|Story Title:||I Run to You|
If I Could Turn Back Time
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004
Annie turned five on February 14th (she was born in 1999)
Spike and Buffy have been married five years in February. (seems longer, doesn't it?)
Buffy turned 23 on January 19th.
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions in May, 2003.
Spike's found out Buffy's secret and kicked her out - can she convince him that she's doing the right thing and get Spike to forgive her ... or will his stubborn pride win out?
Heartfelt thanks to my "ET" and wonderful Beta,
her wonderful suggestions, much needed corrections and always
If I Could Turn Back Time, by Cherhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEszTzdUMcY
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. This chapter is full of angst!
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. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.
Early morning hours, Thursday, July 29th, 2004:
Buffy stood on the sand looking out over the Pacific Ocean as the waves crashed against the shore. The spray from the breakers mixed with her tears as she hugged her arms tightly around her body and tried to stop the pain of being here alone, without Spike, but no matter how hard she tried, the pain wouldn’t go away.
She turned her face away from the mist and looked down the shoreline. Someone was walking down the beach towards her– Spike! Buffy took off running towards him and threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around her husband and burying her face against his neck.
“Spike! God, Spike … you came! I’m so sorry …” she cried against his skin as she clung to him.
Spike stiffened when she wrapped her arms around his neck, standing perfectly still - his arms clamped down against his sides, his eyes straight ahead, still looking down the beach.
Buffy slowly released him when she realized he wasn’t going to return her embrace and backed up a step away from him.
“Spike, you have to know that I didn’t sleep with Angel,” she said solemnly. “I’d never do that – I swear on our children’s lives.”
Spike took his eyes off the horizon and looked at her. Their dream-selves didn’t have the cuts and bruises from their fight earlier … her face was clear except for her tears.
“Doesn’t matter,” he said at last and Buffy’s hopes rose that he was going to forgive her, after all.
“Doesn’t change anythin’,” he continued. “Lied to me, you did – for a sodding week, time and time again … day after day you stood there and looked me in the eye and lied to me.”
“I had no choice …” Buffy started.
“Bollocks!” Spike exclaimed as he brushed past her and started walking further down the beach.
“Spike, I tried to tell you …” Buffy defended as she turned and started following behind him.
“Cat got your tongue, I suppose … all week …”
“Spike, please – listen to me!”
“Oh … NOW you want to talk, do ya? Didn’t want to talk ‘bout Charlie the Tuna being back on dry land – but now you want to talk … want me to listen. Bloody brilliant!”
Spike stopped and turned back around to face her. “You made a huge mistake, Slayer.”
“I know that! How many times can I say I’m sorry?”
“Not that … that was just your latest mistake – you made your big mistake on that balcony in Cinderella’s bloody castle. You told me I was your equal partner … you convinced me of it – made me say it - vow to it! Told me I was your hero, I was your equal – and I believed you.”
“News flash, Slayer … ‘equal partner’ means you discuss things ‘fore running off on your own and making life-altering decisions. When I married you I swore to be your partner … I was your willin’ slave – but you … you,” Spike clenched his jaw and closed his eyes. He refused to cry in front of her … he absolutely refused.
Buffy stood silent and still in front of him, waiting for him to finish – praying that he could find it in himself to forgive her for the lies.
After a few moments Spike opened his eyes again and continued, his voice soft and full of sorrow, “You made me feel like we were a team … like I really mattered, like what I thought, what I did, counted for something in this world – that my feelings, my opinions, were important to you. You made me feel like I could live in the light with you … not in the shadows.”
“They are… you are …you can…” Buffy started.
Spike shook his head slowly. “No … not really. Not when it comes right down to it. In the end, you did what you wanted to do … what I felt or thought didn’t matter. You not only did what you bloody well wanted, but you lied to me about it … that’s not a partnership, Buffy, that’s a superhero and her sidekick – the superhero makes the decisions … the sidekick adds bloody comic relief.”
“Spike, I didn’t mean to …”
“Save it, Slayer – because you did mean to – you meant to lie to me, you meant to help Angelus – you didn’t do anything that you didn’t mean to do. Every move you made, every lie you told, was thought out and planned … it’s not like you just made a wrong bloody turn on the highway.
“A year ago … hell, a month ago, I might’ve never opened my mouth – but it’s different now, innit? I’m different now – and that was your biggest mistake. You convinced me that I mattered and there’s no turning back from that now… I have my pride, Buffy – I’m done playing Robin to your Batman. I can’t be your slave anymore.”
Buffy shook her head slowly. She did value Spike’s opinion – she meant every word she said to him about being a hero – he was her hero, he was their family’s hero and he was every bit her equal. He just didn’t understand how certain she was of the need to help Angel now in order to protect their daughter and “nephew” later. His hatred of Angel was overshadowing his ability to even consider the possibility that helping Angel now would eventually help them.
“I tried to talk to you about it, Spike … but you didn’t believe me. Angel will save the kids – we need to help Angel now to save Annie’s life later. I am more sure of this than I am my own name – but you wouldn’t even consider it,” Buffy pointed out.
“And just how is it that your beloved Angel happens to be in the right place at the right time, Slayer?” Spike asked her, his hands going to his hips.
“Cordy has a vision …”
“Ahhhh – the PTB at work again, are they? Why don’t we just tell Vision Girl to call us if she has any urgent telegrams regarding Sunnydale and toss Charlie back?”
Buffy sighed, then mimicked holding a phone to her ear. “Hi Cordy, would you please call us if you get any visions about our daughter getting shot? No – I’m never going to help you find Angel…CLICK!”
Buffy dropped her arm and rolled her eyes. “Trust me, Cordy is a vindictive bitch … she knows I know something about Angel … she’d laugh in my face …”
“I still say a million things can happen in that time. Even if the shooting is real, we could find a way to stop it between now and then – without bloody Angel!” Spike asserted.
Buffy shook her head and closed her eyes. Spike was never going to understand – he would never agree with her decision to help Angel, which is what got her painted into this horrible corner in the first place.
“What do you do when equal partners don’t agree?” Buffy asked him, opening her eyes and searching his face for some kind of solution.
Spike shrugged. “I reckon that’s what they call ‘irreconcilable differences’, Slayer,” Spike told her as he turned and started walking again.
“Irreconcilable differences?” Buffy asked softly. She’d heard that term before – it was the boilerplate reason for divorce all the celebrities used when they got tired of their current partner.
“You don’t mean you want a …” Buffy asked, unable to say the word … it stuck in her throat as tears streaked her face and she watched Spike walk down the beach alone. Buffy dropped to her knees in the sand and watched him move further and further away from her as her entire world crashed and burned all around her.
Spike woke up from the dream still lying on the floor against the garden doors. He groaned in pain as he sat up … every inch of his body hurt from the beating he’d taken earlier.
“Well, you are still with us,” Lorne said, getting up from the couch and moving towards him. “You look like death warmed over, Sweet Cheeks.”
“Yeah … reckon I feel like death … un-warmed,” Spike told him as he stood up slowly.
“Willow told me what’s going on … what is going on?” Lorne asked as he gave Spike a hand up.
Spike looked at Lorne and shook his head. “The end of the bloody world,” he told him as he started walking through the debris that still littered the great room towards the stairs.
“What can I do?” Lorne called after him as Spike started up the stairs.
“Nuthin’ … it’s too late now – the four horsemen ‘ave arrived,” Spike informed him tiredly as he trudged up the stairs to the bedroom.
Spike lay down in their bed on his side and pulled Buffy’s pillow to his chest, buried his face against it, and curled into a ball as tears fell from his eyes. His world was spinning out of control and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Buffy had taken him to the top of the world – given him a glimpse of what it could be like to be a man, to be her man, her equal – then she snatched it away with her lies.
He felt like he was free falling from the highest mountain down into the pits of hell. How one woman could have the ability to take him that high and send him plummeting that low was beyond his comprehension, but he couldn’t do it anymore. He would’ve rather never been given that glimpse of heaven than to have seen it then had it jerked away.
It wasn’t so much her helping Angel that cut him so badly, but her betrayal of his trust. That was one thing Dru never did to him – she never tried to hide anything from him … she’d hurt him plenty - more than once by sleeping with Angel, but she did it out in the open – he’d almost come to expect it from her. But Buffy … Buffy made him trust her, she made him believe in her … she made him believe in himself and that he was worthy of being more than a monster. Then she treated him like he was nothing … like he didn’t matter, like he was still the monster, after all.
Spike cried into Buffy's pillow trying to understand why she did it – why go to all the trouble of bringing him into the light only to shove him so harshly back into the dark? Why make him think he mattered only to treat him like … like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe?
“God, Buffy … why? Why? Why?” he muttered against her pillow as sobs wracked his body.
His body, mind, heart, and soul all ached. If it was possible to die of a broken heart, Spike would have. He couldn’t let this happen again … he’d been too free with his love, with his trust, and look where it got him. Dreams were for dreamers … and he couldn’t afford to dream again – it hurt too much when the dream was snatched away.
“I dare say! You can’t be sleeping there. Move along!” Giles exclaimed as he came to open the Magic Box that morning, poking the homeless person sleeping in his doorway with the tip of his umbrella.
Buffy moaned when the tip of the umbrella hit her sore ribs … her whole body seemed to ache – she wasn’t sure how much was physical from the fight with Spike and how much was from the ache in her soul. The second time the umbrella hit her ribs she jerked her arm back and grabbed it, yanking it out of Giles’ hand.
Buffy turned towards her ‘attacker’ and thrust the ‘weapon’ back at him. Giles jumped back away from her before recognition hit him.
“Buffy! Dear Lord! What happened?” he asked as he parried her thrust and moved back towards her. Buffy’s eyes were swollen from crying and from the shot to the nose she’d taken from Spike. She had blood caked on her face and neck and covering her clothes and the state of her clothes and hair honestly made her look like a homeless person …
“Giles …” Buffy moaned when she realized where she was and who was 'attacking' her. She used the umbrella to push herself up to her feet, groaning as pain shot through her body. She wondered if she had some broken ribs to go along with everything else from where Spike had tossed her over the lockers.
“Buffy! What happened?” Giles asked again as he helped her stand.
Tears welled in Buffy’s eyes again as she leaned on her Watcher. “I fucked up, Giles … I fucked up so bad.”
Giles took her into the back room of the shop and got her some tea as he cleaned the blood off her face and checked her ribs for breaks.
“What happened?” he asked again as he worked. “Where’s Spike?”
Buffy shook her head slowly. “Spike’s gone … I lost him.”
“Gone!? As in …” Giles drew in a sharp breath – afraid that Spike had been dusted.
“I lost him … I handled everything all wrong and he won’t forgive me – he wants a divorce…he doesn’t love me anymore,” Buffy told him, her voice growing softer until it was barely a whisper at the end.
“Thank God …” Giles said with relief and Buffy looked at him and frowned. “What I mean is – thank God he’s not dusted … Buffy, what on earth happened?”
Buffy sighed deeply and took a sip of the tea that Giles had made for her before answering. “Angel’s back. I don’t know how he got back. He’s lost his memory … he’s scared and he asked me for help and …” Buffy’s voice cracked on the end as she dropped her head to her hands.
“And you helped him,” Giles supplied.
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed. “I helped him, but I didn’t tell Spike … I didn’t tell anyone, and now Spike says he can’t love someone he can’t trust …”
Buffy looked up and met Giles’ eyes, her own brimming with tears again. “How do I fix it? Please tell me how to fix it,” she begged him.
Giles removed his glasses and cleaned them with his handkerchief as he thought. “Trust is one of those things that takes years to build, but only seconds to destroy, Buffy. Once it’s been breached, you can’t stick your finger in the levee and fix it. It has to be rebuilt, from scratch.”
Buffy nodded slowly, folded her hands on the table and laid her head down on them. “He won’t give me the chance … ‘Go straight to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200’.”
“Indeed,” Giles said with a sigh. “Perhaps … perhaps I can speak with him.”
Buffy brightened slightly and looked up. “Would you? Could you?” she asked hopefully. “Giles, I know I was wrong – beyond wrong, wrong to the power of a million … I swear I didn’t mean to hurt him – I never wanted to hurt him … never.”
Giles frowned but nodded. He didn’t hold much hope out for his talk having any influence on Spike. From his experience, once Spike made up his mind about something, Buffy was the only one that could ever get him to change it…if he wasn’t willing to accept Buffy’s apology … well, that didn’t sound very hopeful.
“Giles! You left the front door wide open!” Anya called from the front of the store. “Anyone could just stroll in here and take our profits! You know those pimply-faced teenagers with the skateboards and baggy pants are just dying for a chance to get even with me for making them stop riding them in the store.”
Giles rolled his eyes. “Sorry, Anya … I was a bit preoccupied.”
Anya walked to the backroom where they were carrying JJ. “My God, Buffy – did you at least win? You look like hell!”
Buffy snorted softly and shook her head. Yeah, she won the fight, but she lost so much more. Anya set JJ down in the playpen there and Buffy got up and walked over to him. Kneeling down to his level, she smoothed his thick, dark hair back and smiled softly as tears stung her eyes. He giggled at her and grabbed at her hand with his.
She was still sure helping Angel was the right thing to do, she’d just gone about it wrong … “You’ll be ok, big guy …” Buffy whispered to him. “Wish I could say the same for me …”
“Anya, perhaps Buffy could go to your house and wash up …” Giles suggested.
“What’s wrong with her house? Did the plumbing finally go out? You know, I warned you about those old pipes in that house – they’re a disaster waiting to happen! I had Xander do a total copper re-pipe of our house this spring …” Anya started.
“Anya!” Giles interrupted her. “Perhaps we can have the ‘This Old House’ lesson later. Can Buffy go to your house and clean up – get some rest?”
Anya shrugged. “Sure …” she agreed, handing Buffy the keys. “I have to get the store open, anyway. Someone around here needs to bring in some money …”
Buffy entered her mom’s old house and leaned heavily on the door when she closed it behind her. The house was still and quiet … she could still see her mom everywhere she looked, it seemed. Even though Anya had changed most of the furniture and repainted, memories of good times and bad spent here with her mom, her friends, and even Angel, seemed to surround her like ghosts.
“Mom … I fucked up so bad,” Buffy whispered as she slid down the door and sat on the floor. She was so tired … so very, very tired.
Buffy thought about all the things she and Spike had been through over the years. So many threats to their lives, to their family, to their love – but they’d always been able to come through together. Even when he thought Angel had put some kind of spell on her and made that X-rated videotape, he hadn’t turned his back on her, not like this.
“I’m so stupid … God, what was I thinking?” she asked herself, laying her head down on her knees. “If I could only turn back time – I’d change it … if only I could.
“Mom … I miss you so much … I wish you were here to tell me what do to. How do I fix this?” Buffy cried as she talked to the empty house. The night of her mother’s funeral flashed through her mind – Spike had held her all night, assured her, calmed her fears, and told her how proud her mom was of her and their family.
She wouldn’t be too proud of me now, Buffy thought as she began to sob again. Spike was right – she’d acted selfishly, not like his wife or partner – she’d acted like the Slayer. Making her own decisions and following her own instincts without any real regard for anyone else. She knew it was wrong to lie to him, but that didn’t stop her from doing it.
Most Slayers never lived long enough to get married, let alone have a family … perhaps there was a reason for that – perhaps the very thing that makes a good Slayer keeps them from being good wives … or mothers.
Buffy was suddenly overwhelmed by despair deeper than anything she’d ever known before. Spike’s right … I am beneath him. I’ll always be a Slayer first, no matter how hard I try to be a wife and a mother; he’s a man first – a husband, a friend, a father and the vampire is second.
“I’m so sorry …” Buffy whispered to no one as she slid the rest of the way down to the floor and curled into a ball. “I never meant to hurt you …”
Giles walked into the mansion and let out an audible gasp when he saw all the research books ripped and strewn about.
“Dear Lord,” he muttered as he started picking up the oldest and rarest of the texts and began trying to find the pages that went with them.
Willow and Tara came down the stairs and saw him. “We were gonna work on that today, Giles,” Willow told him as the witches reached the bottom of the stairs.
“What on earth happened here!?” Giles asked them waving his arms at the debris that once were their research books.
“Spike happened,” Tara told him flatly as she picked up a couple of pages from the book he had in his hand and gave them to him.
Giles blew out a long breath. “Where is Spike? I’d like to have a word with him.”
Tara shrugged. “Upstairs I guess – we haven’t seen him this morning.”
Giles handed her the book and started for the stairs, he was teetering between shock, misery, and outrage over the state of the research library and banged on Spike’s door loudly.
“Go the bloody hell away!” Giles heard from the other side of the door.
“Spike – I need to have a word with you,” Giles called through the door.
“Used up your word with all that talkin’ – go away,” Spike moaned from the other side of the door.
Giles tried the doorknob and the door opened – Spike hadn’t locked it the night before when he'd stumbled to bed.
“Spike – what is the meaning of that chaos in the great room?” Giles started, forgetting his original plan to talk to him about Buffy.
“Bloody hell! You in the habit of comin’ into other people’s bedrooms uninvited, Watcher?” Spike asked him as he pulled himself up slowly to sit with his back against the headboard.
Spike was still in the clothes he’d had on yesterday … all caked with blood and dirt. His face was one big bruise, his eyes were swollen nearly shut, and he had a long gash on his cheekbone. Giles thought that Buffy looked bad, but it was apparent that Spike had gotten the worse end of that fight.
“What’s the meaning of the state of the research library?” Giles asked him again.
“Just felt the need to vent is all,” Spike told him as he patted his pockets down looking for a smoke. He hadn’t had a cigarette in ages … and not in the house around the kids in even longer, but he suddenly felt the need for one. Giles wasn’t here to discuss the bloody books … he was sure of that.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done!? Some of those tomes are irreplaceable! Priceless!” Giles informed him.
Spike stood up and started rummaging through the dresser drawers until he found some cigarettes and a lighter and lit one, taking a deep drag on it before sitting back down on the bed.
“What do you want? You ain’t here to talk about the bloody books,” Spike asserted as he leaned back against the headboard and took another drag on the cigarette.
“Indeed …” Giles tried to remember what it was he was going to say to Spike … he’d thought it out on the way over, but it escaped him when he saw the books.
“Buffy …” Giles started and Spike snorted.
“’ere we go! Poor Buffy! I’ve mistreated her, ‘ave I? Now she’s running to all her little friends tellin’ ya what a monster I am. Well you can all sod off! Tell her she needs to look in the bloody mirror!” Spike ranted, standing up and starting to pace back and forth from the head of the bed to the foot and back again.
“That’s not what I was going to say …” Giles started again. “She’s quite upset – says you want a divorce. She’s aware that she made an error in judgment and she’s quite sorry about it.”
“Oh, an error in judgment, is it? Well, I reckon that’s true enough – she thought she was married to William – forgot she married Spike, and Spike’s done with ‘er.”
“Surely you don’t mean that,” Giles told him. “You’ve been through so much,” Giles pointed out. “She’s very repentant.”
“Well, she should join a convent then … they’re big on the repentin’ and forgivin’ … I’m not,” Spike informed him. “I’m sure Angelus would be particularly pleased … he always was partial to nuns.”
Spike crushed out his cigarette and lay back down on the bed, turning his back to Giles. “Close the door on your way out, Watcher.”
Giles sighed and backed out of the room, pulling the door closed behind him. That went about as well as he thought it would – in other words, not well at all.
Buffy fell into a fitful sleep on the floor just inside the front door of Xander and Anya’s house. She had the same nightmare over and over: Spike staked Angel, then suddenly Angel was replaced with the Annie from the future – she was sitting in a rocking chair holding a baby.
“Mom! Isn’t she beautiful?” Annie asked her, beaming with pride as she looked up from the baby to Buffy. Then both she and the baby disintegrated into dust as Buffy watched helplessly.
Buffy woke with a jerk when she heard and felt a loud banging sound. When she got her bearings and remembered where she was, she realized that someone was knocking on the door at her back. Buffy stood up stiffly and opened the door to find Tara on the other side doing the knocking.
“God Buffy! You look terrible!” Tara started as she came in the door.
“Thanks, that’s what I was going for,” Buffy quipped as she sat down heavily on the stairs.
“Giles told us where you were … I brought you some clothes and stuff – he said you might need them,” Tara told her, holding up a bag.
“Thanks…” Buffy said softly. “How’s Spike?”
Tara shrugged. “We haven’t seen him yet today. Willow took Annie to preschool – she wanted to know where you were …”
“Annie…” Buffy moaned, covering her face with her hands. She’d lost all track of time – she should’ve known that it was late but time seemed to be dragging so slowly, every minute felt like an hour.
“It’s ok … Willow told her you’d see her later and she was fine,” Tara assured her. “Why don’t we get you cleaned up … you’ll feel better. Have you eaten? You should eat something … you need your strength.
“C’mon – you go get a shower and I’ll get you something to eat,” Tara suggested, handing her the bag of clothes that she’d brought.
Buffy nodded slowly and stood up, taking the bag from Tara’s hands she started up the stairs to the bathroom. There was no use telling Tara that she didn’t think a shower and a sandwich would cure what was ailing her.
When Buffy came back down, Tara had some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich fixed and waiting for her on a tray in the living room. Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She wasn’t sure she could eat anything just then, or keep it down … but Tara had gone to the trouble, so she’d try.
Buffy sat down on the sofa and began to eat … surprisingly, she was able to eat and after the first bite, she realized that she was hungry, after all.
When she was done, Tara asked, “What happened, Buffy?”
Buffy sighed heavily and looked at Tara. Tara always had a way about her – a soft way of talking to you that held no judgment, a way to make you feel like you should tell her everything … and now was no exception.
Tears stung Buffy eyes again as she started to tell Tara about the Slayer dream and Angel saving Annie and JJ and how Spike didn’t believe it. Then she told her everything that had happened with Angel and lying to Spike and how much she’d hurt him without meaning to and how she was beneath him and didn’t deserve his love … and now he’d realized it, too. He wanted a divorce.
Tara listened intently as Buffy poured out her heart - Buffy's words coming out quickly - as if she was trying to rip a Band-Aid off quickly to keep it from hurting too much. It was clear that Buffy would do nearly anything to take back what she’d done – if she could go back in time and do it differently, Tara was sure that she would.
When Buffy finished talking, Tara asked, “Spike said he wanted a divorce?”
“He said we had ‘irreconcilable differences’ …” Buffy told her, nodding her head in the affirmative.
“Buffy … I can’t believe he meant he wanted a divorce. You’ve been through so much – surely you can get through this,” Tara assured her.
Buffy shook her head as tears continued to flow from her eyes. “I don’t think so … he was pretty … adamant. I treated him so badly … he’s right to hate me.”
Tara sighed. She knew Spike could be pretty obstinate … but him wanting a divorce seemed a little extreme, even for Spike. Of course, she’d never seen him in such a rage as he had been in the previous night, either – shredding the research books and turning over every piece of furniture he got his hands on.
Tara hated seeing Spike and Buffy in such pain and the thought of them getting divorced was just … beyond comprehension. If they couldn’t make it, what chance did the rest of us have?
“I’m sure he doesn’t hate you,” Tara tried to reassure Buffy. “Everyone makes mistakes.”
“No,” Buffy started softly, shaking her head slowly. “What I did wasn’t just a mistake … it was … it was a betrayal of his trust, of his love. I knew it was wrong but I couldn’t stop myself … I’m a horrible person. I truly don’t deserve him … there’s something wrong with me.”
“Buffy, that’s not true …” Tara started.
“It is … it is true,” Buffy insisted, dropping to her knees on the floor in front of Tara. “I’m so sorry … so sorry for hurting him,” Buffy’s words barely audible as sobs overtook her.
Buffy dropped her head on Tara’s knees as she cried and Tara gave her as much comfort as she could – trying to reassure her that she wasn’t a horrible person and that Spike didn’t hate her.
When Tara got back to the mansion, Spike was sitting in the kitchen – a half gone bottle of Jack on the table in front of him.
“We need to talk,” Tara said firmly as she stood across the table from him and folded her arms over her chest.
“So talk …” Spike told her as he took another swig of the amber liquid directly from the bottle.
“Buffy says …” Tara started.
“’bout anything but the Slayer,” Spike interrupted her, sitting back in his chair and hooking his thumbs in the front pockets of his jeans as he met her eyes with his.
Tara looked at him and sighed, dropping her hands down to her sides. He still looked terrible, his face was swollen and bruised, his eyes swollen, the gash on his cheek still quite evident, but he had taken a shower and changed clothes, at least.
“Fine,” Tara agreed, moving forward and picking up the bottle of Jack off the table and turning it upside down in the sink.
“HEY! That’s mine!” Spike objected, starting to stand up and retrieve it, but Tara blocked his path to the sink.
“Let’s talk about Annie … She’ll need to be picked up in an hour,” Tara informed him, looking up at the clock. “You have to go in and sign her out.”
Spike smirked at her. He knew there was no covered walk from the parking lot at the pre-school to the building – Tara was trying to make him see that he needed help, that he needed Buffy.
“Fine … I’ll handle it,” he told her, sitting back down.
“Where are the twins?” Tara asked him. “Not still in their cribs, I hope.”
“Noooo … they’re with Green in the Bat…basement,” Spike informed her.
“The bat basement? We have bats in the basement? And the babies are down there?” Tara asked him with raised brows.
“Nooo, there’re no bats in the bloody basement. It’s perfectly fine – we just … Niblett just calls it the Batcave,” Spike explained, suddenly feeling childish for calling it that himself.
Tara cocked a brow at him, but didn’t comment further on that. “Have they had lunch?”
“’Course! You think I don’t know how to take care of my own bloody children?!” Spike asked her, standing up and starting to pace back and forth as he patted his pockets down for another cigarette.
“No, I just think you aren’t looking too well or thinking too straight and you’ve been drinking. It may take a village to raise children, but ultimately you’re responsible – you and Buffy. And if Buffy’s not here, then it’s you, Spike. You have to be the adult – you can’t crawl into a bottle and hide this time – I won’t let you.”
“I ain’t crawling anywhere, Glinda. I’m fine – I’ll handle it,” he told her, pulling the pack of cigarettes and lighter out of his pocket.
“Fine. I’m glad you can handle it,” Tara said before taking the pack from his hand and tossing them in the sink with the whiskey and turning on the water.
“Bloody hell – that was my last pack!” Spike exclaimed.
“No smoking around people with functioning lungs,” she informed him before turning and leaving him alone in the kitchen.
Spike slumped back down in the chair at the table and dropped his head into his palms. He’d totally forgotten that Annie needed breakfast and to be taken to preschool this morning and the babies needed changing and to be fed. Buffy always did that in the mornings.
Willow told him (rather tersely) that she and Tara had taken care of it when he stumbled out of bed around noon, which is when he started on his first bottle of Jack … the one Tara had poured out was his second.
How was he going to do this without Buffy? At the moment, he wasn’t sure he could take care of himself without her … his whole body ached, and not from the fight – it was from his battered and broken heart.
The realization that she never meant any of those things that she said about him being her equal, about him being her hero still cut him to the quick. He wondered if that stabbing feeling in his gut would ever go away. His words of advice to his daughter when ‘Minnie Mouse’ ran away echoed in his mind … “One foot in front of the other,” he’d told her … and so now he would just do that – put one foot in front of the other and take care of this family himself. There was nothing left to do.
Spike pulled his duster over his head and darted from the parking lot to the pre-school building. It was a rare day in California, the sky was overcast, which matched Spike’s mood perfectly. He was glad for it though – at least he wouldn’t be billowing smoke uncontrollably the very first day he picked his daughter up from her pre-school, but he’d need to figure out a different system for the future.
Spike patted out the couple of spots that had started to smoke as he entered the building. The other parents, mostly mothers, glared at him with looks ranging from mild concern to outright disgust. His face was still bruised and swollen – he looked like he’d gone ten rounds with Muhammad Ali … he was smoking and had a slight odor of alcohol about him, despite the mouthwash he used before he came.
“Can I help you?” one of the teachers asked him as she tried to block him from moving further into the building.
“Here to pick up the Nib … Annie – Annie Weckerly,” he told her.
“And you are?”
“Her father – Spi … William,” he informed the teacher. He didn’t like this woman’s attitude at all.
The teacher looked at him dubiously. “I don’t remember seeing you here before.”
“Haven’t been … Is she ready?” Spike asked her, getting impatient with all her questions and looking down the hall for his daughter.
“Can I see some ID?” the teacher asked as she scanned the sign-out sheet for names of people who were approved to pick up Annie to see if his was on it. She knew from talking to Mrs. Johnston that Annie’s family was … extended and somewhat odd, but this guy didn’t look trustworthy at all.
Spike sighed heavily. “Bloody hell…” he muttered under his breath as he fished his wallet out and handed the woman his license.
The teacher looked at his license and compared the name to the list of approved names – William Weckerly was allowed to pick up Annie; then she looked from the photo on the license to Spike’s cut, bruised, and swollen face.
“Can I have my bloody daughter now?” he asked her, his frustration coming through in his voice.
“Just a moment. Please wait here,” the teacher said as she took his license and headed down the hall towards Mrs. Johnston’s class.
Spike watched as the teacher went in the room, then she and another teacher, who he assumed was the famous Mrs. Johnston that Buffy always talked about, stuck their heads out and looked down the hall at him – looking from the license to him and back again. Mrs. Johnston shrugged and shook her head.
“I’ve never met him … he’s supposed to have some kind of skin condition and bad teeth …” he heard Annie’s teacher say and Spike rolled his eyes.
“Bloody idiots …” Spike muttered as he strode down the hall towards the classroom.
“Niblett! Let’s go!” he called as he got close to the door and he heard Annie exclaim, “Papa!” from the other side of the teachers, who were blocking his entry into the room.
Spike smirked at them and snatched his license back out of the first one’s hand and stuffed it down into his pocket.
Annie pushed through the teachers into the hallway. “Papa!” she exclaimed again – surprised and excited to see him here – he’d never picked her up before. Then suddenly it dawned on her that him being here must mean that something had happened – something bad.
“Where’s Mama?” she asked as Spike picked her up and rested her weight against his hip with one strong arm. “What happened to your face?”
“We’ll talk about it at home,” he told her as he turned to leave with her.
“Excuse me … Mr. Weckerly – you do need to sign her out,” the first teacher called after them.
Spike spun back around, grabbed the pen from her hand and signed next to Annie’s name on the log. “Tomorrow, when I pull up to the curb, you need to bring her out to m’ car,” he informed her.
“That’s not the way we normally …” the teacher started but stopped when she looked up at Spike’s face.
“You don’t want me to report your school for discrimination against people with sun allergies, do ya? Ya' know, the BASVA doesn't take discrimination against it's members lightly ...” he informed her, his voice deadly serious.
“Uhh … no, of course – I’m sure we can do that,” the teacher stammered.
“Smart choice,” Spike told her as he turned and headed down the hallway.
When he got to the door, he set Annie down. “Ok – you go get in the car and I’ll be along right behind ya.”
“Can I drive?” Annie asked hopefully.
“Not today, Niblett … Go on now.
“Look both ways!” he reminded her as she started to step off the curb in the parking lot. Annie hesitated and looked both ways, then walked across the parking lot to the DeSoto and climbed in the back seat.
When she was in, Spike pulled his duster up over his head and ran across the lot and jumped in the car as he patted out the smoldering spots again.
“Where’s Mama?” Annie asked as she buckled herself into the seat. “Is something wrong? Did something happen? What happened to your face?”
Spike sighed. He hadn’t thought far enough ahead to be able to answer all those questions with sugar coating, so he just told her the hard truth.
“Your mum and me had a fight, Niblett … she’s not gonna be around much now,” Spike told her as he started the car and began driving back to Crawford Street.
“What does that mean?” Annie asked with concern in her voice.
“It means just what I bloody said! You’re mum’s gone – it’s just us now, you and me and the little bits,” Spike told her harshly – his patience had been worn down to nothing.
Annie stuck her bottom lip out in a pout as tears welled in her eyes. Her father never spoke to her like that.
Spike looked at her in the rearview mirror, rolled his eyes and sighed. “I’m sorry … I didn’t mean to be cross with you,” he told her softly. “Sometimes things happen in life – we lose people we love, yeah? We don’t mean it to happen, but it just does. Like you lost Minnie Mouse.”
“Mama ran away?”
“She made a choice … and the choice wasn’t us, Niblett, so yeah, I guess you could say she ran away.”
Annie bottom lip began to quiver as her tears spilled from her eyes. “She doesn’t love us anymore?” she asked her father softly.
Tears stung Spike’s eyes as he watched his daughter. He hadn’t handled this well at all …
“She loves you, Sweet Girl … she just, she apparently doesn’t love me anymore,” Spike tried to assure her as he pulled into the garage at the mansion.
Annie unbuckled her seatbelt and climbed over the front seat. “I don’t understand …” she told Spike as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Neither do I, Niblett … neither do I,” Spike muttered. He hugged her to his chest and buried his face in her soft hair as the tears he’d been fighting fell from his eyes.
If I could turn back time
I don't know why I did the things I did
I didn't really mean to hurt you
If I could turn back time
My world was shattered
And drove it deep in my heart
If I could turn back time...
If I could find a way
I'd take back those words that hurt you
and you'd stay
If I could reach the stars
If I could turn back time...
If I could turn back time...
If I could turn back time...
I didn't really mean to hurt you
If I could find a way
I'd take back those words that hurt you
and you'd stay
If I could reach the stars
Feedback: Email me feedback, I'd love to hear from you! passionate@passion4 spike.com
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