|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
I Need a Hero
The reality of Spike having the Gem back and them being out from under the crushing stress of debt finally sinks in.
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.
Bonnie Tyler – I Need a Hero http://youtu.be/OBwS66EBUcY
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.
(Next morning) Sunday, January 8th, 2011, 7am:
The previous day, Spike and Buffy had spent the whole day with the kids – most of it outside in the sun. It had been over eight months since Spike had stepped out into the sunshine and he relished the warmth of it on his skin and being able to spend such a magical day with his family, especially after the horror of his hallucination. They all played a game of keep-away with Dani’s soccer ball in the field at the park down the street from the mansion. When they tired of that, they moved to the swing set, the monkey bars, and the ever popular, dizzying fun of the child-powered Merry Go Round.
Spike’s only regret was Bess not being able to join them. Now that she was back, it seemed sickly ironic that she’d given up the Gem for him and was, therefore, relegated to the mansion in the daytime. Not that they left her alone all day; certainly not! There were video games in the bat cave and Jedi-Scooby fights and dodge-ball in the training room, but it still tugged at his guilt-strings for her to now be the one left in the dark. This was something that he needed to rectify – soon.
Despite that time in the sun yesterday afternoon, what Spike really cherished were the brief moments of twilight just as the sun was rising. Perhaps because it had for so long been that slow lightening of the eastern sky which tingled a warning down his spine, signaling the end of the ‘day’ for him as a vampire, that drew him to the sunrise. Without the Gem, it was an ending; with it, it was a beginning.
Just as he’d done the first time he had the Gem, Spike stood on the sidewalk in front of the mansion and waited for the golden rays of the sun to touch him as the sky morphed from black, to shades of pink and orange and red then to blue. Glittering tendrils of light and warmth reached through the gnarled, winter-bare tree branches on the horizon and snaked their way towards him as he watched, enraptured. Such a simple thing – a sunrise; but for him it was magical.
Buffy stepped up behind him bundled up in her fluffiest, warmest robe and wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her head against his shoulder blade. She knew how special this was for him; she honestly couldn’t imagine not feeling the sun on her skin for months or years … decades. Those few days in the dungeon were more than enough to make her realize how precious the simple pleasure of it was.
Spiked laid his arms over hers where they clasped around his waist as he savored the warmth of her against his back and watched the delicate fingers of a new day detour from their westerly path down the sidewalk. The sunlight wrapped around his denim-clad legs like a ghostly vine and climbed slowly higher, finally bathing his bare chest and arms with a feathery caress, lighter than the wind, warming him from the outside, just as her love warmed him from within.
They stood there for a long while, neither speaking, simply being, as they greeted the new day together; it was a very déjà vu moment … they’d done this before, but not for a long while.
Finally, as if reading his mind, Buffy spoke. “We’ll find another Gem for her,” she assured him, dropping a kiss the ivory skin of his back. The tan and freckles he’d acquired during his years with the Gem were gone; burnt away by the Pele demon and replaced with new skin – as soft and creamy white as a newborn baby’s.
Spike nodded. Now that he didn’t have to spend every waking moment working his ass off at that dive down by the docks, perhaps he could do a little investigative work himself; kick in a few doors, ask some questions, knock some heads together, wring some scrawny demon necks until they squealed – someone, somewhere had to know something. Heck, he could even afford to pay for information now – of course, that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. He dismissed that idea immediately – that was something Angel would do … poofter.
“Are you happy?” Spike asked Buffy, turning in her embrace to face his wife.
Buffy smiled softly and looked up into his blue eyes, which reflected the lightening sky above them. “Our kids are all home, safe and sound – sleeping peacefully in their rooms. I have my favorite yummy sushi pajamas, my soft, fluffy blue robe, and my big, bad handsome man wrapped up in my arms … what do you think?”
Spike snorted a laugh and leaned down to kiss her gently. He’d fought, nearly died, to be her hero – to get them out of that crushing debt that threatened to tear them apart like no demon ever could, but when asked if she was happy, she didn’t mention the fortune that was sitting in their bedroom closet … not a breath or a hint of it. This was his wife – such a confounding mix of woman and child; of strength and vulnerability; of side-splitting laughter and quick-fire temper; of extraordinary intelligence and charming naivety. She could just as easily stagger him with her kisses as with her fists … and, to be honest, he loved that. She was his perfect match, this Slayer; all he could ever ask for and more.
He knew that his effort and sacrifice hadn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated, but he also knew that if that money hadn’t been sitting in the closet, her answer to that question would’ve been exactly the same. She would love him, just the same; money didn’t buy her love, it never had, and her love meant the world to him.
(next day), Monday, January 9th, 2011, 2pm:
Up until today, the reality of all that money sitting in their closet had not entirely sunk in yet. Today it began to take form, substance … today it really started to become real. He had done it. They were free.
Spike drove down to The Fish Bowl and gave his notice … effective immediately. He didn’t actually tell Tiburon to ‘sod off’ … the loan shark’s brother had given him a job when he was desperate and hadn’t treated him badly, despite Spike’s frustration with the pay and clientele there.
He left on friendly terms, the idea in the back of his mind that he may want to stop in now and then; especially at the beginning of the month when new sailors, flush with their previous month’s wages, and cocky with alcohol, came into port. They made such easy pickings it was almost a crime to take their money, but that didn’t bother Spike’s conscience one little bit. No matter how much money Spike had in the bank, it was still just plain fun to trounce those snot-nosed sailors who thought they’d hoodwink the ‘townies’ out of their hard-earned dollars. Spike could call it a hobby. Everyone needed a hobby.
After The Fish Bowl, Spike stopped at the fight club and thanked Mr. Andreev for giving him a chance.
“Normally, the champion gets to revel in their victory a bit more … get cheered and rained on by worthless betting tickets, sometimes get a few diamond earrings, panties, or room keys tossed at ‘em. All that fire and smoke kinda cleared the arena pretty fast, sorry about that Spike,” Mr. Andreev offered in apology and congratulations combined.
Spike snorted a sarcastic laugh. “I reckon if I’da gotten knickers and room keys tossed at me, you’d be sweeping my sorry ass up off the floor, ‘cos the Slayer would’a done what that Pele couldn’t … dusted me good and proper.”
Ever the businessman, Mr. Andreev had a proposal, and Spike’s mention of the Slayer opened the door nicely. “Well … maybe we can have a rematch – the Slayer versus the 2010 No Holds Barred Demon Champion. I’ll bet that’d draw a crowd, especially if she wore a little thong and maybe you could go with Speedos …” the promoter started as dollar signs danced in his eyes.
Spike held up his hands and stopped him. “Thanks for the offer, I think we’re outta the business.”
“Oh! It wouldn’t have to be to the death!” Mr. Andreev clarified quickly.
Spike laughed and shook his head. “Been informed my fightin’ … and stripping, days are over. You know how it is … if the little woman ain’t happy…”
“…no one’s happy,” the promoter finished, nodding and rolling his eyes. “Well, if you ever change your mind, you know where I am.”
Spike thanked him again and took his leave, heading next to Raj’s apartment building where he collected the clean-up boy and brought him back to the mansion. Raj rambled happily during the whole ride, telling Spike about the mess the ‘Kiwi’ had made in the pit with that other demon’s blood and how long it took them to get that cleaned up; even with the baking soda new fires kept igniting. They ended up having to scrape the blood up off the floor with metal shovels, put it into metal buckets and carry them out to the metal dumpster … then the stuff in the dumpster caught on fire and a fire truck came to put it out.
“Big mess you make, Kiwi Spike!” Raj informed him with a wide smile. How that bloody kid could smile so much was beyond Spike … but he didn’t hold it against the boy. Spike smiled back at him – it wasn’t an accusation, it was a compliment.
“It’s a talent o’ mine,” Spike offered amiably.
Inside the mansion, Buffy greeted the clean-up boy warmly, giving him a hug and thanking him for his help rescuing Spike from the fire.
“Pffft! I didn’t need any bloody rescue,” Spike defended. “Miss Leap-Before-You-Bloody-Look – there’s the one needed rescuin’,” Spike defended, pointing at Buffy.
“You lie! Raj save Kiwi Spike!” Raj piped up, still smiling widely. “Raj A-number-one!” he announced proudly. “No Raj, Kiwi Spike down creek without river!”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Up the creek, without a paddle,” he corrected.
“I reckon the Slayer may have somethin’ to say about how a-number-bloody-one you are, Mowgli. I can tell you from experience, she don’t take kindly to being bonked on the noggin,” Spike informed the boy, who reminded him of Rudyard Kipling’s character in The Jungle Book.
Buffy rolled her eyes. It was true, if he hadn’t knocked her into the wall trying to cover her with the blanket and smother the flames, she could’ve probably walked out of there on her own, but the boy did what he thought he had to. She didn’t hold it against him; Spike was just taking the piss out of him. Raj seemed to know it – there was a strange bantering friendship between the two that Buffy couldn’t quite figure out given how much they seemed to be complete opposites, but it was there, nonetheless.
“Down creek …” Raj pointed out with a shrug.
“UP! … Up the soddin’ creek!” Spike corrected again, but Raj just laughed. Spike sometimes wondered if the boy did that just to agitate Spike … he also wondered if Raj was as ignorant of the English language as he acted.
“You know, you could be a little more appreciative of the rescue, Spike. Even I could see you were about to burst into flames and get in touch with your inner dust bunny,” Buffy chastised him.
“Once and for bloody all, I didn’t need any rescuing! I had everything under control,” Spike asserted.
“Could’ve fooled me,” a new voice entered the conversation – Faith sauntered down the stairs.
Raj smiled proudly, looking up at her. “They down creek! We save!”
“UP! Up the soddin’ creek!” Spike exclaimed and Raj laughed out loud, again making Spike wonder if the kid was just taking the piss out of him … it was piss taking all around, apparently.
“Ya know, Mr. Andreev offered us a gig … you and me, Slayer,” Spike announced. “But now I’m thinkin’ it would be better for the two a’ you to take him up on his offer,” he continued, wagging a finger between Buffy and Faith as the dark Slayer joined them near the research table.
Buffy cocked a brow and folded her arms over her chest. “This I gotta hear…”
Spike shrugged. “Nothin’ dangerous … kind of an exhibition bout.”
“Does it involve Jell-O?” Faith wondered with a smirk.
“Naa … nothing like that …” Spike assured her dismissively. “Just … thongs … pasties maybe…”
Buffy rolled her eyes but Faith’s eyes went wide with possibilities as grin spread across her face. “How much does it pay and will there be any kissing involved?”
“Uhhh … not sure, luv … kissing could be … yeah … well, I reckon there could be,” Spike stammered as something completely unrelated to dollar signs danced in his eyes.
“B’s a great kisser … if there’s kissage to be had, I’m in!” Faith enthused with a wicked grin, drawing another eye-roll from Buffy.
“Buffy … kiss …” Spike stammered again, looking between the two. “Something you want t’ tell me, Slayer?” he asked, looking at Buffy.
“It was nothing, just a little peck on the lips,” Buffy offered nonchalantly. “You were too busy trying to get killed or you could’ve seen it.”
“Don’t suppose … I mean …” Spike stuttered, feeling a bit warm all of the sudden … despite the cool air in the room and his ambient body temperature.
“Nope – it was a onetime only performance,” Buffy informed him. “And, anyway, we have children in the room,” she pointed out, tilting her head towards Raj, whom Spike had completely forgotten about.
“Right, then … maybe after the children …”
“No, Spike … ya snooze, ya lose,” Buffy shut him down.
“Bloody hell …” Spike moaned, rubbing his eyes to try and get the visions of kissing Slayers in thongs and pasties out of his mind.
“Don’t give up,” Faith advised, patting Spike on the shoulder. “I’ll keep working on her – try to make sure you’re around if she ever plants a big sloppy one on me again.”
Spike looked at her hopefully and Faith gave him a little wink.
Spike shook his head to clear it and try to remember what it was he was supposed to be doing. There was some reason the boy was here – now, what the bloody hell was it? At the moment, Spike was very much down the creek without a river.
“Raj,” Buffy began, pulling Spike from his attempts to remember what he was supposed to be doing. “Spike and I would like to thank you for all your help … not just in the last fight, but before that.”
Oh right! That was it!
“Gotcha a little token,” Spike picked up the conversation as his train of thought veered off the naughty sidetrack it had ventured onto and back onto the main rail.
Raj smiled wider … if that was possible. He knew Kiwi Spike wouldn’t forget his $50; it had really been a bonanza for him and his family every week.
Spike pulled out a plastic wrapped bundle of hundred dollar bills from a drawer in the credenza behind the research table and handed it to the boy.
Raj started to reach for it, but pulled back when it wasn’t the $50 he was expecting. Raj shook his head and looked up at Spike, then over to Buffy with confusion. The boy looked back at Spike. “Big money, Kiwi Spike … you … maybe bonk noggin?” Raj asked, using Spike’s term and banging his knuckles on the top of his head to demonstrate.
Spike laughed as he reached down and grabbed Raj’s hand and planted the stack of bills firmly in his palm. “No, m’ noggin’s fine,” he assured the boy. “Ya saved me – more than once. This is for you.”
Raj looked at the plastic-wrapped bundle with wide eyes then met Spike’s eyes with his – looking for the joke in them … the teasing crinkle at their corners, a smirk on his lips – he saw none of those things in the vamp’s features. Spike raised his brows and nodded, silently assuring the boy as if to say, I’m serious – it’s for you.
Raj looked at Buffy and she gave him the same look, only with a smile … not a teasing smile, not a smirk, a genuinely happy smile, on her face.
“Too much, Kiwi Spike,” Raj tried again to object, his expression serious.
“Rot! I owe you … you earned it, Mowgli. Don’t insult me now … don’t like to be insulted, ya know… take it right personal, I do,” Spike warned him.
Slowly, Raj’s patented smile returned to his face and seemed to spread almost literally through his whole being. Spike had seen Buffy glow before, but this was the first time he’d seen a boy glow, but that was the only way he could describe it. Raj was glowing from the inside out with absolute joy. Ten thousand dollars was a fortune to him – but it wasn’t a gift, it wasn’t charity. Spike remembered too well his silent promise when the boy had tried to tell him he’d won but Spike hadn’t listened and torn up his betting ticket; that could’ve easily cost him $6,000 right there. No, Raj had earned this money – it wasn’t charity. The underdog had finally gotten his due.
By the time the kids rambled into the mansion after school, Raj had the money secured in a fanny-pack that Buffy gave him and it was draped over his chest and around one shoulder … ‘cos he was so skinny that it wouldn’t tighten enough and it kept sliding off his hips. There were introductions all around and Annie invited him to come down to the bat cave and play video games with them, which he happily accepted after getting a nod of approval from Spike.
When Buffy and Spike ventured down there a while later, they found the group playing with the Band Hero game. Billy was on lead guitar, JJ on bass, Dani on drums, and Annie on vocals while Raj danced about rather spastically to ‘We Got the Beat’ … originally by the Go Gos, but being ‘performed’ rather well by the Bat Cave Band.
Buffy and Spike sat on the stairs and watched the kids ‘play’ their ‘instruments’. They all had their own style. Dani banged enthusiastically on the drum set – what could be more fun than being able to hit things with sticks and not get in trouble for it? Billy gave his best Keith Richards impersonation on the guitar, putting plenty of body language into it. JJ was more subdued on the bass guitar, putting on a more ‘laid back’ air to his performance, as most bass players do (it actually reminded Buffy a bit of Oz’s style). Annie was doing her best Go Gos imitation, dancing and singing at the same time – much less spastically than Raj, thank goodness.
When the song ended, their small audience clapped and the kids quickly checked their scores on the game, all talking at once. Neither Spike nor Buffy had gotten a chance to actually play the game, so they were both lost when it came to what the kids were talking about … but that didn’t really matter. Just watching them talking earnestly and animatedly was fine – even if they didn’t understand what exactly the discussion was about.
Spike thought he should maybe get a couple more instruments to add onto the game – maybe rhythm guitar or another lead guitar, in case Bess wanted to play, too. And for a just a second worry about where they’d get the money for that gripped him and his shoulders began to sag, but then just as the dawn had washed him in the warmth of its embrace yesterday morning, a peaceful realization spread over him – that worry was in the past. He smiled to himself and wrapped an arm around Buffy, pulling her closer – now they could afford it; a wonderful feeling of joy blossomed within him with that revelation.
(Two days later) Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 7pm:
Even as Xander’s jaw clenched in anger, daggers shooting from his eyes towards Buffy, she could see Anya’s fingers itching to take the proffered gift from where it sat between them on the research table. They’d just gotten back from Hawai’i and had come by to pick up JJ when Buffy ambushed him with this.
“Xander … this isn’t some kind of charity,” Buffy explained again, her eyes begging him to understand. “Think of me as a woodchuck …”
Even Spike had to look at her funny with that as he sat next to her, across the table from Anya; Buffy sat across from Xander. But it had the desired effect – it made Xander’s expression morph from anger to confusion and made him say something other than ‘no’.
Buffy knew this wouldn’t be easy – but Spike winning that money was her second chance; she just had to get Xander to see that. In the pre-wish world, they’d given Xander and Anya her mom’s house mortgage-free; in this world, without William’s money, they couldn’t do that. She now had the opportunity to ‘fix’ that … one more little thing that Cecily had taken from her, from them, could be set right. Xander, of course, didn’t see it that way – like Spike, he saw it as an affront to his ability to support his family. Buffy needed to change his mind.
“Ok, I give … what the hell is that supposed to mean?” Xander asked, completely befuddled by her strange reference.
“You know,” Buffy began with a shrug and a pout. “It’s like ‘how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?’ only … it’s what we would’ve done, if we could’ve done, if Cecily hadn't done what she'd done. It’s what we did before the wacked out crazy woman stuck her nose in and screwed everything up. It’s a re-do. It’s what the woodchuck would do, if he could chuck wood.”
Of course, after finding Bess and bringing her into their family, Buffy wasn’t sure that she would change any of what Cecily had done – despite the literal hell that they’d been put through because of her vengeance wish. If not for Cecily, they may have never had MacKenzie, either and the PTB would’ve had to rewrite their prophecies again. Or maybe they had to rewrite them to account for the child brought forth from the ashes of Buffy’s life during that horrible time. She hoped so – if they were busy rewriting prophecies, they might have less time to fuck with her and Spike and their family and friends.
Xander shook his head, trying to let her logic rattle around in there until it could find a spot that could comprehend it … like one of those unbelievably frustrating children’s games where you have to get the marble-BBs in the little holes by tilting the whole thing one way or another.
Xander gave up trying to get Buffy’s marble logic into any holes in his brain; it wasn’t fitting and the marbles already in there were starting to loosen.
“Buffy, I'm not sure I get what you’re saying ... but maybe. Here's the thing, everything's better now. With the Council here I’ve got lots of work building stuff for them and … repairing stuff I built ‘cos those girls don’t know their own strength. We’re doing better … things are better.”
“Xander,” Anya intervened, “I don’t think it’s wise to turn down the Slayer and her vampire husband. I mean, if it would make them feel better, who are we to deny them? You know how karma works, it could start a cataclysmic chain of events and bring on the end of the world for all we know. We should just take the money and let the good karma stay here, with them,” Anya argued, eyeing the stack of money on the table longingly.
“Ahn… not helping,” Xander groaned before turning back to Buffy. “I’m sorry – I understand you’re trying to fix things you think are broken, but we’re not broken. Tell her Spike.”
“Harris looks alright t’ me, pet…” Spike began, but stopped abruptly when Buffy shot him dusty a look. He cleared his throat and gave Xander a sympathetic glance. “What I mean is … Slayer says this is how it was supposed t’ be and … well … demon-bird’s got a point with the karma bit, I reckon.”
Spike wasn’t particularly opposed to giving the money to Anya and Xander, especially since Buffy was so adamant that that was how it would’ve been if Cecily hadn’t mucked things up. On the other hand … he nearly dusted getting that money and he didn’t do it for the Harris clan … he did it for Buffy and the bits. Which brought him back to the first hand that said, if she wanted to give some of it to them and that would make her happy … then, that’s what he’d done it for. He was actually starting to get a headache going from hand to hand … it was making him dizzy, too.
Xander sighed. He understood, of course, that Spike was caught between a Slayer and a hard place, but that wasn’t helping his cause any.
Xander tried again. “Buffy, I’m not the same man that sat here last year downing Jack and Cokes and listening to you tell about how I killed myself with drugs and alcohol in that other world. I’m also not the boy that followed you around like a lost puppy all through high school. I don’t know how many worlds there are, or how many Xanders there are, but the one in this world is a grown man, with a smart, absolutely amazing and beautiful wife and a son who makes me proud and, frankly, a little astonished that I actually had something to do with making him.
“I don’t have any superpowers … I’m not a witch or a demon or a Slayer. I’m just a guy who’s willing to help all you superheroes save the world. I’ll fetch the donuts and the weapons; I’ll repair your doors and build training rooms and dorm rooms; I’ll go to the ends of the earth to protect any of the Scooby-pups if that’s what you need me to do to help you save the world.”
“Especially if the end of the earth is near Hawai’i …” Anya interjected quickly. “Feel free to send us, all expenses paid, to any tropical paradise anytime, we don’t mind the sacrifice …”
Xander rolled his eyes, but had to smile slightly. That was his Anya. “But between all that,” he continued, “… in the hours that I’m not your roadie, I’m a husband and a father, and this? This I can do. This is my purpose. So, let me have that – it’s my calling.”
“Xander, I’m not trying to…” Buffy began, but stopped when Spike laid a hand on her arm. She looked over at him and he shook his head slightly. Buffy sighed and nodded then turned back to Xander and Anya.
“I get it … I do,” Buffy agreed finally, giving him a soft smile. “And, as far as I’m concerned, you do have superpowers. You have no idea how many times you’ve saved me – in so many ways. I just … I love you guys and want everything to be of the good.”
“I know, Buff … things are of the good,” Xander assured her as he stood up from the table and came around to give her a hug. “We love you too.”
(Later that night) Thursday, January 13th, 2011, 10pm:
Buffy hummed to herself as she got her shower. Bess and Faith and Angelpie were out patrolling, the rest of the kids were asleep and Spike was home … in the bedroom waiting for her.
“He’s home,” she murmured to herself wistfully, a school-girl grin plastered on her face. She let the warm water rain down on her, washing the crème rinse from her hair and covering her body with a warm river of vanilla and honey scented softness. Buffy felt like the burden of Atlas, the burden of the world, had been lifted from her, from their shoulders – finally. It wasn’t just that she knew that soon, as soon as Anya could safely ‘launder’ the cash for them, they would have all their debts paid off and money in the bank, it was also the worry that sat heavy in her heart and gut every time Spike headed down to the docks and The Fish Bowl. The docks were bad enough, but the area around the lowlife demon and sailor bar was the worst of the worst, it really scraped the bottom of the bottom of the barrel. She just knew one day something unimaginable would happen to him. She knew he’d grown tired of her telling him to ‘be careful’, but she felt like she couldn’t say it often enough.
But now, all that was over. Now, not only did he not have to go down there night after night, he had the Gem back, as well. They still needed to find a way to replicate it or find out for sure if another existed so that Bess could have one too – but Buffy could live with that loose end for now. They’d work on it – she had faith that Willow could figure something out or maybe even Annie. Buffy also knew that half a million dollars, less what Spike had given Raj and what he offered Giles as commission for the launderette fee, wasn’t a huge fortune as fortunes go, especially after they paid off their debt and gave Uncle Sam his due, but it certainly gave them plenty of breathing room. It felt good to be able to breathe again. She’d rescheduled her appointment with the patent lawyer for early next week – after that perhaps her new plan to conquer the world with Scrunchies could start to take shape. There was no telling where that might lead.
Buffy couldn’t stop from smiling as she dried her hair and body with the towel and continued humming softly to herself. Wow – what a year they’d had. She was hopeful the next year would be boring and calm. Boring and calm would be a nice change of pace for them. Maybe even toss in a smattering of monotony and a smidge of dullness, just for kicks.
Buffy blew her hair dry and slipped on a low-cut, short, black negligee that she was pretty sure Spike would like better than a burlap sack and headed down the hall to their room.
As she opened the door, she was bathed in the soft glow of candlelight and the aroma of sandalwood and vanilla drifted up to meet her. She expected Spike to be lounging invitingly on the bed, perhaps striking a sexy pose wearing one of his patented ‘I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt’ smirks and nothing else. What she found instead was him sitting cross-legged on the bed, jeans still on, counting his money or, more accurately, their money.
He didn’t even look up when she entered so intent was he on his task. He’d taken all the money out of their neat little plastic packages and had it stacked around him like he was the king and the little green piles of paper were his loyal subjects. All Buffy could think of was an old nursery rhyme as she leaned back against the closed door and watched him …
was in the counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlor,
Eating bread and honey
When she laughed, he finally looked up from his task. His eyes seemed to sparkle in the candlelight as he picked one of the stacks up and fanned the bills under his nose. Nothing smelled like money …
“Sorry, pet … lost track a’ time,” Spike began as he started picking up the money and putting it on the dresser. “Just … don’t reckon I’ll ever see this much cash in one place again …”
“So you felt the need to fondle all of it?” Buffy teased. “Do you two need a minute? I mean … I could go read a book or watch that earthworm documentary again.”
Spike smirked as he cleared the last stack off the bed and stalked slowly over to where she was standing. “No, we’re good,” he assured her as he leaned in and brushed a gentle kiss on her lips.
“You smell like heaven, pet,” he murmured as he kissed and nibbled down up her jaw to her ear raising tingling chill bumps on her skin.
“Do I smell as good as your cocaine laden money?” Buffy wondered, still teasing him.
“Well … you do have a way of making me high, just being near ya,” Spike admitted as he pulled back to look into the depths of her green eyes which danced with mischief. “Although, come to think of it, might be the merry bushels of cash doin’ that.”
Buffy laughed and slapped his chest lightly. “I knew it – success has gone to your head and you’ve forgotten all the little people who knew you when you were just one of the common folk.”
Spike smiled and caressed her face with his eyes, taking in the wonder of her, from the teasing smile on her lips to the laughter he saw in her eyes. He reached up and took her face in his hands, lightly caressing her cheeks with the pad of his thumbs as he savored the magic of her.
“I know it’s not what’s important, Buffy. I know it was bloody foolish o’ me to risk everything for it … risk leaving you and the bits alone, risk breakin’ my promise to you – to them. That money couldn’t keep you warm on a cold night, couldn’t wrap around you and hold you close, give you a partner that you can count on, no matter what, it can’t touch your heart or pour warm honeyed happiness over your soul…” Spike murmured to her softly, his eyes locked onto hers, delving into their depths, looking for her forgiveness for taking that unbelievably crazy chance of fighting a fire demon for money.
Buffy’s expression turned serious as she kept her eyes locked with his, she felt a thin sheen of tears well against her bottom lids and she blinked them back. What he’d done, risking his life, not for the mission – not to save the world, not to save an innocent, not to stop evil, but for personal gain, for nothing more than money, might’ve been the most selfish and irresponsible thing he’d ever done.
Buffy finally looked over to where the pretty green paper sat in neat stacks on the dresser, then looked back at him, all laughter gone from her eyes, her lips now a grim line. She nodded slowly and pulled away from him, walking over to the dresser and running a finger idly over the top of each stack of bills. Spike turned and watched her, afraid that he’d ruined the evening, wondering if she’d really forgiven him for taking that risk for something so … pedestrian; something that would be so clearly immaterial if he had perished in the pursuit of it.
“All that’s true, Spike,” Buffy agreed at last, picking up as much of the cash as she could hold in her hands and turning back to face him.
“You went and risked your life for this,” she asserted, her tone accusatory, as she moved back to where he was standing near the foot of the bed. “You very nearly left me a widow, alone to raise our children without you, alone to face the prophecies and administer the Spanish Inquisition to their unsuspecting dates; alone to try and give Billy ‘the talk’ … which, I’m pretty sure would not have included advice on how to practice holding back, because – wow! Awkward!”
Spike lowered his eyes and studied the carpet as she blasted him with the truth that he already knew. He’d been foolish and selfish to do that. He wanted to be her hero – their hero, not by saving the world, but by killing another demon for money; risking his life for it. He should’ve known that wasn’t what made a man a hero.
“So, I guess there’s only one right thing to do with your blood money,” Buffy continued, her voice level and serious.
Spike had no idea what that one thing would be … give it to the Council? To the ASPCA? Greenpeace? Help save the whales and the mangy tabbies of the world? Wasn’t giving money to worthy causes one of the tried and true ways to assuage guilt and cleanse your soul? He kept his eyes glued to the floor, head hung in shame, his hands rested on his hips as he awaited her verdict.
“And the right thing would be to test the theory,” Buffy stated flatly.
Spike finally looked up at her, brows furrowed in confusion. “What theory would that be, Slayer?”
Buffy shrugged blithely. “We now have a chance to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, whether money can or cannot buy happiness. I think we should start the experiments right away,” Buffy announced as she tossed the handfuls of money she was holding into the air and the bills rained down on them like a ticker-tape parade, covering the floor and the bed with a blanket of green.
Spike eyes widened in surprise as the cash fluttered down around them like leaves dropping from a money tree in the fall. An elated grin lit up her features and burned the guilt from his soul like a warm sunrise burned off the fog after a chilly night.
“What did you think? I was gonna give it away!? Geez, Spike – I may be a martyr … all Chosen and sacrificial, but I’m not stupid! You may not have noticed, but you’re not married to Mother Theresa!” Buffy laughed and grabbed another stack of money from the dresser and tossed it in the air. Then she grabbed another and another. When they were all gone off the dresser, she started gathering it up off the bed by the handfuls and recycling the large green confetti, covering them in a constant rain of glorious cash.
Spike laughed and pulled her into his arms and twirled around as he captured her lips with his – she never ceased to amaze and confound him.
Risking his life for money might’ve been selfish and irresponsible – but to Buffy, it wasn’t. It was heroic. Buffy had had a lot of help over the years from her friends, from Giles, even from Angel, fighting the good fight, the noble fight; keeping the world safe for Christmas and puppies. But to have someone to go out and risk their life for her – just her; not to fight evil, not to save the world, not to save a life – just for her and her family's happiness, well, that was something only Spike had done.
“My hero…” Buffy sighed as they collapsed onto the blanket of green that covered the bed, literally rolling in it, and Spike’s heart swelled. That’s all he’d ever wanted to be – her hero.
Maybe money couldn’t buy love; but making love on a bed of money? That was priceless.
~~ The End ~~
A study done in 1985 found that one third to one half of $50 and $100 US bills in circulation have trace amounts of cocaine on them.
A note from the author:
Well, that ends this 'chapter' in our Spuffy family's life. I know it was a bumpy ride, but I hope you enjoyed it all the same! What's in store for next 'season'?
First of all I'm planning a one chapter Buffy birthday (with no badness for once, just Spuffy goodness!). After that will come the badness again. Oh, you know my muse can't go very long without putting them back in the ringer! Let's see, a preview: Spike conducting his own Spanish Inquisition with Troy, Spike learning more about feminine hygiene products than he ever wanted to know, Spike, Bess, and Angel being recruited by the FBI/Navy to fight a giant sea monster that's threatening a nuclear sub, Buffy and Annie inadvertently visiting the 'Gift-less' dimension where Glory's portal to hell did not get closed with Buffy's gift of death, Buffy's quest to become the Scrunchie queen of the world, the continuing search for a second Gem of Amarra ... there's more, but I don't want to give too much away!
On another note, I also have a stand-alone, one chapter short that is set post-NFA that I'll be posting. The last half of this short story will sound very familiar to you, because it is a cannibalization of the 'Fly With Me' chapter in this story. I know some people don't like long fics, or they don't like baby fics, or marriage fics, so this is my way of reaching more readers. I hope you don't mind the cannibalization of the Spike/Giles banter and the smutty goodness. I did add a pretty lengthy back story to the front end of it, just because my muse refuses to do anything without trying to draw some misty eyes out of me. Anyway, I'll make a new section on the main page of this site for this fic and will probably add others as time goes on. Some will be like this, some use of what I already wrote, but I have some other ideas that I'd like to try from canon (time permitting), so you never know what you'll find there as time goes on. For the foreseeable future, my main focus will remain the Unexpected Universe, but at some point my muse will kill everyone and let the PTB sort them out ... I mean, it's just inevitable.
Thanks so much to everyone who reads and especially those who take time to email me and let me know you've enjoyed the story! I do love hearing from you and your kind words help keep my muse's bloodlust under control and keep him thinking of horrible things to put them through, but still let them live in the end.
Bonnie Tyler – I Need a Hero
Where have all the good men gone
holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night.
holding out for a hero 'til the morning light.
larger than life.
holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night.
holding out for a hero 'til the morning light.
holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night.
where the mountains meet the heavens above
Through the wind and the chill and the rain
I need a hero.
holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night.
holding out for a hero 'til the morning light.
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night.
He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast
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