Logic & Reason = Dead
Norman Wagner was ecstatic.
Buffy had never seen him looked as relieved as he did the moment Willow opened up the portal in the middle of the courtroom. They’d all had their doubts that she would be able to do it. Not because they doubted her abilities – they had been proven time and time again – but because a spell this big was incredibly draining and to perform it twice in less than twenty four hours was a big ask.
This was why Buffy loved her friends.
Okay, no. There were a lot of reasons but this was a big one. They always came through for her in the end. Willow had lived thirty years without her but she still came back when Buffy had needed her. That kind of loyalty was invaluable and Buffy was grateful that she had so many people around her that loved her as hard as her friends did.
She wished she was better at expressing her gratitude but hoped that they knew anyway.
Apart from Norman, the reaction in the room had been mixed. There had been shock, apprehension, excitement and dismay. The dismay mostly came from Lucy Porter. The lawyer sat stock still, arms folded over her chest and a gloomy expression distorting her model features. Buffy was glad because although her case was far from won, it was clear that this wouldn’t be something the prosecution could easily dispute. Or so she thought.
“All this serves to prove is that Willow Rosenberg can open a…portal,” Lucy voiced suddenly, still sitting. “It fails to prove that this was where Miss. Summers was. Nor does it prove that time within whatever…’dimension’ that is moves slower than time within ours. I really do not see the point of this…spectacle.”
Buffy scowled at the woman.
Heaton nodded once, looked towards the defence. “It is clear to us that portals do exist. This evidence is indisputable. Miss. Summers, this is the same portal you allegedly entered thirty years prior?”
“It is,” Buffy kept her answers short.
“And this is where you claim that time moved much more slowly than it did in our world?”
“Yes. To me it felt like I was gone a few hours at most.”
Heaton nodded again and then turned his attention back to Willow who sat cross-legged in the middle of the room. “Thank you, Ms. Rosenberg. You may close it now.”
Willow nodded and let out a shaky breath of relief, closing her eyes. The portal collapsed in on itself with a popping noise. The air in the room felt suddenly too still, too thick. The breeze from the portal had actually been quite refreshing, Buffy deduced.
Lucy stood slowly, still clearly pissed from the spell having actually worked. She strode around her desk and came to stand before Buffy. “Let us entertain the idea that you did enter that very portal; what was the purpose? Why were you interfering with boundaries between worlds in the first place?”
Buffy had to give it to the woman – she got over her own disbelief incredibly quickly. Considering she had never even believed in other dimensions until one had opened up in front of her own face, it was impressive that she’d recovered all her faculties in such a brisk manner.
“I was trying to avert an apocalypse. Again,” Buffy replied, locking eyes.
Lucy smirked. “And how would leaping into the first ‘portal’ you see do that?”
“I was attempting to obtain information that would help us in a battle,” she explained, not rising to the ill-temper of the other woman. “It was a spell we found within a Slayer’s kit. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.”
“And yet, you claim to have remained there for thirty of our years…but somehow, the world’s still here. Must have been a pretty shoddy apocalypse.”
There was a chorus of laughter following the comment and Buffy watched as Lucy smiled in a satisfied way. She was trying to demean Buffy and it was working. However, she hadn’t asked a question of her and so the Slayer remained as she was, waiting.
Lucy regarded her for a long moment. “You must feel very out of place here.”
Buffy frowned, eyes searching the woman’s in front of her. Again, she hadn’t asked a question but the tone in her voice had subtly shifted. She spoke more softly, more sympathetically. Buffy didn’t trust it one bit.
“To have been gone for thirty years,” Lucy swivelled on her heel, turning to face the courtroom. “To miss so much of your friend’s lives. To watch people move on without you, to grow, to progress. When you remain the same. Stagnant.”
Buffy felt as though she were being dissected. She watched carefully as Lucy strode up and down the room, the sound of her heels on the floor loud and distinct.
She turned back to look at Buffy. “Everyone you love has moved on. They’ve formed new bonds, new friendships, new loves,” as she spoke, the lawyer’s focus switched from Willow to Xander to Spike. “They forgot you.”
Lucy made her way back over to the stand where Buffy was sat. The Slayer wasn’t entirely sure where the woman was going with this line but she was sure she wasn’t going to like it. She already didn’t.
“How does that feel?”
Buffy took a long moment to answer. “It’s hard.”
“I imagine it would be, yes,” Lucy nodded thoughtfully. “I think it would be unbearable.”
Buffy stayed silent.
“Is it?” Lucy had to prompt.
“No,” the Slayer shook her head. “No, it’s not.”
“But you’re alone; you’ve been left behind –”
“I’m not alone.” Buffy interrupted her calmly. “My friends got older, they have families now, they have their own lives. But I still have them. And they still have me, if they need me. I think the fact that they’re here, right now, in this room, shows that I’m not alone in this. So, it’s not unbearable. I’m luckier than a lot of people.”
Lucy blinked, folded her arms. “Luckier than Joseph Dawson, certainly.”
“I guess so.”
Clearly the lawyer hadn’t been expecting that response but it was an honest one. If the vampire hadn’t been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the presence of the wrong Slayer he would probably still be here today. So, yes, she was luckier than him. She was still here.
“Quite a callous remark,” Lucy noted, turning away. “But not unexpected. Your demeanour comes across as cold and unfeeling, certainly not unexpected. I imagine it’s quite a useful quality when it comes to murder?”
Norman rose quickly. “The defence objects.”
Heaton nodded, cleared his throat, and rested against the back of his chair. “Whilst speculation on the defendant’s motivations are not unwelcome, I feel this line of questioning is not useful and is bordering on malicious. Unless you have anything of further use to add, Miss. Porter, I suggest you finish.”
Lucy allowed a glimmer of annoyance to show on her pretty face before she nodded and took her seat again. Buffy let out a breath of relief.
“We will take a break, and when we return we will discuss the implications of the portal spell in greater detail.”
+ + +
Buffy sat at Spike’s porch table and took in the scene around her with some happiness.
Willow, Xander, Mya, and Spike all sat around the table with her; they were eating and talking and laughing and smiling.
The day in court hadn’t gone spectacularly but it hadn’t been bad either. The trial was wrapping up and coming to its conclusion and Norman had informed her that it would likely only be another couple of days at the most. The only thing left to do, besides various admin matters, was for Lucy to conclude her arguments and for Norman to conclude his.
Her lawyer had put forward the idea that maybe Buffy herself should close off the defence’s argument. Buffy wasn’t sure whether this was a good idea, so she had asked Norman to let her think about it. Her main hesitation was that she wasn’t so great at public speaking; she wasn’t eloquent. Buffy knew she lacked charm, she knew Lucy had been right earlier when she said that she could appear cold.
She would have liked some advice on the matter but she really didn’t want to involve anyone else, not at this stage. She needed to think hard about whether this was something she could do. Whether she could actually vocalise why she was a good person and why she shouldn’t go to prison or die.
It was not an easy sell.
“Gotta say – hero of the day award goes to Willow Rosenberg, Wicked Witch of Montana,” Xander announced, clapping his hands.
Willow nudged him. “Thanks. But not wicked.”
“Not what Connie tells me,” Xander winked, or possibly just blinked.
Willow rolled her eyes. “As if she would tell you anything.”
“Oh, you don’t know. She was pretty drunk the last time I saw her. She may have divulged the secret lesbian practices.”
Mya laughed to herself. “What’s secret about that? You can see that stuff anywhere.”
The table went silent.
Mya looked up; found them all staring at her. “What? You can! It’s not even a thing anymore.”
Everyone continued to look.
“What? I got curious,” Mya shrugged. “I’m comfortable in my sexuality. Google is my teacher. Deal with it, squares.”
Spike pointed at her. “No. You don’t have any sort of ‘sexuality’, you hear me? Not till you’re old and grey. And even then, it’s up for debate.”
“Did you really just use the word ‘squares’?” Xander asked. “That was not cool even back when I was cool.”
“When were you ever ‘cool’?” Spike arched an eyebrow.
“Hey, not all of us need glowing hair and a long coat to feel secure in our coolness, buddy.” Xander puffed his chest out.
Buffy watched the exchange with a smile. They weren’t all getting on like one big happy family but they were just bickering, it was all sort of jovial, almost in fondness. It felt good to see it.
Willow attempted to change the subject. “This food is really good, Spike.”
He seemed surprised for a moment but then just nodded and smiled. He wasn’t eating any of it himself, he’d made the dinner for them; for all of them. It was a gesture that Buffy appreciated more than he would know. And not just because she was really hungry.
“Should we have invited Faith?” Mya asked, cramming a forkful of food into her mouth attractively.
Spike leaned back in his chair. “She has plans.”
“Oh great,” Buffy spoke for the first time in a long while. “Faith having plans most likely means I’ll be sleeping in the hallway tonight.”
“She has got game,” Mya nodded sagely.
Spike looked at his daughter and laughed. “You’re a bit ridiculous.”
“Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” she imparted some more wisdom.
Willow nodded in agreement. “When you look like Faith, it’s going to happen.”
Xander shrugged. “As the only one here who has seen her naked, I just want to say she’s not that hot. Objectively speaking. If you’re blind. And asexual.”
“You’re not the only one to have that special ‘privilege’, Xand.” Buffy informed him disinterestedly, eyeing her food.
Spike strained his neck as his head whipped around to look at her, eyebrows raised high.
Willow nodded. “Yeah, sorry, Xander. It’s a privilege I’ve shared.”
Xander’s mouth dropped. “What?”
“Me too,” Mya mumbled around a mouthful of vegetables.
Spike nearly got whiplash turning towards his daughter. “You what?”
“Joking,” she rolled her eyes. “You’re kind of a prude, dad.”
“We do not joke about naked Faith in this family,” he breathed a sigh of relief, settling back into his chair.
They eased back into harmless conversation that didn’t involve anyone being naked and Buffy mostly listened but not in a sullen way. She just liked to watch them all interacting and being, for the most part, happy. When everyone had finished she stood up and began to gather plates with the implication that she would do the dishes and they could carry on their conversation. She was more than content to listen through the hastily boarded up porch doors.
As she piled everything up into the sink Spike appeared beside her clearly intending to be the dryer to her washer. She tried to wave him away, he had cooked after all. He seemed to have bigger things on his mind though and shook his head rooting himself to her side. There was do more debate from that point on and Buffy set about her task with vigour.
“You did good today, too.” Spike took a plate she handed him. “Threw Porter completely off. Didn’t let her get her manicured claws in.”
Buffy smiled briefly then glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “You two –
you and her – what is that?”
“Hmm?” He murmured, concentrating on returning the plate to the cupboard.
“You have history.”
“What? No. No, not…not really,” Spike waved her off, clearly not wanting to have this talk.
The Slayer turned to him, hands still immersed in the sink. “Spike, I’m a big girl. I promise I won’t be jealous. I mean, thirty years, you know? Can’t tell me there was only Claire.”
“It wasn’t anything, really,” he shrugged and looked at her, giving her what was clearly meant to be a reassuring smile. “Not worth mentioning.”
Buffy arched an eyebrow and handed him another plate. “She’s gorgeous.”
“So?” He looked away, drying the crockery absently.
Spike chuckled then, shaking his head. “Buffy, it was a long time ago and it was once. We were both smashed and I barely remember.”
Buffy turned back to the sink and continued to scrub at a particularly stubborn crouton stuck to one of the dishes. Why she felt the need to clarify the Lucy situation after only a few brief allusions to it, she wasn’t sure. Part of it was probably jealousy but another part of it was that she just wanted to know. She wanted to know what had happened to Spike, who he’d met, who he’d befriended, who he’d fought over the past thirty years. She wanted to know it all. She wanted the complete picture.
“I’ve learnt not to give my heart away so easily,” Spike’s voice was soft and his eyes were fixed on his hands.
Buffy, feeling a little awkward now, attempted to lighten the mood. “But other parts are still fair game, right?”
He smiled at that, gave her a look. “Object of lust. Can’t help it.”
“Right,” she smiled back. “Must be such a burden.”
“I make the best of it.” He nudged her gently with his shoulder. “And you’ve seen Faith naked, so clearly I have something to be worried about too. Not scared of a bit of competition but I know when I’m beat.”
Buffy pulled the plug out of the sink. “Faith and I will always have that special connection but we know it’s just too intense; it’s not healthy. We’ve agreed to see other naked people.”
Spike laughed as he dried off the last of the plates and set it atop the pile, closing the cupboard door. He wiped his hands on the towel and slung it onto the counter, turning to face her bodily.
“I meant what I said – you did well in court today,” he folded his arms loosely over his chest. “I think Heaton is starting to get a grasp on you. And he – like so many men before – is liking what he’s grasping.”
Buffy rolled her eyes and folded her arms in a mirror of his gesture. “I hope so but I don’t know. He has this look, you know? Like a blank slate.”
“He is a judge, Buffy.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t like judges.”
“Nobody does, they’re like parking inspectors – forever ostracized.”
“Xander thinks I’m in love with you.”
Spike opened his mouth and then promptly closed it; he blinked and then seemed to remain absolutely stationary.
Buffy leaned against the counter, directing her eyes in any direction but his. “I know this is weird. Bringing this up now –”
“What do you think?” Spike reached out and touched her arm.
“Spike,” she turned back to him, looked him in the eyes. “I keep saying I don’t know how I feel but I do. I just…I find the words hard to say. Angel said that I should stop being so afraid. But it’s so difficult to stop. To stop closing myself off.”
He took a long moment. “So, Angel and Xander are now my biggest supporters? Bloody hell, somewhere logic and reason are turning in their graves.”
“He said that if I couldn’t say it,” Buffy took a step into him, their bodies touching just slightly. “That I should show it.”
“I might not have a whole lot of time left. So, I’m going to try and make this count, okay?”
The question was rhetorical, really, but Buffy waited for that look to come into Spike’s eyes. The look that said he wanted this to happen as much as she did. When the look came Buffy reached up and took his face in her hands, leaning into him as she angled herself up to press a soft kiss upon his lips.
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