“See, I told you it wouldn’t be so bad.”
Spike wasn’t easily convinced; he looked all around the house. “I’m still searching for any axes she may have.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Don’t be such a drama queen, she doesn’t own an axe. Dinner went fine; no one treated you any differently. You worry too much.”
When he was finally starting to believe that, Joyce joined them in the living room.
“I would like to speak to Spike in private for a moment.”
Buffy nodded and was about to head upstairs, trying to get Spike to loosen the grip on her hand. He’d never seemed so terrified to be left alone with her mother before, but she knew nothing bad was going to happen.
Joyce gave Spike a look once Buffy was gone, smiling to try and reassure him. “You don’t have to be scared, Buffy explained everything to us. I know you did what you had to do to keep her here, I’m very grateful for that. Other than the fangs and change in diet, she’s still my daughter. I wanted to know more about this claiming thing, she told me about it the other day and I’m still a bit confused. What exactly does this mean for her?”
Spike was surprised that Buffy would tell her mother about that. “A claim is like a vampire marriage, one that doesn’t end in divorce. When one vampire dies, the other would soon follow because they wouldn’t be able to live without their mate, but you won’t have to worry about that with Buffy. If I were to go, I know for a fact she wouldn’t die right away. She’s too strong for that, she may be depressed for a while, but you wouldn’t lose her. If she were to go, I would be meeting the sunrise for the first time in over a hundred years. Unfortunately, I’m not as strong as your daughter.”
“You really care for her that much?”
He nodded. “I love her; it’s more than anything I’ve felt before. You may thank me for saving her life, but I was selfish. I didn’t think about any of you when I made that decision, I was only thinking that I couldn’t be without her. I knew she would probably end up hating me, but I didn’t care. This world is a much better place with her in it. I never knew it would turn into this, she actually likes being around me now. She defended me to her watcher, which is something I never would have expected. I gave her more time to think about the claim, to see if it’s something she really wants. If that is the case, I won’t turn her away.”
Joyce stood up, patting him on the arm. “Take it from me, when Buffy decides something, there’s no changing her mind. Judging by how she was going on about this claim, it’s definitely what she wants.”
Spike smiled at that, relieved that Joyce seemed to be giving him her approval.
* * * * *
Buffy groaned at the familiar presence heading to her house, it was now or never. When she got downstairs, she could tell that Spike felt him just as much, if the murderous expression on his face was anything to go by. She placed a calming hand on his arm.
“Let me talk to him, I don’t want him coming inside.”
Spike agreed, even though he hated letting her do this on her own.
Buffy left the house and closed the door behind her, crossing her arms over her chest. “You didn’t have to come here.”
Angel looked at her sadly, shaking his head. “I almost didn’t believe Giles when he told me. How did this happen? He wouldn’t go into any details.”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but I was badly hurt on patrol. Spike found me bleeding to death and decided to turn me, and before you go all mental on him, he did the only thing he could at the time. He knew I would still have my soul; I’m still here because of him. If you can’t accept that, you know where to go. I’ve already gotten enough lectures from Giles and my so-called friends; I don’t need them from you, too. My family still accepts me and right now, that’s all I care about.”
Angel knew there was no point in arguing with her, he reluctantly nodded. “I had a feeling Spike was involved. If I were in his shoes, I probably would have done the same thing, but I know how much you would have hated living as a vampire. I wanted so much more for you.”
She laughed humorlessly. “And let me guess, you wanted me to have a normal life with a human man. I tried that and it didn’t exactly agree with me. I’ll never be normal; becoming a vampire didn’t change that. You left me for all the wrong reasons, but now I’m glad you did. What I have with Spike, it’s more freeing than anything I’ve known before. He doesn’t treat me like I belong on some pedestal, or that I’m going to break. He loves the girl, the warrior, and now the vampire. It may not be love yet on my end, but it won’t be long before that changes. He respects me and my family; you saw how devoted he was to Drusilla. You know more than anyone that when he loves someone, he loves with everything he has, even if she never returns his feelings. If you’re here to try and turn me against him…”
Angel held up a hand, cutting her off. “I didn’t come here for that. I just wanted to see how you were after Giles’ frantic phone call, but I see you’re doing well. It may not seem that way to you, but I did care for William once. I regret turning him into the monster I did, but what hasn’t changed is his ability to love. Unlike most vampires, he never needed a soul for that. If he loves you, then I know it’s real. I’m not here to interfere in your lives.”
Buffy was stunned. “Wow, I guess LA really has changed you.”
He laughed. “Cordelia also has a lot to do with it; she’s definitely not the same woman she was when she lived here.”
Buffy could sense that there was more to him and Cordelia than there was the last time she visited and it made her smile, she realized that she didn’t feel any jealousy for him and the former cheerleader. “I’m happy for you. I know this seems kind of unrealistic, but I hope we can remain friends. I call you if we ever need any help here, and you can feel free to do the same. Like it or not, we’re all family now.”
Angel glanced over to the house, only to see Spike glaring at him through the window. “We’ll always be friends, but I should go now.” He gave her a hug, just because he wasn’t going to kill Spike for taking what he used to think was his, didn’t mean he still couldn’t give him a show. With one final squeeze and a kiss to her cheek, he took off.
Buffy made her way back inside, rolling her eyes at Spike’s pout. “Don’t give me that, it could have gone a lot worse.”
“What did the wanker want?”
“He just wanted to see if I was okay, I told him all about you and he actually didn’t make a cow over it. I would say that was progress.”
“Did you tell him about the claim?” he wondered.
Buffy scoffed. “We were actually having a civilized conversation; I think that’s the last thing he needed to know. Does that mean you’ve decided to go through with it?”
Spike nodded. “Yes, if it’s something you really want.”
“I do, I really do,” she said with a smile, attacking him in a hug. “You won’t regret it.”
He returned her embrace, kissing the top of her head. “I never had any doubts.”
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