|Story Title:||Miles To Go Before I Sleep|
Sue-Ann and Sammy have to head back home. It's a heart-wrenching farewell.
Music Referenced: Puppy Love, Paul Anka, http://youtu.be/UuG_fTwoUoU
|Thanks:||Thanks to YOU for reading! Without you none of this would mean anything! Giant thanks also to Anona for betaing the rest of this chapter, including her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Also thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the very last moment.|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.
(Next morning) Monday, August 29th, 2011:
Spike came into the kitchen to find all the kids, Buffy, Sue-Ann, and Sammy half-way through their breakfasts. He dropped a morning kiss on Buffy’s lips as he passed the table and greeted everyone else with a slightly groggy, “Mornin’.”
Over the last two nights, Buffy had been collecting on the nickel he owed her; he still wasn’t sure if it was paid off yet or not. Not that he was complaining! He just hoped, after Sue-Ann and Sammy left today, he’d actually be able to get some kip so he could be ready for whatever Buffy wanted to collect from him tonight. Getting killed by the Slayer did have its perks.
He grabbed a quart of blood from the fridge and poured himself a mug. Grabbing a box from the cupboard, he crumbled up some Weetabix into it and popped it into the microwave. He turned around and leaned his butt against the counter as he waited for his breakfast to warm up. Spike’s eyes wandered over the group, who all seemed to be talking at once. How any of them could actually hear what anyone else was saying was beyond him, but they seemed to be managing.
As his eyes wandered over the people gathered in the kitchen, they met Sue-Ann’s across the short distance. She quickly looked away, trying to act like she hadn’t been staring at him. Spike choked back a laugh and turned around to watch his cup turn in circles in the microwave. He looked surreptitiously back over his shoulder and caught Sue-Ann staring, quite intently, at his back side. And her eyes weren’t on his shoulders ... a bit further south.
Spike turned his attention back to his breakfast and shook his head slightly. Sammy was right: hormones had taken over the girl’s good sense. It dawned on Spike that it would only be a little over three years before Annie would be Sue-Ann’s age. She was already swooning over that git, Johnny Martin, how would Spike ever survive if it got worse? Was locking your daughter in the basement allowable these days? Probably not.
Spike got his blood out of the microwave and sat down in the last empty chair, directly across from Sue-Ann. She blushed, dropped her gaze, and pretended to know what Bess had just said to her. Spike waited a moment for her to get her courage back and look back up at him. As soon as she lifted her gaze again, he brought his demon up and took a long drink of the blood, purposely letting a bit spill out of his mouth and run down his chin. After setting the mug down, he opened his mouth, showing his fangs and tongue, which were still covered in blood and bits of Weetabix. Then he wiped the blood from his chin, raking it back into his mouth with his thumb.
Sue-Ann gasped, paled slightly, and make an ‘ewwww’ face. Sammy gawped at him. No one else even seemed to notice.
Spike licked the blood of his fingers, then looked at her. “Wanna try it, pet?” he asked, holding the mug out towards her. “Better with burba weed, but we’re out. Breakfast o’ champions.”
Sue-Ann shook her head quickly, sending her long, red hair skittering around her shoulders. Her eyes were wide with what could’ve passed for shock or perhaps horror.
Spike shrugged nonchalantly. “Suit yourself. But ya don’t know what you’re missin’, pet.” He took another swig of blood, purposely making a sickly slurping sound as he drank. Sue-Ann jumped up and excused herself from the table, laying a hand over her stomach, as if she might be suddenly sick. Spike chuckled to himself as he finished his breakfast and sat his mug down.
Billy, who had been sitting next to Sue-Ann, began to get up from the table too, but Spike stopped him by asking, “Oi, who pissed in your cornflakes?”
Billy looked from his half-eaten bowl of cereal to Sue-Ann’s retreating back, then back to his father. “Nobudy … I don’t reckon,” he answered, unsure. His voice sounded … different.
“Then why ‘aven’t you eaten ‘em?” Spike wondered, cocking a brow at the bowl.
“I ain’t hoongry,” Billy drawled in an accent that sounded suspiciously like Sue-Ann’s and Sammy’s.
“Why the bloody hell are you talkin’ like that?” Spike demanded, looking at him with a bit of confusion mixed with suspicion.
“I … uhhh … like what?” Billy replied innocently, the drawl fading.
“Like ya been on a dusty trail with Huckleberry Hound too bloody long.”
Billy shrugged and looked at the door of the kitchen through which Sue-Ann had gone. “No reason,” he offered. “Kin I … ummm … I mean, may I be excused?”
Spike looked at Buffy, who just shrugged. Spike looked back at Billy and watched his son’s eyes dart back to the doorway where the redhead had gone. Billy had stood up when his mother shrugged and was now wringing his hands and bouncing on his toes, his flaxen curls dancing anxiously atop his head with every movement. The boy was acting antsy and nervous – like a racehorse waiting for the gates to open before a race. Spike watched Billy reach one small hand up to his head and begin fidgeting with his hair, twirling a finger round and round nervously in the mass of curls. Oh, bloody hell.
Spike sighed and nodded. “Give your food t’ that mangy cat first,” Spike told him.
Billy’s face lit up and he grabbed his bowl off the table, sloshing some milk out as he did so. He quickly put it down next to the cats’ food and water bowls, trailing a line of sugary milk across the floor. Angelpie was there in a second, lapping at it happily. Before Spike could even tell him to get a dishrag and clean up his mess, Billy was gone – out the door of the kitchen and off to find Sue-Ann.
Sue-Ann was in Bess’ room, packing last-minute items into her duffel bag. Billy came in, picked a pair of socks up off the floor under the edge of Bess’ bed, and handed them to her.
“Thanks, sweet pea,” Sue-Ann drawled, taking them and stuffing them into her bag before scanning the floor for anything else she might’ve dropped.
Billy stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and scuffed one foot on the carpet anxiously. His eyes were glued on the floor, as if helping her look for more lost items.
“Sumthin’ the matter?” Sue-Ann asked, lifting her gaze from the floor to his blue eyes.
He shook his head, sending his 'Peter Frampton' curls jostling this way and that.
“You shore?” she asked softly, sitting down on Bess’ bed.
Billy shrugged and finally looked up at her. “Cain’t ya stay a spell longer?” he asked in a thick drawl.
Sue-Ann gave him an apologetic smile and shook her head. “I’m awful sorry, baby doll. Sammy’s got t’ get back t’ work. Been closed over a week a’ready.”
“But … you could stay. We've got lots of room,” he offered excitedly, forgetting to add the southern accent. “Mama wouldn’t mind.”
The strawberry blonde smiled at him again and shook her head. “I wish I could, but I gotta get back too – got people depending on me back in Cleveland. I’ll be back though – you kin count on that, sweetie.”
Billy sighed heavily and blinked back tears. “But … why?” he asked, trying not to sound like a whiny baby as his blue eyes shone with a thin film of heartbreak.
“Awww, baby, don’t you cry now,” Sue-Ann cajoled, beckoning him to sit down next to her. Billy obliged, and Sue-Ann wrapped an arm around his small shoulders and pulled him against her side.
“Now, you listen here. I’m proud as punch t’ count you as one a’ m’ best friends in the whole world. A good friend’s as scarce as hen’s teeth, so ya know I won’t be forgettin’ ya, now. You'll always be my sweet, little Billy Blue Eyes.
“Are ya on Facebook?” she asked him, hopefully.
Billy shook his head and sniffed back his tears. “Mama says I’m too little,” he complained.
Sue-Ann nodded. “Yeah, I reckon that’s right … but ya got email, dontcha?”
Billy nodded against her.
“Well, there ya go, honey – you kin email me any ole time,” Sue-Ann offered brightly. “And, you jus’ tell Bessie t’ let you know when she calls and we kin talk, too.”
“When will you come back?” Billy asked, his mood not really buoyed by the email or infrequent phone call idea.
“Difficult to see, always in motion is the future,” Sue-Ann replied, imitating Yoda … if he were a good ole boy from the Deep South.
That finally got a smile from Billy and he looked up and met her eyes. “‘The Empire Strikes Back’,” Billy announced, identifying which episode the quote was from. They’d played that game a few times while she’d been waiting between events during the Olympics. He hadn’t been able to stump her even once. It had only made him love her more.
Sue-Ann smiled and nodded. She gave him a hard squeeze and released him as she reached for a pen and paper on Bess’ bedside table. “Here’s my email – you just write whenever ya want, 'kay? An’ I promise t’ write ya back, lickety-split.”
Billy nodded as he took the paper from her, looked at it, then folded it up and put it in his pocket. “Okay,” he agreed grudgingly.
“I shore wish ya didn’t haveta go,” he said again sadly, finally remembering to keep the accent on his words.
“I know, sweet pea. I’m so awful sorry,” Sue-Ann apologized again. She knelt down on the floor in front of him and pulled him into a hug.
“I love you,” Billy whispered in a raspy, tear-choked voice as he wrapped his arms around her neck tightly and buried his face against her neck.
“Oh, baby,” Sue-Ann moaned as tears surfaced and leaked from her eyes. “You’re the sweetest little thang a girl could ever wish for.”
Suddenly Sue-Ann wasn’t sure what to say. She hadn’t really expected that. Should she say she loved him too? Would that lead him on? He was only seven! Or should she remain silent and break his little heart? She did love him … like she loved Bess and the whole Weckerly family, but she knew that wasn’t what he meant. If he were older she could see herself really falling for him – he was just so sweet and smart and funny. But he was seven and she was fifteen. Those eight years were like a lifetime separating them – actually they were more than Billy's lifetime.
She pulled back from the hug and took his small face between her hands. He had tears streaming freely down his face now, his blue eyes earnest and sad, swimming with more tears. She dropped a kiss on his forehead and couldn’t stop herself from saying, “I love you too.”
“Then why can’t you stay?” Billy asked in a strained voice, again forgetting his put-on accent.
Sue-Ann shook her head sadly, her chocolate-brown eyes swimming with tears. “’Cos sometimes love just ain’t enough, sweet boy … sometimes love breaks our hearts. I’m so sorry,” she said again.
"B-but ... I don't understand," he stuttered, his jaw quivering with emotion as he searched her eyes desperately for something ... anything that could make this make sense.
Sue-Ann sighed heavily and shook her head as more tears streaked her cheeks. "I don't rightly understand it, m'self ... it's just ... it's just how it does ya sometimes. It's not fair ... I know ... I... I'm so awful sorry."
Billy clenched his jaw, pulled away from her, and clambered off the end of Bess’ bed. Without another word, he raced out of the room and down the hall, his small feet stomping loudly on the wood floor. She could hear the door to his room open and then slam shut behind him and she flinched at the finality of it. Sue-Ann blew out a breath and wiped at her eyes as she slowly stood and picked up her duffel bag. With a heavy heart she headed downstairs where she knew Sammy would be ready and waiting for her.
Downstairs, everyone hugged and said their goodbyes near the garden doors. Buffy admonished them to drive safely and told them both they were welcome back anytime. Spike promised Sammy that he’d take good care of the Harley and the DeSoto, and would bring the family ‘back east’ for a visit, maybe during spring break or next summer. Bess and Sue-Ann cried and hugged each other goodbye for the longest time, and Bess promised to take a trip out to see Sue-Ann as soon as she could for a visit.
“Where’s Junior?” Spike asked as Bess and Sue-Ann finally released their hug. “Reckon he’d want t’ say g’bye.”
Sue-Ann shook her head and said, “We … ummm … he told me bye upstairs.”
Spike’s eyes darted to the top of the stairs, then back to her tear-streaked face. He pursed his lips and nodded before shaking Sammy’s hand one last time. The two redheads gathered up their bags and headed out the door, then up the steps to the street where Sammy’s pickup truck was parked. Suddenly, all that was left of the happy visit were sniffles, tears, and that kind of empty, lonely feeling you get when you’re separated from people you care about.
The kids all dispersed, each going a different direction to deal with the let-down in their own way. Buffy stepped up to Spike with a look of concern on her face. “Do you think he’s ok?” she asked, looking up at the top of the stairs.
Spike shook his head. “Reckon not,” he admitted.
“Should I … talk to him, ya think? Or just let him be?” Buffy wondered.
Spike blew out a breath, keeping his eyes on the top of the stairs, the same place Buffy’s were. “I’ll talk to ‘im,” he offered, drawing in a deep breath before heading towards the stairs.
Spike knocked softly on Billy’s door before opening it. Billy was laying face-down on his bed with his head buried against his arms. Spike could hear his shuddering breaths and smell the salty tears. His heart ached for his tender-hearted son as he stepped into the room. Spike wished he could protect his boy from the pain, but there wasn’t anything he could do to lessen the hurt. It was something everyone had to go through at one time or another in their lives – usually several times.
Spike sat down on the edge of the bed, laid a hand on Billy’s t-shirt-clad back, and began to rub it soothingly. He didn’t say anything for a long while as he waited for Billy’s sobs to ease and his breathing to return to nearly normal.
“She said she loved me but that love wasn’t always enough,” Billy whispered into his pillow. If not for Spike’s vampire hearing, he might not’ve even heard it.
“Reckon that’s true enough,” Spike admitted.
Billy sniffed loudly and turned over to look at his father. His blue eyes were puffy and rimmed with red; tears still leaked slowly from them every time he blinked. He wiped his face with his hands and sniffed again before asking, “I don't understand ... it's not fair.”
Spike nodded slightly and frowned. “No, it ain't a fair game. Not rightly sure why or who made up the soddin' rules. Should be enough. When you’re in it, it feels like enough … but …” Spike shook his head and blew out a breath. “I reckon there are some things we just aren’t meant to understand, William.”
“My heart hurts,” Billy admitted, wrapping his arms around his torso tightly. “I was so happy when she was here and now … it hurts so much.”
“I know. We all take the chance o’ gettin’ our heart broke when we offer it t’ someone else. Just the way love is, I reckon ... it's a gamble; biggest chance you can ever take, love is."
“I’ll never love anybody again,” Billy vowed resolutely, sniffing back his tears.
“Ah, well … that’s the rub, innit? Can’t stop yer heart from lovin’, can ya? Got no control over it, we don’t. Got a mind of its own, it does.”
Billy frowned and rubbed at his tired, swollen eyes with his fingers. “I don't care. I won't let it – never, ever, ever," he avowed again.
Spike gave him a faint smile. He knew the feeling. He'd vowed that to himself more than once in his life. "Just because this one time didn't work out don’t mean you should stop lovin’, ‘cos one day love will be enough, and it’ll be brilliant. One day all the chips'll fall your way – but ya gotta keep playing the game, son. Ya can't win if you don't play, Junior.
"If ya' don't believe me, then how about Tennyson? 'Better to 'ave loved and lost than never to have loved at all,'" Spike quoted. "You were right brave t' give your heart away – I'm proud of you for daring it. Don't ever stop following your heart, William, it's the only thing that makes life worth livin'."
Billy frowned and fretted his bottom lip with his teeth. His dad didn't understand – how could he? He had Mama. How could he know what it felt like to have his heart ripped out? Billy stayed silent for a long time, finally deciding that arguing with his father over this was pointless. He was sure no one in the whole would could ever understand how much his heart hurt right at that moment.
"Will it ever stop hurting?” he wondered at last.
Spike nodded reassuringly. “It’ll take a bit for it t’ stop. Just gets a little better every day until one day ya wake up and it don’t hurt no more. One day you’ll realize that you ‘aven’t thought of ‘er at all and it’ll surprise you. That’s when you’ll know your heart’s healed.”
“Can’t I just take a pill and make it stop?” Billy wondered.
Spike smiled down at him gently. “Sorry, Junior – hearts ain’t like heads, can’t take an aspirin and ‘ave it quit hurtin’.”
Billy dug down into the pocket of his jeans and pulled the paper out that Sue-Ann had given him. He unfolded it and looked at it solemnly. She had written her name and her email address and underneath she’d drawn a heart with an arrow shot through it. Tears started forming in his eyes again as he looked at it. He traced the heart with the tip of his small finger and his bottom lip stuck out in a forlorn, Summers’ pout.
Spike leaned forward and looked at the paper, then looked back at Billy’s distraught face. “Well, didn’ leave ya empty-handed, then, did she?”
Billy shook his head slowly, the pout never fading from this lip.
“Ya gonna email ‘er, then?”
Billy pursed his lips and moved them from side to side as he always did when he was thinking hard about something. “I don’t know,” he said at last. “What would you do if it was Mama?”
Now it was Spike’s turn to purse his lips together as he thought. Finally, he said, “Well, ya may not know this, but yer mum didn’t take a shine t’ me right off.”
“’Cos she’s the Slayer and you’re a vampire,” Billy filled in. But she didn't go half-way across the country and leave you alone and heartbroken, he thought, still certain that his dad couldn't possibly really understand how badly it hurt.
“Yeah … kinda like oil and water, that is,” Spike agreed.
“What did you do?”
“Well, I waited, didn’t I? Hung about, got under ‘er skin, waited for ‘er to come to her bloody senses.”
“Soooo … if she would’ve given you her email address you would’ve…” Billy let his voice trail off and looked at his father expectantly.
“Played it cool, yeah? Waited a day or two, sent one email … jus’ been casual ‘bout it,” Spike offered confidently.
Against his will and with tears still in his eyes, Billy began to laugh. Spike couldn’t believe it, he was giving heartfelt advice and his son was laughing at him.
“No you wouldn’t’ve!” Billy exclaimed, still laughing. “You woulda filled her inbox up the first night with ten thousand messages! You would've sent poems and Shakespeare quotes and...”
“Would not!” Spike argued indignantly, cutting him off.
“Would bloody not!” Spike insisted.
Billy raised his brows, pursed his lips, tilted his head, and looked at his father doubtfully. At least the boy had stopped crying, but Spike wasn't sure laughing at his advice was really necessary.
Spike ran a hand back through his hair, rolled his eyes, and sighed. “Right then – fine, I probably woulda, but that woulda been the wrong thing t’ do. She couldn’t read all those emails, yeah? It’d just get on ‘er nerves … make ‘er nuts, right? Trust your old man on this – just send one and go from there.”
Billy sighed and looked forlornly back at the paper Sue-Ann had written her information on. Finally he nodded, folded the paper in half, and propped it up against the lamp on the table by his bed so he could see the heart she’d drawn on it.
“Love isn't anything like they show on TV ... it's awfully complicated,” he reflected at last. "And girls are like ... food poisoning. They twist your guts all up into knots and make you wish you could just die so it would stop."
“Outta the mouths of babes…” Spike agreed.
Awwww... poor sweet Billy.
Puppy Love, Paul Anka
they called it puppy love
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