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Thank you, Mum by slaymesoftly
One shot

Thank You, Mum

Joyce looked up as she heard noises on her back porch and stepped to the door quickly. Opening the door, she was surprised to find Dawn just taking her book bag from Spike and starting up the steps.

“Hi, Mom,” the teenager greeted her casually, as though she came home from school escorted by a vampire every night.

“Dawn. Spike.”

Joyce looked back and forth between her youngest daughter and the vampire her older daughter had banned from the house. Spike ducked his head and studied his feet with embarrassment. He hadn’t seen Buffy’s mother since his aborted attempt to convince the Slayer he loved her, and he wasn’t sure how much she’d been told about that night.

“You’re late,” she said to Dawn. “You know your sister doesn’t want you out alone after dark.”

“I wasn’t alone,” Dawn pointed out. “I was with Spike.”

“ ‘M sorry, Joyce,” the vampire mumbled. “I thought it would be better for her to be with the Big Bad than to be walking home by herself. I’ll just be going now—“

He turned away, shoulders slumping and before she could stop herself, Joyce said, “Wait. Spike…I…I…Thank you. Thank you for seeing Dawn safely home.”

The smile he gave her as he mumbled his “You’re welcome” told her that she’d done the right thing, and she smiled back, genuinely glad to see him again.

“I, um, I can’t invite you in, Spike, because Buffy…” She paused uncomfortably, startled by the pain that flashed across his expressive face before he closed it down.

With his cocky mask back in place, he shrugged and said softly, “That’s alright, Joyce. Know I’m not welcome here anymore. Jus’ didn’t want the Niblet out by herself is all.”

“I can’t invite you in, but I can make hot chocolate and drink it out here on the porch with you,” Joyce offered, noting the way his face lit up. It occurred to her that the vampire was probably very lonely; no demon friends because he helped the Slayer, and now no longer welcome among her friends.

If he ever was welcome, she thought to herself, remembering the way Xander spoke about and to the harmless vampire. With renewed certainty that she was doing the right thing, she pointed to the steps and ordered him to “Have a cigarette and I’ll be right out.”

She gestured for Dawn to precede her in the door telling her to help herself to the dinner awaiting warm-up in the microwave before tackling her homework. With a wave at the waiting vampire, Dawn disappeared into the house ahead of her mother. Joyce turned to look at Spike, still standing self-consciously at the foot of the steps and repeated, “Have a seat, Spike. I’ll be right back out.”

With a nod, he lowered himself to the top step and took out his cigarettes and lighter. Satisfied that he would do as she asked, she followed Dawn into the kitchen and quickly began to make hot chocolate. While it warmed, she dug into the cupboard for the few remaining marshmallows that she’d always kept around for him.

Carrying two mugs of the warm drink out and handing one to the vampire, Joyce joined him on the top step of the porch, sitting down carefully and looking into her cup. Spike immediately put out the cigarette he’d been smoking, crushing the butt and putting it in his pocket before raising the mug to his lips and inhaling the rich scent of chocolate and sugar.

He raised his head and smiled shyly. “Thank you, Joyce. You even put my marshmallows in it, I see.”

“I had a few left,” she said noncommittally. “I knew you’d want them if I had any.”

They drank in companionably silence for a few minutes until Joyce asked casually, “Are you really in love with Buffy?”

“ ‘Fraid so,” he answered just as casually, his stiffened posture belied his tone.

“You know she doesn’t…I don’t think she would…” Joyce shook her head. “I don’t think you chose the best approach to break the news to her.”

“Yeah. Now that I think on it, prob’ly wasn’t one of my better ideas. Jus’ seemed like the thing to do at the time, you know?”

He gave her a small, sad smile as he drained his mug and placed it beside her on the step.

“Thank you, Joyce,” he said with quiet sincerity. “ ‘S nice to know not everyone here hates me.”

“She doesn’t hate you, Spike. She just doesn’t love you. I think you frightened her.”

He snorted. “The day the Slayer’s afraid of me…”

“Not afraid physically, Spike. And not of you, specifically. Just... afraid. The last vampire who said he loved her caused her – caused all of us – a lot of pain. I’m afraid it’s not something she’s interested in experiencing again.”

“I’m not him!” The outburst startled them both, and he stood up, mumbling an apology.

“I know that, William. And Dawn knows it. But I’m afraid Buffy and her friends…well, they’re all very wary of vampires in love. And with good reason, I might add.”

Spike nodded, not bothering to voice his agreement. He knew that his grandsire had filled the Slayer with pseudo-facts and half-truths about vampires and souls – information which had been proven out when Angel lost his own soul. Buffy had no reason to trust an soulless vampire’s word, or to feel that she could safely acknowledge any feelings she might have. Angelus had done too good a job on her youthful heart.

With a sigh, he thanked Joyce again and turned to go, pausing when she called his name softly.

“You know you are always welcome here, Spike,” she said, gesturing at the back porch. “I would never deceive Buffy by inviting you into the house without her permission, but I would like it very much if you stopped by occasionally to visit with Dawn and me in the evenings.”

His gratitude plainly visible on his face, Spike found himself unable to speak. He just nodded, smiling happily and walking off into the darkness with a wave of his hand.

The end