|Story Title:||Can't Buy Me Love|
Come and Get It
An unexpected and uninvited visitor awaits Spike and Buffy at home – one that will turn their barely balanced budget on its head. Willow has some more information for them about Bess, the Vampire Slayer.
Joshua "JJ" Harris was born on April 21st, 2004
The twins (Danielle, "Dani" and William, "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.
Come and Get It, Badfinger
CLEP = The College-Level Examination Program®
The house I’m using as Willow and Tara’s is actually located on Bainbridge Island, WA. I’m using poetic license and putting it on Lake Sammamish, about 6-10 miles from Redmond, WA where Microsoft’s headquarters are.
ScreenCaps courtesy of ScreenCap Paradise:
Special thanks also to 'u2fan2005' and 'epd4' for their suggestions, corrections, and help betaing this chapter!!
|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.
(Later the same day), Thursday, February 18th, 2010:
Spike pulled the minivan into the driveway at the mansion and four children bolted from their seats before Buffy and Spike could even unbuckle their seatbelts – all racing to beat the others to the bathroom.
“I told you we should’ve stopped one more time …” Buffy chastised him, but Spike just rolled his eyes.
“Can’t make any time stoppin’ every hundred bloody miles,” he protested. “They made it …”
“Yeah, but I’m not so sure I will,” Buffy informed him as she headed into the house behind them.
Spike sighed and went to the back of the van to get some of the luggage to carry in, but before he could even get the back open, Buffy was back outside.
“Try behind the bougainvillea … I think it’s free,” Spike offered, tilting his head to the large bush on the side of the yard. “Just watch the thorns … only thing allowed to prick you is me.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head as she walked up to him and laid a hand on his arm. “I want you to stay calm now…”
Spike looked at her then looked at the door to the house … what had happened in there that would require him to remain calm?
“Just promise that you’ll be civil and calm …”
“Fine … I promise to be civil and calm … until you tell me what the bloody hell happened,” Spike agreed impatiently as he brushed past her towards the door to see for himself.
He hadn’t even made it through the doors when he knew why she’d said that. “Bloody wanker…” he muttered under his breath as he felt his grand-sire’s presence tingle the back of his neck.
Spike rolled his eyes and turned back to Buffy who was following quickly behind him. “Haven’t we found a way to disinvite the poof yet?”
“Apparently not …” Buffy sighed. “Please, let’s not have a big scene … just find out what he wants and try to be civil, ok?”
Spike put on a fake smile and walked in the house. Angel was leaning on the back of one of the chairs at the research table, waiting for them.
“Well … look who’s popped in uninvited … again,” Spike started. “Maybe we should change the bloody locks …”
“That might help if you actually locked any of the doors, Spike …” Angel began, standing up and taking a step towards the couple.
“Hi, Buffy …” Angel started.
“Angel …” Buffy replied dryly … still pissed with him for not helping her with D’Hoffryn in the ‘Wish-World’ … she had a hard time remembering that this Angel didn’t even remember that.
“Ok … enough of the small talk. What do ya’ want?” Spike questioned, hooking his thumbs over his belt buckle and giving Angel his best annoyed, Big Bad look, which required no acting skills whatsoever.
Angel rolled his eyes and turned his full attention to Buffy and cut straight to the reason for his visit. “Cordy’s sick … very sick. We’ve been to every doctor and healer and shaman … nothing’s worked. She’s dying … and … well, I have two choices. Wolfram & Hart says they can heal her … but I either need to pay them or take my whole team and go to work for them.”
“Or you could walk away from the bloody bitch … looks like the PTB are shining good luck down on ya’ again,” Spike interjected.
“Spike … you’re an ass. Cordy’s my wife, she’s the mother of my son and I love her. I’ll do anything …”
“Wait! What!?” Buffy interrupted him, taking a step forward.
“What what?” Angel questioned.
“What son?” Buffy clarified, looking from Angel to Spike.
Spike rolled his eyes … well, actually his whole head. “Wanker’s got a mangy whelp name a’ Connor,” Spike clarified as Angel looked at her strangely. She knew this…she’d sent a shower gift and birthday cards every year.
“When?” Buffy questioned further, looking at Spike.
Spike shook his head, trying to remember. “’Bout four years ago, I reckon.”
“Buffy … are you sure you’re all right?” Angel asked from behind her, taking another step forward.
Buffy whirled around and faced him. “Yeah … fine … just some memory problems. Got hit on the head with a big stick,” she explained, touching the back of her head for emphasis.
Angel looked at her with concern then looked up at Spike. “What’s the matter, Spike? That soul of yours slipping?”
“I didn’t hit ‘er, you buggerin’ son of a bitch,” Spike defended angrily, taking a step towards him.
“Ok … ok!” Buffy exclaimed, stepping between the two vampires and pushing on each of their chests to make them both step back.
She turned her back on Spike and faced Angel. “Ok … Cordy’s sick … Wolfram & Hart say they can help, but they want a ransom … so why don’t you just pay it?”
When Angel looked down and started fidgeting with a loose thread on his shirt, Buffy answered her own question. “Because you don’t have any money.”
Angel sighed and rolled his eyes to the ceiling. He hated this – he’d given Buffy (and, by default, Spike) all the money the clan had in good faith – never intending for them to find out or for him to need any of it. He had the hotel and A.I. and he was bringing in money on some of the cases, but when the economy went south, everything had gone to hell … then Cordy got sick and …
“Right,” Angel answered with a sigh.
Spike’s brows shot up. “This is about money? You need money?”
“Yes, Spike. I need money. I’m here asking for your help – are you happy now?” Angel asked tersely.
Spike smirked, stuck his hand down in the pocket of his jeans and pulled out some bills. “A fiver do ya?” he asked, holding a five dollar bill out towards Angel.
Angel ignored him and focused on Buffy. “I need some of the money back, Buffy. I’m sorry … I never thought I … well, I’m just sorry,” Angel explained. “We can make it a loan if you want…when Cordy’s better and the economy turns around, I can pay you back. I don’t want to get in bed with W&H … but I can’t find any alternative. My only other option is to go to work for them, which I’ll do if I have to… I can’t lose her, Buffy … I can’t.”
Buffy sighed heavily; she really didn’t want him working for W&H if she could help it. “Of course you can have some of the money back – it wasn’t Spike’s to start with. Do you know how it really should’ve been divided?” Buffy asked.
“Yeah … actually, here’s the real accounting from the bank,” Angel said, pulling a paper out of his pocket and handing to her.
Buffy opened the paper and looked at it and a knot formed in her stomach and traveled up into her chest then settled in her throat. Spike could feel her distress and pulled the paper out of her hand to look at it himself.
“That’s bollocks!” Spike accused. “You’re saying three quarters of the bloody money you listed as Dru’s was yours?! Who does these accountin’s for ya? Charles Ponzi?”
Angel rolled his eyes again. “I don’t need it all … just enough to pay them and some to get back on our feet,” Angel started.
“No …no, it’s ok,” Buffy interrupted him, finally able to get the lump out of her throat.
“No it bloody well is not ok!” Spike argued with her. “This is bollocks! How can you have so much more than Dru did? Her family was bloody rich!”
“Compound interest,” Angel said simply.
“What the bloody hell are you on about?” Spike asked incredulously.
“An extra hundred and twenty five years of compound interest … it adds up,” Angel explained with a shrug.
“Spike, it’s ok,” Buffy told him, taking the paper back out of his hand.
Looking back at Angel, Buffy said, “It’ll take a while to get it … some of it’s in CDs … I’ll have to cash them out.
“I can write you a check for part of it now and then get the rest in about a week, will that be ok?” Buffy asked him.
“Buffy…” Spike started, his voice pleading with her to listen to him.
Spike – the money’s his … it’s not yours … it wasn’t Dru’s. We can’t keep it. Do you want him to go to work for Wolfram & Hart? Buffy sent to him silently through their bond.
He’d fit right in, I’d wager! Think about the babies, Buffy! What about the little bits … what about the one right there in your belly? We’re barely makin’ it now! What do you suggest we do about little things like food and clothes? Shall we take out another insurance policy, kill you again and hope we can bring you back? Spike shot back sarcastically.
We’ll do it like every other American family does it … we’ll take out loans and mortgages and get more credit cards…maybe I can get a job. We’re not keeping Angel’s money – he needs it and he’s asking for it back. Spike … I can’t handle an Armageddon right now … and you know as well as I do what will happen if he goes to work for Evil, Inc. Spike, please…
Spike blew out a long breath and shook his head slowly. He really wished he hadn’t made that promise to not stake Angel all those years ago … “Do what you want, then,” he said tersely as he turned and headed up the stairs, leaving Buffy and Angel alone in the great room.
“Buffy, I’m truly sorry. I really don’t need it all…” Angel started.
“I know – it’s ok, really. We’ll be fine,” she assured him as she opened her purse, pulled out a checkbook and wrote him a check for part of the money from the money market account that Anya had set up for them which held a good bit of their savings. Anya was going to have a holy conniption fit, Buffy had no doubt.
“So, send Angel and our money on his merry way, then?” Spike asked gruffly when Buffy came up and found him in their room after Angel left.
“I sent Angel and some of his money on his way, yeah…” Buffy countered, sitting down on the bed next to Spike.
“Spike, please don’t do this – it was such a perfect week, please don’t end it being angry,” Buffy begged him, reaching one hand out to touch his arm as she sat cross-legged next to where he was sitting with his back against the headboard.
Spike let out a long breath and closed his eyes. “I’m just thinking of you and the bits, Buffy. I don’t need the wanker’s money – never needed my own bloody money before, but things are different now. There’s more than just me and you to think of,” he argued, opening his eyes and meeting hers as he reached a hand out and touched her abdomen.
“I know – trust me, I know that,” Buffy sighed as she took his hand in hers, interlacing her fingers with his. “I just – I don’t know if you can understand, but I just don’t think I’m ready to face what we both know would happen if he went to work for Wolfram & Hart,” Buffy started. “We can make it Spike, we’ll just have to cut down on some things … maybe … maybe I could get a real job …”
“Pfffft,” Spike snorted. “What kinda bloody job do you figure you could get, Buffy? Minimum bloody wage flippin’ burgers or waitressin’? And who’s gonna watch the bits? Got any idea what daycare costs? Just ask Anya … she’ll be happy to tell ya down to the last red cent.”
“I could go back to work for the Council…” Buffy suggested cautiously.
“No bloody way!” Spike exclaimed, bolting up in the bed and grabbing her by the shoulders. “No.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. She didn’t really want to do that either, but if it meant being able to provide for their family, then she could do anything.
“I’ll take care of it; I’ll make sure our family’s provided for,” Spike asserted, as he slid his hands down her arms and took both her hands in his as his eyes locked onto hers. “You have Anya take what money’s left and put it up safe and sound for the little bits – they’ll need it for university one day. I’ll get money to live on. No worries…”
“Spike… I can work – you don’t have to do it alone,” Buffy advised him.
“Can you please just let me be the man for once, Slayer?” Spike asked her with a determined look on his face.
“Spike, it is 2010…women have been working for …” Buffy started to argue, but Spike pressed a finger to her lips.
“It may be 2010, but I’m still the man, I’m the father, I’m the husband, and it’s my responsibility to provide for my family and I will, just like I promised your mum and Watcher … and you,” Spike insisted.
“How?” Buffy asked softly when he took his finger away.
“Don’t know yet, but I’ll figure something out. No worries,” Spike told her again and Buffy leaned forward and laid her forehead against his shoulder.
“Maybe you could teach …” Buffy offered after a few moments, sitting back and looking at him. “William seemed to enjoy that … and you have a degree and you still know all that Shakespeare stuff and languages … maybe UC Sunnydale …”
Spike snorted softly. “I can see the application now … University? Oxford. Degree Earned? Master of Arts. Year Graduated? 1877 …”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Well … maybe you could … fib on that last part.”
Spike let out a short, sarcastic laugh. “Fib, eh?” he questioned. “Unfortunately, all these wankers with no degrees fibbin’ on applications ‘ave made it hard on the rest of us … they actually check stuff like that now.”
“Oh …” Buffy said dejectedly, frowning. “Maybe you could … you know, CLEP a degree … people CLEP classes all the time … you should be able to get a ton of credit for life experience …”
“That’d still take for-bloody-ever and it takes money to pay for the courses … money we don’t ‘ave … money I can’t be makin’ if I’m doin’ that. No, I need to do somethin’ that I’m already qualified for … somethin’ that pays good money – real money. Can’t raise a family of five on a teacher’s salary, anyway …”
“Four … we only have four kids … or three and a half,” Buffy reminded him, laying her palm on her stomach.
“Right … Harris’ whelp is ‘ere so much, I forget he don’t belong to us sometimes…”
“Spike … what about … remember that crypt with all the treasures … where you got the Gem? What about all that stuff? We could tunnel in, get it out … sell it on eBay or at the Magic Box or something …” Buffy suggested, her voice brightening and eyes gleaming with excitement about that plan.
“Yeah … brilliant idea … except you already had that idea ‘bout six years ago. Even though Marcus didn’t find the Gem there, he wasn’t gonna walk away empty handed after he spent all that time tunneling in. Cleared most everything else out, he did. What little was left we used t’ pay the doctors when Lemon Drop went back in with the meningitis and that buggering milk allergy. Small bloody fortune that was …”
“Oh …” Buffy let out a defeated breath and leaned her head against his shoulder again.
Spike wrapped his arms around her and leaned the side of his head against hers. He had no idea how he’d get enough money to support them – certainly not working at Willy’s as security. He was damn good at poker and eight-ball and darts, but the small-time games in Sunnydale weren’t enough for him to win anything substantial, plus, everyone here knew him. Of course, he didn’t really want to fall back on the other money-making talents he had learned over the last century, like picking locks, shoplifting, hotwiring cars, pick-pocketing, and other even less savory talents.
“I love you,” Buffy whispered to him. His strong arms around her made her feel safe, his assertion that he was the man and he’d provide for their family made her feel warm and loved. It wasn’t how a modern ‘Cosmo Girl’ should feel, she supposed, but that’s how it felt, all the same.
“I love you too, Buffy,” Spike whispered back. “I’ll take care of it.” He was determined to do this.
(9 days later) Saturday, February 27th, 2010, Willow and Tara’s house, Lake Sammamish, WA :
Buffy drove straight through to Washington, stopping only for catnaps and potty breaks and the occasional Red Bull, and arrived early this Saturday to help Willow get everything ready for Tara’s baby shower. Willow had conspired with Tara’s office manager to have her called away on an ‘emergency’ this morning … she’d promised to keep her away until 1pm when the shower was set to start.
To say Buffy was gobsmacked when she saw their house, which sat on a half-acre lot directly on the seven mile long, two mile wide, Lake Sammamish, would be an understatement. It reminded Buffy of the Coven’s safehouse up in the mountains of Canada. Willow and Tara’s was a bit smaller, with only four bedrooms … not counting the ‘mother-in-law’ suite above the four car garage or the den … or the library … or the home theatre. The natural wood and peaked roof made it look like it belonged in the Swiss Alps … and the view of the lake through the wall of floor-to-ceiling picture windows that lined the back of the house was spectacular to say the least.
Willow greeted Buffy at the front door and took some of the packages and decorations from her hands.
“Cute little fishin’ shack you’ve got here…” Buffy commented taking it all in as she followed Willow into the foyer. “Does Bill Gates live next door … or does he bunk over the garage?”
Willow shrugged a little but smiled. “It’s not that expensive … and we do have a mortgage…”
Buffy pushed her jealousy bone back down and gave her friend a genuine smile. “You dun good, huh?”
Willow smiled wider, her eyes going wide with excitement. “Yeah … we did. It’s kinda weird, ya know? Willow Rosenberg … New Development Project Manager – people actually listen to me! They think I know what I’m doing! And you know what’s even funnier?”
“You actually do …” Buffy guessed with a small laugh as they continued to walk into the wide open great room.
“I actually do!” Willow answered at the same time Buffy did.
They both laughed as they made their way into the kitchen and set the packages down on the counter.
Buffy pulled Willow into a hug. “I’m really proud of you; I never doubted you could do it, Wills – you’ve always been the smart one. I love you guys so much.”
“Thanks, Buffy … we love you too – you know that right?” Willow asked as Buffy released her.
“I know …” Buffy assured her with a soft smile.
“Before we get started with the shower stuff, I have a couple of surprises for you,” Willow told her, as she started out of the kitchen and up the stairs to her den.
“For me? You know, I don’t normally like surprises … well … except Spike surprises … he has the best surprises …” Buffy amended as she followed Willow upstairs.
“Well, it probably won’t be as good as a Spike surprise … which I think I’d be better off not imagining kind of surprises he has for you … but …” Willow began, as she picked a paper up from her desk then turned around and handed it to Buffy.
Buffy looked down at the paper in her hand … it was a check … from Willow and Tara … a big check…made out to Elizabeth and William Weckerly. “Wha… what’s this?” Buffy stammered after a moment of making sure her eyes were working properly and not adding extra numbers that weren’t really there, finally prying her gaze off the check and looking up at her friend. “The decorations weren’t that much!”
Willow shrugged. “I figured it was time we paid you back for all those years we lived at the mansion … kind of retroactive room and board. I subtracted that pan of brownies you stole that time, though…” Willow joked, her eyes dancing with happiness at being able to do something for her friends after all that they’d done for her and Tara.
“Willow … I … I can’t take this. It’s too much … and … you helped us out too. You watched the kids … you did spells, you fought the First … you brought me back from the dead for goodness sake!” Buffy protested, trying to force her arm to extend and give the check back, but failing.
“No, it’s not too much – in fact, it’s exactly right. Here, I did a spreadsheet and figured it all up … with interest,” Willow told her, picking up another piece of paper and handing to her. There were so many numbers on it, Buffy couldn’t really focus … it was waaay too much like math. “This way, Spike can't be a caveman like Xander and say that he won’t take help from us … this isn’t a loan, it’s payback – fully documented. Oh, and just FYI…you can’t rip it up. I did a simple spell…it’s unrippable … just try it … I dare you.”
Buffy lifted her eyes from the jumble of numbers on the paper and met Willow’s. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just say ‘thank you,’” Willow advised with a shrug, a small smile playing on her lips.
“Thank you,” Buffy offered sincerely, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
Willow smiled at her friend. It did her heart good to be able to finally help them – to really help in a substantial way that she knew they could use right about now. It wouldn’t replace what they had given back to Angel by a long shot, but it would be enough to tide them over until they could find a way to make more money.
“I’m afraid to ask what the other surprise is … after this, it must be something bad to balance it out …” Buffy half-joked as she folded the check and put it in her pocket.
Willow scrunched her face up. “Well, that was the best surprise … maybe I should’ve saved it for last,” she admitted as she turned back around and sat down at her computer and began typing.
“You know I’ve been working with Wes and … the Council a little …” Willow began tentatively.
“Oh?” Buffy questioned suspiciously. “No … I didn’t know.”
“Now that we’re in the twenty-first century, someone there has finally convinced them to venture into the twentieth … and I’ve been helping them with some technology,” Willow explained quickly. “They’re trying to take all their old books and Watcher’s diaries and scan them, index them … store them online and create a master database so the Watchers and Slayers can look things up from anywhere in the world with an internet connection …”
“So the days of sitting around the table looking through book after book after book to find information are over?” Buffy questioned from behind her friend.
“Well … not yet, but they’re working on it. Giles, of course, hates the whole idea and so far hasn’t let me scan any of his books or diaries that he has to add to the database…” Willow offered.
"I think we'll have to drag Giles, kicking and screaming, away from his musty old books," Buffy quipped. "I think he wants to be buried under the library."
"No doubt..." Willow agreed with a laugh.
“So … this is my surprise? I have to learn how to use a computer better?” Buffy questioned as she watched Willow bring up some scanned documents on the screen.
“No … well, maybe – but that’s not the surprise,” Willow assured her as the printer next to her whirled to life and started spitting out pages.
“I found Harold Travers’ diary from 1899 through 1901…” Willow started.
Buffy’s throat tightened and she felt like something had sucked the air from her lungs. “Bess…” she whispered.
“Yeah…” Willow confirmed solemnly, picking up the papers from the printer and handing them to Buffy. “I’m sorry…” Willow added, not sure what else to say.
Buffy looked down at Harold Travers’ neatly written diary pages that Willow had printed for her and began reading, skimming over parts that weren’t related to Bess until she found the first entry from Philadelphia …
November 21st, 1900:
Met the family … former vicar turned steel worker and his wife and two other children, one elder daughter and one younger son. The Slayer herself is but thirteen … the youngest I’ve ever worked with. She is quite frightened by the sudden change in her strength; the family quite perplexed. I’ve tried to explain to them the best I can. Will need to take Elizabeth, Bess as she’s known to her family and friends, back to England for training as she’s had none …
December 15th, 1900:
Arrived in London. We used the time onboard ship for training and study. She’s taken quite readily to the training; less so to the study, preferring to spar and train than read most days. Bess is a spirited, smart girl with a big heart … I caught her feeding scraps to the mangy tabbies onboard more than once, despite the seamen explaining they weren't to be fed as that reduced their penchant for catching rats. She also spent some hours cleaning the infection from the eyes of one feline’s kittens, going down into the bowels of the ship each night after she thought me asleep to care for them. She’s quite homesick already and writes to her family daily … I posted several of her letters back to the States upon arrival.
December 25th, 1900:
Perhaps the saddest day for dear Bess since leaving Philadelphia … I tried to cheer her with plum pudding and Christmas crackers … but she quite misses her family on this day more so than others.
January 5th, 1901:
Bess has met and staked her first vampire. She’s shown remarkable poise and ability for such a young girl, and, despite her abhorrence of study, she’s quite eager to learn how to use new weapons.
Buffy sat down in a chair near the windows and continued to read the old dairy pages with rapt attention … knowing what the final entry would be, but unable to stop reading. There were more entries, telling of how Bess was improving with her fighting skills, how she’d mastered the crossbow, was quite comfortable with hand to hand combat, and was gaining skill and confidence with the broad sword. Then Buffy came to the entry that she dreaded ….
July 19th, 1901:
I do not know how to begin this final entry … perhaps that says it all. I lost dear Bess this warm, summer’s night. I’ve never before witnessed such a battle … this is a day that shall haunt my nightmares forevermore.
It had been a quiet evening … patrolling first along Piccadilly then through St. James park and down to the River Thames…we hadn’t met one vampire the whole evening. It had been a quite hot day and the evening was equally warm … we thought perhaps the vampires were taking the night off, staying in their lairs, due to the extraordinary heat … but alas, that was not the case.
As we entered Victoria Tower Gardens, a mob of demons jumped from behind the hedgerow … there were perhaps ten or more. How I escaped death, I do not know – but certainly owe my life to my Slayer. I could see and hear young Bess fighting gallantly, but … there were simply too many. I recall being hit on the head and darkness started to overtake me … then dear Bess was there, dragging me away. That’s the last I remember of the fight … it is the last time I saw my Slayer … alive.
I awoke sometime later, stumbling from my hiding place where Bess had left me, to find several piles of dust … but my Slayer was gone. I searched for her … around the park, on the riverbank … I searched until dawn and beyond, but she was simply gone – I feared they had taken her captive … my mind conjured the worst; I pray to all things good and holy that I am wrong.
August 3rd, 1901:
I have searched for Bess day and night since the attack, up and down the riverbank, near Westminster, Hyde Park, and Piccadilly Circus. Today the Council informed me that a new Slayer had been Called, and I knew for certain; I would never see Bess alive again. I prayed that she was, in fact, dead and that my very worst fears would not come to pass, that she was turned.
I do not know what to tell her family … I have no body to bring back to them for burial, I have nothing to offer them; no hope, no closure.
September 30th, 1901:
As I was walking along the Thames this evening, as I’ve come to do since losing Bess, I caught a glimpse of a fair-haired girl who moved like the wind … there was no doubt in my mind – it was my Slayer. I called out, tried to catch her, but she was too fast and disappeared into the park, confirming my worst fears, she had been turned; she was a demon.
Her mother has sent telegrams… telephoned the Council headquarters … what do I tell her? That her daughter is a vampire? That her soul has been damned? I cannot face them … I have not replied.
October 5th, 1901:
Although I thought that night in July was the worst night of my life, it has been eclipsed a thousandfold by this one. With autumn in the air, I staked my own Slayer.
I found her waiting for me near the same place we were attacked in Victoria Tower Gardens so many weeks ago. She stepped from behind the same hedgerow as our attackers had, knocking me to the ground and pinning me down with her body. I managed to turn under her, to face her as I lie on the ground – her beautiful face was grotesque with ridges and fangs … her lovely blue eyes, feral and golden.
I begged her to spare me … to come with me back to the Council – perhaps we could find a cure, but she simply laughed at me. I shall never forget that cruel and barbarous laugh. As she leaned down to drain my life’s blood, I retrieved my stake from its hiding place at my side and… it was over.
Her features morphed momentarily back to human … I could once again see the blue eyes of the child that I had taken from her family. For that split second, the girl that saved my life, the girl that nursed the kittens and fed the ducks along the riverbank was there … then dust exploded over me, covering me with a blanket of regret and sorrow.
Buffy looked up at Willow, unshed tears glistening in her eyes. “Did you read this?”
“Yeah …” Willow confirmed. “I’m sorry, Buffy, but I thought you’d want to see it… want to know.”
“Yeah…” Buffy agreed as she looked back down at the papers and began to read it again, as if she could somehow transport herself onto the pages … into the past and help her daughter.
(Two days later) Monday, March 1st, 2010, 2:30am:
Buffy had gotten home from Willow and Tara’s in the early evening, just in time for Spike to head to work at Willy’s. She barely had enough time to tell him about the check before he left, which, as Willow predicted, he began to protest. Buffy finally convinced him that it was nothing more than Willow and Tara paying a debt to them – it wasn’t a loan or them helping them out or taking pity on them or any assault on Spike’s manhood or ability to support his family.
Now she waited for him to get back from work to show him the pages from the Watcher’s Diary … the pages that chronicled their daughter’s death.
Spike was surprised to find Buffy waiting for him on the couch in the great room when he got home … he knew she must be exhausted from the long drive up to Washington for Tara’s shower and back again in such a short time.
“What’s wrong, luv?” he asked as he walked over to where she was sitting on the couch by the fireplace.
“Oh … I missed you too,” Buffy teased as she stood up and wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a welcome home kiss. “Can’t I just be eager to see my husband after being gone all weekend?”
Spike pulled back and looked at her quizzically then shook his head. “Uh-uh … somethin’s wrong.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and released him before picking up the diary papers off the end table by the couch.
“Willow found this … It’s about Bess. I thought you’d want to see it,” Buffy offered as she handed the papers to him.
Spike’s brow furrowed as he took the papers. He sat down on the couch and began to read …
When he had finished, he looked up at Buffy, shaking his head in denial. “They took her alive…” Spike whispered.
“Yeah…” Buffy agreed sadly.
“Do you … do you know what they would’ve done …” Spike’s voice cracked and he closed his eyes, trying to block the image of his daughter being tortured and raped by the mob of vampires before being turned. “She’d just turned fourteen… barely older than the Niblett…
“I thought … I thought they’d turned ‘er right off … that he’d staked her right quick…” Spike let his voice trail off, still shaking his head as tears stung his eyes.
Buffy nodded her head, that’s what she thought too when Wanda had told them the story.
Buffy took the papers back from Spike’s hands and skimmed through them again … she’d read them over and over and over again since Willow gave them to her.
“She was a good Slayer … she was just alone,” Buffy offered, laying a hand on his shoulder. “We won’t let that happen to these girls.”
“No…” Spike agreed as he fought against the tightening of his chest and stomach, fought to keep the horrible visions from his mind, fought to keep the guilt from creeping back into his soul.
After several minutes of silence, Buffy slid her hand down his arm. “Spike? Can I ask you something?”
Spike looked up at her with frightened eyes, afraid she was going to ask him to tell her what exactly those vampires would’ve done to their daughter…
When he didn’t answer, Buffy forged ahead. “Does something about this seem … funny to you?” she asked, shaking the papers in her hand.
“Nothing about that is the least bit funny …” Spike assured her tersely, an anger growing inside his belly – anger with Bess’ Watcher for being so careless, anger with the vamps that attacked her, anger with himself for leaving her to stand alone …
“No … not ‘ha-ha’ funny,” Buffy clarified. “Just kinda weird?”
Spike looked down at them with a furrowed brow, then back up to her. “Whaddya mean?”
Buffy shrugged and looked at the pages again. “I don’t know…it’s just a … feeling I guess. It just seems … off.”
Spike took the papers back and read them again … and again, finally looking back at her and shaking his head and shrugging.
“It’s probably just me, then…” Buffy sighed, taking the papers from his hand and standing up. “Spike … you know this wasn’t your fault, right?” she asked, looking down at him.
Spike dipped his head and rubbed a hand on the back of his neck … he wasn’t so sure about that at all.
“Spike? Hey – look at me.”
Spike looked up and met her eyes with his, the doubt and pain still evident.
“It. Was. Not. Your. Fault,” Buffy told him emphatically.
Spike sighed, pursed his lips together and nodded … trying to believe her, trying convince himself that his actions in China didn’t start a domino effect and ultimately caused his daughter’s death … and everything that had surely happened to her in the hours and days before that. He tried to push the thought of how scared she must’ve been out of his mind, but he kept seeing her face, Dani’s face. The time that Dani had gotten separated from them at the mall when she was three popped into his mind; he remembered how frantic and frightened she looked when they finally found her. What Bess would’ve gone through would’ve been a thousand … a million times worse, a million times more frightening, a million times more horrific …
Buffy pulled one of the other old Watcher’s diaries from a bookcase in the research area, slid the papers about Bess in it, and closed the book … both literally and symbolically, on those pages. It was over, past. What was done was done. She knew Spike needed to know what had happened to Bess, but she also knew that it would affect him even more than it had her, he still felt responsible for Bess being Called.
“I saved some Chubby Hubby ice cream for ya…” Buffy offered, trying to get his mind off Bess and onto something else ... anything else.
“Did ya now?” Spike questioned, going along with her change of subject and pressing his anger and frustration and guilt to the back of his mind. He’d gotten quite adept at that over the years. “Trying to fatten me up, are ya?”
“Mmmmm,” Buffy hummed seductively as she slid the book back into its place on the shelf and turned back to face him. “Just some very specific parts of you…” she teased, trying to lighten the mood.
“Oh, Grandmother, what a big c ….” she started to mock Little Red Riding Hood, before Spike cut her off by growling deeply and capturing her lips with his. The ice cream, and everything else, could wait a while longer …
Come and Get It, Badfinger
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