Don't know much about you
Don't know who you are
We've been doing fine without you
But, we could only go so far
|Story Title:||Spirit Indestructible|
Season 5. Begins with ‘Spiral’ in the abandoned gas station, and goes far off-canon almost immediately.
When Dawn makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister, friends, and the world, Buffy’s mind snaps. When Buffy's friends give up hope of her ever recovering, and become afraid that she’ll turn violent and uncontrollable, they call in the Council to help. Fearing what the Council will do, Spike, forgotten and ignored by her friends, steps in. Will he be able to reach the Slayer when no one else could? Will he be able to keep her out of the hands of the Council and away from her ‘helpful’ friends? How much heartbreak, guilt, and failure can one girl stand before her indestructible spirit finally resigns the fight and gives up hope?
27. The Things We’ve Handed Down
The Things We’ve Handed Down, Marc Cohn http://youtu.be/L9KvlZWQzRA
Nelly Furtado - Spirit Indestructible http://youtu.be/ej3SmDScjjY
Thanks to YOU for reading and especially to those of you who take the time to email me feedback! Love hearing from everyone! Thanks also to Paganbaby for taking time out of her hectic life to beta this for me! Her suggestions ROCK! All mistakes are mine because I can't stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
This chapter was added in because of mhustler's enthusiasm for Daddy!Spike, so don't blame me for it!
|Rating / Warnings:||
Warning for this chapter: The babies come home.
NC17. Spike/Other. Main Character Death. Implied Rape. Plenty of angst.
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.
A couple of days later...
“This is where you will sleep,” Joan informed William Jr., 'Will' for short, as she gently laid him down in his crib. “You can differentiate your cage from your sister’s because you have colorful dragons made of felt as your mental stimulant, while she has butterflies.
“I was not in favor of dragons. They are a mythical creature and are generally portrayed as quite fearsome and terrifying, but your father was quite enamored with them. I admit to not understanding your father at times.”
“Oi!” Spike called from behind Joan as he and Buffy came into the nursery with Joyce-Ann. “Don’t be calling the crib a bloody ‘cage’ or raggin’ on my dragons.”
Joan turned around and watched as Buffy lay Will’s sister down in the matching crib not far away. “I was not being critical of your choice in mental stimulants…”
“It’s called a ‘mobile’,” Buffy interjected. “You make it sound like we’re giving them Red Bull and speed.”
Joan tilted her head and considered that a moment. “Mobile: ‘a hanging sculpture whose parts are balanced to move in response to air currents.’ I am not certain these meet those criteria as they have small electric motors which turn and play beguiling tunes.”
“Just trust me on this one, Auntie,” Buffy requested. “It’s a ‘mobile’ and a ‘crib’, not a ‘cage’ and a ‘mental stimulant’. If someone heard you saying those things, they’d have Child Protective Services here in a heartbeat.”
“That would be undesirable,” Joan agreed solemnly. “Please do not let anyone take my niece and nephew. I still have many things to teach them, such as Euclid's algorithm, the sieve of Eratosthenes, long division, and how to properly assemble Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.”
Buffy laughed and took hold of Joan’s hand with one of hers and Spike’s hand with the other. “With the three of us to get past, I’m sure no one will touch a hair on their heads.” A beat. “Which is a metaphor. If someone we know wants to touch the hair on their heads, it’s okay to let them.”
Joan nodded decisively. “Touch of hair is acceptable; removal of the small humans from the premises is not.”
Buffy gave her a reassuring smile. “You got it.”
A couple of weeks later…
Buffy absently dried her hands on the kitchen towel hanging by the sink after washing up some dishes. She looked out through the large picture window above the sink at their shady backyard. Her mind wandered and she imagined the twins at five or six years old playing on a swing set, or in a sandbox, or maybe a kiddie-pool or a slip-n-slide.
The image of a normal family, of normal childhood activities, brought a smile to her lips, until she leaned against the edge of the sink and was reminded of the bulge in her stomach that hadn’t been there before. The image in her mind suddenly included her in a swimsuit with sagging boobs, a protruding stomach, and jiggling thighs. She shuddered at the picture her mind conjured as she looked down at her now-unfamiliar body.
But her imagination wasn’t done with her yet. She saw Joan playing with the children, spraying them with a big water gun. Aunt Joan’s body was perfect. The bikini she wore showed off all her curves, her smooth, flat stomach – unmarred by stretch marks – her perky boobs, and firm ass.
Buffy blinked back tears and pushed the image away, only to have it return a second later with Spike included. He, Joan, and the twins all had water guns. They were laughing and soaking each other with them, running around the lush green grass of the shaded backyard, giggling and chasing one another. All the while Buffy remained on the sidelines, dressed in something ‘moomoo-ish’ that would hide all her imperfections.
The tableau in her imagination continued as all four of the ‘combatants’ fell onto the damp grass and continued their war, wrestling and tickling the others mercilessly until all were winded from laughing and playing.
Spike drew his children and Joan into his arms, dropping kisses into the damp curls of the twins before kissing Joan passionately. Buffy watched the scene play out in her mind, the kiss deepening and become more and more erotic – the children fading away until all that was left was Joan and Spike. Their bodies melded together perfectly; Joan’s fit his as if it had made for him alone, just as Buffy’s had done at one time.
Buffy suddenly felt awash in jealousy and anger. She’d sacrificed her body for their family, for Dawn, for Spike’s soul, and now he was turning his back on her. But how could she blame him, really? Just look at yourself!
Buffy’s chin dropped to her chest as hot tears stung her eyes, blurring her vision. She was lost somewhere between anger, jealousy, and glum despondency when she felt someone press against her back.
Buffy jerked her head up and wiped her tears with the towel still in her hands as she realized it was not just one person, but both Spike and Joan, one on each side of her.
“Done with the chores, luv?” Spike asked, his voice soft against her left ear.
“Yeah … yeah … done,” Buffy stammered back, sniffing her tears away.
“The small humans are taking their required afternoon interval of rest,” Joan offered.
“Oh, good,” Buffy replied in a neutral tone. She felt someone’s hand stroking her back, traveling from her neck all the way down her spine, then slowly back up again, and she stiffened.
“Thought you might want t’ … relax a bit while they’re dozing,” Spike suggested in a low voice as he nuzzled his mouth through her hair and began kissing her neck.
“No! No, I …” Buffy backed up, extracting herself from their embrace. “I mean … I don’t really think … I mean … I still don’t feel very … ummm … down there,” she stammered.
“Why don’t you guys … I mean – you can …” Buffy waved a vague hand between them, unable to articulate the rest of her thought. Tears welled in her eyes again as she looked between her two beautiful, perfect partners. She didn’t fit in with them now – she wasn’t ‘Buffy’ anymore, she was ‘Mom’. She couldn’t even bring herself to be jealous of Joan; she could only feel mournful, as if part of her had died when the babies were born.
Buffy took another step back as Joan and Spike looked at her with confusion and concern. “I’m just … really tired and …” she swallowed hard. “But why don’t you guys … you know … go ahead without me.”
“Buffy, luv…” Spike began gently, taking a step forward.
“NO! I said ‘no’!” Buffy screamed at him, backing up further. “You do whatever you want. Just leave me out of it!”
Buffy turned and ran out of the kitchen, through the living room, and up the stairs. Spike and Joan looked at each other with concern as they heard the bathroom door slam closed upstairs.
“I believe she may be suffering from the ‘baby blues’, or possibly the more serious ailment of postpartum depression,” Joan suggested. “It is quite common in humans.”
Spike rubbed at his eyes and nodded, trying to think what he should do now to help his wife.
“May I suggest that we do not follow her instructions? I do not believe it would be advantageous for us to engage in sexual intercourse without Buffy,” Joan offered.
Spike nodded again and looked up at her. “Gotta go along with ya on that, luv,” he agreed as he heard the shower start upstairs. “Got any other advice in that noggin o’ yours for this postpartum bollocks?”
Joan tilted her head as she considered that. “It often takes time for the woman’s hormones to return to normal after parturition. Research has shown that a woman's depression will improve markedly with the consistent support of a significant other. If the mother’s mood does not improve within a few weeks, she should seek the advice of a medical or mental health professional for further evaluation.
“I would also add my own impression and suggest you not refer to it as ‘bollocks’.”
Spike sighed. “Didn’t mean it like that,” he excused. Spike took a deep breath and tried to gather his thoughts. He looked up at the ceiling above them where Buffy was showering, as if he could somehow see into his wife’s mind from there. He had no idea how long he just stood there, staring at the ceiling, willing some inspiration to float down into his muddled brain.
“Support from significant other, eh?” he repeated finally as he heard the shower turn off. “Reckon that’s you and me, pet.”
“That would seem to be the reasonable conclusion.”
“Well, what say we go support?” Spike suggested, heading for the stairs.
Buffy stood in front of the full length mirror in the bathroom, turning this way and that, critiquing her nude form and frowning all the while.
Spike silently slipped into the foggy bathroom, leaving the door cracked open a few inches behind him. “Whatcha doin’, luv?” he wondered as he stepped up to her in the cloudy air.
Buffy jumped nearly out of her skin, spinning around to face him. She quickly grabbed a towel and held up in front of herself. “Collar. Bell. Look into it,” she scolded, wrapping the towel around her torso and securing it. She turned away from him, picked up a hairbrush, and then began brushing her wet hair out in the mirror, her back to Spike.
“Didn’t answer my question,” Spike observed, walking up behind her and looking over her shoulder at her reflection in the mirror.
“I thought you were … relaxing with Joan,” she retorted sharply, still not answering his question.
“Noooo, clearly, I'm not. I’m here asking you a question – which you still haven’t answered,” he reminded her.
Buffy sighed and put the hairbrush down. She ran her hand over her previously flat abdomen, now obscured from view by the towel. She’d calmed down since fleeing the kitchen and was now feeling more melancholy than angry. She was starting to feel like a ping-pong ball at the mercy of some unknown paddle which kept whacking her emotions around. One minute up, one minute down, one minute totally sideways.
“The celebrities all make it look so easy … like you have a baby and just – Presto! – everything pops right back into place.” Buffy snorted disdainfully, her eyes glued to her reflection in the mirror, since she couldn’t see Spike’s.
Spike wrapped his arms around her middle and pulled her back against his front. “Ya look perfect t’ me,” he assured her.
“Yeah, well, we’ve already determined that you’re blind,” Buffy scoffed. “My boobs are like … giant, squishy milk bags! What’s gonna happen when the milk’s gone? They’ll just be like … big, ole saggy … udders.”
Spike chuckled lightly and hugged her tighter. “Ya worry too much ‘bout what you think is wrong with your body, pet. There’s nothing wrong with you … never will be. You’re as beautiful now as the day I first saw ya.”
“Oh … right. I was … sixteen when you first saw me, Spike. Everything was high and tight … like Joan. She’s still all … perfect and I’m all … not,” Buffy pouted, tears stinging her eyes. “And it’s only gonna get worse. I’m gonna get old, and you and Joan…”
“Bloody hell, woman! Would you stop with that bollocks?!” Spike growled at her, spinning her in his arms to face him. Spike held her by the shoulders and dipped his head so she had to look him in the eyes. “I love you. I think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world. Nothing will ever change that.
“Just look at yourself, Buffy!” Spike admonished, turning her back around to face the mirror and tugging the towel off in one motion.
“You’re the mother o’ my children. This body gave me two beautiful babies; something I’d never dared t’ dream of before. This body pulled Dawn back outta Limbo. This body gave my soul another chance. This body, these beautiful breasts, will nurture those bits, start ‘em off right in this world. This body will run in the sunshine with them, it’ll swim in the ocean, it’ll hold them when they’re scared, and comfort them when they’re hurt. Bloody hell, Buffy … can’t you see? Can’t you see the wonder o’ this body? Can’t you see the wonder of you?”
Buffy blinked to try and clear her vision, desperately trying to see what Spike saw. Her chin quivered as she looked at the woman in the mirror. When had she become a woman? It seemed only yesterday she was just a girl. How had she gotten here to this place? How had she become a wife and a mother and a DD with leaky nipples, for Christ’s sake?
“You listen to me,” Spike admonished her, his lips very near her ear. “I’ve been alive a bit longer than you and dead a lot longer than that. A hundred plus years and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of: You. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You’re a hell of a woman. You are the one my whole life’s been leadin’ to. You are the one, Buffy.”
Buffy wiped her tears and shook her head. “I don’t know if I can be the one … I don’t know if I want to be the one.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t want t’ be this good-looking and brilliant at home renovation. We all got our crosses t’ bear, luv.”
Buffy turned around to face him, her eyes still shimmering. “Maybe Joan should be the one,” she suggested, searching his eyes to try and find her anchor. It was still there, but she’d let the line slip from her grasp – she couldn’t reach it … couldn’t seem to grip it tightly enough to keep her stable.
“Because I am not the one,” Joan offered, pushing the door open and stepping in behind Spike. “You are the nexus of our family, Buffy.”
Buffy’s eyes shifted to Joan when she spoke, then back to her husband.
“What does that mean?” she asked Spike.
Spike gave her a small smile. “Means you’re the heart of us … the core, the thing that binds us together.”
“I’m Velcro? What if I’m not very good Velcro? Maybe I’m like, cheap, imitation, Chinese Velcro. What if I suck at being Velcro? What if I can’t hold on and everything spills out all over the place?”
“You’re the strongest person I’ve ever known, Buffy, and you’re not alone.” Spike held up his right hand, the one with the interlocking, tri-band ring on it. “There’s nothing imitation about you. And we’re all here t’ help each other, yeah? We’re all holding on with ya. It’s what makes us so bloody good.”
Spike reached one hand back and pulled Joan’s right hand up in front of Buffy as well, showing Buffy both of their rings.
“What if I suck at being a mom?” Buffy asked forlornly.
Spike shook his head. “You’ll be a brilliant mum – you are a brilliant mum. If ya get stuck, ya got us here beside ya. What one doesn’t know, another does. And if no one knows, Joan can bloody well learn. No bits in the world could have a better family than this one, and none could have a better mum.”
Buffy took their clasped hands in both of hers and dropped a kiss atop their twined knuckles. “I’m just … so freaking fat and afraid that …”
“That is inaccurate,” Joan interrupted. “In fact, you have gained less than the average amount of weight for an American female, aged eighteen to twenty-five, giving birth to their first child,” Joan assured her. “It is reasonable to assume that, with proper diet and exercise, your body will return to its pre-partum state when breast feeding has ceased. Until then, your body will retain the additional energy stores to assure survival of the offspring.”
Buffy looked at Joan hopefully. “You really think so?”
“That is what my research has shown.”
“I give you that heartfelt speech and you blow me off; Joan gives you bloody cold data and you look like you could kiss ‘er,” Spike groused.
Buffy looked back at Spike and her expression softened. She reached her left hand out and touched his cheek gently, still keeping her right hand atop theirs. “I didn’t blow you off … I heard you. It’s just that you … well … sometimes data wins over … poetry.”
Spike snorted disdainfully. “What a load o’ rubbish that is,” he grumbled, but he was smiling.
Buffy returned his smile. “Doesn’t mean I didn’t love the poetry too …”
“Yeah?” Spike asked, quirking a hopeful brow at her.
Buffy leaned against his chest, pulling Joan in with her. Spike wrapped his free arm around them both the best he could, his right tucked between their bodies, still clasped with theirs.
“I love you, both,” Buffy sighed against his chest. “I just don’t want to let anyone down.”
Spike dropped a kiss atop her head. “We love you too, Buffy. You could never let us down, pet. Joan’s right, you are the heart o’ us. You’re the one.”
A couple of months later… (Babies about 2 ½ months old)
“According to the classical theory, a black body – which is any object capable of absorbing radiation at all frequencies and radiating it back – would emit infinite amount of energy. This was not found to be true experimentally. The energy emitted by a black body seemed to be a function of its frequency, showing a typical bell shaped curve…”
“Whatcha doin?” Buffy asked as she came into the sunroom where Joan was entertaining the babies.
Joan looked up from her two ‘pupils’, who seemed to be paying more attention to stuffed animals next to them in the playpen than Joan.
“I am beginning their education in quantum physics.”
“Oh … well … do they seem to be getting it?” Buffy wondered.
“I am not certain yet. I have not determined how to test them on their comprehension rates. They are unable to communicate verbally and seem to view paper as sustenance rather than a communication tool.”
Buffy pulled her lips between her teeth and nodded thoughtfully. “This is just a … wild idea, but maybe you should try starting with something like … colors or … body parts.”
Joan tilted her head in thought. “Do you believe that would be more beneficial than quantum physics?”
“Well, maybe to start. After colors and body parts, then maybe move into … shapes and animals, maybe letters and numbers?”
Joan nodded decisively and turned back to her pupils. She pointed to the side of her head. “Cranium,” she pronounced. Then she pointed to her left eye: “Oculus sinister.” Then her nose: “Nasal Vestibule.”
Buffy sighed and shook her head as she turned and left the twins to deal with their eccentric auntie all on their own. They’d have to figure out how to do it sooner or later … best if they had plenty of practice.
A couple of months later (babies about five months old)…
“Buffy! Buffy!” Spike called excitedly as he jogged through the house holding his son.
“What!? What’s wrong?” Buffy asked worriedly, coming out of one of the spare bedrooms she’d finally gotten around to painting.
“Listen!” Spike admonished, stopping in front of her. He jostled little Will in his arms a moment, then stopped and waited.
Spike gently bounced him again and stopped, looking at the infant expectantly.
Will let out a long, loud burp, then giggled happily, waving his little fists in the air in triumph.
“Yeah, Spike, I admit that’s impressive, but I know what a burp sounds like,” Buffy pointed out.
“No! He said it! He said my name!” Spike reported excitedly.
Buffy’s brows went up. “He said ‘Spike’?”
“Don’t be daft! He said ‘dada’!” Spike scolded.
“Oooh…” Buffy replied, exaggerating the word on her lips and nodding. “Well, yesterday he said, ‘baba' … and the day before that he said, ‘googoo’.”
Spike scowled at her. “It wasn’t like that! He looked at me and said it! Bloody brilliant, he is! A genius! We should ‘ave him tested! Bet he’s a … whatcha call it? … A prodigy!”
Buffy laughed and rolled her eyes. “Ok, Dad. Whatever you say,” she agreed mockingly, patting Spike’s arm. “As soon as he stops trying to eat the paper, we’ll have him tested.”
A few weeks later (babies about six months old)…
Spike tucked the little pink blanket more tightly around his daughter’s small body as he cradled her in his arms. The night was cool, but not overly cold – still, he didn’t want to take any chances on her catching a chill. She’d been fussy all day and it had continued into the night. None of the three adults judged it to be anything serious – they could find nothing actually wrong with Joyce-Anne, no sniffles or fever or any sign of illness. But, as bedtime came and went, she simply wouldn’t fall asleep no matter what they tried, and she was keeping her brother awake, as well. So, Spike decided to take his little girl for a midnight stroll – perhaps a little fresh air and exercise would calm her down.
He walked around the wide porch that encircled their house, the baby nestled against his chest, and looked out into the darkness. The night was quiet, with only the distant sound of tires on asphalt and the nearer sounds of Casanova-crickets serenading their lady loves. Over the months, Spike had rearranged his sleep habits to be more in line with Buffy’s: sleeping at night and being awake during the day. He hadn’t been spending a lot of time wandering about in the still of the night lately, and doing so now released a strange sense of melancholy within him.
As he gently rocked his restless, cooing daughter and walked across the sturdy planks of the porch, a thousand memories of nights just like this washed through his mind. Nights of mayhem, of bloodshed, of fights, of wars, of riots, of hunts, of frantic chases and bloody captures. Of death. Of destruction. Of horror. Of pain.
Spike’s chest tightened as he looked down at his little girl. Her blue eyes were bright as she gazed up at him with unreserved trust. Spike brushed a lock of soft, chestnut-brown curls back from her small face, remembering other babies, other children. They were Dru’s favorite. She said they tasted of gumdrops and cotton candy and licorice all rolled up into a ball of sunshine.
Spike sniffed back his emotions and swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. “Don’t know what I’ve ever done t’ deserve you, pet,” he whispered to her. “A bad man, I was … a bad, rude man. Not even a man … a monster. Still am, I reckon. Can’t change that, can I?
“Wish I could take it back, but … can’t go back, can we? Can only go forward … it’s how the world is, princess. Promise you I’ll be someone you can be proud of. I won’t let ya down … never let you bits or your mum down.”
Spike looked back out at the dark backyard of their house as tears swelled in his eyes. “Hope t’ bloody God ya never know the things I’ve done,” he murmured, more to the night than to her. “Never want ya to know that, pet.”
Joyce-Ann reached a small hand up out of the blanket and grabbed for Spike’s ear. She missed, and instead her hand bounced lightly off his cheek.
Spike took her little hand in his and kissed the tip of each tiny, perfect finger. “Chip off the ole Slayer block, you are, princess. Already smackin’ the vamp around,” he teased, releasing her hand.
Joyce-Ann gurgled out a laugh and swung her hand at his face again, this time banging him in the nose, as if understanding his words.
Spike laughed along with her and resumed his trek around the outer edge of the porch. “Gonna be a right handful, you are, princess. A bitty-Buffy you are, no doubt.”
A few days later (babies about six months old)…
Spike patted down the pockets of his dress pants looking for cigarettes, but all he found was his lighter. He pulled it out and began clicking the lid open and closed, remembering that he’d quit smoking. He idly wondered how long it would take him to get out of the habit of longing for a cigarette. It wasn’t too bad most of the time, but times like this, when he was bored and alone, it hit him hard.
He rolled the striker on the lighter and watched it burn a moment before snapping the lid closed and tucking it back into his pocket. The large grandfather clock in the living room struck 8:00pm just as a knock came at the front door.
“India’s here!” he called up the stairs to his girls as he opened the door for their neighbor, friend, and tonight, babysitter.
“You might want to say it a little louder, I don’t think they heard you on Pluto,” India teased, her violet eyes bright and sparkling against her olive skin.
Spike laughed and stepped back from the door to allow her entry. “Buffy and Joan are on bloody Neptune most o’ the time, can only hope it got that far,” he teased back.
“You aren’t calling them ‘Space Cadets,’ are you?” India continued the banter stepping in and setting a gift-wrapped package down on a side-table in the foyer.
India often wore her long, black hair up with things Spike thought looked like chopsticks, but tonight she had it down. It fell in a heavy curtain across her shoulders and down her back. She was dressed simply in a ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ t-shirt, blue jeans with more dried paint on them than Spike’s worst work jeans, and white Keds on her feet. She had fine features, a quick and brilliant smile, and eyes the color of wisteria blooms.
The talented, young woman lived just a few houses away and had been one of the people who had stopped in to welcome them with a large pan of double-chocolate brownies – which made her an instant hit with Buffy. India had quickly grown to be a good neighbor and friend to their strange family, and she and Joan had bonded over their common talent: art and refinishing or repurposing of garage-sale finds.
“Me? Wouldn’t dream of it, luv,” Spike replied sardonically as Buffy and Joan finally made their way down the stairs. They were both dressed for an evening out – the first since the babies were born.
“Wouldn’t dream of what?” Buffy asked as they reached the bottom of the stairs.
“Errr …” Spike stammered, searching for something to say that wouldn't brass her off.
“Of telling you the surprise,” India filled in, saving him as she picked up the wrapped gift and handed it to Buffy. “For the babies,” she explained.
Buffy’s brows went up. “I think you have this backwards. We’re supposed to pay you for babysitting, not the other way around.”
India laughed with a lilting, easy confidence and shook her head, causing her thick hair to cascade over her back in waves. “You know I love the little ones. I’m happy to do it, Buffy.”
“Can I open it now?” Buffy wondered.
“Gonna be late for our reservation, pet,” Spike reminded her.
“Oh … ummm …”
India waved a dismissive hand. “Open it later … it’ll keep. And it’ll build up the anticipation. That’s always the best part … the anticipation.”
“Oh, I doubt that,” Buffy assured their artist friend. “If you made it, it’s gonna be wonderful, I know.
“You’ve got all our numbers and know where everything is,” Buffy continued. “We won’t be very late…”
Suddenly Joan yawned widely and loudly.
Spike and Buffy looked at each other with confusion. Joan didn’t yawn. In fact, she had never, ever yawned.
“You alright, luv?” Spike wondered, looking at the Bot.
Joan yawned again with an even more exaggerated sound and action, lifting her arms and stretching as if utterly wiped out. “I suddenly find myself extremely fatigued. Perhaps you should go on without me. I will remain here.”
“What? But I thought you just char… just … napped a little while ago,” Buffy objected. “Are you sure everything’s … functioning properly?”
“Yes. I am in perfect working order. I am simply fatigued and wish to remain at home.”
“Oh, well, then … I guess you won’t be needing me…” India began.
“No! I mean … yes! You must stay,” Joan objected, her eyes wide with panic. She reached a hand out to touch India’s arm, as if to stop her from going. “I mean … I would appreciate it if you would stay … in case I … am … too weary to properly supervise the children.”
“Oh … well, sure. Of course,” India agreed, giving Joan a shy smile.
Buffy and Spike exchanged a look as they watched Joan feign tiredness and India suddenly turn shy.
“Ok, then … ummm … I guess we’ll go so they don’t give our reservation away,” Buffy filled into the suddenly awkward silence.
“Right then, see you lovelies later,” Spike agreed, offering his arm to Buffy.
“Have a good time,” India bade them as they turned and headed out through the kitchen to the detached garage at the back of the house where Spike kept the DeSoto.
“You too,” Buffy called back, glancing at Joan over her shoulder and giving her twin a questioning look.
The blondes hesitated in the kitchen long enough to hear Joan begin a conversation with India.
“Did you see the new Michael Harding Artists Oils at Holly’s Hobbies? There are several new shades of Pthalo Blues now. I believe they would be well suited for a seascape,” Joan began, suddenly not sounding tired at all.
“I did see them! I had to buy them all!” India gushed. “Which hue did you like best?”
“The Pthalo Turquoise was my first choice,” Joan divulged. “It was a difficult decision, but I thought it was the most effervescent and vibrant.”
“Oh! I loved that one too! I’m going out to Canyon Lake and the Guadalupe River next weekend to paint some ‘scapes. Would you like to come with me? We could try out all the new colors,” India offered excitedly.
“Oh, yes! I have never visited those locations personally. That would be a very pleasing experience,” Joan gushed.
In the kitchen, Spike smirked and quirked a brow at Buffy as the other women’s voiced trailed off up the stairs.
“Oh my God! Joan’s made a friend,” Buffy whispered excitedly.
“And their goin’ on a sleep-over…” Spike smirked suggestively.
“Alone … in the woods,” Buffy giggled. "Oh … how do you think that’s gonna work? With the … charging and the … lack of eating and drinking?”
Spike shrugged and opened the door for Buffy as they headed out for their date. “The Bot’s a smart girl … and gettin’ right devious; reckon she can work it out.”
Buffy laughed as they headed down the back walk to the garage. “That she is. God help us if Aunt Joan starts giving the kids lessons in subterfuge.”
“Do you reckon that would come before or after Quantum Mechanics and Calculus V?”
Buffy laughed as Spike opened the door to the old car for her and she slid in. “God, after, I hope! Let’s hope it’s at least after they master the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese assemblage.”
Spike cocked a questioning brow as he closed the door.
Buffy shrugged. “I still haven’t mastered it, and I’m twenty-one.”
Spike laughed as he walked around the front of the car and got in behind the wheel.
“Well, let’s hope, along with my good looks, the bits got your fine talent for cookin’, luv. Might keep ‘em outta hot water and safe from Calculus.”
The Things We’ve Handed Down, Marc Cohn
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