|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
Red Solo Cup
Let’s have a party …
February 2011 (About a month since Buffy Birthday Eve)
Red Solo Cup, Toby Keith, http://youtu.be/BKZqGJONH68
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise: http://www.screencap-paradise.com/?cat=3
|Thanks:||To PaganBaby for her help with the Spanish Inquisition and Spike's adventure at Wal-Mart. To Capella42 for massive help making the summary flow and make sense and for great suggestions in the other sections, as well. She also pointed out that I was summarizing too much throughout this story and she was so right! Big thanks to her for that epiphany, despite the massive re-writes it spurred. Thanks also to u2fan2005 and epd4 for their suggestions, corrections, and help betaing this chapter and to Anona for her grammatical and punctuation corrections and final review. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
Catching up with the gang:
Since Spike’s victory over the Pele fire demon in the ‘no holds barred’ demon championship and his subsequent recovery from the fear that he could no longer control his demon, things had been going well for the Weckerlys and all the Scoobies, for that matter.
Bess was still practicing and getting better at Algebra and had also started learning Geometry with long-distance help from Willow and some computer programs that Annie installed for her. Everyone had their own computers now – that was such a relief! Annie helped Bess find her way around the blasted contraption and also installed a ‘learn to type’ program ‘cos ‘hunt and peck’ really wasn’t working for Bess. The Slayer-vamp was hopeful that she’d feel confident enough to take the next GED class when it started in June and then maybe even try some college courses. As far as her love life was concerned, Troy was still around, in fact, Bess was happy to call him her ‘boyfriend’ – her steady boyfriend. He was her first.
Bess had her own motorcycle now. It was an older model Suzuki (she couldn’t afford a Harley) that she’d bought with the money from the Council that Buffy had saved for her while she was gone. Despite that, Bess was happy to ride with Troy on his bike as they explored the southern California countryside a few evenings a week. She savored the feel of his body against hers as the wind whipped by and the road rumbled noisily under them; Troy had no complaints, either. After just dating and flirting and doing a ‘normal’ courting dance, they had come full circle and made love, this time with feelings attached. She wouldn’t say that she loved him, but there were definitely feelings attached now. It was a start.
Since he couldn’t understand why she couldn’t go out in the daylight with him any longer, she finally had to come clean. She’d been terribly nervous about telling him the truth of her, so afraid that this would ruin everything they had, but she knew not telling him would be worse. One night, as they sat together in one of her favorite spots, a grassy hilltop that overlooked the ocean, she’d told him about just exactly who and what she was, as well as about her family. Naturally, Troy was a little freaked by the whole thing …
“You’re a vampire … and a Vampire Slayer…” he’d repeated slowly, looking at her to find the glint of teasing in her blue eyes. But her eyes were trained on the cool grass beneath them. Her face was a serious as he’d ever seen her.
Bess nodded. “Vampires are real. My dad’s a vampire … my mom’s a Slayer,” she explained again. She'd already said this all twice. She'd had a speech prepared and rehearsed. She'd gone through it once very quickly, when he just stared at her, dumbfounded, she did it all again. This was the third time she'd said this to him.
“So that makes you a cross between a vampire and a Slayer…” Troy inferred. “And … your brother and sisters are too?”
“No … that’s not …” Bess looked up at him finally, shaking her head, her blue eyes imploring him to understand. So much for her well-designed and much fretted over speech. “The vampire part came after the Slayer. 'Slayer' can get passed down … like blue eyes, but not the vampire part. You get made into a vampire by another vampire; it’s not in your DNA.”
“Oh … so … your dad made you a vampire later?”
“No! Not Dad … another vampire,” Bess shook her head again. She didn’t want to get into all that old stuff with him. It was … too much. Maybe one day, but not today. “I was Called … I was the Slayer. I lost a fight with a vampire and he turned me – not Dad,” she answered, giving him a truthful if very abridged version of her life.
“So, you drink … blood? Like in the movies?” Troy asked.
Bess nodded, dropping her eyes again and avoiding his gaze. “Pig’s blood … not humans.”
“So, you’re like those Twilight dudes … a vegetarian?” Troy posited.
Bess frowned and looked back up at him with confusion. “I don’t know what that means,” she admitted. “But I’m not a vegetarian – pigs are … animals, not vegetables.”
“Right. You know, we should probably go to a movie or something one night instead of dancing and riding … well – uhhh … never mind,” he stammered. He loved dancing and exploring with her and what inevitably followed … more dancing and exploring – in private.
“I won’t hurt you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she offered shyly.
Troy nodded thoughtfully as he stared out at the moonlight glinting off the ocean, but didn’t say anything.
Bess stole a glance through her bangs at him but couldn’t really read his expression. He was serious, that was for certain, but what was he thinking? Was he gonna run screaming from the hill or just take her home and never call again? She suddenly felt a fool for telling him the truth … she should’ve said she’d developed an allergy to the sun and let it go at that. Tears stung her eyes; she was sure she’d made a horrible mistake.
“It kind of makes sense – the Hellmouth and stuff,” he finally said, looking over at her and meeting her gaze. “With all the rumors about buried civilizations here in this area, now I understand why. It’s kind of … cool.”
Bess’ brows shot up. “It is? So you’re not going to … avoid me?”
“Might avoid your father,” Troy admitted a little sheepishly. “H-he isn’t going to bite me is he?”
“For…you know…us being—“
“’Cos he knows we’re sleeping together?” she asked, tilting her head to the side
and studying him.
“You told him?!” Troy exclaimed, his eyes widening in horror.
“No … not with words. But … vampires have this smelling thing… I’m sure he
“Oh God…” Troy groaned, rubbing his eyes.
“Don’t worry about it. He might talk to you … but … I don’t think he’ll, you know, hurt you.”
Troy gaped at her. “You don’t think?!”
Bess make an ‘eeeek’ face. “Maybe you should hold onto Angelpie when you’re at the house. He wouldn’t attack you with a kitten in your hands … the kids would kill him if he hurt Angelpie.”
When Troy just stared at her, she shook her head and smiled reassuringly at him. “Don’t worry – honestly, he won’t hurt you,” she vowed. She was pretty sure Spike wouldn’t actually hurt Troy – after all, he hadn’t tracked him down yet.
Troy had finally relaxed and nodded, but decided to heed her advice – he and Angelpie would be best buddies, at least until he was sure.
Bess and Angelpie shared patrol duties with Faith. The fur-ball had stopped growing and was staying a half-grown kitten. She hadn’t changed at all since Philadelphia. Hmmm, could that have something to do with Wanda’s healing touch? Angelpie still regularly drew Spike’s wrath over something she’d done, but the little spit-fire didn’t let him faze her. She knew she was adorable and that Spike was completely outnumbered in his agitation with her antics. Angelpie had taken to their new home quickly and still enjoyed patrolling with Bess and riding in her new saddlebag, which Bess had set up for her on the Suzuki. On those occasions when the kitten couldn’t go, that was still fine, because there were plenty of other adoring fans at home for her to play with. Even Miss Kitty Fantastico had taken a bit of a shine to her – sometimes.
Bess kept in touch with Sue-Ann, who was back in Cleveland now. The girls were looking forward to seeing each other this summer when the first small, test-run of a ‘Supernatural Olympics’ was set to take place in Sunnydale. Buffy was still working on finding some suitable venues for the numerous events they wanted to have, including swimming, as well as kick-boxing, fencing, and track and field events. They were also planning some team events, like soccer (or football, depending on where you came from) and basketball.
Regrettably, not all the Slayers could come. There were a couple of reasons for this; foremost, the logistics and cost to house, feed, and transport so many girls. Also, having all the Slayers in the world in one place at one time would leave them open for a massive attack, which could wipe out the entire line with one well-placed bomb. Still, Buffy was hopeful they could make an annual event of it. It would give the girls some fun as well as a chance to meet Slayers from around the world and build camaraderie. Everybody could enjoy showing off their skills, at least within their small fraternity of peers, and get a sense of being part of something larger. They no longer stood alone; that was an important concept for them to grasp.
Faith continued her ‘catch and release’ way of life as she struggled to find the thing she felt was missing from her life – true love. She complained to Buffy about the lack of ‘true love’ material guys in this town. All the good ones were taken or gay, she complained so often that it was now a running joke. If they were together and saw a potential ‘true love’ candidate, they’d guess which he was before Faith talked to him. Most of the time Faith was right, they were one or the other, or both. However, Buffy noticed that, despite not actually needing any legal advice from Lindsey, he continued to call the house on a regular basis. And somehow he usually called when Faith was on ‘telephone duty’ and everyone else was gone or asleep. Funny that. Faith didn’t seem to notice that she could talk to him for two hours and not even blink an eye. Despite their now comfortable existence, Buffy was still glad that she wasn’t paying the phone bill for those calls from Nepal.
Buffy had finally kept her appointment with the patent lawyer in Huntington Beach and he had filed the necessary paperwork to get the trade name ‘Scrunchie’ and the actual invention patented and trademarked in her name. They were just waiting on confirmation back from the US Office of Patent and Trademark on it and she’d be ready to start her own Scrunchie empire. Buffy decided to skip over the little shops in Sunnydale and go for the big guns. Her first stop would be Bentonville, AR, the home of Wal-Mart. As soon as everything was finalized, she would make an appointment with a buyer there and go present her product to them. If Wal-Mart picked it up, she was sure to be crowned the Scrunchie queen of the world … or at least the USA, in short order.
Xander was still working nights at the Bronze as a bartender; his days were spent at Council headquarters fixing and rebuilding stuff the girls tore down. Anya worked fulltime at the Magic Box and part time as the CFO for the Council. For the work she’d done securing government grants, Giles gave her a raise and finally the Harris’ financial woes were starting to fade. Xander appreciated the offer from Spike and Buffy of the money Buffy felt she ‘owed’ them to make things ‘right’. But, in the end, he was glad he’d declined it. Being able to climb out of the financial hole he and Anya were in without any help from their friends proved that they could make it. He knew that life was going to hand them all sorts of crap, but now he also knew that when it did, he and Anya could stand on their own feet and climb out of the manure pile. Even Anya had to agree that making the American dream a reality was rewarding. Personal gratification notwithstanding, Anya would’ve still taken the money from Buffy … but whatever.
Giles and Wes worked hard to get the World Safety Council organized properly. They had to identify and retrieve newly Called Slayers and work on their training and Slayer related education. Following Bess’ advice, they encouraged them to live with their families, if at all possible, during their first year of training as a Slayer. More Watchers had been recruited and they had a team that spent time strictly with newly Called Slayers. These specialized ‘Slayers-in-Training’ Watchers traveled to the new Slayer’s hometown and offered their support during the often confusing and challenging first year. After that, Slayers were assigned to squads. If possible, they were kept close to their homes and families and encouraged to stay in school while continuing their training and sharing Slayer duties with the rest of their outfit.
Of course, every Slayer and situation was different. Giles and Wes, along with the rest of the CGC, tried to create rules that allowed for individuality while still forming a cohesive army that could spring into action at a moment’s notice.
Olivia continued to divide her time between London and Sunnydale. She and Giles had settled into a comfortable life which included time together and some time apart – time to be a couple and time to be on their own. That seemed to be working for them. The time apart gave them the freedom that they’d grown accustomed to as single adults while the time together gave them the closeness that they’d been missing. They both adored Edmond and got along famously with Willow and Tara. When Olivia was in town, the couple would often travel up north to Washington to visit them.
Willow and Tara were still doing well both financially and as a couple. Having Eddie brought them even closer together, if that was possible. They would alternate trips down to Sunnydale with Giles’ trips up north, often coming down on long holiday weekends. They’d even begun talking about having another baby. Tara insisted that it was Willow’s turn. Willow still remembered what Tara went through a little too clearly to jump right in on that bandwagon just yet.
The mystery surrounding a second Gem of Amarra remained unsolved. Willow and Annie were both still working on decoding and translating the book that they were sure held the key to creating a Gem. This task was excruciatingly slow and frustrating for everyone. They had made little headway on that front. The key to decoding the demon language the book was written in remained elusive. Willow and Tara were also continuing to track down the possibility that there was another Gem of Amarra somewhere in the world, just waiting to be discovered.
Spike, of course, now had the one Gem in their possession; Bess was the one left in the dark without it. So, Spike had been working on this problem, too. He made a point of ‘interviewing’ new demonic arrivals in SunnyD to see if anyone had any information about the existence of a second Gem, so far, no joy. Well, the ‘interviews’ were a source of devilish enjoyment for Spike, but they hadn’t brought him any closer to another Gem than Willow, Tara or Annie were.
Spike had quit his job at The Fish Bowl back in January. Since then, he and Buffy shared the duties of driving the kids to all their practices and they both attended all their in-school and after-school functions. Spike even went so far as to attend a couple more PTA meetings, but that proved to be just a bit more than his patience for ineptitude could handle, so he deferred those back to Buffy. Spike was over the moon with his new role as ‘house husband’ and stay-at-home-dad, but watching the Disney Channel and Barney videos all day was starting to take a toll on him. When Spike got to the point that he knew an episode of Hannah Montana was a rerun, he started to worry. When he started humming along to the songs, he panicked; sure that his Big Bad image was getting horribly tarnished.
Even though he hadn’t even given his boss at The Fish Bowl even a two hour notice, there had been no hard feelings. Spike and his money were still welcome at the bar on the docks. The bleached blond began spending two or three nights a week there. He found playing cards and shooting darts, along with the occasional demon brawl, took the edge off watching ‘kid friendly’ TV all day and kept his image as The Big Bad around the demon community firmly intact. Call it a hobby, everyone needed a hobby. Buffy was happy to have him out from under her feet for a few hours, too, so it was a win-win.
Don’t take that wrong, though. Spike loved being a dad. Before, Spike had missed so many precious moments with the kids – moments that he could never get back. Now he was making up for lost time. He loved being there when the kids got home from school. He loved spending the day with MacKenzie, who was growing by leaps and bounds and actually seemed to recognize him as her father, not some odd uncle who stopped in for an occasional hug. He loved helping the older kids with their homework. He loved going to the park, kicking the football around with Dani and discussing books with Billy and working with Annie on her languages and everything in between.
This was what he’d fought for. This was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Friday, February 18th, 2011:
This weekend was one of those long holiday weekends that Willow, Tara, and Eddie came down to visit their extended family. It was also the ‘Big Party’; a combination of mortgage burning and family birthday party for Annie, Dani, and Billy, as well as Buffy and Spike’s anniversary. Anya had legitimized all the money that Spike won and Buffy had finally paid off the very last bill they had – the mortgage. So that, along with all the February birthdays and their wedding anniversary, called for a special celebration.
The party was actually tomorrow, Saturday evening, but today was kind of a pre-celebratory celebration for the women in the Slayer’s circle of friends. It was ‘get pampered at the day spa’ day. Willow and Tara came down early for it and joined Buffy, Anya, and Faith as they all headed to a spa up the coast for a full day of mimosas, facials, massages, hot rocks, and mud baths, leaving the men in charge of Sunnydale.
Spike was getting Dani, Billy, and JJ their after-school snack when the phone rang. After setting their sandwiches on the table, he picked it up just before the answering machine came on.
“Dad!” came Annie’s panicked voice on the other end. “Where’s Mom? She’s not answering her phone!”
“You know all the girls went on their ‘testosterone-free’ day t’day, pet,” Spike reminded her. “What’s wrong?”
Annie sighed in exasperation. “They all went? Aunt Anya … Faith?”
“Yeah … all the girls,” Spike confirmed. “What’s the matter?”
“What about Bess … she didn’t go, right? Is she there?” Annie pressed on.
Spike sighed. He couldn’t figure out why all the kids automatically asked for Buffy when they needed help. He was their father! The Big Bad protector of the family! Buffy’s bloody hero – their family’s hero – Buffy told him so herself! But could the kids just once call and ask him to help? Nooooo… he was always second choice, it seemed. Spike should know to be careful what he wished for.
“Yeah, but she’s sleeping – didn’t get in ‘til dawn this morning. What the bloody hell is wrong?” Spike asked again.
“Can’t you wake her up – it’s really important and … I just … Can you wake her up, please?” Annie begged.
“No, I will not wake her up. Tell me what the bloody hell is so important. What’s wrong with you, Niblett? Did that boy … what did he do?” Spike demanded, his agitation growing.
That afternoon, Annie was supposed to be working on a school project at the library with her partner, Johnny Martin. Spike met him at Annie’s school earlier in the week – he was the same git he’d seen Annie dancing with a few months back at that school dance. Oh, the boy had been polite enough, answering with ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir’ when Spike spoke to him. Spike might not have labeled him a ‘git’ if his first born hadn’t turned into a puddle of gooey, melting chocolate at the sight of the little bastard.
Annie sighed again. “He didn’t do anything … I just … Dad, pleeaase …”
“Anne Joyce, tell me what the bloody hell’s the matter or I’ll come down there and yank a knot in that boy’s tail,” Spike threatened.
Spike was met with silence … and heavy sighs … and more silence… “I’m not gonna wait much longer,” he advised.
Another heavy sigh filled the ear piece. “Fine,” she acquiesced grudgingly. “Here’s the thing … I … uhhh … well … you know that thing … that thing that … uhhh … well … that thing that girls do?”
“Drive their fathers crazy?” Spike wondered. He could feel her eyes roll over the phone line.
“No – that thing … with the … uhhh … blood,” Annie tried to explain.
Spike’s brows shot up. “You’re hurt? Bleeding? How badly? Where exactly are you?” he asked, now panicked himself. “I’ll be right there!”
“No … not that kind of blood … blood like … you know … that girls do … you know … menstruation kind of blood,” Annie finally stammered out.
“Menstr…” Spike started, his brows furrowed. “Yeah … heard tell of it.”
“Yeah, well … it’s like … not just a theory anymore and I … uhhh … well … my pants are soaked with it and I didn’t realize it and now … I’m like … stuck in the bathroom at the library and I don’t know what to do.”
“I thought your mum had this talk with you … birds and bees and … table dances and the like,” Spike pointed out.
“Oh, yeah – she totally did, but … well, talking and doing are like two different things. That’s why I wanted to talk to Mom or … Bess. Can’t you please wake Bess up?” she asked again.
“No, I’m not waking her up. I’ll come get ya,” Spike offered.
“No! No … I have to finish this project today with Johnny or we’ll get marked down for being late! I need … can you please bring me some new clothes and …”
“And?” Spike prodded when she didn’t continue.
Annie sighed. “Some pads?”
“Pads …” Spike mumbled, brows furrowed in thought. “Right … sanitary napkins. Uhhh … there should be a machine there in the ladies room with stuff like that in it, pet.”
“There is but it only has tampons and I …” Annie let out a huff of air and pressed her eyes tightly closed. “I just don’t think I can … I’d just rather have a pad,” she explained.
“Wait – how do you know what kind of machines are in the ladies’ room?” she asked after what he said sunk in.
Spike rolled his eyes and laughed. “Mighta been in one or two in m’ life, Niblett.”
“Please don’t tell me that story, ok?”
Spike laughed again. “Right – no ladies’ room stories. Ok, stay put and I’ll be there shortly, yeah? No worries, pet. We got this under control. Don’t need your mum.”
Annie sighed heavily, again. “As if I could go anywhere,” she mumbled more to herself than him. “Get my jeans with the white embroidered flowers on the back pockets – not the ones with the white stitching on the seams, ‘cos they don’t fit right … and some underwear, too, ok?”
“Right – white posies, no worries – be there in a bit.”
“Please hurry,” Annie begged him as she sat in the bathroom stall talking to her father on her cell phone about things that she really didn’t want to talk to him about.
Spike hung up and went up to her room to find said jeans. Now, if you were jeans with white flowers embroidered on the back pockets that belonged to a pre-teen girl, where would you be? In the drawer? No. Hanging in the closet? No. In the dirty laundry basket? No. In the clean laundry basket? No. In the pile of clothes on the beanbag chair in the corner, on the very bottom, the last place you looked? Of course.
Finally sure he had the right jeans, he started for underwear. That was easier to find – there was a whole drawer full of them. He hoped they all fit, picked out a pink pair and headed out of her room with his prizes. In the bathroom he searched every drawer and shelf for some sanitary napkins; he thought Buffy had some here somewhere that she used after MacKenzie was born. Where the bloody hell are they? Not in the bathroom – obviously; all he could find were tampons. He tried their bedroom – no luck there either. Spike sighed and rolled his eyes. Bloody brilliant.
With all the kids loaded up in Vader, Spike headed for Wal-Mart. Hoisting MacKenzie in her car carrier, with Dani, Billy, and JJ in tow, the ‘house husband’ and ‘stay at home dad’ headed bravely into the wonderful world of feminine hygiene products.
Spike took a deep breath and gathered his courage as he and his entourage approached aisle seven. He’d never been down this aisle, even shopping with Buffy he’d managed to avoid it like the plague. Spike walked down the aisle once, then back, then stopped in the middle and simply stood and stared at the plethora of products that he had to choose from. The kids gathered on one end of the aisle where lots of small, colorful packages made their home and rattled off questions for him.
“What are these for?”
“Can we have some?”
“What does l-u-b-r-i-c-a-n-t spell?”
“This is a pretty purple and pink box … what does it mean, ‘KY In-ten … Intense’?”
“What’s ‘Arousal Gel’? Maybe that’s what Annie wants.”
“What does c-o-n-d-o-m spell? Do you think that’s what she needs?”
“Oh look! I saw this on TV! It tells if you’re gonna have a baby two weeks sooner! Is Annie gonna have a baby?”
“OI! Get away from there and stop reading the soddin’ labels! Whose brilliant idea was it to teach you lot to read, anyway? Half the bloody world can’t read, seem to get on just fine…
“Isn’t there a sweets aisle here somewhere? Go find some candy,” he instructed them, waving a hand as if to shoo them away. They all squealed happily and scampered off to the candy aisle together.
Finally alone, Spike started searching for what he needed, but the more he searched, the more confused he got. Should he get panty liners or ultra-thin or regular or maxi? And then there was the ‘ultra-thin maxi’ … huh? Should he get winged, flexi-wings, revolutionary wings, or un-winged? ‘Breathable’? ‘Duo-action’? ‘Dri-weave’? ‘Cottony soft’? ‘Seven layers’? ‘LeakGuard’? The ones for ‘active women’ … are there any for sedated women? The ones that fold up and are ‘the discreet way to carry your pad’? Were generic pads just as good as the name brands? And what of all the different package colors? Did those have some special meaning? Did they all have to be so nauseatingly bright and cheerful?
“Oh, bloody hell…” he moaned as he studied the overwhelming selection and scratched his head. Who knew there were so many bloody choices for a soddin’ sanitary napkin? He shoulda brought a cart with him.
Spike pulled out his cell phone and hit the speed-dial.
“Harris, what do ya know about sanitary napkins?” Spike asked without preamble.
“Spike? Is that you? What kind of wacked-out question is that?”
Spike sighed. “Yeah, it’s me. What do you know about feminine hygiene products?”
“I know not to go down that aisle, don’t ask questions, and don’t flush them down the toilet or they stop up the drain and it costs five hundred dollars for Roto-Rooter to come clear it.”
“You’re a lotta bloody help.”
“Is there something you’ve been keeping from us, Spike? Awwww … our wittle Spikey’s gettin’ all growed up,” Xander teased in a baby-talk voice. “Started your period, huh? I understand chocolate and Midol help.”
“Sod off, Harris.”
“Sodding off … good luck with that!” Xander laughed before disconnecting.
Spike rolled his eyes and let out another sigh as he put his phone up.
“Right then,” Spike spoke to the wall of brightly colored, plastic wrapped confusion. “Let’s be logical, yeah? Don’t expect the girl needs t’ fly, so we’ll rule out the wings. Don’t need her smelling too good, so, we’ll rule out the ‘fresh scent’ and deodorant ones. Don’t reckon that area needs bloody Aloe Vera, ain’t got a soddin’ sunburn there, we’ll rule that out. She ain’t that big, so … no maxi, no long, no super long,” Spike continued the elimination round.
“Cottony soft might not be bad … although seven layers, that sounds like it’d be right soft. Hmmm… I got no bloody idea what ‘duo-action’ or ‘active gel’ is.”
Spike let out a frustrated breath and looked down at the baby. “See what you have t’ look forward to, pet?”
MacKenzie only laughed at him. Spike rolled his eyes. He was a hundred and fifty-some years old, lived in a house full of women and still things about them remained a complete and utter mystery to him.
“You laugh now, but when it happens to you, you better hope your mum’s home,” he grumbled to the baby.
Finally, he decided to just use the shotgun approach. He picked out some panty liners, a package of ultra-thin ones and one with seven layers, then, as an afterthought, added the one that ‘wicked away moisture’ too. One of them oughta work.
He held the stack of slick, garish, plastic-wrapped hygiene products in one hand, pressing his chin down on the top to keep them from toppling out of his grasp. With his choices secure, he picked MacKenzie’s carrier back up with the other hand and headed out towards the candy aisle to retrieve the children. Annie was gonna kill him. It had been at least half an hour since she’d called – at least and he still had to check-out and get to the library.
“Let’s go!” he ordered the bits that were scurrying around the candy aisle like, well, kids in a candy aisle. “Pick one thing and c’mon.”
“One?!?” they all whined, their hands full of various candy bars and bags of sweets.
“Bloody hell – just bring what ya got and let’s go! Get something for the Niblett … chocolate,” he instructed. A pre-teen with PMS waiting in the loo for her father to bring her feminine pads and clean clothes … hmmm, better make it, “Big … no, make that supersized chocolate,” he amended.
Billy held up a giant Hershey’s chocolate bar and Spike nodded. “Right then – we’re off!”
And they were off … down the main aisle of Wal-Mart – three seven year olds trailing behind a man carrying a baby and an armful of sanitary napkins. All he needed now was a sign on his back that said, ‘Love’s Bitch’ as he walked the walk of shame to the cash register. He was met with amused smiles from the women he passed and sympathetic looks from most of the men. Oh yes, this was his gold at the end of the rainbow … bloody fool’s gold.
He only prayed he didn’t run into anyone he knew.
If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans or just go ahead and send one of those hopeful prayers up to the heavens. God has a strange sense of humor.
“Spike!” a voice called from a side aisle he passed. Spike rolled his eyes and slowed down.
“Clement,” he greeted his friend apprehensively, not turning around.
“Hey, man! Getting supplies for the party? I got some of these Sun Chips and Baked Lays. Have you tried them? They’re like … healthy or something so I … I mean, we can eat even more. Pretty cool, huh?” Clem rattled as he walked up to the blond vamp.
“Not exactly shoppin’ for the party just now, Clem – Niblett’s in a bit of a pickle,” Spike began. “Sorry I can’t chat … gotta run.”
“Oh, is she ok? Is there anything I can…” Clem stopped mid-sentence when he got close to Spike. “Are those …”
“Yeah, they are. Shut your gob.”
Clem shook his head and pulled a clawed finger across his lips. “So, what did you do to piss the Slayer off this time?”
“Nothing – she’s outta town, you nit! You tell one bloody soul ‘bout this I’ll serve your brains as scrapple at the soddin’ party,” Spike threatened.
Clem waved a hand dismissively. “Tell? Who would I tell? And – hey there’s nothing wrong with a guy buying … four kinds of …”
Spike cocked an angry brow at him and Clem stopped talking. “Who would I tell?” he asked again with an innocent shrug.
Spike rolled his eyes. “Gotta go. See ya tomorrow, Clement.”
“Right – tell Annie I said ‘hi’!” Clem called brightly as Spike and his entourage finally made it to the checkout line.
Spike sighed as he dumped his selections onto the conveyor belt at the cash register and the kids poured all their candy up there too. The girl ringing him up suppressed a giggle, making him miss the days when they wrapped such things in plain brown paper. Talk about doing a complete one-eighty on the packaging! The only thing that could’ve made them better is if they were actually wrapped in bright, flashing neon lights.
After a bit of fanfare sorting the candy into separate bags, one for each child, they were thankfully heading out of the store. Now came the fun part.
Annie stared at the cell phone in her hand. Had she really talked to her dad about that? She rolled her eyes and shook her head in disbelief. It was embarrassing as hell, but she had to give him credit, he’d taken it well. There was no freak out on his part, not yet, at least.
She looked at the time on the phone and frowned. Where was he? How could it take so long to just grab a couple of things? And he complained about how long it took her and her mom to get out of the house? Seriously? Johnny must be thinking that she ditched him; left him to do the whole project on his own.
She shifted impatiently on the toilet seat. Her butt was starting to go numb. It had been at least forty-five minutes now, maybe longer. If heavy sighs and eye rolls could grant wishes, she would’ve had it made; as it was, they only made the time drag by more slowly.
Frustrated, she kicked the door. It echoed loudly in the tiled room but she didn’t feel any better. Her stomach hurt, or more accurately, the area below her stomach. She wrapped her arms around her torso and tried to get the ache to stop. This was crazy! Her mom forgot to mention that little tidbit in their talk.
She sighed for the hundredth time and her head slumped forward. She should’ve just tried the tampons, she knew it. It was the sensible thing to do – obviously women use them all the time. But she really wasn’t comfortable trying to shove a wad of cotton in a cardboard tube up in a place that she didn’t even know existed before a few months ago, regardless of its claim to have an ‘easy-glide applicator’. What if it got halfway in and got stuck? What if it went too far? What if it got lost in there? What if the string broke … how would you get it back out?
When her mom had explained the ‘becoming a woman’ thingy, she hadn’t mentioned how awkward it would be. How humiliated she would feel. How she would be willing to kill for a chocolate bar.
Someone entered the lavatory; she heard clacking sounds of heels marching resolutely towards the stalls. Great, company. Just what she needed.
At the library, Spike tentatively knocked on the door of the ladies’ room and then slowly pushed it open. His emergency delivery included two bags of pads and another bag with Annie’s clothes in it. There was a woman washing her hands at the sink and she gave him a look that might’ve killed a human.
“This is the ladies room!” the woman informed him indignantly.
“Yeah, I know … sorry,” Spike apologized. “Jus’ looking for m’ girl.”
“You aren’t allowed in here,” she continued sternly.
“Right – ‘cos you don’t want us blokes to see how clean and posh your bathroom is compared to ours. See, you even have a bloody couch in here,” Spike retorted, motioning his head at the long, upholstered seat against one wall. “I know all your secrets. No worries, I won’t tell the rest of mankind the truth of it.”
“DAD!” Annie called from the far end of the room. “God! What took you so long!?”
“See … told ya – just looking for m’ girl,” he smirked at the woman who continued to stare daggers at him as he stepped into the room and let the door fall closed behind him.
“You aren’t supposed to be in here!” Annie admonished him from behind the stall door.
“Oh, right! And how do you suppose I could bring you this … stuff?” he asked indignantly, dropping the bags to the floor and sliding them under the door.
“You could’ve sent Dani in! Please get out!”
Spike snorted a sarcastic laugh. “Nothin’ in here I ain’t seen before, pet. Plus – you got doors on all your stalls – not like the men’s room where everyone just pisses out in the open. I don’t see the big bloody deal – afraid a man’ll hear ya pee?”
“Dad!” Annie growled between clenched teeth. “Get. Out.”
“Ta ever so for comin’ to m’ rescue,” Spike chided her.
“Thank you.” Annie replied hastily. “Now. Get. Out.”
Spike rolled his eyes and started out of the room. “Oh, almost forgot – Clem said to tell you ‘hi’.”
“Clem? You didn’t bring Clem with you, did you? You didn’t tell him about … this, did you!?” Annie exclaimed in horror.
“I … uhhh … no,” Spike stammered. “Didn’t … bring him along – mighta run into him at the store.”
“And you told him these were for me!? Dad! How could you?” Annie moaned. “God, tell the whole world, why don’t you?”
“There’s nothing wrong with havin’ your cycle, pet,” Spike defended. “It’s a natural part o’ life, part of growing up.” Spike only wished it had waited until she was older. Would hoping the hormones didn’t kick in until she was thirty have been too much to ask?
“Yeah, one that the whole world now knows I have,” she agreed forlornly.
Spike could hear her rummaging through the bags he’d brought. The woman at the sink huffed indignantly and continued to scowl at him, her arms now crossed over her chest. She seemed determined to stay and chaperone his girl.
“Wait! What is all this? How many did you bring!? I can’t go out there with all these! Wait outside! Don’t go away,” Annie pleaded as she took inventory of what he’d brought.
“At your service, milady,” Spike replied sarcastically as he sauntered back towards the door. Spike gave the chaperone his most charming smile as he passed by. The woman only glared at him more unpleasantly, if that was possible. Spike wondered if he was losing his touch with the fairer sex. That look usually had them swooning. Bugger.
After a few minutes, Annie emerged from the restroom, her clean clothes on and her soiled ones stuffed in one of the bags, along with all the extra pads that he’d brought.
She walked over to where Spike and the kids were in the children’s section of the library and wordlessly held the bags out to him.
“Right, all set then?” he asked as he looked up from ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ book he was reading to MacKenzie.
“Yeah, I think so. Why did you get so many? I don’t need that many, do I?” she asked with concern.
Spike shrugged. “Don’t reckon so. Just wasn’t sure which one you wanted … got a selection.”
Annie took a deep breath and looked around the library. “Johnny must think I fell in…”
“Git didn’t come t’ check on ya?” Spike asked, cocking a brow.
Annie swallowed. “No … he’s probably … you know, working on the project and didn’t realize how long I was gone.”
“Uh-huh … sounds like a bloody inconsiderate poof, t’ me, pet. Best to be rid o’ him soon as ya can,” Spike advised her.
Annie rolled her eyes. “Not everyone’s like you, Dad.”
“They are if they care or got a lick o’ sense,” Spike pointed out.
Annie shrugged. “I guess…”
Spike pursed his lips but didn’t say anything more. It wasn’t like she was marrying the wanker. She’s twelve! he reminded himself. “Here – gotcha something else,” he changed subjects and handed her the giant sized Hershey’s bar.
Annie’s eyes went wide as she took it from him. “How did you know I totally needed chocolate?”
Spike wondered when she didn’t need chocolate. It was part of her DNA, after all. “‘Cos I care, pet.”
“Daaad,” she sighed. “Thank you – I love you. You saved my life,” she offered sincerely, giving him a hug.
“Yeah, well – superhero and all … it’s what I do.”
Later that night, Buffy lay in Spike’s arms and sighed contentedly. It had been a wonderful day with her friends at the spa being all pampered, but she was happy to get home, all the same. Annie had told her what happened at the library and Buffy promised to get her some girl-sized tampons if she wanted to try them, assuaging her fears regarding the mysterious devices.
Spike ran his fingertips lightly up and down his wife’s freshly exfoliated arm as she cuddled against his side. She closed her eyes, and sighed lightly, the memory of their lovemaking still fresh in her mind and tingling through her body.
“Why do sanitary napkins need wings?” Spike asked out of the blue. “And what exactly is ‘active gel’?”
Buffy furrowed her brow and looked up at him with confusion. That wasn’t his typical post-coital topic of conversation. The question sounded so strange it was like he’d just spoken Chinese to her and it took a minute for her brain to process it.
Finally, Buffy laughed and laid her head back on his shoulder. “Those are very carefully guarded womanly secrets and, if I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
“That’s what I reckoned.”
Saturday, February 19th, 2011:
At the urging of Anya, who’d loved their trip to Hawai’i despite not meeting Alex O'Loughlin, the ‘mortgage burning/birthday/anniversary party’ at the mansion was themed as a Hawaiian luau. There were fruity, tropical drinks spiked with rum and decorated with the little umbrellas, colorful paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling of the great room, and everyone was dressed in bright tropical colors. Even Spike had caved in and was wearing a loose shirt abundantly printed with floral patterns in red, blue, and green. Silk-flower leis adorned everyone’s necks and grass skirts hung over their legs and swished when they walked or danced. Even the beer bottles had donned grass skirts and the cake looked like a tropical paradise they could almost dive into.
There was, of course, a limbo contest and Bess won it, although Annie, Buffy, and Faith gave her a run for her money. The men were knocked out of the competition fairly early. Spike made the longest run among the males, while Giles dropped out first, complaining quietly about age and stiff backs. Even Clem made it a few inches lower than the Watcher turned shop-keeper. It was quite disheartening and Giles thought perhaps he should look into joining a gym at the first opportunity.
Getting knocked out of the competition early wasn’t all bad for the male contingent, however. For most of the contest they simply stood by, cheering and commenting loudly on the flexibility the ladies displayed, particularly Faith and Buffy. Although Troy enjoyed watching Bess show off, even he had to admit that he might’ve been a bit hasty calling Faith ‘ma’am’.
Unable to actually roast a pig in the ground like Anya wanted to do, they settled for Hawaiian pizzas and spicy wings from Little Italy to go along with Clem’s ‘healthy’ snacks. It wasn’t strictly Hawaiian, but … whatever.
After they’d eaten, everyone gathered around Buffy and Spike in the great room. The pair stood in front of the fireplace holding the thankfully, finally paid off mortgage in their hands. Well, actually, it was a copy, since Anya pointed out that burning the original was probably a bad idea.
Buffy smiled widely as she stood next to Spike and faced their friends and family. “For the record, I just want to say how proud I am of Spike,” she beamed at him.
“Despite the fact that I probably would’ve chosen a different path to get here, the fact remains that he’s the one that walked through the fire – literally, and lifted us out of that bottomless pit of debt. As of now, we are completely debt free.”
Buffy looked at Anya. “And you aren’t gonna blow what’s left of our money in the stock market. Right?”
“Correct,” Anya agreed with a firm nod. “You are well diversified across the most lucrative asset classes for these economic conditions with a substantial portion of your funds in disappointingly low paying, but safe … assuming the FDIC insurance can be counted on, CDs,” Anya assured her – again.
Buffy smiled and nodded like Anya had actually spoken English. Buffy took a deep breath as she looked at all their friends gathered around them, then turned to face Spike. “Twelve years ago we promised to be each other’s faithful and equal partners, we promised to love unconditionally and believe in each other, to honor and respect and cherish each other.
“We’ve both stumbled over some rocks in the road, but in the end we’ve always worked it out through the good times and the bad and we’ve laughed together and cried together and shared it all – happy and sad.
“We don’t always do things right, and we both have just a smidge too much stubborn pride, but I know you love me and I love you so much, Spike. What you did for us, for our family was one of the … stupidest, most stubborn and idiotic things you've ever done,” Buffy asserted, giving him a stern look.
Spike ducked his head shamefully and rubbed a hand on the back of his neck.
Buffy’s look softened as she added, “And I love you for it.”
Spike peeked at her from behind his thick lashes and gave her a shy smile. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” she confirmed as she leaned in and dropped a soft kiss on his lips.
“I love you, Buffy,” Spike murmured to her as she pulled back from the kiss. Buffy met his eyes with hers and held his gaze for several long moments. What was it about his eyes that made her feel so safe and loved? She wasn’t sure, but she knew she wanted to keep seeing it for a very, very long time.
Buffy cleared her throat, finally pulling her gaze away from him as she turned back to their audience. “So, without further ado, I believe Spike’s earned the honor of burning this last remaining effigy of our life under the bill collector’s thumb.”
Buffy handed him the mortgage paper and Spike smirked as he lit one corner of it with his trusty silver Zippo. “Couldn’t a’ done it without you, pet,” Spike assured her as the flames began to lick at the edges of the paper.
When it was about halfway engulfed in flames, he tossed it into the fireplace with a flourish. Everyone clapped and cheered for their friends. Spike turned away from the burning paper and surveyed the group gathered there. When he first came to Sunnydale any one of her friends would’ve staked him if given half a chance. Now they were here, smiling, cheering: Giles, Wes, Xander, Anya, Faith, Tara and Willow. And mixed among them were the children; his children and his ‘nephews’. It made his heart swell to know that he was part of this slightly off-kilter extended family; accepted, respected, and even loved by them. And the feeling was mutual.
Spike drew Buffy into a tight hug and dropped a kiss on top of her head. Tears welled up in Buffy’s eyes as she wrapped her arms around him. They had overcome one of the hardest challenges any family could face. It hadn’t been easy and it hadn’t been fun, but by pulling together instead of pulling apart, even when things were bad, they’d done it.
“I’ll always be love’s bitch, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he murmured into her ear. Buffy chuckled lightly against his chest. Leave it to Spike to pull a smile out of her tears.
Finally the kids got to open their presents and blow out the candles. Now everyone was crowded around the table, eating away at the Hawaiian cake. Laughter and merriment filled the room with a joyful atmosphere – everyone seemed to be talking at once. It was the utter chaos that the old house had grown to love over the years. Some mansions had opulence and visiting dignitaries or posh soirees and debutant balls; the mansion on Crawford Street had pandemonium.
“So, Troy,” Spike addressed Bess’ beau. “Glad you could make it t’night.”
“Thank you for the invitation, Mr. Weckerly,” Troy replied confidently. “It’s a good party – fun.” Troy had spoken to Spike a few times since Bess’ confession about the true nature of her family. At first he’d always made sure to scoop Angelpie up as soon as he came in the door, but nothing ever happened; her father had always been polite to him, so Troy had dropped that habit. Bess had been right about her dad, after all.
“Yeah, we have a spot o’ fun now and again ‘round here. Ya know, I been meanin’ t’ talk to you,” Spike replied in a conversational tone. The vamp slapped his hand down on the larger man’s shoulder like an old friend and guided him away from the group.
“Spike! Where are you going with my date?” Bess questioned when she saw them walking away.
“No worries, pet. Won’t bite him or anything, just a friendly chat,” Spike assured her.
“So, Troy,” Spike began again as he settled the young man into a chair near the fireplace. Spike positioned himself on the coffee table in front of Troy, towering over his ‘Inquistee’. “Buffy tells me you’re at university. How’s that going for ya, then?”
“Oh – great!” Troy enthused. “I’m having a blast.”
“Are ya, now? Not sure that’s really the point of university. How are your grades?”
“Oh, mostly As and Bs … one C,” Troy admitted. “I truly hate Calculus.”
“As do we all,” Spike sympathized with a knowing nod. “Got a job?”
“Yes, sir. I work part time at the Sunnydale Museum, cataloging artifacts and helping to set up exhibits. And I have a full scholarship in wrestling,” Troy explained before taking a bite of the birthday cake that he’d brought with him.
“So I’ve heard,” Spike muttered half under his breath as he turned his head and cocked a brow at Bess. She was standing off to one side several feet away, but Spike knew she could hear the conversation. Bess rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“And this subject you’re studyin’, Anthropology and Archeology, is it?” Spike continued, looking back at the young man.
“Just what sorta career you figure on getting with that degree?” Spike wondered.
“Oh – well, what I’d really like to do is uncover artifacts that shed some light on the cultures that were here before our modern society. There are rumors of lost treasures and buried civilizations due to multiple earthquakes in the Sunnydale area in particular. I’d love to be the one to find them,” Troy beamed.
“So, fancy yourself the next Indiana Jones, then?”
“Oh … uh, well … maybe without the bull whip or fear of snakes,” Troy admitted with a small shrug. “Those were my favorite movies growing up, Indy was my hero. But, don’t get me wrong! I know real life isn’t like that. It takes a lot of hard work, but hard work doesn’t scare me.
“Like my grandfather always says, ‘He lawai'a no ke kai papa'u, he pokole ke aho; he lawai'a no ke kai hohonu he loa ke aho.’”
Spike cocked a questioning brow at the young man.
“It translates literally as, ‘a fisherman of shallow seas uses only a short line; a fisherman of the deep sea uses a long line.’ It means that you can reach as far as you prepare yourself to reach. I’m preparing myself to reach my goals, which I know may seem idealistic or out of reach, but with hard work I believe I can succeed,” Troy explained earnestly.
Spike nodded thoughtfully, as if he was buying it. That bollocks, he supposed, had been practiced and delivered to more than one girl’s father over the years. Time to turn up the heat.
“Don’t believe I’ve seen lots of adverts in the paper for treasure hunters. How do you intend t’ live while you do all this working and reachin’ for your pot o’ gold?”
Troy shrugged. “I don’t mind working on digs managed by other people. Even the Peace Corps and the World Health Organization hire anthropologists to teach their volunteers how to fit into the societies they’re trying to support. I don’t mind hard work – I’ve got a strong back.”
Spike cocked his brow again and looked at Bess. She responded by folding her arms over her chest and rolling her eyes – again.
Spike looked back at Troy and switched gears on him, firing up the burner on the hot-seat even higher. “So, just what would a wrestler with a strong back’s intentions be with regard to m’ girl?”
Troy swallowed the cake that was in mouth with a hard gulp and nearly choked on it, coughing slightly to try and clear his throat. “Intentions, sir?”
“Intentions. You do know the meaning of the word, yeah? Being in university and all.”
“Yeah, of course, I … but … uhhh … I’m not sure I have any intentions, sir,” Troy stammered.
“All gits have intentions,” Spike asserted. “I bloody well hope you aren’t intending on running off and gettin’ hitched!”
“Hitched?!” Troy croaked, his voice raising several octaves above his normal baritone. “I … uhhh … hadn’t really … we haven’t known each other that…”
“Oh, planning on breakin’ her heart then, are ya?” Spike interrupted, boring his gaze into the younger man's like daggers.
Troy frowned and shook his head vigorously. “No, sir!”
“Maybe you’re just stringing the townie along. Planning on flyin’ off t’ chase treasures when you’re done with ‘er. That it?” Spike wondered, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.
“No…no, sir. I wouldn’t …”
“You’ve been seeing a lot o’ Bess lately,” Spike stated, interrupting Troy’s denial.
“Yes, sir,” Troy answered as if Spike had asked a question.
“Just how much o’ her have you seen, then?” Spike continued his inquisition, pursing his lips together as he studied the boy’s reaction. He could smell the adrenaline pumping, hear the git’s heart thundering in his chest and see a layer of perspiration appear on the boy’s forehead. Wouldn’t take much more to have him at a nice, hot rolling boil.
Troy started coughing violently at that. Spike picked his drink up off the floor where he’d set it down and handed it to the young man. Troy took it thankfully and swallowed several deep gulps of the fruity liquid that was spiked with rum.
“We … uuhhh … go out three or four times a week,” Troy offered after getting his windpipe cleared.
Spike nodded. “Not what I asked.”
“She really likes to dance. We go to the Bronze a lot,” Troy tried.
Spike nodded again. “Still not what I asked. Are you certain you get As and Bs at university? You don’t seem to understand the Queen’s English. Seems simple enough t’ me.”
“Daaad! What are you doing?” Bess demanded as she walked purposefully up to the two men. Maybe she should’ve sent Billy to find Angelpie, just in case.
Troy looked up at her, his sparkling, aquamarine eyes pleading for some form of rescue. He hadn’t expected the Spanish Inquisition tonight.
“Nothing, pet. Just having a little conversation,” Spike answered congenially.
“Yeah, I can tell – that’s why my boyfriend’s eyes are bulging out, his heart’s racing, and he looks like he’s about to faint,” Bess retorted.
“Boyfriend now, is it? A minute ago he was your date,” Spike pointed out.
“Yeah, well … he’s my boyfriend who is also my date,” Bess asserted. “Just what was the question that he can’t answer?” she asked, as if she hadn’t heard it from across the room.
“Just curious how much o’ you he’s seen,” Spike repeated, finally looking up at her.
“Oh. Well that’s easy. He’s seen all of me – well the outsides, anyway. That strong back and all those hard muscles just make me want to drop my clothes and have sex with him every time we’re together. In fact, I thought I’d take him up to my room when you’re done with your ‘conversation’ and have my wicked way with him. Anything else you want to know?” Bess wondered. She folded her arms across her chest belligerently, tilted her head to the side and gave Spike an innocent smile.
Troy thought he might actually pass out as he looked between the two blondes who were staring each other down. He wasn’t sure if her father was gonna kill him or her or both of them.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity to the dark-haired young man, Spike shrugged nonchalantly and smiled. “Well, glad the git’s keepin’ ya happy, then.”
Spike looked back at the wrestler, who was quite a lot larger than the vamp, but at the moment seemed like a small bug waiting to be crushed. Spike stood up and clamped a hand down on Troy’s upper arm, gripping tightly around the young man’s bulging deltoid muscle. Spike began to squeeze until he was sure Troy had no doubt that he was serious, then he leaned down near his ear. “Don’t hurt her. She’s a special girl, deserves your honesty, your respect. Deserves t’ be treated like a lady. Ain’t something to be used and tossed away without a thought, ya got me?”
Troy nodded his agreement, squirming under Spike’s grip. “Yes… yes, sir.”
“Right, then. Have another drink ‘fore you go upstairs, you’ll do better. Ya look a bit parched t’ me,” Spike advised as he straightened. He loosened his grip and then patted his hand down on the young man’s shoulder again like they were old friends. The vamp picked up his red Solo cup, which Troy had emptied, and strolled away from the pair, back towards the bar for a tropical drink refill.
“Holy shit…” Troy swore, looking up at Bess as he rubbed his arm, which he was sure would be black and blue by morning. “Your old man’s scary!”
“Don’t worry,” Bess assured him. “He acts all Big Bad, but really, he’s a pussy cat.”
Troy looked at Spike’s retreating back and swallowed hard. “Yeah, right. In a man-eating lion sorta way.”
Bess laughed lightly and looked back at Spike. Her father had picked up the baby and was lifting her high in the air and flying her around above his head as she squealed in delight. Billy was pulling on the hem of his shirt, wanting to tell him something and Dani was begging him to fly her around too. Annie and Buffy walked up to him and started talking about the chocolate volcano cake that Anya had made in homage to the Harris’ trip to Hawai’i.
Buffy’s eyes met Bess’ across the room and she held a piece of the cake up, pointing at it with her fork. “Scrummy!” she called to Bess, widening her eyes and smiling enthusiastically.
Bess nodded her understanding and Buffy turned her attention back to Spike and the other kids as she took another bite of chocolaty volcano goodness.
Bess’ eyes got a bit misty and she shook her head as she watched her family laughing and talking and making new, joyful memories. It was just like Wanda promised her it would be. Like a maple tree drops its brittle leaves in the fall and grows fresh ones in the spring, Bess felt another frighteningly dark and painful memory lose its hold on her heart to make way for this bright, loving one to take its place.
“No … he’s really not,” she assured Troy. “He’s my dad. He just worries about me – he loves me. He loves us all a lot.”
Red Solo Cup, Toby Keith
red Solo cup is the best receptacle
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