|Part:||4. The One Who Knows|
Fight For You
Troy takes Spike’s advice, but will the girl from Krypton bring him to his knees?
Music Referenced: Fight For You, Jason Derulo http://youtu.be/pV36OEBWRvU
Some photographs courtesy of FreeFoto.com
|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. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the very 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.
That same afternoon, Sunday September 18th, 2011:
Troy parked his bike in the driveway of the mansion and cut the engine. As was his habit, he waved at the window of the house next door that had the curtain pulled back just enough for someone to peek out. He couldn’t actually see Mrs. Katz, but he knew she was there. The curtain fell suddenly when he waved – just like it always did. He snorted out a laugh as he got off the bike and headed for the garden doors.
He wished he had better news for Bess, that they’d gotten the answer in Yuma rather than just another lead – a rather flimsy lead at that. Summon a spirit? That was about as flimsy as it got. I mean, really? Ghosts? Maybe they should just call in Miss Cleo and get a free tarot reading.
Troy still wondered about this Angelus guy and if he might have some information that would help them. The old vamp might know something and not even realize its significance. Maybe if he, Troy, went and talked to him, without Spike, he could get some answers. Maybe Bess knew who and where the Aurelian was. If Troy could come up with the solution, produce a Gem … or at least produce the spell to make it, Spike would be forced to like him, or at least respect him … right?
“Hello?” Troy called as he entered the great room. "Bess?"
“Troy!” Bess exclaimed from the kitchen. She shoved her mug of blood behind some cereal boxes on the counter and quickly ran some water in the sink and rinsed her mouth out. She was just wiping her lips on a paper towel when he came in from the great room.
He gave her a brilliant smile and wrapped her in his arms, lifting her off her feet like she weighed nothing. Bess wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, hoping to the heavens she didn’t have blood-breath.
“How did it go?” she asked when he released her and she slid the considerable distance back down to the floor.
Troy shrugged and sank down into one of the chairs at the table. “Your dad hates me.”
Bess laughed. “I’m sure he doesn’t hate you. He was probably just grumpy ‘cos he wasn’t getting any. Mom was acting all … horny and weird too.”
Troy snorted and shook his head. “No – he truly hates me.”
Bess sighed. “Spike’s just over-protective. He hates all boys that aren’t Billy … and possibly JJ. But that’s not what I meant, anyway. Did you get any more out of the guy this morning?”
Bess pulled out the chair next to him, turned it sideways, and sat down facing him.
“A little – a lead, maybe. He wouldn’t translate it for us, said it wasn’t his place to judge if we were … worthy of it. He gave your dad an amulet to use to call up some spirit.” Troy shook his head and looked at the floor. “Seems a bit … farfetched, even for your family.”
Bess furrowed her brow and nodded, trying not to show her disappointment. “Willow and Tara can probably … summon spirits, I guess. I’ve never actually seen anyone do it, though.”
“Do you know someone named Angelus?” Troy asked, looking up to meet Bess’ blue eyes.
Bess frowned. “Angelus? You mean Angel,” she corrected. “You know Angel,” she informed him. “Spike and I did that mission with him for the government. That submarine thing…”
Troy rolled his eyes and slapped a palm against his forehead. “Duh! He changed his name. I didn’t put it together.”
“Yeah – when he got a soul he changed it. From what I hear, he goes back now and then,” Bess teased. “What does he have to do with it?”
Troy shook his head. “Not sure. Apparently he was called to help protect the tribe back in the 1800’s. The old man said he didn’t actually help them, so he didn’t get a Gem, but he might know something. Spike didn’t want to talk to him … now I understand why. Angelus is Angel. Another in your dad’s long list of people he hates.”
“Well, I think that one’s well deserved,” Bess sighed. “He’s not very … trustworthy. Faith and Wes have told me some stories about him. He’s not really someone you want to be messing with,” she warned.
Troy nodded, disheartened, and focused on the sky outside the window. “Well, I guess that leaves the séance.”
Bess gave Troy a wry smile. “And we can’t do that without a witch. There is something we could do without a witch though,” she hinted. “There’s still a couple of hours before I have to go on patrol. I’d hate to go out and be all grumpy with the mean-ole demons. They might think I hate them or something … it would hardly be fair,” she teased.
Troy met her eyes again and grinned at her. “Well, we wouldn’t want that, would we?”
Bess shook her head solemnly, her face a serious mask, although her eyes gleamed with sensuous glee.
“I love you,” Troy blurted out suddenly, taking Spike’s advice to hit like a tornado instead of a hurricane.
Bess stopped moving. The gleam faded from her eyes like a fire that had been doused with a barrel of water. The fake look of solemnity morphed into a real one. Her teasing tone fell into one of anger, words whispered from her lips in a low growl. “Don’t say that.”
“I love you,” Troy repeated, capturing her gaze with his and not wavering. Her eyes seemed to blaze with some mixture of anger and fear, sparks of hot gold shattering the cool, cornflower blue.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t say it,” she snarled as she stood up abruptly, knocking the chair over in the process. She turned and stalked away from him, heading towards the formal dining room.
Troy jumped up and lunged for her, grabbing her arm and spinning her back around. “I. Love. You,” he repeated emphatically.
“You don’t know me! You don’t know anything! Stop saying that!” Bess screamed at him, her voice so shrill he thought his eardrums would burst.
“I don’t …” he repeated in a confused mutter, his brow furrowed. “Bess – I know you and I love you. I know you love me too. I can feel it …”
“I don’t! And you don’t! Just don’t!” she screeched, pulling free from his grasp. “You don’t know me!”
“Fine. I don’t know you. Then tell me what I don’t know!” he demanded. “I know you’re a vampire and a Slayer,” he began. He took one long stride over to the kitchen counter, shoved the cereal boxes away, and retrieved the mug of blood she’d hidden there. “You drink blood to live,” he continued, shoving the mug at her. “You think that matters?”
“I’m not doing this,” Bess announced, slamming the mug of blood down on the table, shattering it and splattering the crimson liquid everywhere. She pushed past Troy, shrugging his grasping hands off like water, and stormed into the living room.
“We are doing this, goddamnit!” Troy asserted as he strode after her, his long legs making up the distance quickly.
He grabbed her upper arm again and spun her around as he’d done in the kitchen, but this time she led with a fist, bringing her free hand around and slamming into his face when he spun her. He may have weighed more than her, had more mass, more muscle, but he was no match for her strength. He stumbled backwards, but kept hold of her arm. He tripped over the edge of a throw-rug and went down on his back hard, pulling her down with him.
Bess yanked her arm free and began to stand up. On pure instinct, Troy kicked her legs out from under her and she fell again. His brain spun like a buzz-saw and stars dotted his vision. He felt blood pouring from his nose, coating his mouth and lips. Bess was screaming something at him, but the connection between his ears and his brain seemed to have been broken – only garbled sounds came through. Somehow, his jumbled mind could guess at her words, “Let me go! Don’t make me hurt you!”
Troy scrambled atop her, trying to clear the spinning in his head. Bess twisted and writhed like a slippery eel, her smaller frame able to move more quickly than his. They struggled on the floor for a while, her sliding away from him and him scrambling after, pulling her back. He kept saying the only thing his rattled mind could think of, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
Troy finally got the upper hand, pinning her arms between them as they grappled. His wrestling acumen helped him gain some measure of leverage over her and he finally had her trapped beneath him. He blinked his eyes a few times and swallowed a mouth-full of blood as the world finally stopped spinning and her face and words came into focus. When he looked down he realized she was sobbing, shaking her head and muttering, “You don’t know…” over and over again. Blood dripped down from his most-assuredly broken nose and splattered against the milk-white skin of her neck and face.
“Bess, please,” he begged gently, his voice muffled by the blood. “Tell me what I don’t know.”
She shook her head as tears met drops of blood and rolled in pink ribbons down her face.
“I won’t love you any less,” he promised, releasing the hold he had on her. He realized he wasn’t actually holding her still, she had simply stopped fighting.
“You’ll leave … If you knew what I’ve done,” she whispered, barely audible past her tears.
“I …” Troy started to say, ‘I won’t. I’d never leave,’ which he knew was true, but also knew she’d never believe. Instead he said, “I deserve to know. I love you and … I deserve to know everything.”
“Don’t love me,” she pleaded. “Please just … can we … not do this? Can’t we … go back?”
“There are no do-overs. We can’t go back – only forward. I can’t change what I feel, Bess, and I don’t want to even if I could. Please,” he pleaded with her, wiping at her tear-and-blood streaked face with the pad of his thumb. “Please let me love you.”
Bess closed her eyes, but her tears continued to trickle through her blonde lashes, making them look darker. Troy pushed up off her, his head spinning again as he rose. He sat with his back against the sofa, which had gotten overturned during their struggle, and pulled Bess up to him. He wrapped his arms around her and tucked her head under his chin. Blood still dripped from his nose and spilled into her silken blonde hair, staining it with crimson rivulets.
Bess leaned against his strong chest for what she knew would be the last time. His arms were like heavy tree-trunks against her small frame, surrounding her with warmth and comfort. She should’ve never let him get so close. Should’ve kept him at arm’s length; never let him love her. Now she was going to lose him. How many males had she screwed in the dungeon, men and vampires alike? She had no idea. Hundreds? Thousands?
It wasn’t like she could even say she was raped. She had been before, when she was human, by the ones that changed her, but not in the dungeon. In there she welcomed the trips to the white room, longed for them. It was her only escape from the dreary boredom, and she reveled in the depravity of it. No fighting. No biting. Keep the demon down. Vaginal first, then whatever you wanted to do for as long as you wanted to stay. Screw the guards and get more time in the room. Mac liked giving it to her in the ass; Smitty preferred blow-jobs; Artie liked to spank her first, then fuck her pussy. She knew what they all wanted and had no problem giving it to them.
She was a whore. Not for money – not that time, anyway – but for a small taste of freedom from the monotony of the cells. She’d been a whore for a century. Then, when she’d finally been free, what had she done? Turned back to the only thing she knew how to do. Even if Troy could forgive her the dungeon, how could he forgive her for that? Life was not a romance novel; life was not ‘Pretty Woman’. Men might be perfectly happy to fuck a whore, but they didn’t fall in love with them and they didn’t bring them home to mother.
“Bess, please. Please tell me,” Troy prompted after a time, pulling her from her thoughts.
Bess wiped her face on the sleeve of her t-shirt, staining it with streaks of red. Troy’s nose had finally stopped bleeding, but they were both covered in scarlet gore.
Bess took a deep breath, let it out slowly and said, “I’m a whore.”
Troy narrowed his eyes in confusion, shaking his head slightly as if he hadn’t heard her correctly. “You’re a … what?”
“A whore. You know what that is, right? Someone who fucks for money or favors?” she shot back angrily as she pulled away from his embrace.
“Bess … I don’t understand,” Troy stammered, letting her go without protest.
She stood up, moving away from him. “Whore! Prostitute! Harlot! Lady of the Evening! You’re in college – look it up!”
Troy struggled to his feet, using the couch for support as his head spun again. “Bess, that’s … impossible.”
She cocked a brow at him, her fists planted on her hips angrily. “Really? I screwed you up there on that bluff over the PCH so I could get you to teach me to ride a motorcycle. You remember that right? We’d known each other an hour at the very most. What did you think, that it was love at first sight?”
Troy looked confused and crestfallen and angry all at once. “So … when you go on patrol at night you’re actually … what? Screwing other guys … for money? But you have money – you have the money from the sub…”
“You don’t get it!” she cut him off, waving a hand at him dismissively. “Just go! Get the fuck out!”
“No! I don’t get it!” he agreed, taking a step toward her. “And I don’t believe you, either. You love me – I … I know it.”
Bess snorted sarcastically. “You don’t know anything.”
“Because you won’t fucking tell me anything!” he screamed back at her, taking her by the shoulders and holding her slender frame with his large hands. “Tell me what you’re talking about, damn it!”
Bess lurched out of his grip and began to swing another fist at his nose, but he blocked it. He engulfed her fist in his shovel-like hand and twisted, turning her around and wrenching her arm up behind her, lifting her off her feet. “Stop fighting me!” he demanded angrily. “Talk to me.”
Bess dropped her head forward and flung it back in one quick motion, cracking him soundly on the chin, rattling Troy’s teeth, and splitting his lip soundly. He dropped her on reflex, but lunged at her and they both hit the floor again, with him landing atop her. It would’ve driven the air out of a normal girl’s lungs, but Bess didn’t have need for air; it barely slowed her down. She kicked and clawed and scrambled atop him like an ant atop a rhino, raining down venomous blows to his chest and face. He got his arms up over his head and her fists slammed against his forearms.
“Bloody hell!” Spike exclaimed as he entered the great room. He’d left the celebration party a little early – there was just so much Chuck E. he could take, plus he had a night of Slayer torture to get ready for.
Spike sprinted the distance from the garage door to where Bess and Troy were fighting … or, well, Bess was fighting and Troy was trying to not die. He grabbed his daughter, encircling her torso with his arms and pinning her arms against her sides. As soon as he had a firm grip on her, Spike hauled her off the downed and bloodied man. She kicked and screamed and struggled against Spike, but he kept hold of her long enough to shove her into the training room and pull the door closed.
“Stay!” he ordered, just before the door slammed shut. There was no lock on it. He waited a moment … two … three, but she didn’t open it or try to escape. It sounded like she was sobbing on the other side, pounding her fists down on the mats that covered the floor.
He turned back to Troy, who was trying to push himself up, but failing spectacularly. “You too,” Spike ordered. “Stay!”
Spike went to get some ice and towels from the kitchen and came back to find Troy following orders, mostly because he was bordering on the verge of unconsciousness. Spike cleaned as much of the blood off the big man as he could and put ice on the worst of the bruises and swellings, including Troy’s nose, mouth, and eyes.
“What the bloody hell did ya do t’ set her off, Indy?” Spike wondered as he tended to him.
“Told her … I loved her,” Troy managed, swallowing a mouthful of blood in the process.
“Dolt. I told ya to hit fast and back the fuck up. Ya obviously didn’t back up.”
“Obviously…” Troy agreed with a grimace of pain.
“Need t’ get you to hospital,” Spike told him.
Troy shook his head woozily. “No… I’m …ok,” he stuttered out.
“Like hell! Your pupils are big as saucers. Got head trauma, you do. Not that it’d hurt that pigheaded brain o’ yours, but…”
Troy started to snort out a laugh, but grabbed his chest and winced in pain at the effort. Spike moved the big man’s hands and found a broken rib. “Sorry, mate – no choice: hospital.”
Troy’s brain wobbled and he nearly retched from the spinning and the sharp, knife-like pain that stabbed his chest. He didn’t argue further. Spike called 911.
“My God. What happened to him?” asked one of the paramedics that responded.
Spike shook his head. “Got home, found ‘im like that. Beat up pretty good.”
The paramedic huffed out a breath. “Yeah, by a Mack truck by the looks of it.” The paramedic knelt down by Troy and began checking his injuries, taking his blood pressure and pulse, checking his pupils, and other vitals.
“Who did this to ya, man?” he asked Troy as he worked.
Troy shook his head. “Didn’t see.”
“Do you know where you are?” the medic asked.
“What’s your name?”
“What year is it?”
After several more questions, the other paramedic arrived with the gurney and they got Troy onto a backboard and onto the gurney. Spike walked them out to the street and watched them load the man into the ambulance.
“The police will probably be by to talk to you,” the first paramedic told Spike before he headed for the driver’s door.
Spike nodded. He watched the ambulance drive away before heading back into the mansion.
Bess was huddled in one corner of the training room, her knees pulled up to her chest, her arms folded tightly around them, her head resting atop them. Spike sighed heavily, caught between anger, frustration, pity, and guilt. He walked over to her and squatted down on his haunches next to her.
“Is he … alright?” Bess asked, her voice strained and cracking with emotion.
Spike half-shrugged. “Will be, I reckon. What the bloody hell happened?”
Bess shook her head against her knees. “He … wanted to know … who I am. I … showed him.”
“Bollocks!” Spike exclaimed, standing back up. “He told you he loved you and you went off the bloody deep end,” he growled, jabbing an accusatory finger at her. “What the bloody hell?”
Bess jumped up from her position and started for the door. “It’s none of your business!” she snapped as she pushed past him.
“Hate t’ disappoint, but it is my bloody business. Beatin’ him up in my livin’ room makes it my business,” Spike asserted, grabbing her arm.
Bess tried to pull away, but Spike gripped her harder. “You wanna fight someone? Fight me. I’ve beat your arse before and I’ll bloody well do it again.”
“I’m stronger now,” Bess warned, looking down at where Spike gripped her arm.
“Yeah, but I got the Gem. I can go all bloody night an’ won’t have a scratch t’ show – how ‘bout you?”
“I could take it from you,” Bess warned.
“You could try…” Spike snarled back. “Or you could tell me what the bloody hell is wrong with you and save yourself a lot o’ pain.”
Bess snorted derisively, but looked up to meet Spike’s eyes. “He thinks he loves me. He doesn’t know … me. He … doesn’t know what I am.”
Spike’s brows went up. “Musta been awful confusin’ for him going on that mission then – not knowing you were a vamp and a Slayer.”
Bess pursed her lips together angrily. “He doesn’t know I’m a whore … or he didn’t until today.”
“Were,” Spike corrected. “Past tense. What happened wasn’t your fault. The bloody bastards forced…”
“I wasn’t forced – I chose … mostly I chose. Anyway, men don’t want to hear how many guys their girlfriend fucked before – certainly not when the number is in the thousands. They don’t want to know that you traded the only thing you had for money or the smallest sliver of freedom or food, and that you enjoyed it, that you’d do probably it again given the same circumstances. He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t know me.”
“You aren't the same girl you were then. You don’t know what you’d do now, Elizabeth Anne. You’ve changed. People bloody well change. You owe him a soddin’ explanation, not a beating! Let the dolt make up his own mind ‘bout it,” Spike argued.
Bess flinched slightly at the use of her full given name. No one had ever called her that – not even when she was a child. She recovered quickly, though, shooting back angrily, “What do you care? You don’t even like him.”
“Not the point: you do. I reckon he’s sincere about lovin’ ya,” Spike countered.
“And that brings us back to: he doesn’t know what I am. He can’t love me,” Bess asserted. “Please let go of my arm now. I need to change and go on patrol.”
Spike stared at her for a few long moments, then released the hold he had on her arm. Finger-shaped bruises had already sprung up under his grip, but Bess didn’t rub at them or even seem to notice.
“He deserves the whole story, pet,” Spike said softly as she turned to walk away.
“Yeah … maybe. But he won’t be back, so it doesn’t matter,” she sighed, resigned, as she left the training room.
Later that evening …
“I used to like to sit next to that mausoleum too,” Buffy offered idly as she walked up to where Bess sat in the Restfield Cemetery. “You can see nearly the whole cemetery from there, and the wall at your back keeps baddies from sneaking up on you. You do have to watch for them climbing over the top though – found that out the hard way once.”
Bess shrugged, never looking up, and petted Angelpie with one hand as she twirled a stake lazily in her other hand.
Buffy sat down on the bench next to her daughter and scratched under the perpetual-kitten’s chin. “Didn’t know she still came on patrol with you,” Buffy commented.
Bess shrugged again, her eyes downcast. “Sometimes.”
The two blondes sat in silence for a while, petting the purring kitten and looking out over the familiar tombstones. It was still, even after all this time, a place that felt comfortable to Buffy – like an old t-shirt and jeans. She’d spent many nights here in her youth, patrolling alone or with her friends, or Angel, then later with Spike. She’d honed her fighting skills and her witty banter within this marble and granite garden.
Buffy finally cleared her throat and looked over at Bess. She looked so young – too young to have been through everything she’d endured. “You know that when you and Spike went with Angel on that submarine rescue … something happened to me … and Annie … and you. Something different than what we all remember now. It’s how we got the scroll to decode the book.”
Bess looked up at her, but didn’t say anything as she kept petting Angelpie. “Spike knows the details about it, but no one else remembers and I hadn’t actually planned on telling anyone the specifics. It was … painful and … didn’t really turn out too well. Or, I guess in the end it did because everything got fixed, but … anyway, the point is, what happened to you.
“You got dropped into that same dimension where Annie and I were, but we didn’t know you were there right away. There were demons there that were tons stronger than me – even stronger than you – and there were lots of them. They ended up capturing you – taking you prisoner to use as bait to lure Spike … not your dad – a different Spike – to them.”
Bess’ hand went still on Angelpie’s back. The kitten sensed the change; she stopped purring and curled up against Bess’ leg on the bench between the two Slayers.
“What happened?” Bess asked, her voice small and unsure.
Buffy stopped looking out over the graveyard and met Bess’ eyes. “You fought.”
Tears stung the girl’s eyes and her chin quivered as she blinked them back.
“You fought with everything you had. You didn’t give up. You didn’t give in. You didn’t bargain, you didn’t … sell yourself to them. You. Fought. Tooth and nail, fang and … claw. You fought.”
Bess looked away, lifting her face up and gazing unseeingly at the stars above, willing her tears to not fall.
“Bess, you are not a whore. You did what you had to to survive in that dungeon; it doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean that’s all you are forever,” Buffy assured her.
Bess shook her head and her tears fell down her cheeks in wide rivers. “But later … I …”
“We pushed you too hard,” Buffy interrupted. “We thought … I don’t know, we thought if we could just give you ‘normal’ that everything would be fine. We tried to treat you like you were fourteen – it was the wrong thing to do. We tried to erase a century in a few months and … obviously a century can’t be erased that easily, can it?”
Bess shook her head again. “I don’t know if it can ever be erased,” she admitted, her voice strained.
Buffy nodded. “Probably not, but if you let it control you, then you let the bastards win. Dawn told me something when she was here. She said that she couldn’t control everything that happened to her or around her, but she could control how she dealt with it, how it made her feel; she could choose to not let it defeat her or control her.
“I don’t know how you take everything you’ve been through and just decide to not let it defeat you, but, I can tell you one thing: you are not the same person that lived in that dungeon. You are not the same girl that came out of there. I saw it.
“You’re strong and smart and brave, and you’re a fighter. You are not a whore, Bess.”
Bess dropped her face into her hands and sobs wracked her body as she wept. Buffy laid a hand on her back and let her cry, let her get it out.
After a long while, when her tears subsided, Bess said, “It doesn’t change what I’ve done. What man is gonna love me if he knew?”
“There’s only one way to find out: tell him,” Buffy advised. “If he walks away, then he didn’t really love you. He fought, literally fought you, for the truth, Bess. Even though he had to know he could never win, he fought. To me, that says something about him.”
“Yeah, he’s dumber than a box of rocks,” Bess scoffed as she sat back, wrapping her arms around her torso protectively.
Buffy shrugged. “Well, yeah, there’s that.”
“Or he as a death wish,” Bess continued.
“Could be,” Buffy agreed.
“Or he’s totally mental,” Bess offered.
“That’s a possibility,” Buffy concurred. “Or, it could mean, he really cares – he really loves you – and what happened in the past won’t make him love you any less.
“What you need to decide is this: do you love him enough to trust him with the truth?”
Bess picked Angelpie up and held the kitten against her chest. The little fur-ball banged her head against Bess’ chin and began to purr again. After a long silence filled with only the sound of the kitten’s rumbling, Bess said in a low voice, “I’ve never told anyone about … that. Not even Sue-Ann knows the whole story. Only you, Spike, and Giles really know everything that happened there … and Angelpie. I told her. Faith probably figured it out … I hope the other Slayers that were there didn’t.”
Buffy nodded and ran a hand over the kitten’s twitching tail. “Maybe it’s time you trusted someone other than your cat with your secrets, Bess.”
Bess sniffed and rubbed a hand across her face. “I’m so scared…” she admitted, tears swimming in her eyes again. “I … I do love him, but I’m so scared. And I beat him up! God, I … totally freaked out and he just wouldn’t stop saying it and…” Bess’ voice trailed off and she buried her face against the softness of Angelpie.
Buffy sighed heavily and pulled Bess and Angelpie against her, wrapping her arms around them both. “I know, baby. Love is so scary … it’s frightening to give your heart away, to trust someone else with something so fragile. But it’s worth the risk … when it’s right, it’s so … just … indescribable. It’s like flying. Remember how you felt on the plane when we left England?”
“Frightened out of my mind?” Bess wondered.
Buffy snorted a laugh. “Yeah – but also giddy with excitement and wonder and joy.”
“Yeah, I was especially giddy when you started talking about crashing and burning,” Bess reminded her.
“Yeah, well … sometimes when you fly, you crash and burn,” Buffy admitted. “But sometimes, you don’t. But you can never feel the joy of flying without taking the risk of crashing. Believe me, the ones that don’t crash make the risk worth it.
“Bess, the first man I loved was a giant disaster – it was Red Cross and FEMA worthy. I think my friends were getting ready to do a telethon for me or something. It was an epic crash and burn, leaving scarred earth and ruined lives in its wake. But … then I found Spike, and we had Annie, and somehow it made all that trauma that came before seem less … traumatic.
“Spread your wings and take a chance, Bess,” Buffy advised. “He was willing to fight a Slayer-vamp to get you to talk to him; I think he deserves to know what he was fighting for.”
Bess heaved a heavy sigh and straightened, pulling out of Buffy’s embrace. Finally she nodded. “Okay,” she agreed. “If he still wants to know, I’ll tell him.”
Buffy gave her a reassuring smile. “He’s still in the hospital. They’re keeping him overnight for observation.”
Bess grimaced guiltily. “Maybe tomorrow…”
“No – go see him tonight,” Buffy ordered sternly.
“But … he needs his rest and…”
“Bess. Go tonight. The longer you put it off, the more excuses you’ll have.”
Bess nodded reluctantly. “Can you take Angelpie home?”
“Sure,” Buffy agreed, taking the kitten from Bess’ hands.
Bess steeled herself and stood up, blowing out a deep breath of air as she did so. “Okay … I’ll … go tonight.”
“Now,” Buffy amended, standing up as well.
“Now,” Bess agreed with a roll of her eyes.
“Right now,” Buffy provided when Bess didn’t move. “I’ll walk you.”
Bess nodded. “Thanks.”
Buffy held the kitten as they watched Bess walk into the hospital through the emergency room entrance. The girl stopped at the triage desk and spoke with the nurse there, then turned back to Buffy and gave a little wave before heading deeper into the maze of sterile hallways.
Buffy stuffed the kitten up under her shirt, pulled her jacket closed over the bulge, and followed – just to make sure. Bess was just too Buffy-esque and avoidy in some ways. She might duck out the backdoor and never go to Troy's room. Buffy got Troy’s room number from the nurse just as Bess had, and headed off after her daughter, Angelpie purring gently against her skin under her shirt.
The door to Troy’s room was opened a few inches, so Buffy stopped outside and listened. She didn’t hear anyone talking. She pushed the door open slowly and found Bess sitting in the chair next to his bed, holding his hand. Troy was asleep – probably on pain killers.
Bess’ eyes went wide when she saw Buffy. She laid Troy’s hand down gently and came out into the hallway. “He’s knocked out …” she whispered. “God, did you see his face? I can’t believe I did that!” she continued in a low voice. “His arm is broken and I think he has broken ribs, too. God, Buffy … I screwed up sooo bad.”
“Yeah, you did,” Buffy had to agree. “I don’t know if you can fix this, Bess.”
Bess nodded forlornly, fretting her bottom lip with her teeth. “I’ll stay until he wakes up and …” her voice faltered. She didn’t really know what came after ‘and’.
Buffy nodded. She put a hand on the side of Bess’ face, and touched her lips to the girl’s forehead. “Good luck.”
“I’ll need it,” Bess admitted.
Angelpie pressed her head out from under Buffy’s shirt, stretching the neckline. The kitten had stopped purring, and now regarded Bess pensively. Bess stroked a finger over her little friend’s forehead and ears, trying to reassure the too-smart kitten, then she turned and went back into Troy’s room.
Buffy pulled the door nearly closed and headed home with Angelpie. There wasn’t anything else she could do for her daughter – it would be up to Bess now.
Next: Will Bess stay and talk to Troy or will she chicken out and run away?
Fight For You, Jason Derulo
It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you...
What they say it don't even matter
If you'd like to get notified of updates, email me here:
Feedback: Email me feedback, I'd love to hear from you! passionate@passion4 spike.com