Everyone has Secrets by Lilachigh
Chapter Three: Guardians
“But Buffy - you can’t just pick up some little girl in Los Angeles and drive off with her!” Xander stared at his friend as if she’d suddenly grown another head. In fact he could have coped better with that situation than the one facing him now. “It’s kidnapping! You’ll be arrested.”
“So you reckon I should just have left Tara’s niece sitting by herself on the porch steps easy prey for any demon or pervert that came along? This is Tara’s family, Xander. What the heck would Willow say if she knew I’d just left her there?”
“But Buffy - “
She cut him off before he could say any more. Jeez, if she had a dollar for every time one of her friends started a sentence with ‘But Buffy’, she’d be rich! “Becca’s here now. She was quite happy to come with us. Seems the Patsy creature had told her to sit and wait for friends to collect her. Spike wants to go back and bite her! How could you just leave a kid on her own like that? So we'll be her guardians until we know what's going on.”
“And the cat? I have a bad feeling about the cat.” Anya gazed suspiciously across the room to where the huge black creature was sitting washing itself, ignoring with supreme disdain, everyone else in the room.
“Apparently she wasn’t coming without it.”
“Read the letter again,” Dawn’s voice sounded tight and Buffy sighed silently. She so hoped she wasn’t going to have trouble with her sister.
“It was pinned to her raincoat. From Patsy saying that she had to leave town suddenly on work, that the neighbour, Mrs Goddard, who usually looks after Becca couldn’t this time and she was sure we wouldn’t mind for a few days as we had been close friends of Tara. So, she’s here until Patsy comes back.” And she didn’t say out loud that Spike reckoned they would never see or hear from her again. That was the last thing Dawn needed to hear.
Dawn was sorting through the little girl’s suitcase. “And is this all she’s got? Just a couple of pairs of old jeans and tops and some worn out pyjamas?”
“Well, that shows that she’s only here for a visit,” Buffy said brightly, not wanting to tell her sister that she thought those were the only clothes Becca owned.
“But Buffy, you have to tell someone in authority that she’s here.”
“Why?” Spike was coming down the stairs and his voice cracked like a whip. “Do you really think Patsy told officials in L.A. that she was looking after Becca and getting good money to do so? I reckon no one knows anything about the kid”
Xander banged both fists on the table. “I really don’t know what you’re doing here Spike and no one asked for your opinion anyway. So just shut it!”
Ignoring him, Spike went on, “I’ve put her to sleep on your bed, Slayer. She needs a bath but reckoned that was your department.”
“Well it certainly isn’t yours! And I repeat, what the hell are you still doing here?”
Buffy took a deep breath and from the confusion of her mind, settled on one clear, golden thread of certainty. She’d known this moment would arrive, known she would have to deal. Wide awake at nights, she’d made up speeches that were sensible and logical, full of clear, calm conclusions, explaining to her friends why she was in a relationship with a vampire. Again! That she realised they would be concerned, but there was no need, she knew exactly what she was doing.
“He’s here because I want him to be,” she snapped back at Xander, all her calm thoughts vanishing in a flash.
“OK, so I suppose he might come in useful if Becca’s own family come to try and find her one day, but....”
“I don’t think that’s what Buffy means.” Anya was gazing intently from the Slayer to the vampire and back again. “She means she wants him here, sweetie. Like I want you every night and you want me every morning when we...”
“Anya’s right.” She took a deep breath. “Spike and I are - together - and the quicker we all get used to the idea, the better. And anyway, I couldn’t pull Becca away from him. I had to drive home so she could sit on his lap.”
The vampire looked bashful. “Only because I was telling her fairy stories, pet. And nice ones,” he said swiftly, “fairies and pixies, no demons or goblins.”
All the colour had drained from Xander’s face: he ran both hands violently through his hair and stood up so abruptly that the chair crashed backwards onto the floor. “OK, this is pure madness, Buff. He’s a vampire! OK, chipped, but a souless vamp. Even Angel had a soul. It’s...it’s indecent....dangerous...insane. There must be something wrong with you. Willow brought you back wrong. I’m going to phone Giles in England. He has to come back and sort you out. Are you coming, Anya?” He stormed out of the door, letting it slam shut behind him.
Anya sighed. “I suppose I’ll have to go after him and calm him down. Just when things were getting really interesting. It’s all your fault, Buffy. You should have cured him of this infatuation he has for you years ago.”
“That went well, pet!” Spike pulled Buffy into his arms and rubbed his chin across the top of her head. “You might have given me some warning. Are you certain, Slayer? This is a big step. You might have lost all your friends in one go.” He reached out behind her back towards Dawn. “And what about you, Niblet? Are you OK with me moving in with your sis?”
Dawn shrugged. “Sure. I mean everything’s so weird since Tara died and Willow and Giles went away...now Becca’s here...and Spike’s moving in. Xander hates you and Anya will be on his side, whatever she really thinks. So sure. I’m OK, I’m going to bed. Maths test tomorrow. I suppose my room is still my room?”
“Of course it is. Becca’s in my old room and me and Spike will move into Willow and Tara’s.”
“You mean Mom’s.”
Buffy bit her lip. “Yes, I mean Mom’s. Nothing’s going to change for you, Dawn. Surely you can see that.”
The teenager tossed back her long hair in a gesture she’d copied carefully from one of her favourite TV heroines. “Sure, no problem. I have a new baby sister, all our old friends have left or will be leaving and there’s no way I can invite my ordinary friends here because they wouldn’t understand about Spike even if I explained it to them. Jeez, you’re so right, Buffy. Nothing’s going to change!”
There was a silence after her footsteps had vanished and they heard the bathroom door slam loudly behind her and the distant hiss of the shower.
Spike wandered into the kitchen, searching in the fridge for the blood he knew Buffy always kept in there for him. “Don’t worry, Slayer. She’ll come round and be fine. I bet she’ll enjoy having a little sis when she calms down.”
Buffy shook her head: she knew Dawn too well. The teenager was only too ready to find any excuse for an argument. “She’s very fond of Xander. She’s upset that he’s upset.”
“I thought she liked me.”
Buffy could have sworn there was the hint of a pout in her lover’s voice. “She does, of course she does. But you’re mine now and she sees that but doesn’t understand that you can give her your affection, too.”
Spike’s hands flashed out and spun her into his arms. “Is that what I am? Yours?”
Buffy flung back her head, her gaze blazing straight. “You didn’t know? I’ve just told the world you’re moving in and you’re doubting that I - “
The rest was lost as his mouth claimed hers and he backed her effortlessly against the fridge door, his hands plundering under her clothes, seeking and finding flesh, seeking and giving her the pleasure she desired so much. Her legs lifted to wrap round his thighs and she reached down to....
Spike spun away so quickly that Buffy’s feet clattered to the floor and she almost fell. Becca stood in the doorway, clutching the cat firmly round his middle, his head and feet hanging limply in either direction.
“Mrs Goddard says you shouldn’t play rough games in the kitchen,” she went on, gazing at them disapprovingly. “You break things and there’s no money for new ones.”
“Er...er... yes, well, Mrs Goddard is right,” Buffy said, tucking her top back into her jeans and trying not to laugh because Spike had turned his back on both of them and from the muttered cursing was obviously having trouble getting himself sorted. “Hot milk, Becca?”
The little girl dropped the cat who promptly started washing himself again. “Can I have chocolate? If I’m very good, Mrs Goddard gives me that when she sits for me when Patsy’s out.”
“OK, then you go straight back to bed.”
“I needed cat. I left him down here.”
Buffy frowned as she found a Disney mug. “I don’t think he’s supposed to sleep in your room.”
Dark eyes turned darker. “Yes, he does - always. There’s only a silly pig in that room. I need cat.” Tears brimmed and ran down her face.
Buffy glanced wildly at Spike; she had no idea of what was the right thing to do and this was only the first night. How did you learn this parenting stuff? How had her mom known? Was there a book?
Spike shrugged. “Sounds as if that’s what normally happens, pet, so just go with it. You don’t want her upset tonight. She’s having too much of an upheaval to start changing little details.”
They stood side by side watching as Becca drank her hot chocolate. “Good thing she didn’t come downstairs a few minutes later,” Spike murmured wickedly. “I don’t think you would have had an innocent explanation for what we were doing.”
“Nothing happens between us from now on except in our bedroom,” Buffy hissed.
Ten minutes later she half carried the little girl upstairs, the cat bounding at their side. Becca was asleep by the time Buffy pulled the quilt up over her thin shoulders and the cat sprang up next to her. Buffy expected it to curl up and sleep but, to her surprise, it sat upright on the pillow above the child’s head.
As she left, turning down the light, she saw two green eyes gleaming in the dark and the odd thought flashed through her mind - it was almost as if the animal was on guard.