Chapters Five and Six
Buffy was sitting at the kitchen counter, poking morosely at her cereal, when Spike stepped into the kitchen. Avoiding the daylight streaming in the windows, he scuttled along a wall until he could peer into the cupboards over the counter away from the sun. He had a black eye and seemed to be limping. He whirled on her when he saw the empty space.
“What happened to the rest of my Jack?”
“You drank it,” Buffy said. “And I couldn’t buy more for you yesterday because they wouldn’t sell it to me.” She pushed some bills across the counter to him. “There’s your money. I only took enough to buy some dinner last night.”
“Well fuck.” He picked up the bills and put them in his pocket without looking at them.
“Explain again why I’m buying you dinner?”
Buffy ignored his rhetorical question and frowned at him. “You’re all bad moody today. What’s going on?”
He growled. “Had to clean out Willy’s last night when some wanker of a demon tried to say Dru had dusted.” He opened the refrigerator and pulled out a bag of blood. “And I only have one more of these.”
Buffy frowned in sympathy. “Spike….”
“Don’t say it. It’s not true. I’d feel it if Dru…. No. It couldn’t happen. I’d know it. She’s my sire, my family. I’d feel the connection break.”
Deciding against asking him if he was trying to convince her or himself, she changed the subject.
“I’m sorry I spent your money on food, but I didn’t see Giles yesterday and I hate to keep asking him for money.”
“Your bloody mother should be feeding you.”
“He’s going to talk to her again today… or tonight, I guess. Snyder agreed to let me take my exams in the school library, but my mother has to give permission for it. And since she won’t talk to me—”
“Maybe I should talk to her,” he said, flashing his fangs. “Or maybe I should just eat that little rat that makes your life so miserable?”
“Don’t tempt me,” she said, shaking her head.
“Offer’s out there, luv. Just say the word.” He took his now-warm blood out of the microwave, the acquisition of which he refused to discuss, and sat down beside her. “Are you tempted?”
Buffy shook her head again. “I am, but that would be evil and wrong and—”
“And you’re a white hat. Got it, Slayer.” He tilted the mug up and chugged the blood in it, stopping just short of slamming it down on the counter. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I’ll be better when I restock the booze.” He stood up. “I’ll just be in my room.”
“Leave it, Slayer.” He disappeared down the hall and she heard the door slam.
She sighed and got up to wash out her bowl, muttering to herself about moody vampires and how she was the one who had to kill the man she loved and lost her home for it, and it should be her turn to get some sympathy.
At Giles’s suggestion, she’d agreed to meet him at her mother’s house in the evening. He seemed to think it would help for her to be there when he explained to Joyce that if she didn’t sign the appropriate form, Buffy’s entire junior year of high school would be down the tubes.
She was just preparing to leave when Spike emerged from his room and went directly to the refrigerator. While his blood warmed up in the microwave, he spoke to Buffy but with his back turned.
“You were right, you know,” he said.
“This morning. When you said you deserved a little sympathy. I’m an old vampire, who was already a grown man when I was turned so many years ago, and my lover has just scarpered because she’s brassed off at me. Not the first time, and probably won’t be the last.”
Buffy just blinked at him.
He turned to face her. “You’re a child. A very strong, brave, and fierce child, but a child. And you’ve lost your first love and your mum. We need to fix that. Not bring Angelus back, mind you, even if we could. You and the world are better off without that bogtrotting bastard. But you need to be at home, not sharing a crumbling house with an old vampire that’s drunk or asleep most of the time.”
“Oh.” Buffy’s face fell, but she stood up straighter. “I’ll be fine, Spike, but if you want me to leave—”
“Not what I’m saying, luv. Not about what I want, it’s about what you need. And you need to be home.”
Buffy sighed. “It’s a nice thought, but right now I’ll settle for Mom signing the form Giles is bringing her so I can pass 11th grade.”
“So what’s the plan to make that happen?” He sat down and began drinking his blood while Buffy told him about Giles’s plan to talk to her mother that evening and for Buffy to be there to add to what he was going to tell her about slayers. She was still talking when
Spike interrupted her.
“Does your mum believe in vampires?”
She shook her head. “She knows what she saw when that vamp jumped us in front of her, but she’s not sure it was really what we said it was. She just can’t explain where he went after I staked him. And I don’t know if she saw you in vamp face before she hit you with that fire axe. So… I don’t think so, but I dunno. Why?”
“Thought maybe I’d volunteer to come with you,” he said as he put his cup in the sink. At Buffy’s glare, he sighed and ran some water in it. “It’s soaking,” he growled, daring her to insist he wash it.
“I don’t know, Spike. I know you want to be helpful, but she thinks you’re just some punk lowlife I was hanging out with—and she has no idea I’m living with you. That would send her into orbit again.”
“Well, I think I should come with you. She might try to throw the Watcher out, and she might not want to listen to you, but she’ll be hard put to pretend she can’t hear what all three of us are saying, especially if I’m wearing my fangs...”
“Fine. Come with if you want. It can’t get any worse than it already is.” She stopped and turned to glare at him. “But no flashing your fangs at my mom! She’s freaked out enough as it is.”
Joyce was just trying to slam the door on Giles again when Buffy and Spike came up on the porch. This time, Giles had been ready for her, and he had his foot out to block it. Before they could end their standoff, Buffy and Spike were on the porch and Buffy applied her own strength, easily pushing the door open all the way.
“This is outrageous!” Joyce sputtered. “I’ll call the police!” She turned to go to the phone, only to find Spike standing between her and desk. She blinked, sure she hadn’t seen him go past her. She narrowed her eyes at him. “Get out of my way, or I’ll hit you with something heavy.”
He grinned at her. “Already know you’ll do that, don’t I?” he said. “I remember it well.”
“You’re that thug Buffy brought into the house! The one in the band.”
“We made that up, Mom,” Buffy said. “Spike’s not in a band, and neither am I.”
“So, it is a gang situation, then. Principal Snyder is right, as much as I hate to admit it.” She frowned at Giles who was holding a large cross out and staring at Spike. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Back away from the vampire, Mrs. Summers,” he said as he advanced toward Spike. “Get away from him.”
“It’s fine, Giles,” Buffy said, pushing his arm down. “Spike’s not going to hurt her… or you.”
“What is he doing here?” Giles never took his eyes off the man he’d called a vampire.
“He came to see if he could help us convince Mom that I’m not crazy, there are vampires and demons, and you aren’t some skeevy old man who is trying to corrupt her daughter.”
Joyce stared back and forth between the two strange men and Buffy. The matter-of-fact explanation, which hadn’t caused either man to blink an eye, did more to make her willing to hear more than any amount of yelling might have done. It crossed her mind that she seemed to be the only one in the room comfortable with reality, and she wondered briefly if a mental illness could be shared.
“Who? What?” she said.
“What the Slayer said,” Spike rumbled from behind her. “I figure if the Watcher can’t explain things to you, and you won’t listen to your own very brave world-savin’ daughter, then maybe having the real thing right in front of you might do the trick. Maybe I can scare you into listening.”
“I’m not afraid of some Billy Idol imitation,” Joyce said with a sniff. “You can go to jail just like any other punk gang member.”
“Mom…” Buffy shot a glare at Spike. “Can we just talk about my exams? I’d love to think you would listen to us and believe that I have no choice about what I do or am, but the main reason we’re here is so I can be a senior in high school next year.”
Joyce turned her attention on Giles. “I fail to see why the school librarian is taking such an interest in my teenage daughter, but if you can see that she passes her junior year, I’m willing to sign something.” She narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure that little weasel is going to let her go on?”
“I have his word,” Giles said, adding in a mutter, “For what that’s worth. It’s possible the Coun—my employers put some pressure on his superiors.”
“Isn’t he your employer?”
“I work in the library at his school. However, I answer to the same organization that Buffy does.”
Buffy snorted and Spike added his growl. “If you’re talking about the Council of Wankers, I suspect they could just wave a hand and graduate the Slayer right now.”
Once again Joyce was aware that she had no idea what they were talking about. With a sigh, she walked to a table and picked up her half-full glass of scotch. She seated herself in a comfortable chair and gestured to the couch.
“All right. I will give you until I finish this drink to try to explain to me what is going on. Beginning with Buffy.”
Buffy exchanged looks with Giles and then Spike before perching on the arm of the couch. Giles sat in a less comfortable chair while Spike sprawled in his usual disrespectful fashion at the other end of the couch from Buffy.
“Okay, Mom. Here’s the thing, I’ve already told you all this stuff, but you refused to listen or believe me. Nothing has changed. I am the Slayer. We’re here in Sunnydale because it’s located over the hellmouth, which attracts demons and vampires. I was Chosen to slay them. To protect humans from evil creatures that want to kill them. Vampires have to be killed by a stake through the heart, beheading or fire. That’s why I set fire to the gym at Hemery. There was a vampire nest underneath it and it was the only way to get them all before it got dark and they came out to eat their way through the whole school.” She paused. “They killed my first watcher – I know you saw him with me, but they killed him before he could explain to you what I was and why he was there.”
She pointed at Giles. “Giles is my watcher now. He was sent to Sunnydale to work in the high school so he could be close to me and help me with my… job.” She sighed. “You really need to let him explain everything. He can tell you about the Council, and vampires and demons, and what it means to be a slayer. He knows all the history stuff. I just know how to kill things.”
Joyce shut her eyes tightly and shook her head, reaching blindly for the bottle of scotch. When Spike jumped to his feet and handed it to her, she couldn’t suppress a small yelp of surprise. She refilled her glass, having forgotten she’d only given them until her drink was gone.
“And how is it that you know how to kill… things?” she said through tight lips.
Buffy shrugged. “Well Merrick taught me some stuff, but the super strength and speed and all that… some of it just was there. When I was called. One day, I’m just regular old me, high school freshman Buffy, and the next day, I shove some big guy for being rude and he crashes into the wall. Merrick found me and told me what was going on and started teaching me about weapons and how to control my strength around other humans. When you and Dad didn’t believe me, I just… I just had to start lying to you. The vampires weren’t going to stop eating people just because the Slayer’s parents thought she was crazy or grounded her.” Buffy stopped, torn between tears and bitterness.
“This is ridiculous,” Joyce said, tilting her glass up and draining it. Spike immediately leapt to his feet again and refilled it.
At Buffy’s “Spike!” he just grinned at her. “Helps the medicine go down, luv,” he said, sinking back onto the sofa.
Joyce stared at Giles, then at Spike. “Which one of you is the one corrupting my daughter? Who put these ideas into her head and encouraged her to continue this behavior? We moved here to get away from the bad influences in LA!”
Giles sighed heavily, shooting a glare at Spike who was snorting with laughter. “As I’m sure you have determined by now, as Buffy’s new watcher, I am responsible for her training and her education in the field of demonology. If you would just give me some time to explain about the Council of Watchers, Slayers, and vampires and demons—”
“I don’t believe in vampires.” Joyce took another swallow of her drink and set down firmly. She transferred her gaze to Spike. “Are you part of this delusion too? What do you have to do with slayers?”
“Up to now, I usually tried to kill them,” Spike said quietly. Ignoring Joyce’s gasp, he continued, “This one’s a little bit special, so we’ve come to a truce… for the time being.”
“You try to what?” Joyce’s couldn’t believe what she was hearing and anxiously looked around for a weapon. She eyed the half-full bottle of Scotch speculatively.
“Easy there, Slayer’s mum. I tried. Didn’t happen. Don’t much care to try again.”
“You’re too old for her,” Joyce said, her maternal instincts coming through the alcoholic fog as she recognized something in Spike’s voice.
“That I am,” he agreed. “Know that full well. It’s one reason I want to help her get back home where she belongs. She needs her mum.”
Joyce stared at the three people gazing at her, bewilderment fighting with her sense that they were all telling the truth.
“I… I can’t… Let me have the damned paper to sign, and then go away and let me think. You’re asking me to believe in….” She shook her head. “I can’t think right now.”
Giles slid a form in front of her and pointed to the signature line, where she scribbled her name. She stood up unsteadily and rested her hand on the back of her chair. “Where… where are you living, Buffy?”
“I gave you the address, Mom. Haven’t you been reading my notes?”
Joyce shook her head. “No. I’ve been… they’re all in a drawer in the kitchen.”
“I’m staying in an old abandoned mansion on Crawford.”
“By yourself? Is that safe?” Without thinking, Joyce looked to Giles for an answer. He shrugged.
“So far, it seems.” He gave Spike a hard look.
Buffy said, “It’s fine. The house isn’t vamp-proof yet because Willow hasn’t come over to do the disinvite spell….” Joyce frowned at that, but didn’t ask for an explanation. “But it’s okay. It’s pretty safe in the daytime, ‘cause, you know, sunshine and vampires—not so mixy. And I’m awake then anyway. And at night… I’m out patrolling and when I get ho—back to the house—I usually have a pretty fierce guard dog around while I’m sleeping.”
Spike stood up and walked to the door. “Guard dog,” he said. “Nothing human or demon is going to harm her while she’s sleeping. She’s as safe there as she would be here.”
Joyce watched as the three of them gathered by the door. “I… I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Buffy. I have to work all morning, but I may be able to take some time off in the afternoon.” She transferred her gaze to Giles. “Perhaps we can talk then?”
He nodded. “I’ll be in the school library. Please feel free to visit me there.”
Spike hesitated as Buffy and Giles went down the steps and continued toward the street and the watcher’s car. He turned back to meet Joyce’s troubled gaze and cocked his head at her.
“Do you believe vampires exist, Mrs. Summers?”
Joyce looked confused. “I believe that my daughter believes they do. And apparently Mr. Giles—and you—also believe these creatures exist. But I’ve never seen any proof of—”
“Yes you have, luv,” Spike said, his voice soft but firm. “You saw the Slayer turn one to dust right here just a few weeks ago. You might be trying to believe he was just an exceptionally ugly bugger that somehow ran away so fast you didn’t see him go, but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit what you saw.
“And you saw a lot more vampires when I—when the school was attacked. I may not have been wearing my fangs when you tried to brain me, but I know the minions were in full vamp face. Stop lying to yourself. It’s making you treat your daughter, who is one hell of a Slayer, like she’s nothing.”
Spike straightened up and glared at her, his expression no longer friendly. “She’s not nothing. She’s amazing. But she’s a baby, and she needs her mum. She needs you to believe her, and to believe in her. She keeps you and everybody else in this godforsaken town safe from things that go bump in the night. Every bloody night. If you can’t be proud of her, what good are you?”
He watched as Joyce’s expression went from stubborn disbelief to anger with just a hint of shame.
“Wh—who are you to tell me how to raise my daughter?” she managed to say. “What are you to her?”
Spike’s face changed. Without actually moving, he managed to loom over her, grinning when she cringed in horror. He kept his fangs visible until he was sure she wouldn’t be able to deny having seen them.
“I’m your worst nightmare… and your daughter is mine. Climb out of that bottle you’re hiding in and let her come home.”
He turned away, hearing the door slam behind him as he jumped off the porch. By the time he joined Giles and an impatient Buffy on the sidewalk, he was once again wearing his human face.
“What was that?”
“Nothing much. Just doin’ a little bonding with your mum.” He smirked. “I think she fancies me.”
“You think—oh, Spike! My mother? Ewwwww!”
“What ewwww? Your mum’s a handsome woman and sheis old enough for me.”
Giles shook his head as Buffy sputtered and threatened to turn Spike to dust if he so much as winked at her mother. “Buffy, I believe Spike is simply having you on. Isn’t that so… William?” He accompanied his words with a glare at the vampire who was now openly laughing.
“Watcher’s right, pet. I was just having some fun with you.” He smiled, happy to have distracted her from what he’d actually said to her mother.
Giles asked Buffy if she needed a ride, pointedly ignoring Spike, but she shook her head.
“No, you go on. I’m going to patrol and then go to bed early. If I have to take exams I haven’t even had time to study for, I’ll have to be awake for them.”
“Very well. I’ll turn the form in first thing tomorrow and notify your counselor and your teachers. By the end of the day, I should be able to tell you which ones you will be taking on which days. Perhaps you can study at least a little before tackling them.”
“Good idea. I’ll get some notes from Willow tomorrow.”
“Perhaps at the same time, she can do the disinvite spell so that you aren’t quite so dependent upon the ‘guard dog’ when you are vulnerable.” He gave Spike another glare.
“Well, yeah. I guess so.” Buffy glanced at Spike. “But then Dru wouldn’t be able to get in if—when she comes back.”
Spike knew he was looking at her in a way he never should in front of her watcher, but the idea that her first thought was concern for him set up a warmth in his chest he feared wasn’t going away anytime soon. He recovered himself quickly, hoping neither of them had noticed his moment of weakness.
“Not to worry, Slayer. If she’s nearby, I’ll feel her.” He shook his head and sighed heavily. “And I think we both know she’s long gone from Sunnyhell, so keeping you safe until you can go home is a good idea. Bring the little witch home with you.”
“Um. I think she’s kind of afraid of you….”
“I’ll stay in my room. She’ll never know I’m there.”
“Okay then. That’s settled.” Buffy smiled at Giles. “You’ll give the permission slip to Snyder and get my exams for me, and I’ll bring Willow over so I can pick her brain and she can make the house vamp-proof.”
After Giles had driven off and they were walking down the street, Buffy asked, “So, what are you doing the rest of the night?”
“Dunno, pet. Thought maybe I’d watch you patrol.”
“That doesn’t sound very exciting.”
“Can be. Depends on what you’re takin’ on and how many of them there are.” He glanced at her. “You’ve no idea what you look like in action. Poetry in motion, you are.”
He could feel the heat from Buffy’s blush as she struggled for a response. Taking pity on her, and cringing at his own inability to keep his mouth shut, he added, “And who knows? Maybe you’ll bite off more than you can chew and I’ll have a reason to jump in and get a little spot of violence.”
“I knew there had to be a good reason,” she said, the relief in her voice palpable. “Let’s hit Restfield. Giles said there were a lot of burials there this morning.”
“Lead on, Slayer.”
As Giles had predicted, Restfield provided Buffy with plenty of newly-risen vampires to slay, but with them only emerging one or two at a time, she had no trouble slaying them without any help from Spike. He sat on the roof of a big crypt and watched as Buffy quipped and danced her way through the area. He smiled to see her showing signs of the sassy slayer he’d first met, knowing that just finding her mother willing to listen to her had done a lot to improve her outlook.
When he spotted a small gang of older vampires approaching while she was fighting with two fledglings, he dropped silently to the ground and drifted close enough to step in if he needed to. Buffy disposed of her two opponents in time to turn around and see the oncoming, now-angry, vampires who’d expected to collect their new minions.
“Hey there, guys. Looking for somebody?”
They paused and looked at her, hesitating just long enough for Spike to start to relax before the leader said, “We were, but you’ll do for a snack first.”
“Dude, that’s the Slayer,” a vamp still in his funeral suit said. “Don’t you think—”
“Even better! We’ll turn the Slayer and she’ll—urk!”
Buffy hadn’t bothered to stake him. She grabbed him by his belt and lifted him with one hand while she punched him with the other.
“Spike?” she called out, not having noticed him yet.
“I’m on it, pet,” he replied. “You take your time with that wanker. I’ll thin out the herd for you.”
By the time Spike had left the lesser minions on the ground in moaning heaps or unconscious, Buffy had reduced their leader to a cloud of dust that she was waving away from her face. Tossing an extra stake to Spike, she began dusting the vamps closest to her. He took care of two in front of him, then handed the stake back.
“Good night’s work, Slayer.”
“Yep. I think we did in our share tonight.”
“You did in, pet. All I did was watch your back.”
Buffy flushed. “Well, thank you, anyway.”
“Any time, luv.” He started walking beside her. “Time to go home?”
“It is… but I’m hungry now. Can we swing by the Doublemeat Palace on the way?”
“Can go wherever you want. Just tryin’ to make sure you get your sleep before you have to take your tests.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. “I already have a mother, thank you.”
“Yes, you do. And I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t take you back to her bosom soon. But in the meantime….” He cocked his head at her and hoped didn’t look like a complete nancy boy. “In the meantime, you’ve got me. And I take my guard dog duties seriously.”
“Guard dogs don’t nag their people about homework,” Buffy muttered as she increased her speed.
“This one does,” he said, easily keeping up with her indignant march toward food.
Willow approached the mansion cautiously, peering around as if expecting to be jumped any second.
“Wills, you do know it’s daylight, right? And Spike is a vampire?”
“I know. I know. It’s just that he’s a very scary vampire and I—”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“I do. I trust you, I’m just not sure I trust Spike.”
“I trust him, so if you trust me, and I trust him….”
“I get it. Fine. Lead on, Macduff!”
Willow shook her head. “One of those people you should probably know about before you take your English Lit exam. But that’s not quite the right quote. It’s just an expression people use now.”
“What’s it from?”
“I haven’t read that yet. I think I was busy trying to kill Angleus when it was assigned.”
Willow shrugged. “I’ll give you my notes. You’ll be okay as long as you know the general gist of the play.”
Buffy opened the door and let Willow precede her into the main room. She waited while Willow gawked around the area and tried to appear unimpressed. Finally she stopped staring. “I guess Angelus liked his comforts, huh?”
Buffy snorted. “It’s not all that comfy,” she said. “It was empty for a long time before Angelus decided to take over, and he wasn’t big on the home decorating. But it’s a roof overhead, the electricity works most of the time, the plumbing works, and once you do the dis-invite, it’ll be vamp-proof.”
As Willow set up her props for the spell, she asked, “Are going to keep living here?”
Buffy shrugged, staring at the floor. “I dunno. Mom actually talked to me—to all of us—yesterday, and she signed the paper Giles needed to get my tests for me, so I hope that means she’s getting over her ‘never darken my door again’ thing. But I don’t know, so just in case her talk with Giles doesn’t go well, let’s just make this place vamp-proof.”
“What about Spike?”
“I’ll be fine.” Spike’s voice came from the hallway and Willow paled when she saw him standing there holding a mug from which he was sipping. “I’ll be in my room. Slayer might have to invite me out of it later, but I think I’ll be OK there.”
“You think?” Buffy’s eyes got big and she signaled Willow to stop. “You don’t know? What if the spell pushes you outside?”
“I don’t think it will,” he said, frowning nevertheless. “It might just grandfather me in because I’m already here.”
“Or, it might just disinvite you out into the front yard!” Buffy pointed to the west-facing front of the house where the sun was shining brightly.
“How about this, then. I’ll finish my breakfast and go stand on the porch off the kitchen. That’s outside, but it’s in the shade now, so I’ll be safe there long enough for Red to work the spell and you to come invite me in.”
Buffy looked at Willow. “What do you think?”
Willow shook her head. “He’d be the expert on vamps and houses. I don’t have any idea how it would work if one was already in the house when the spell went into effect.”
“Well, that sounds like it would work.” Buffy walked over to Spike and peered through the dining room and kitchen to the door there. As he’d said, at this time in the afternoon, it was completely in the shade of the big house. “Okay, go out there and I’ll come get you as soon as the spell is done.”
With a wink at Willow, who was still staring at him uneasily, he walked away. Buffy waited until she saw the kitchen door close behind him, then came back to Willow and her spell preparations. “Ready?”
Willow nodded and began the short chant that would make the entire building off limits to vampires. When she finished, she sat back on her heels and said, “Why don’t you go see if it worked?”
Buffy ran to the kitchen to see the door already open and Spike grinning as he leaned against what looked like thin air. She smiled back and crooked her finger at him, but he just laughed and stood up straight.
“Got to do better than that, love,” he said. “Need to hear the words.”
“Come in, Spike,” she said, sighing in relief when he stepped in and closed the door behind him.
“Thank you, love. Now go get your books and things from your friend and let’s see what you need to know.”
“Apparently, I need to know Macbeth,” Buffy sighed, missing the way his eyes lit up. “I’m going to walk Willow part way home, and then I’ll be back.”
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