thing,” Buffy stammered unconvincingly, waving a hand dismissively.
Tara gave her a sideways glance as she took the last dish from the dishwasher and put it away. “So … are you gonna approve that retainer contract with them then?”
“With who?” Buffy asked distractedly as she finished making sandwiches for the kids to eat as snacks or lunch later.
“The FBI,” Tara reminded her.
“Oh, right! No. The rest of the CGC will have to overrule me on that if they want that money. I’ll never sign it. You can’t trust the government to watch your back,” Buffy explained. “They’ll throw you to the big sea monster like a nummy treat and then just drive away … hasta la pasta.” She raised her voice to a falsetto on the last part, waving a hand and looking back over her shoulder as if driving away from someone. “They’ll leave you there to drown and don’t give a shit. Assholes,” Buffy groused.
Tara looked at her with confusion. “Because they haven’t paid you yet? You know, the government can be kinda slow … you know, lots of red tape and all.”
“No – I’m sure they’ll pay. I just … it’s complicated. Just trust me when I say, I don’t think it would be a good idea to be at their beck and call. The Council should be independent, not in the FBI’s pocket – regardless of the money they want to toss at us.
“Oh! Is that the mail?” Buffy questioned for the eleventh time, straining to look out the window to see the mailbox on the street from the kitchen. “YES!” she exclaimed when she saw the mail truck stop. “Be right back!” she told Tara as she tore out of the kitchen in a fast jog.
Buffy’s heart was stampeding in her chest when she got back in with the package from Giles. Everyone except her and Tara were outside playing or relaxing in the backyard. Buffy hurriedly put all the sandwiches she’d made in the refrigerator and then shuffled Tara outside to join the others. Alone, Buffy set the box down on the counter and began opening it with shaking fingers. “Please be it … please be it,” she muttered to herself as she tore the Express Mail box to shreds with her bare hands.
“Thank you, God,” she breathed, momentarily closing her eyes and raising her face to the heavens as relief flooded through her. She picked the item up and opened it carefully. It was perfect – it was unharmed and it looked unchanged. Perfect. “About fucking time something went right.”
Outside, Buffy shouted and had everyone join her on the stone patio. The older kids were playing a ruthless, boisterous game of badminton. Spike and ‘Kenzie were refereeing the kid’s grudge match while Willow and Tara relaxed on the dock with Eddie. When everyone gathered near her and got relatively quiet, Buffy began, barely able to contain her excitement.
“Ok, Willow, you know how I asked you yesterday about the vault at the Council building and how the magical wards and charms worked that you put on it?” Buffy began.
“Yeah…” Willow answered, not sure where this was heading.
“And you said that, in theory, things in there were protected from all outside magic – definitely from attack and detection, but you weren’t sure about time rifts or reality shifts…” Buffy continued.
“Yeah…” Willow agreed slowly.
Buffy smiled widely. “I can now tell you that they do guard against reality shifts too,” she announced brightly.
Buffy’s eyes flicked momentarily to Spike, then back to the witches. “There was a … thing that happened a while back and … well … it’s complicated, but the bottom line is no one remembers it but me ... and maybe Angel. What had been reality isn’t anymore … BUT, during that time that now didn’t happen, Annie found something wonderful, and Willow, you suggested we put it in the magically charmed vault.”
“I did?” Annie asked looking surprised. “What did I find – a million dollars?”
Buffy smiled at her. “No – something even better. Something money can’t buy.”
From behind her back, Buffy pulled out the scroll from the other dimension. Everyone except Spike just looked at her blankly, not understanding what it was. Spike’s eyes went wide when he saw it – he well remembered it from the ‘movies’ that he’d seen in her subconscious.
“It’s the code that unlocks the book … it’s the key to the Gem of Amarra,” Buffy explained excitedly looking from Spike to Annie to Willow.
“I found it?”
“Where did it come from?”
Buffy beamed as she set it down. She opened the protective silver cover and pulled out several rolled pages of delicate parchment from inside. “Get the book … see if it works!” she suggested to Willow excitedly.
Willow looked at the sky and then back at Buffy. “Maybe we should take it inside; I’d hate for a seagull to come along and poop on it or something… that would be just our luck.”
Buffy laughed, but rolled it back up and put the pages away, agreeing that that would be their luck. They all hurried inside to retrieve the book, which was written in a code that they’d been trying to crack for months.
While the younger children played a video game downstairs, Buffy and Spike paced nervously back and forth in the hallway outside Willow’s office as if they were waiting on the birth of their first grandchild. Willow, Annie, and Tara were in the office working on translating the book – or at least the part that seemed to talk about how to create the Gem of Amarra. They’d long since kicked Buffy and Spike out of the room – they were making everyone crazy.
Finally, after what seemed days, but was only about an hour, Willow opened the door, a triumphant smile on her face as she waved a paper back and forth in the air.
“It works!? You did it!?” Buffy gasped as she and Spike stopped their pacing and rushed over to her.
“It works! It definitely decodes the book,” Willow agreed, happily. Then her face sobered slightly. “There is one small hitch,” she added.
“Hitch? No … no hitch – don’t say hitch,” Buffy sputtered, shaking her head in denial.
“There’s always a bloody hitch,” Spike groaned. “Let’s ‘ere it, then, Red. Gotta have the head of a Pterodactyl or the tooth of a tooth-less ogre?”
Willow shook her head and waved the paper in her hand back and forth. “No – or, well … I don’t know. The scroll decodes the book, but it doesn’t translate it to English … or any language we know. We still have to translate it before we can even see what’s required for the spell.”
Buffy’s heart fell. “Just for the record, I hate hitches.”
Over the next few days, Willow, Tara, and Annie would spend a couple of hours every night working on decoding the book and trying to figure out what language it was written in. Once they got the part that appeared to be the actual spell decoded, they tried to translate the text using a translation memory system that Willow had access to at work. The system found no language in its database that matched any of the words or phrases in the text. Willow thought perhaps a larger sample would help since ingredients in a magical spell might not be the most common words to try and find. So, after getting the spell itself decoded, the three of them each took a different section of the book and began decoding it in hopes that something would trigger a hit with the software.
“It might be alien,” Willow suggested to Buffy and Spike a couple of days later, the night before the Weckerlys were to leave and go back to Sunnydale. “Maybe they left it with the Egyptians or the Aztecs when they helped them build the pyramids.”
Buffy gave her a disbelieving look while Spike frowned at the witch.
“Or … or maybe it’s from another dimension,” Willow added hastily, not wanting to get into a discussion about the existence of aliens. “You said the vampires that had it were from Glory’s hell dimension, right? Maybe it’s some language from there.”
Buffy sighed. “I don’t actually know what hell dimension they were from. Giles said the portal that Glory wanted to open would’ve ripped the fabric between all dimensions, so God only knows…”
Willow nodded thoughtfully. “Well, all we can do is decode it, then Annie and I can try working different translation algorithms on it – looking for common words and trying to match them up with common English words and piece it together,” Willow suggested. “It won’t be fast and …” Willow sighed. “It may not even be possible. If their syntax is totally different than ours, then we’d just be fumbling in the dark.”
Buffy sighed and nodded. “We appreciate everything you’ve done. I was really hoping Bess could have the Gem for the Olympics at the end of August so she could compete in the daylight.”
“She’ll ‘ave it,” Spike interjected, laying a hand on the side of his abdomen where the Gem was embedded into his body.
Buffy looked at him gravely, but didn’t argue. She knew it would do no good to argue with him. “Maybe we need to put the Gem back into a ring or a necklace or something so they can share it without major surgery,” she suggested, looking back at Willow.
“Buttercup can’t wear bloody jewelry during a competition, luv,” Spike pointed out.
Buffy chewed her lip. That was true – jewelry wasn’t allowed, it could be dangerous if it got caught on something.
“Maybe we could inject it right under the skin, like the way they microchip dogs,” Willow suggested. “At least it wouldn’t be major surgery to get back out … just, you know … minor surgery.”
Spike scowled at her. “Not sure I like bein’ compared to a mangy cur.”
“Oh, honey – we’d never compare you to anything mangy,” Buffy assured him. “You’re more of a … cute, cuddly Spaniel I’d say – wouldn’t you, Wills?”
Willow snorted softly. “Bloodhound would be more fitting.”
Monday, July 18th, 2011, Council Governing Committee meeting:
“And I’m telling you that being in anyone’s pocket is a very bad idea,” Buffy argued for what seemed the hundredth time in the last hour. “What if the next thing they want us to do is infiltrate al-Qaeda or … steal military secrets from Iran, or disable North Korea’s nuclear reactors? How do we tell them ‘no’ if we’re on retainer to them?”
Giles sighed. “Buffy, if you would simply read the contract, you’d see that our involvement is strictly limited to missions that require a rescue, where human life is at risk.”
“Yeah, and what would stop them from saying that the ‘Axis of Evil’ is on the verge of launching bombs at us just to make us go over there and disarm them? When you own the information, you can twist it however you want – and they own the information!” Buffy asserted. “We don’t need their money! Anya’s got the grants coming in and we’ve got the money from this last mission to invest.
“That took them long enough to finally pay…” she groused sourly, before pleading, “Please, Giles, trust me – this is a ginormously bad idea. They can’t be trusted to cover our backs. We’re expendable to them … we can’t trust them.”
“I was quite hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but we could simply out-vote you, Buffy,” Giles reminded her.
Buffy knew that was true. She had the other Slayers on her side, but hadn’t been able to convince any of the Watchers of the dangers. If they voted as it was now, it would be up to Fred to break the tie between Watchers and Slayers and Buffy got the idea that Giles already knew how Fred would vote on this – with him.
“Giles, I’m not doing this just to be a pain in the ass,” Buffy told him solemnly. “You know me, and you know when I say something is a bad idea, it’s a bad idea.”
Giles studied her a moment, then asked, “Is this the Slayer talking or the wife and mother?”
Buffy bit her bottom lip a moment as she held his gaze unwaveringly. “All three.”
Slayer and Watcher stared at each other, unblinking, for several seconds as years of trust and loyalty was tested. Giles broke eye contact first and cleared his throat. “Very well, then. I believe I will have to side with the Slayers on this issue,” he announced to the others in the meeting. “I cannot approve the retainer contract with the government.”
A cacophony of surprised objections rang out from the Watchers’ side of the table and Giles looked back at Buffy. She gave him a small smile and nodded, assuring him that he’d done the right thing.
(A month later) Friday, August 19th, 2011.
The summer seemed to have flown by and, before they knew it it was the end of August and the Slayer Olympic Games were upon them. They were scheduled to start the following Monday, and Slayers and Watchers from around the world were arriving for the event. Buffy had booked the entire Sunnydale Motor Inn for them. It wasn’t the most posh hotel in town, but it was the only one that the Council could afford to book full for ten days. It was also on the outskirts of town, which was a plus – she wouldn’t have dozens of Slayers walking around downtown drawing undue attention to themselves … she hoped.
Buffy had already heard through the ‘grapevine’ that a keg and toga party was scheduled for Saturday night. Perhaps she should’ve insisted that more Watchers come as chaperones rather than only one from each regional regiment of the Slayer army. On the other hand, sometimes the best camaraderie is built while wearing togas and drinking beer, and that was one of the points of the gathering: building trust and friendships among Slayers from different parts of the world.
There had been little progress with the translation of the Gem of Amarra book – the language it was written in remained a mystery. So, in order for Bess to compete in the sunlight, Buffy, with Giles’ help, had dug the Gem out of Spike’s abdomen. They’d then inserted it just under the skin on Bess’ back, between her shoulder-blades, like Willow had suggested.
Now, Buffy was busy on the phone, frantically trying to make a last minute change to the itinerary that was already at the printer’s. She was telling the Kinko’s guy to check his email, the new document was in his inbox waiting, when a bone-chilling shriek echoed through the whole house.
Buffy hung up quickly, still typing the change on the document as she stood up. She quickly clicked ‘save’, attached the document to the email, and hit ‘send’. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t actually in his inbox waiting for him – but it would be in a minute. She rushed out of her office, down the hall, and downstairs to see what was going on.
In the great room Bess was excitedly hugging a girl with long, strawberry-blonde hair. Both girls were squealing with excitement as they jumped up and down, never releasing their embrace. Then, a large, redheaded man came in the garden doors and stopped behind the girls. When Bess saw Sammy, she shrieked even louder, moved toward him, pulling Sue-Ann with her, and wrapped an arm around him too.
Buffy descended the stairs to join everyone else who had come running from all parts of the house to see what the screaming was about. Buffy and Spike made it to the front of the group just as Bess finally released her friends. She turned excitedly to Buffy and Spike, and breathlessly introduced her parents to Sue-Ann and Sue-Ann’s brother, Sammy.
Sue-Ann had had a growth spurt since Bess had last seen her almost nine months ago. She was taller than Bess now by nearly three inches and had more curves than she’d had when Bess last saw her at the redhead’s childhood home in Renaldo, Oklahoma. Sue-Ann’s fiery hair fell down to the middle of her back and she had on makeup which partially obscured the freckles on her face. Sue-Ann had warm, chocolate-brown eyes, which stood out against her light complexion and seemed to sparkle with amusement all the time. She had a pretty face, still a little thin and girlish, but with the promise of maturing into a really striking woman. She was dressed in tattered jeans, worn motorcycle boots, and a t-shirt with the words ‘I’m fine’ across her chest. On the side of the shirt, wrapped around the waist, was what Buffy hoped was a fake blood stain.
Next to Sue-Ann stood her brother, Sammy, the Harley mechanic. Even with his sister’s growth spurt, his six-foot plus frame still towered over her. And, although a comfortable beer belly protruded over his belt, it was clear that the man was as strong as an ox and used to manual labor. His arms, chest, and shoulders were muscular under his cotton t-shirt. The exposed skin of his forearms was covered in tattoos of various colors and designs. His light-red hair and warm, brown eyes matched those of his sister, although his eyes were more guarded and leery than Sue-Ann’s. He wore the same broke-down cowboy boots that he’d had on when Bess had first met him, but had thankfully changed from his oil-stained blue jeans into what appeared to be brand new ones. His t-shirt proclaimed that he ‘didn’t care how they did it up north’ and sported a rebel flag. He’d changed out the gold hoop earrings that Bess had always seen him wear for two small diamond studs – one in each ear, which still seemed completely incongruous with the rest of his appearance.
As Bess introduced them, Spike stuck out his right hand towards the larger man, taking in the details of the tattoos on his arms and stifling a smirk at the nancy-boy earrings. The tattoos seemed to run the gamut, including: a confederate flag with the word ‘Redneck’ under it, a half-naked woman in a very provocative pose, a large, elaborate crucifix, and a skull with a hissing snake serpentined through the eye sockets and emerging from the mouth. Spike tried to remind himself that this man did right by Bess and fixed the Harley. He tried to remind himself not to judge a book by its cover. He tried to remind himself that this man was Bess’ best friend’s brother and legal guardian. But when Sammy raised an empty beer bottle to his lips and spit tobacco juice into it before shaking Spike’s hand, well, Spike heard banjo music.
“Hey, right proud t’ meet ya’ll,” Sammy drawled past the chaw of tobacco in his lip as he pumped Spike’s hand, then Buffy’s.
“Yeah,” Spike replied dryly. Buffy just smiled at him as she tried not to stare at the tattoos ... or earrings ... or the bulge in his lip that held is dip.
“I didn’t know you were coming, too!” Bess exclaimed, looking at Sammy excitedly.
The big man shrugged. “Couldn’ let a half-grown girl go off on her own – too much carrying on t’ be had. Hankerin’ for boys kin overtake their good sense at that age, if ya know what I mean,” he replied, looking at Spike knowingly.
Spike couldn’t argue with that. He looked at Sue-Ann, who rolled her eyes and moaned. “I kin take care of m’self,” she asserted in a drawl just as thick as her brother’s. “I’m not te-en!”
“Ten weren’t a problem,” Sammy asserted. “Since the boob fairy visited, ya got more boys hangin’ ‘round than Carter’s got liver pills ... thicker 'an hair on a dog's back. And you ain’t got sense to pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel when it comes t’ them little horny scamps.”
“Saa-mmy!” Sue-Ann hissed at him as her cheeks tinged pink. She folded her arms over her abundant cleavage and glared at him. “You swore you’d act like you had some raisin’!”
Sammy shrugged again. “It’s the God’s honest truth,” he avowed, holding his right hand up as if in a pledge. “Ain’t got a lick a sense ‘bout boys.”
Just then Sue-Ann spotted Billy and Dani standing to one side. “Oh, aren’t you the cutest little thangs!” she exclaimed, moving away from Sammy and pulling the twins into a hug. “You’re like two little peas in pod! Oh, look at the curls!” she gushed, ruffling Billy’s mass of blond hair. “You’re cute as a bug’s ear!” she continued to drawl in her thick southern accent, grinning widely at Billy.
Billy blushed beet-red and gave her a shy smile. His stomach gave a weird lurch, as if he missed the bottom step going downstairs. She was beautiful! Bess had never told him how pretty her friend was and he’d never met anyone in real life that talked like her before. His little seven-year-old heart leapt and flip-flopped in his chest and he suddenly seemed to have a hard time breathing properly. He fell in love in an instant. Then Angelpie came up to greet her and Sue-Ann swept the kitten up in her arms as Bess introduced her to Annie and then JJ. Billy tagged along near the redhead and every so often Sue-Ann would touch a hand to his shoulder or tousle his curls as she talked animatedly with all the kids. Billy was in heaven.
“Still got that bike?” Sammy asked Spike as Sue-Ann and Bess moved away. “That was a beaut! Sweeter than m’ Aunt Sally’s iced tea.”
“Yeah … still got it. Never did thank ya properly for fixin’ that up for the girl,” Spike replied sincerely.
“Well, just right, ain’t it? Sue-Ann may not thank so, but I did have some raisin’. Mama always said, ‘ya plant a tater, ya get a tater’,” Sammy asserted, spitting more tobacco juice into the beer bottle.
On that note, Buffy excused herself, citing the work she still had to do, and Spike waved a hand at the door to the garage, inviting Sammy out to see the Harley.
“Mind if I see a man ‘bout a horse first?” Sammy asked, giving Spike a questioning look.
Spike looked back at him, trying to figure out what the bloody hell he was on about.
After a moment, Sammy said, “Don’t need indoor plumbin’ … a tree’ll do.”
“Uhhh .. right,” Spike finally said, pointing to the downstairs bathroom. “Neighbors don’t fancy us usin’ the trees.”
Out in the garage, Sammy stopped short, his mouth agape. Spike nearly bumped into his back, only realizing he’d stopped at the very last moment and side-stepping the larger man.
“Well fry my hide!” Sammy exclaimed, his eyes wide and locked on the DeSoto.
Spike smirked, stepped past him, and popped the hood on Darth Vader.
Sammy spit out his whole wad of tobacco into a garbage can and dropped the beer bottle in behind it, before approaching the car with a look of awe. “Feefty-nine?” he asked simply.
“Yeah,” Spike confirmed, backing up to let Sammy have a look.
“Good Lord a mighty damn …” Sammy murmured. “They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.”
“Four barrel carburetor, V-8,” Spike bragged. “Got a 383 hemi … 325 horsepower, 9.25:1 compression ratio, dual exhaust. Changed out the transmission for a TorqueFlite A-727 … aluminum. Still a pushbutton automatic, but saved ‘bout sixty pounds over the old cast iron one.”
Sammy let out a low whistle as he scanned the engine, which looked brand new. Spike and Xander had rebuilt it, along with the drive-train and the transmission, not too long after Spike won the demon UFC prize money and actually had the funds to do it properly.
Sammy looked up at Spike with a sparkle in his eyes. “How fast’ll she go?”
Spike shrugged. “Speedometer only goes t’ 120 … I reckon 150’s the top – but couldn’ prove it.”
“Acceleration?” Sammy asked, still gawking at the shining engine.
“Zero t’ sixty in about eight seconds,” Spike boasted.
“Good Lord a mighty damn…” Sammy repeated, gazing starry-eyed at the gleaming engine.
Spike folded his arms over his chest and watched the mechanic checking out the engine. Sammy looked at all the belts and hoses – which were all new. He checked the sparkplug wires – which were also new. He looked under it for oil and water leaks – there were none.
Finally, he asked, “Who rebuilt it for ya?”
Spike smirked. “Me and a friend o’ mine did it. Got a buddy with a garage – we rented a lift – pulled the motor. Took a while, but it’s good as new.”
Sammy looked at Spike with an expression of shock. “Well, I’ll be dipped in shit. You did it?”
Spike shrugged. “Had help, but … yeah.”
Sammy shook his head and chuckled to himself. “Gotta tell ya … Hoss. Didn’t rightly picture you as the type t’ get yer hands dirty. Ya look kinda … uhhh … well … what I mean t’ say is … don’t mean no disrespect. I reckon it’s the hair and the accent, but you seemed like …”
The more Sammy stammered, the higher Spike’s brows went, waiting to hear just what this man was about to call him.
“Well … yer a bit of a pretty boy, ain’t ya? Reckoned you were all hat an’ no cattle. Suppose ole’ Gandalf was right: all that’s gold don’t glitter,” Sammy admitted.
Spike cocked a brow at the man. “You’re paraphrasin’ ‘The Lord O’ the bloody Rings’?” he asked disbelievingly. “Figured you as more of a … ‘Deliverance’ man, m’self.”
Sammy’s face contorted as if he’d just bit into a lemon. “Now that there movie was messed up,” he asserted, as a visible shudder shook his large frame. “Cain’t listen t’ banjo music without gettin’ the heebie-jeebies nowadays.”
Spike nodded and rubbed at the back of his neck. “That makes two of us, mate,” Spike admitted with a little chuckle.
Spike pulled the keys to Darth Vader out of his pocket and tossed them to Sammy. “Wanna give it a go?”
“Does a bear shit in the woods?” Sammy replied, snagging the keys out of the air.
“Unless he’s in the bloody zoo,” Spike pointed out, as he pushed the button to open the garage door.
“What’s ‘er name?” Sammy asked as he climbed in.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, mate … but it’s a ‘him’. The bits named it Darth Vader,” Spike told the mechanic as he climbed into the passenger seat.
Sammy pursed his lips in thought and then nodded. “That’s fittin’ … don’t make ‘em like ole Daddy Skywalker anymore, either.”
The DeSoto rumbled to life on the first turn of the key and idled like a dream, purring smoothly. Sammy smiled and nodded again. “Wondered if ya used that ethanol crap gas in 'er ... I mean him," he commented to Spike as he pressed down on the accelerator and listened to the engine run – it was as smooth as glass. It was obviously not running on unleaded gas with ethanol. “That shit’s useless as teats on a boar hog.”
Spike snorted. “You musta thought I was a right git,” Spike shot back, pointing to a shelf that held several bottles of lead substitute and octane booster.
Sammy shook his head again in apology for misjudging Spike. “Not rightly sure what that means, Hoss … but this here dog’ll damn sure hunt. Runs finer ‘an hair on a frog’s ass.
“Let’s see if ole Vader kin hit warp ten,” Sammy smirked, putting the car in reverse and backing carefully out of the garage.
“’E can,” Spike assured him, smirking back.
Bess and Billy gave Sue-Ann the full tour of the mansion, from the bat cave to each of their rooms. Sue-Ann fawned over Billy’s room and took an interest in his books and the poster of the planets on his wall and all the Star Wars memorabilia. She asked him questions about which movie was his favorite and which character he liked best and about the planets and the constellations. He beamed with pride as he answered her questions, giving each considerable thought.
“Do you play Band Hero?” he asked her at last.
“Never tried Band Hero – we got Guitar Hero at the dorm,” Sue-Ann told him. “Do ya have any country songs?”
Billy frowned. “I don’t think so,” he admitted as he thought really hard. Finally, his face lit up. “But we have Lynyrd Skynyrd … I think they’re from the south! Do you like them?”
Sue-Ann’s face glowed. “Like butter on a biscuit! ‘Freebird’? ‘Gimme Three Steps’?” she asked.
Billy nodded giddily. “C’mon! I’ll show you!” he exclaimed, grabbing her hand and pulling her away. “You can play guitar or keyboard or drums …unless Dani comes, then she gets drums. I’m lead guitar, but you can have rhythm or bass.”
“Hey!” Bess objected. “She’s my friend!”
“You can come too,” Billy called back over his shoulder as Sue-Ann let him drag her down the hall towards the stairs.
Bess sighed and rolled her eyes as she followed them. This wasn’t going exactly as she’d imagined, but that was alright. She and Sue-Ann were sharing a room at ‘Slayer Central’; they could get all caught up then.
“You been holdin’ out on me!” Sue-Ann accused Bess later that night in their hotel room at the Sunnydale Motor Inn. They were sitting cross-legged on one of the beds eating ice cream.
“About what?” Bess wondered as she took a spoonful of Cherry Garcia from the carton.
“Your daddy! Lord a mighty, Bess! He’s hotter ‘an spit on a griddle!” Sue-Ann exclaimed as she dipped her spoon in Bess’ ice cream and held her container of Chunky Monkey up for Bess to try.
“Sue-Ann!” Bess exclaimed in surprise as she took a bite of Sue-Ann’s ice cream. “He’s my father … and … hello! Married … to my mother.”
Sue-Ann sighed and shook her head. “Still … and the way he talks, all foreign-like! I just love men with accents,” Sue-Ann sighed dreamily.
“Sammy has an accent,” Bess pointed out.
Sue-Ann made a face like her ice cream had curdled. “That’ ain’t no accent … that’s jus’ … how he talks,” she drawled. “Your daddy’s got an honest-to-God accent.”
Bess smiled and shook her head, but said, “If you say so.”
“Oh, and Billy’s just as cute as a bug in a rug, ain’t he?” Sue-Ann gushed.
Bess laughed and nodded. “And – big plus: not married,” she pointed out. “You’d only have to wait another … ten years or so and he’d be perfect for you.”
Sue-Ann giggled and took another bite of ice cream. “Sooooo … tell me ‘bout Troy. I want to hear ever’thin’! Every juicy detail!”
Bess’ smile widened and it was her turn to sigh dreamily. “Oh, Sue-Ann … he’s just … yum.”
“Yum sounds like a right good start. What parts are the yummiest?” Sue-Ann teased.
Bess giggled and would’ve blushed if she’d had any circulation. “It’s all pretty yummy. Long, black, wavy hair – just as soft as silk. His eyes are the color of that water you see on the posters of Bali or Tahiti or someplace exotic like that ... skin like rich, velvety mocha, broad shoulders, strong back, long legs, comfy arms. But arguably the best part of him would be his long, wide, hard … feet,” Bess giggled. Sue-Ann shrieked in frustration and laughed along with her.
“You’ll meet him tomorrow at the house. Oh! We could go for a ride if you want! You can ride my bike and I’ll ride with Troy. He knows all the best places – we could go down the coast – that’s always neat,” Bess suggested. “He’s just the sweetest, and super smart … and …”
“And?” Sue-Ann prompted.
“And hotter than spit on a griddle,” Bess told her friend with a wry smile.
It was like no time had passed at all since they’d last seen each other. The girls ate their ice cream and shared their secrets. They talked about boys, school, slaying, the upcoming games, and every detail of their lives for hours that night. One topic just seemed to flow into the next seamlessly, there were no awkward silences, and no subject was off-limits.
Even though Bess had made new friends since she’d gotten back to Sunnydale, she felt like Sue-Ann would always be her best friend, even though they mostly communicated via email or phone calls. Maybe it was the past that they both shared. Maybe it was because they’d bonded at a time when they were both vulnerable and alone. Whatever it was, the friendship was special and they both treasured it. By the end of the night, they both vowed not to let as much time pass before they actually saw each other again.
Sunday night, August 21st, 2011.
In lieu of an ‘opening ceremony’ like they had at the actual Olympics, Buffy had opted for dinner and dancing to kick off ‘her’ Olympics. She’d rented The Bronze for the night, including a band and a DJ (to fill in on breaks), and the full serving and kitchen staff. All the Slayers and Watchers who had come to the games were dressed in their nicest clothes, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
She could tell that the unsanctioned toga party that had been held the previous night at the hotel was still being felt by some of the Slayers, but Buffy was happy with how everything was going. She watched from the balcony as the girls mingled, introduced themselves to each other, and got to know their sister Slayers. The only men there were a few Watchers, Sammy, Spike, Xander, and Troy, so the girls mostly just danced together in large groups.
JJ and Billy had garnered a lot of attention from the girls. The Slayers fawned over the two cute little boys while Dani pretended to puke every time any of the girls ruffled Billy’s curls or told JJ how sweet he was. Annie hung with her dad, who danced with her several times since Buffy was busy ‘organizing’, but he declined numerous invitations from the throng of Slayers.
As Buffy scanned the floor below, her eyes stopped on the booth where her family had been sitting, but it was empty. She looked around the dance floor, but didn’t see Spike, Annie, Bess, Troy … in fact, she didn’t see any of the kids at all. She scanned the whole floor beneath her, near the bar, and around the tables and booths that lined the walls. She saw Faith on the dance floor and Anya sitting at a table talking to Amanda – but still didn’t see any of the others. Where had everyone gone?
Spike? she called through the bond.
Where are you? Are the kids with you? she asked, trying not to panic.
Yeah, no worries, he assured her. In the parkin’ lot.
Oh … uhhh … ok, she stammered back, wondering why they would all be in the parking lot.
Buffy headed down the stairs and out the side door of the Bronze to see just what was so interesting out in the damn parking lot. She and Lorne had spent a lot of time and effort on this party for them to be bailing on it this early.
Outside, Buffy found Xander, Troy, Sammy, Sue-Ann, Bess, Spike, and all the kids gathered in one corner of the lot. As she approached she realized they were gathered around the DeSoto, the Harley (which Spike had let Sammy ride), Troy’s bright blue Yamaha, and Bess’ Suzuki, which were all parked near each other. When she got nearer she could hear bits of the conversation: engine … carburetor … acceleration … top speed … compression ratio … Marvel Mystery Oil … ethanol … torque … blah, blah, blah.
Spike noticed Buffy just as she got to the large circle of people and he stood up from a crouch where he’d been showing Troy how to adjust something on his motorcycle. “Hey, pet,” he greeted her with an easy smile, putting a greasy hand out to wrap around her shoulders.
“New dress!” she warned, putting her hands up to fend him off and backing away a step.
Spike looked at his hand and shrugged. “Sorry, luv,” he muttered, wiping the grease on the back of his jeans.
Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head. “What are you guys doing out here? The party’s inside.”
“Oh, I am sooo sorry, Mrs. Weckerly,” Sue-Ann piped up in her slow drawl. “It was my all fault. I jus’ wanted a break from all that racket, an’ we got t’ talkin’ ‘bout bikes an’ … well…” She shrugged and gave Buffy an apologetic look.
“Really, it was my fault,” offered Troy. “I was telling Mr. Harris about the brakes on my bike making this funny sound, and he and Sammy offered to show me how to fix it really fast. We must've just lost track of time...”
“Actually, it was totally my fault,” began Bess. She stopped when Buffy raised her hands and waved them in the air in surrender.
“Maybe, if you’re done with the mechanic lesson, you could come back in to the actual party. There’s beer in there,” she added as an enticement.
Spike bent down and picked up a bottle from the ground and held it up to her. “Beer ‘ere too,” he pointed out before taking a drink. “And not a bunch o’ hormone-charged Slayers who can’t decide whether t’ stake me or jus’ dance me t’ death.”
“Rightly sure dancin’ ain’t all they got in mind,” Sue-Ann whispered to Bess with a giggle.
Spike turned to her and cocked a brow at the redhead. Sue-Ann’s eyes went wide and she blushed ten shades of pink. Bess laughed, then cleared her throat before throwing an arm over Sue-Ann’s shoulders and saying, “We better go back inside.”
Buffy watched the two girls, and Sue-Ann’s shadow, Billy, head back into the party. Then she looked at Annie, Dani, and JJ and said, “You three need to go back in too. They’re about to serve desert, you don’t want to miss it. Let’s leave the big boys alone to play with their toys.”
Spike gave her a smirky-smile of gratitude, and she stepped closer and touched a soft kiss on his cheek. “I’ll send someone out with more beer,” she offered before ushering the kids back into the building.
“Mighty fine filly ya got there, Hoss,” Sammy drawled, looking after Buffy’s retreating form.
Spike pursed his lips and nodded as he stared appreciatively at her lean, tan legs and swaying hips as she walked away. “Bloody well got that right, mate.”
"Don't reckon she's got a sister," Sammy asked hopefully as Buffy disappeared into the club.
Spike smirked. "Remind me t' introduce you to Faith. She's a sister ... of sorts and I think you two have the same affinity for sharp objects being stuck into your flesh."
So ... they're closer to the secret of creating another Gem, but it's still proving elusive. Will have a bit of the Slayer Olympics next including a special event combining paint-ball guns, total darkness, and one wily vampire...
Never met anyone like Sammy before? Then you've never been to Alabama! I admit that he's based largely on my step-son, but does have traits of every good-ole-boy I've ever met rolled up into him. An icon of the perfect southern gentleman! Ya plant taters, ya get taters!
Big Boy Toys, Aaron Tippin
hook my wagon to my trike and I'd head across the yard
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