|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Spike's paying the price for letting his demon run free. Bess makes a sacrifice and has an idea that may help.
MacKenzie Verity Weckerly born October 9th, 2010
Edmond “Eddie” Giles Rosenberg-Maclay born March 11, 2010
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle Dawn, "Dani" and William Rupert, "Billy") were born on February 12th, 2004.
Annie was born on February 14th, 1999
Spike and Buffy were married in February 1999
Buffy was born January 19th, 1981
William/Spike was turned by Dru in
All the Potentials were endowed with full Slayer power in February 2003.
Buffy and Spike learned of the other dimensions and got the memories from the 'Rome' Universe in May, 2003.
The ‘Wish-World’ lasted from January 19th, 2005 to January, 16th 2010.
Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd http://youtu.be/JU-OSLBKwG0
Other video: Haleakala Hawai'i: http://www.aloha-hawaii.com/maui/haleakala/
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise: http://www.screencap-paradise.com/?cat=3
Thanks to 'epd4' for betaing this chapter. Any mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling ...
|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.
(moments later, same night) Thursday, January 6th, 2011:
When Bess heard Buffy screaming for help, she re-doubled her efforts. She really should’ve gotten Faith to help her. She’d searched the front of her thighs for the gem, stabbing the dagger in and cutting long gashes in her skin and flesh, all the way to the bone, but she couldn’t see it or feel it. She stuffed a washcloth in her mouth to keep from screaming as she continued the search, beginning where her leg met her hip and cutting long, red, gaping canyons in her flesh all the way to the knee in a systematic pattern, each deep gash only half an inch away from the last.
Although the wounds healed quickly, her blood splattered and stained the tile in the shower stall and ran down the drain in a river of red. She was starting to get weak from the blood loss and the pain, but Buffy’s screams for help spurred her on. She had to find that Gem – it had to be here. Buffy said he’d put it in her thigh … she had to find it.
Suddenly, as she stabbed the dagger into the back of her leg, just below the curve where her butt met her thigh, she felt it hit something … something that didn’t feel like bone, harder than bone. Bess stabbed again and again, trying to open the wound wide enough and slow the healing long enough for her to get her fingers in there and get it out. If she could only see back there … but she couldn’t – not even the mirror would help her, no reflection.
“Damn it!” she screamed in frustration as she spit the washcloth out, headed out of the shower stall, and pushed the door open. She could hear Buffy screaming at Spike to stop – then she heard Faith join her down the hall, trying to subdue the crazed vampire.
Bess left the dagger in the back of her thigh and headed out of the bathroom and down the hall to Buffy and Spike’s room. Annie, Dani, and Billy had all come out of their rooms when Buffy began screaming and they all watched in wide-eyed horror as Bess, in a t-shirt and underwear, limped down the hall with a dagger in her leg. She was covered in blood, nearly from head to toe, and left a trail of red footprints on the carpet runner that lined the upstairs hallway.
“Get back in your rooms!” she ordered them, waving a bloody arm at them all. When they just stood there in shock she added, “NOW!” and they all jumped and backed up into their respective rooms.
When Bess got to Buffy and Spike’s room, Faith and Buffy were trying to retrieve a stake from Spike’s hand. He was lashing out wildly with it, hitting them and himself randomly, screaming about needing to kill the demon.
“Faith! Help me!” Bess demanded, grabbing the dark Slayer’s arm and pulling her away from Spike and Buffy.
“Bess! What the hell!?” Faith exclaimed when she saw the blood-soaked girl.
“The Gem – get the Gem out!” Bess instructed, turning around and showing Faith the dagger that was embedded in the back of her thigh – her skin had closed around it, completely healed but for the blade sticking out.
“Holy shit…” Faith swore as Bess began twisting the dagger and reopening the wound.
“A little help here!” Buffy screamed at them as she struggled with Spike for control of the stake, which he continued to try and embed into his own body, but often stabbed into her in his effort to rid himself of the demon.
Faith looked between the two blondes, not sure who to help first …
“Get the Gem!” Bess insisted. “It’ll fix him!”
Faith rushed over to her. “Oh … God … gross…” Faith muttered, holding her breath as she took the handle of the dagger from Bess’ hand and pried her flesh open with the blade. She just caught a glimpse of the green jewel before Bess’ skin began closing the wound again.
“Stick your hand in! Pull it out!” Bess instructed.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake! Is everyone in this house completely insane?!” Faith wondered as she opened the wound again and stuck her hand down into it, trying to reach the Gem with her fingers.
Bess screamed in pain as Faith’s hand pressed into the wound, Buffy was still screaming for Spike to stop and for someone to help her, Spike was roaring in anger and frustration at being unable to eradicate the demon and Faith was cursing under her breath that this whole family was warped and needed serious help, including liberal applications of drugs and/or alcohol … or both.
Finally, Faith caught the Gem with the tips of her fingers and pulled it out of Bess’ thigh, then pulled the dagger out. Bess collapsed onto the floor, writhing in pain and trying to hold the gaping wound on the back of her thigh closed as Faith turned her attention to Buffy and Spike, who were still struggling on the bed over the stake.
Spike had plenty of gouges and deep wounds in his body in which she could insert the Gem, Faith just had to get to one of them without letting him or Buffy inadvertently knock the small jewel from her hand. As Buffy and Spike wrestled around on the bed for control of the stake, Faith watched for an opening.
“What are you waiting for!?” Buffy screamed at her, not sure how much longer she could keep fighting him. How could someone who was in so much pain and so injured be so damn strong?!
“Shit!” Faith exclaimed as she tried to reach in to shove the Gem into one of his wounds, but they were moving too much, she was afraid she’d drop it and it would be lost forever, like when you drop one earring on the floor, and you know it has to be right there, but you can’t ever find it again no matter how long you look. She was relatively sure there was a jewelry-eating monster that lived in the floor … it was first cousin to the sock-eating monster that lived in the dryer.
Suddenly, Bess came up behind Faith and she grabbed one of Spike’s arms so Buffy could concentrate on the one with the stake in it. After struggling a few moments more, the two blondes had him nearly still and Faith took the opportunity to shove the Gem into a gash in his abdomen, pressing her finger as deep as it would go into the wound.
Spike screamed out in renewed rage and pain when she did that and began fighting again, taking Buffy off guard and pulling out of her exhausted grasp. Before she could catch his arm again, he’d embedded the stake into his heart with one fierce, adrenaline and demon powered blow.
“Holy fucking shit!” Faith exclaimed, her eyes wide, along with Buffy’s and Bess’ … but nothing happened. Spike didn’t dust, the Gem had done its job.
Buffy yanked the stake out and tossed it away, it clattered to the floor and rolled out into the hallway as she watched Spike’s wounds heal like magic. Not just the ones from the Pele demon, but the ones that’d he’d just inflicted on himself, as well. Buffy held her breath as she waited … his physical wounds were healing, what about his psychological ones? Obviously something in there was totally fucked up for him to have that dream about everyone being dead and blaming himself … and she and Dru were some kind of BFFs? Seriously? Never happen; first of all, Dru was just way too skinny and there was something else … what was it? Oh yeah, crazy as a loon!
“C’mon, Spike … come back to me,” Buffy muttered as she laid a hand gently on the side of his face, still sitting atop his hips where she’d been trying to hold him still earlier. “You can do it … fight, damn it!”
Spike stabbed himself, over and over and over again with the stake. Blood poured out of his wounds and mixed with the rivers of blood from his family on the floor of the great room, soaking the already soggy cash with even more guilt-laden blood … but he didn’t dust and the demon wouldn’t vacate.
Spike roared in frustration and flung the stake through the glass doors that lead to the garden and they shattered into a million pieces. Glass shards exploded into the air – they seemed to be suspended there as the sunlight from outside glinted off their sharp, prism-like edges and flashes of miniature rainbows painted the walls and floor of the great room. Spike watched, mesmerized, as the colors danced across his skin and over the pool of blood that he seemed to be immersed in – it was the most hideously repulsive thing he thought he’d ever seen – rainbows of blood.
He looked up at the blank faces of his family and friends who surrounded him; unmoving, unseeing, unfeeling. They’d never see another rainbow, never feel sunlight on their faces again, never …
Sunlight … sunlight … that was it! The creature of the night would surely leave if he just took it into the sunlight! Spike jumped up and stumbled towards the doors – the shards of glass still hung in the air like demonic snowflakes on invisible strings and he brushed them aside, embedding the sharp edges into his palms, face and chest as he rushed through them to get to the sun, but he barely noticed the pain. Just outside the door, the sun shone brightly and Spike dropped to his knees and lifted his face to it, spreading his arms wide and welcoming the deadly rays onto his blood-stained skin … and still the demon remained – firmly ensconced within the desperate man.
“What the bloody hell do I haveta do!?” he demanded of the empty garden when the sun did nothing more than warm his skin and dry the blood that clung to him.
“Spike …” Buffy called from behind him, from inside the house.
He whirled around, startled; it was the warm Buffy … not that it mattered now; he almost wished for the vampire Buffy, at least she didn’t seem to care that he’d killed everyone. Then another idea – this one would care! She could do it! She was the Slayer, she could rid him of the demon! She could save him!
“Slayer!” Spike called back, jumping back up and retrieving the stake from where it landed against the far wall of the garden, then hurrying inside and up to her.
“Here we are then!” he greeted her, handing her the stake. “Look what I’ve done! Demons can’t be trusted,” he continued almost giddily, waving his arm at the corpses that lined the room. “Stake me! Stake me good and proper now … it’s your sacred duty.”
Buffy took the stake from his hand and Spike held his arms out wide, offering his bare chest to her as he waited for her to end it. She would surely get him out of this hell; put an end to this nightmare, rid him, and the world of the demon within.
“Spike,” Buffy spoke softly, tossing the stake into the fireplace where it burst into flames immediately. “This isn’t real. You didn’t hurt anyone.”
“What the bloody hell did ya do that for, Slayer!?” Spike asked indignantly, moving to retrieve it from the firebox before it burnt up completely.
“Spike! Stop!” she admonished him, grabbing his hand and holding him still. “Listen to me! This is not real. It’s a dream or a … hallucination or something … Everyone’s fine. You haven’t hurt anyone.”
“No, you’re wrong … I let the demon out, Buffy – I mean free, like the wind! Like that soddin' lion in that bloody awful song, and now I can’t … can’t put it back. He’s killed the lot of ‘em … he’s killed the bits, he’ll kill you … can’t be trusted, you have to do it, you have to dust me,” Spike begged her, his frightened blue eyes pleading with her to believe him.
“No, Spike – I know better. You haven’t killed anyone. There must’ve been something in that acid blood that’s doing this to you. You’re on an acid trip … only, you know, not the good, flower-child kind,” Buffy tried to tease as she pulled him away from the bodies and out into the garden, ducking under the glass shards that still hung in the air.
“No … Buffy, don’t trust it. I’m beggin’ ya … dust me, luv. Get the scythe … dust me now ‘fore it’s too late,” Spike continued to plead with her.
Buffy turned him around and sat him down on the bench, then knelt down in front of him. “Spike, I’ve seen the demon out before, he doesn’t scare me. Remember when Angel removed your soul … and he thought you’d kill us all, but the man was stronger than the demon then and he’s stronger now. Spike, I have faith in you, I love you, I believe in you, and I know that you aren’t gonna let anything happen to us.”
Spike closed his eyes and shook his head, she didn’t understand – how could she? Finally, he opened his eyes again and looked past her into the great room and all the bodies that lay there. “Look at them, Buffy … can’t you see? William the Bloody has no mercy … he has no conscience … he has no bloody scruples – he’s a monster. Vampires are monsters! They even make soddin’ monster movies about them! What the bloody hell does it take?”
Buffy blew out a long breath. This was getting her nowhere. Why wasn’t the Gem fixing this or counteracting whatever was in that blood? Then she remembered that it didn’t work on stuff like that – like drugs or alcohol or tranquilizer darts … or apparently acid blood.
(Next day) Friday, January 7th, 2011:
Buffy stayed with Spike in his hallucination dream the remainder of the night, hoping that perhaps whatever was causing it, she assumed the blood of the Pele demon, would wear off, but it never did. He would never believe her when she told him it wasn’t real; that he could control the demon within and that she trusted him completely. He told her she was a fool and insisted that she dust him over and over again.
In the morning, Spike still hadn’t awoken, despite all his physical injuries having been completely healed. Buffy left him in their bed where he'd been since she brought him home from the fight and called an emergency Scooby meeting. She asked to have it at the mansion rather than at the new Council building so she wouldn’t have to leave Spike alone.
Despite wanting to stay and help further, Willow and Tara had to get back to their jobs and had left earlier in the week after mixing up many doses of the healing balm for Spike; which Buffy figured pretty much ruined all those Tupperware containers … she’d never get that smell out of them … but that was beside the point. Now everyone that was in town sat around the research table in the mansion: Giles, Wes, Xander, Anya, Bess, and Faith; they listened as Buffy laid out her theory of the demon’s blood for them.
When she was done, Giles and Wes both nodded thoughtfully, but had no answers for her. There was nothing in the texts or the new demon database that would indicate such a side-effect of the blood.
Bess bit her lip and listened as the others discussed possible remedies, but ultimately they offered no real answers for Buffy. Finally, when they’d grown quiet, their ideas raised, discussed, and for the most part, dismissed, Bess spoke up.
“This might sound … crazy, but… ummm,” she began hesitantly, swallowing hard when all eyes turned to her. She cleared her throat and sat up straighter in her chair. “You said it was a Pele demon and so … I was thinking … I wonder if it’s something like the curse of the Pele Goddess…”
“Which is?” Buffy prodded when the girl didn’t continue.
“Well … uhhh … it’s something like if you take a piece of the Goddess’ home, then you’re like cursed forever with bad luck – it’s a Hawaiian thing …” Bess continued. “I just wonder if maybe the Pele demon is like that … maybe we need to, you know, send him back where he came from to lift the curse.”
Buffy furrowed her brow and looked at the small blonde. “When did you go to Hawai’i?”
“Oh … I didn’t! I just … I met a guy from there and … he would tell me stories about it sometimes and that’s like a pretty big thing, I guess. The Goddess Pele created the volcanoes … she’s like the Goddess of Fire or something…” Bess explained.
“Indeed,” Giles agreed. “There is a quite popular myth that anyone taking pieces of the volcanic rock or even sand off the islands is cursed … but honestly, it’s simply a scare tactic created by park rangers to keep people from taking the lava rock from the volcanoes…”
“Oh, no, I don’t think so!” Bess disagreed. “It’s real. I mean … apparently people that take rocks send them back all the time and beg for the forgiveness of the Goddess… I mean – Troy totally believed it and … he was pretty smart guy, not like a lunatic or anything.”
Buffy looked at Giles and Wes and they both just shrugged. They’d heard crazier ideas…
“So, your theory is, if we go get the body of the demon, assuming anything’s left of it and we can find it, and take it back where it came from … which we don’t actually know where that is, but assuming we could figure that out, then maybe this curse would be lifted and Spike would wake up…” Buffy summarized.
Bess shrugged and scrunched up her face; it had sounded better in her head. “It’s just an idea…”
“Well, it’s one that involves me doing something other than trying to convince Spike that he’s not a murderer, so I’m for it,” Buffy agreed.
Looking at Giles and Wes, she continued, “Why don’t you two try to figure out where this demon is from … it had a longer name … Pele … something, what was it?” she asked, looking at Faith.
“You expect me to remember that? That was like a week ago!” Faith shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast.”
“Ok, Faith and I will go to the fight club and see if the body’s there and get the whole name and I’ll call you with it,” Buffy told Giles, standing up.
“Bess, do you still know this guy … this Hawaiian guy?” Buffy wondered.
“Uhhh … well, not since … I haven’t seen him for a while,” Bess explained.
“Well, I’m guessing that he’ll remember you - you tend to make an impression,” Buffy teased her lightly. “Why don’t you see if he knows anything else about returning stuff to the volcano – like are there any rituals or sacrifices that have to go with it…”
“Uhhh … sure, but … I don’t actually have his number or … address. We just sort of … found each other on campus sometimes,” Bess stammered.
“Do you know his last name?” Buffy wondered, but her hope for that was thin.
Bess’ eyes went wide and she smiled. “Yeah, I do! Malu … Troy Malu.”
Buffy snorted a laugh. “And I thought you weren’t listening to my sage, motherly advice about getting their names…” she quipped. “Have Annie look it up on the computer; if she can’t find it, call Willow – she could find Osama Bin Laden … I swear, I don’t know why the army doesn’t just ask her to track him down.”
“Ok, will do,” Bess agreed, hopeful that she’d actually contributed something helpful.
“What do you want us to do, Buff?” Xander asked, indicating him and Anya.
Buffy smiled. “Watch the kids for me until we get back, then pack your bags, if everything works out, you’re going to Hawai’i.”
At the fight club Buffy got the full name of the demon, Pele Haleakala, and phoned Giles with that information. The body, however, was long gone.
“Raj clean up good – dead demon, big smell,” the thin boy explained to Buffy and Faith when they questioned him about the demon’s body.
“I know – I’m sure you did, but what did you do with it?” Buffy asked.
“Big red box,” Raj offered, heading out into the alley and showing them the big red box he’d put it in – the dumpster.
“Oh, swell…” Buffy moaned, rolling her eyes.
“Let me guess,” Faith complained. “Fieldtrip to the city dump … that odoriferous SunnyD hotspot.”
Three hours and fifty tons of stinking, rotting garbage later, Buffy and Faith walked into the great room, their prize, the stinking, burnt and rotting body of the Pele demon wrapped in garbage bags, firmly ensconced in the garage.
“Whoa … eau de garbáge,” Xander quipped with a bad French accent as he came out of the kitchen, wrinkling his nose when the two Slayers walked in.
“Want a hug?” Faith teased stepping nearer him and opening her arms.
“‘No’ would not be a strong enough answer to that offer,” Xander continued as he took a step back from the odoriferousness. “We have company,” he pointed out, waving a hand towards the research table. “Bess’ friend is here.”
Buffy and Faith followed Xander’s hand gesture with their eyes. Bess, Giles, Wes, and Troy were seated at the research table; Troy seemed to be explaining something to the others.
“Whoa doggie…” Faith muttered under her breath. “Now there’s a guy I could talk to all night long…”
“I think he’s with Bess …” Buffy pointed out.
“What!? I’m just gonna talk to him. Not every day you get to talk to someone built like that! And look at that hair! Wow … wouldn’t you just love to … run your words through it?”
Buffy laughed and rolled her eyes. “He might be a psycho-ward escapee…” she pointed out.
“And … your point is?” Faith wondered, finally pulling her eyes away from the well built Hawaiian who was sitting next to Bess at the table and turning her gaze to Buffy.
“None … I’m pointless,” Buffy admitted, shaking her head as she walked past Faith towards the assembled group.
“Hi guys!” Buffy called as she reached the table with Faith close behind.
“Dear Lord, Buffy!” Giles exclaimed covering his nose and mouth with one hand. “What did you have to do, wrest the … uhhh … artifact away from an angry skunk?”
Buffy clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes even as the others at the table moved away from her and Faith. “Oh, it’s not that bad … I’ve smelled worse. That Citroen you used to have was pretty rank, as I recall.
“Hi,” Buffy continued, looking at Troy and extending her grimy right hand. “I’m Buffy … Bess’ mom. You must be Troy.”
“Uhhh … yeah, hi, it’s … uhhh … nice to meet you, Mrs. Weatherford,” the young man stammered, trying not to grimace when he took Buffy’s dirty and stinking hand to shake it.
“Weckerly, actually … it’s Weckerly,” Bess corrected him. “And she’s not usually this smelly…” the blonde added as she stopped breathing completely.
“And I’m Faith,” the brunette interjected, stepping between Troy and Buffy.
“Nice to meet you, ma’am,” he offered politely as he shook her hand too.
Faith’s brows shot up and she turned back and looked at Buffy, mouthing ‘ma’am?’ with wide eyes. When the fuck had she become a ma’am?
Buffy laughed as Faith backed up dejectedly and plopped down in one of the chairs. So much for the talking marathon.
“So, what’s the sitch? Do we think there might be a curse we can break by returning the …uhhh… artifact?” Buffy asked as she sat next to Faith and everyone else moved to the other end of the table. “Hey, where are you guys going?”
“Upwind,” Wes explained as they all took seats as far away from the pair of Slayers as they could reasonably get and still talk to them.
“Indeed,” Giles answered her, trying to breathe through his mouth. “Troy was telling us that his grandfather is a kahuna … a traditional Hawaiian priest, and he would be able to perform the repatriation of the … artifact.”
“Do we know where it’s from? Like is it for sure from Hawai’i?” Buffy questioned, leaning forward and causing all the others to lean backwards just that much farther.
Haleakalā is on the island of Maui … it is said to be a volcano created in
ancient times by the goddess Pele,” Giles began.
“My grandfather has done many apology and forgiveness ceremonies and returned tons of rocks and other sacred objects to the crater. I’m sure it won’t be a problem,” Troy interjected.
“Good, that’s good,” Buffy murmured to herself more than anyone else. “Do you think there’s really a curse or is that just … you know, a scare tactic the park rangers made up?” she asked Troy.
The young man shrugged. “My grandfather believes … many people that have taken souvenirs believe … but maybe it’s more like karma than an actual curse or just a case of things going wrong and people needing to place blame when really it’s just, you know – life.”
Buffy smiled at him. Bess had been right, he wasn’t a lunatic – despite his unwise and perhaps crazy choice to call Faith ‘ma’am’.
“If you just want to mail it to my grandfather, he can take care of it for you. Bess said something about someone actually going – you really don’t need to do that,” Troy offered.
“What!? No!” Anya piped up from where she was listening in the kitchen doorway. “You said we could go! I already started packing … mentally,” she whined, looking at Buffy. “Xander said we could get umbrella drinks and grass skirts and eat a pig that’s been roasted in the ground and I’m quite hopeful that I can meet Commander McGarrett… you know, from Hawai’i 5-0? He’s very nicely shaped with exceptional muscle tone and his tattoos are quite intriguing; I wouldn’t mind studying them very closely and for an inappropriate amount of time…”
“Ahhnnn…” Xander moaned. “Steve McGarrett is a character on a TV show … not a real policeman.”
“I know that, silly – but he must be someone – I mean, he’s not a robot … is he? You don’t think he’s a robot do you? That would be quite disappointing… although…” Anya replied, letting her voice trail off at the end as she pondered the possibilities of a McGarrett-bot.
“Ahnnn…” Xander groaned, interrupting her thought process, which by now he knew by heart, and making her frown.
“It’s ok, Anya. I think with this particular artifact, it might be best if someone … accompanies it,” Buffy assured her. “Faith, you should probably go with them … just in case of trouble.”
“Yeah, sure … I guess these old, creaky bones can stand all the physical strain. ‘Course, you never know … being that I’m so ancient and all,” she replied dourly. Ma’am my ass…
“Great!” Buffy exclaimed, ignoring Faith’s grumbling about Troy talking to the Slayer respectfully, as in ‘respect of his elders’.
“Anya, why don’t you get three tickets booked for as soon as possible and I’ll get you some money to pay for them,” Buffy began handing out assignments. “Xander, can you and Faith get the … artifact boxed up so it will pass airline security – like the … uhhh … other artifact we sometimes transport? Troy, could you make the arrangements with your grandfather? Just let someone know where and when to meet him? The sooner the better.”
Everyone nodded their agreement as Buffy stood up. “Do you think I need a shower?” she asked rhetorically, raising an arm as if to check for BO.
“YES!” came the unanimous, and immediate, response from the group.
(Later that afternoon):
Buffy got a shower and went in to check on Spike. It didn’t look like he’d even moved at all since she’d left that morning, even his head was in the exact same spot. Buffy sighed heavily and retrieved a large duffel bag out of the back of their closet and sat it down on the bed next to her husband. Tears stung her eyes as she opened it and pulled out a cellophane wrapped bundle of hundred dollar bills from it … $10,000 worth, to give Anya. The bag contained Spike’s winnings from the fight, $500,000 – Mr. Andreev had given it to her as they were loading Spike’s unconscious body into the minivan after the bout. She didn’t know how much the plane tickets, hotels, meals (including umbrella drinks and luau-roasted pig), and rental car would cost – whatever was leftover, Anya could give back to her later. Of course, if Anya actually got the opportunity to meet Alex O'Loughlin … aka: Steve McGarrett, that would be priceless.
Buffy smiled at the thought, but the small ray of sunshine that Anya’s ramblings had projected faded quickly and the direness of their situation returned in an instant. Buffy looked sadly from the money to Spike. She shook her head as her chin began to quiver and tears streaked her face. What if this whole curse idea didn’t work? It had to be an unimaginably long shot. She’d given him Slayer blood and he had the Gem, neither of which had healed him – not his mind, anyway. Their books and research came up with nothing – no other ideas to try. What good would half a million dollars do them if their children lost their father? If she lost her husband, her friend, her soul mate?
That money couldn’t teach Dani how to pull off a Cruyff Turn or help her perfect her penalty kick strategies; it couldn’t teach Billy, show him, what it means to be a man, a husband, a father; it couldn’t help and encourage Annie to fulfill her potential, whether it be with mastery of languages or dancing or anything else she wanted to try; it couldn’t keep their children safe and help Buffy thwart the prophecies that surrounded them; it couldn’t rock their littlest bit to sleep or sing her lullabies or see her first steps or hear her first words; it couldn’t walk any of their daughters down the aisle on their wedding days and it would be no comfort to Buffy on cold, lonely nights. That money couldn’t buy love and love was the one thing Spike could give; a never-ending supply of it seemed to exist in his heart for them.
“Spike, please wake up …” Buffy cried as she dropped the duffle bag onto the floor and crawled across the bed to him. She cuddled against his side, but he didn’t seem to even know she was there – his arm didn’t snake around her, pulling her closer, holding her tight to him; he didn’t even moan happily when her warm skin touched his cool body. Nothing was getting through; nothing was escaping from the prison his mind was locked in.
Buffy didn’t know how long she laid there crying, begging Spike to please wake up. She was pulled from her despondency by a tentative knock on the bedroom door.
“Buffy?” Giles called. “Anya’s booked the flights … they’re to leave this evening. They need to get home and pack and I need to get back to the shop…”
Buffy got up from the bed, closed and secured the robe she’d put on after her shower, and opened the door. “I’m sorry to wake you…” Giles apologized.
“I wasn’t asleep,” Buffy assured him as she wiped at her eyes.
“No change?” Giles queried, looking beyond her at Spike.
“No…” Buffy answered, turning to follow her Watcher’s gaze.
“I’m so sorry, Buffy,” Giles offered.
Buffy turned back and gave him a small smile. “Do you think this curse thing will work?”
Giles gave her his patented Giles head shrug, the one he gave when he didn’t really want to burst her bubble but didn’t want to lie, either. Buffy sighed and nodded.
“Troy seems like quite a nice chap,” Giles said, instead. “He’s got everything arranged with his grandfather for the ceremony on the crater at sunrise. I suppose we’ll know more when it’s completed.”
“Yeah, I guess so…” Buffy sighed again. She’d been clinging to the curse idea since Bess suggested it, because she had nothing else to cling to and it involved doing something, but now the reality of it was starting to set in. If there was a curse, you’d think it would be documented in some of Giles’ musty old books.
“Anyway,” Giles began. “Anya and Xander are heading out to pack; they’ve left JJ here but will be back to drop off his overnight bag and pick up the money and Faith later. Bess and Troy are in the basement with the children playing video games, Anya just put MacKenzie down for a nap only a short while ago, and Faith’s gone to run a short patrol before she has to leave…”
“Ok, I get it – I’m the adult in charge. I need to stop wallowing in self-pity and find something to feed the small humans in the house for dinner…” Buffy summarized. “I’ll be right out … I just need to change and take care of a couple of things here.”
Giles nodded and backed away from the door.
Buffy took the duffel bag and put it back in the closet, leaving out the one bundle of cash to give Anya later. She looked down at Spike again, for all intents and purposes he appeared dead; un-breathing, unmoving, not even a raised brow or the twitch of a finger or even a small bob of his Adam's apple – so un-Spike-like. It was disheartening and more than a little frightening for Buffy to see him so very still, Spike couldn’t hold still for more than five seconds if you paid him a million dollars. It was as if he wasn’t even in there, like his heart … his soul, had vacated and he was simply an empty shell waiting to be placed in his casket and buried. What if he never woke up?
After getting dressed, Buffy dropped a soft, lingering kiss on Spike’s lips as she ran her fingers lightly through his hair, straightening his curls as best she could. Truthfully, she was hoping in the back of her mind for the magical kiss, ‘Prince Charming’ effect to wake him; but it didn’t work. She sighed and headed downstairs; her first stop was the bat cave. She figured if Troy had stuck around this long, even after meeting Bess’ apparently deranged and smelly mother, maybe she should re-introduce herself now that she looked slightly less like she belonged in the mental ward at Sunnydale General; of course, looks could be deceiving. Maybe the boy would stay for dinner and Buffy could fulfill her motherly duty and embarrass Bess further. Since Spike wasn’t here, the start of the Spanish Inquisition would apparently fall to her shoulders, as well.
Later that evening …
“So, Troy,” Buffy began as the family, minus Spike but plus Troy, sat at the dining room table. Piles of Chinese take-out containers filled the center of the table, Buffy’s solution to finding something for the small … or not so small in the case of Troy, humans in the house to eat. “What brings you from paradise to Sunnydale?”
Troy quickly chewed and swallowed the Chow Mein he’d just stuffed into his mouth. “College,” he replied. “I’m a sophomore at UC Sunnydale.”
“They don’t have colleges in Hawai’i?” Buffy wondered, not sure why anyone could willingly come to Sunnydale if given the choice.
“Oh … sure, but none that would give me a scholarship or that have the kind of world-class anthropology and archeology department they have there,” Troy explained.
Buffy raised her brows, not aware UC Sunnydale had anything ‘world-class’ going for it other than their high death rate. “So, you’re studying anthropology and archeology, then?”
“Yeah, and history. I’m mostly interested in contemporary archeology,” Troy continued, taking another bite of the food.
“Isn’t that an oxymoron?” Buffy wondered.
Troy laughed easily. “You’d think so, but … it’s all relative, eighteenth and even nineteenth century artifacts and civilizations interest me. That’s the other thing about Sunnydale,” he continued. “Rumors of buried missions and churches - even whole civilizations abound. They say the town’s been swallowed by earthquakes several times and all those ruins, and the mysteries they're hiding, are simply stacked up under our feet, waiting for someone to discover them.”
Buffy smiled at him, thinking that she could show him a few of those ruins herself. The Master’s church popped to mind. “Old wife’s tales,” she assured him. Troy shrugged, obviously not wanting to argue with Bess’s mother but not agreeing with her either.
“So, what kind of scholarship do you have?” Buffy continued.
“He’s an excellent wrestler,” Bess interjected brightly.
Buffy cocked a brow at her. “I bet he is…” she murmured and Bess bit her bottom lip and looked down at her plate, wishing she had kept her mouth shut.
“So, how did you meet Bess?” Buffy changed topics, looking back at Troy.
“We met on campus,” Bess offered, trying to get Troy off the hot-seat.
“Oh, when you were … not going to class?” Buffy blurted out before she could stop herself.
Bess cleared her throat and looked down at her plate of Ginger Beef again. “Yeah,” she admitted.
“Caught her fondling my …” Troy began and Buffy’s eyes went wide, looking around the table at the younger children, who were, for once, listening to the adult’s conversation. “…bike.”
Buffy let out a breath and took a drink of her water. “So, you ride a … motorbike, I assume, not a bicycle,” she continued after a moment.
Troy laughed again. It was a deep and easy laugh and made it hard for Buffy to be too ‘Inquisition-y’ on him. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Taught her how to ride … she’s a natural. Strong and graceful – really amazing for a girl her size.”
Bess’ eyes went wide and she looked at Buffy who was now looking at Troy with annoyance. “So … you’re the one my husband has to thank for that,” she stated coldly.
Troy shifted under her gaze, moving uncomfortably in his seat, not sure what’d he’d done or said wrong. “I … uhhh … will your husband be joining us?” he asked at last.
“Not tonight, but I know he’s going to want to meet you…”
“Wow! Look at the time!” Bess exclaimed, laughing nervously and jumping up. “Troy … I know you have that … thing … that really important thing ... that you’re probably late for,” she continued, pulling him up by the arm.
“What? … I … Oh, yeah, the … thing,” he stammered his agreement and stood up, leaving the food on his plate barely touched.
Buffy suppressed a grin; her first time as the Inquisitionist and she’d reduced them to using the ubiquitous ‘thing’ that someone was always late for. Spike would be so proud. “Oh, that’s a shame,” she offered sympathetically. “You barely touched your food. Are you sure you can’t stay longer?”
Troy looked between Buffy and Bess who shook her head once decisively and pulled on his arm. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Weckerly … I do have that … thing and I can’t be late. It was very nice to meet all of you though,” he called back over his shoulder as Bess pulled him out of the dining room into the great room, not stopping until they were outside in the garden.
“I’m so sorry about her … she’s not usually like that, all twenty questions and stuff,” Bess apologized when they were outside.
Troy shrugged. “It’s ok – I have a mother too, I know how they can be," he assured her. "Say, do you … I mean …uhhh ... I missed you,” Troy stuttered out, reaching a hand out and touching her face.
Bess backed up a step and pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. “Troy … I …”
Troy dropped his hand and stuffed both fists into his pockets. “Sorry – I just thought …”
“No. I’m sorry. I just think … maybe …” Bess faltered. What was she supposed to say to him? Her body longed for him – it had been a long time since she’d felt a man’s warm touch on her cool skin; longer than she’d ever gone since … since that fateful night in London when her whole life changed. But Faith’s words about true love and solitary hunters hung in her mind and she really didn’t want to be a solitary hunter. She didn’t want to be a vampire or even a Slayer, for that matter – not if it meant what Faith had insinuated. She just wanted to be a girl and she wanted stinky flowers and sappy love notes and long walks on the beach and she wanted to watch Shrek and really understand that look that Buffy and Spike got every single time Annie made them watch it on movie night.
“Maybe we could … do you like to dance?” Troy wondered as he studied her face and saw a range of emotions flash through her bluer than blue eyes.
Bess hugged her arms around herself to keep from reaching out to him and looked up to meet his eyes. “I’m not … I don’t know …” she stammered, not sure if she knew how to dance, if the dance her family was doing when she came back was any indication of how people danced these days. “Yeah, I do ... I mean, I used to,” she finally answered, giving him a smile. “I’m not sure how good I am, though.”
Troy smiled at her, a dazzling smile that reached his eyes and made them sparkle. “Are you kidding? I’m sure you’re a great dancer,” he assured her.
“How do you know?” Bess wondered, her brow furrowed with concern.
Troy’s smile broke into that deep, easy laugh again and Bess couldn’t help but smile although she didn’t quite know what the joke was. “Trust me … I know. How about tomorrow night? I’ll pick you up around eight?”
“To go dancing?” she clarified.
Troy nodded. “If you play your cards right, I might even buy you a drink and a blooming onion …”
“My cards?” Bess questioned, afraid to know what that meant. “What cards would I have to play?”
The smile never left Troy’s lips. “That one – right there.”
“What … I don’t …” Bess stammered, shaking her head.
“Just be you, Bess – I missed you.”
Bess smiled and dipped her head, letting her hair fall over her face. If she had a pulse, she would’ve actually blushed. “I can probably manage that.”
Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd
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