Everyone has Secrets by Lilachigh
Chapter Four: Parenting Pains
“So what did Willow say?” Spike’s head was still buried in the dark blue silk pillow (Buffy wondered fleetingly when she’d actually bought dark blue bedding) and she could hardly hear him.
She fought back the nearly overwhelming temptation to smack the curve of his backside because she knew if she did he would only pull her down next to him and he start of her day would be dreadfully delayed. “She was confused, angry, worried, oh all sorts of things all mixed up together. She had no idea that Becca existed and I think that upset her more than anything.”
Spike rolled over and sat up. “I can understand that, pet. We were pretty freaked out when we discovered Tara had been keeping such a big secret from us all this time. It must have been ten times worse for Red. So, is she flying back?”
Buffy shook her head: she eased the drapes back an inch or two, then dropped them back as Spike hissed at the bright sunlight that darted into the room. “Sorry! Sorry! No, she says she’s too involved in some sort of cleansing, controlling your mind and actions thingy that Giles has got her involved with. Apparently it’s vitally important that she finishes the course or project, whatever, otherwise she might destroy the world again.”
“Always a plus. So no great desire to bond with Becca, then?”
Buffy shrugged and pulled on her boots. Apart from the anger and hurt, there had been some other tone in Willow’s voice that she hadn’t recognized. She sighed; life would be so straightforward if it just consisted of killing demons and staking vamps! Emotions and feelings - never her strong point. “It was a bad connection - lots of hissing and spitting on the line.”
“Did you speak to Giles?”
“No - he wasn’t there. Xander rang him last night, so Willow said, but Giles has been away for a couple of days.”
“Xander’s a prize prat!”
“He doesn’t mean to be.”
Spike pulled the quilt over his head and mumbled, “Might not mean to, but that doesn’t stop him. I’m going back to sleep. You wore me out last night. Not getting up yet. Come and join me.”
Buffy frowned. “I have to look after Becca. She’s our responsibility now. At least until Willow gets home.”
“Agreed, pet. But there’s not a lot I can do during the day, is there? And what I know about small girls and how to look after them could be written on the back of a very small postage stamp. Dru and Darla only wanted to eat them and I won’t even begin to tell you what your first beloved would have don....”
“OK! OK! Enough with the memories. Go to sleep. I’ll see to Becca.”
Buffy went downstairs, trying to push aside a weird confusion in her mind. Living with Spike had seemed so right - was so right! - but sometimes they came crashing up against problems neither of them had ever imagined. OK, everyone who started living with a partner surely discovered the same thing, but when one of the couple was a vampire, it gave a whole new meaning to the word compromise! She’d never really questioned before how they would live together when one slept during the day and the other didn’t. But now she had to face the fact that she had a child in the house to wake up. She would need a shower because last night she’d been fast asleep in her clothes as soon as Spike put her down on the bed and Buffy hadn’t had the heart to wake her up. So, wash, dress and then - well, what exactly was she going to do with her?
To her surprise, she found Becca already up, wearing the same clothes as the day before, sitting at the kitchen table, eating cereal. Dawn was sitting on the other side, studiously ignoring the little girl. She’d made herself a cup of black coffee and was sipping it, trying Buffy felt with a silent grin, to look as grown up as she possibly could. But the grimace she made at every sip rather ruined the performance.
“Hi Becca. Did you sleep OK? I was going to make you pancakes. Tomorrow, then. Hey, you’ll be late for school, Dawn.”
Her sister stared at her in astonishment. “It’s Sunday!”
“Oh yes, of course it is. OK, well, what shall we do. Becca needs some new clothes so we could all go to the mall and - ”
Dawn stood up, pushing her chair back violently and almost treading on Becca’s black cat that hissed at her and leapt for the counter top. “I thought we didn’t have any money!”
“Dawn - be fair - you saw for yourself last night - she can’t walk around in rags.”
“Oh do what you like. I’m not coming. I’ve got plans for today. I’m going to a friend’s.”
Buffy fought down a wave of irritation. She’d known this was going to be difficult for her sister, but surely she’d come round in time. “OK, just let me know where you’ll be and be back before dark because I’ll have to ask you to look after Becca tonight because Spike and I must patrol. The Sunnydale vamps will think it’s some sort of vacation with all the nights off they’ve been getting recently.”
“What are vamps?”
Buffy froze. She’d completely forgotten the little girl was still sitting quietly at the table, obviously listening.
“Oooh yes, Buffy! What are vamps? Do tell us.” Dawn was swinging the kitchen door backwards and forwards, smiling.
Glaring at her sister, the Slayer said, too brightly, “Oh you needn’t worry about vamps, Becca. They are nasty people and Spike and me have to....well....round them up and make sure they go away. Far away.”
“Oh. I’ve got a magic charm that stops nasty people hurting me.”
“Magic?” Dawn and Buffy spoke together.
Becca scrabbled inside her grubby T-shirt and pulled out a little gold cross on a chain. “I have to wear it always. Patsy wanted it but I screamed and screamed when she tried to take it off and so she stopped. My real mommy gave it to me when I was a little baby.”
“That was....very sensible of your mommy,” Buffy said, trying to keep her voice from wobbling. “Do you...does your mommy phone you, Becca?”
The little girl scraped the last bit of cereal into her mouth and put the bowl with some milk left in it down on the floor for the black cat. “No,” she spluttered. “But Patsy said she will come and collect me one day soon.”
Buffy beckoned Dawn into the family room. “I reckon Patsy wanted to sell the gold cross,” Dawn said indignantly, her former irritation vanishing. “Spike was right to want to go back and bite her!”
“I wonder how Jan, Becca’s mom, knew about vampires. I suppose the dreadful Donny told her.”
“Don’t call him dreadful in front of Becca,” Dawn said smugly. “He’s still her father. I know you find it hard to believe, Buffy, but most girls love their fathers very much, no matter what they’ve done!”
Buffy opened a little box in her brain labelled Hank Summers and stared inside. All the love she’d ever felt for her father was stored in there: she never let it out to see the light of day. A picture of herself on a carousel swam to the top of the box, her dad standing, waving happily as she swept past on a golden horse. Waving, smiling, looking at her with love - Buffy slammed the lid shut. There was no place in her life now for memories like that. Hank Summers had left his wife and daughter because her behaviour had been so dreadful in the months leading up to discovering she was the Slayer. It had all been her fault and never once had her mom blamed her. But she blamed herself. Always.
So did Dawn feel like that about Hank, a man who’d never fathered her, had no connection with her at all, except in those dreadful, emotional ties that the monks had installed in her memory?
“Becca doesn’t remember her father. She was only one year old when Tara and Jan took her to live with Patsy.”
“Still her father!” Dawn muttered mutinously.
“What about our dad? How much to you remember him?”
Dawn’s lips tightened and when she spoke it was with a careless attitude, as if she found the whole subject boring.
“I remember lots - all the things we used to do together, the places we went to eat, trips to the mall, ice-skating, bowling, even a visit to the sea. I remember crying for a week when he left, but of course that didn’t happen, did it, because I wasn’t there. I suppose they are your memories that the monks gave me, but to me they are real. Dad was there, he loved me and left home because he couldn’t cope with you being a Slayer.”
Buffy felt a wave of compassion - because Dawn was right; she’d never experienced any of those things - and irritation sweep over her. “But he never knew I was the Slayer. OK, I wasn’t the easiest of teenagers to live with, but hey, Mom managed OK.”
“Too late to change things now. I’m heading out to Janice’s. And yes, I’ll be home early to babysit little girl who isn’t going to alter my life at all! Oh, and your jeans are covered in cat hair. Just saying.”
Five hours later, Buffy collapsed onto the sofa and shut her eyes in complete exhaustion. She didn’t remember ever being this tired in all her life. Vampires, demons, apocalypses - or should that be apocalypsii - she didn’t know and didn’t care - all she did know was that nothing was as tiring as taking a bouncy five year old round a shopping mall, trying to find cheap, serviceable clothes that the child would wear. Pink! Given a choice for the first time in her life, all Becca wanted was pink jeans, pink shoes and pink T-shirts.
“Good day, pet?”
Buffy squinted an eye open and glared at her lover who stood smiling dow at her, bare chested, blond hair a mass of curls, looking incredibly desirable and incredibly annoying.
“Have you been asleep all day?”
Spike raised an eyebrow at her tone. “Well, yes. What us vampires tend to do. But I’m awake now. Becca’s eating cereal in the kitchen. Shouldn’t she be having - I don’t know - some sort of healthy meal? With vegetables?”
Buffy wondered dreamily if it would be too bad of her to stake Spike where he stood, over and over and over again. “We had lunch in the mall. She ate chicken and some salady stuff. I’ve no idea what five year olds eat. She drank a lot of milk. And when did you become the food expert of Sunnydale?”
“Snippy, snippy Slayer.” He grinned and sat down next to her. She closed her eyes, too tired to fight him off, leaning against the chill of his chest and hoping she need never move for the next few hours.
“That cat’s looking at us with great disdain,” Spike said a few minutes later. “I don’t think it approves.”
“Cat food! I knew I forgot something at the store. It’s probably hungry.”
“I’m hungry - for lots of things,” Spike murmured, kissing the side of her neck, just letting his teeth graze along the skin, knowing it made her shudder with desire, no matter how tired she was.
“Can I watch cartoons?” Becca, her new pink T Shirt already stained with milk and cereal, picked up the cat and wedged herself between them on the sofa. “Patsy always lets me.”
Spike grinned at Buffy over the child’s head and gestured towards the stairs and their bedroom. “I think you could do with a nice lie down, Slayer,” he said smoothly. “Nice comfy bed, nice dark room, all sorts of things you’ve only ever dreamt about might come your way.”
Buffy jumped up and turned on the TV. “Never going to to happen!” she said brightly. “Dawn will be home soon and you’d better put some clothes on because we’re going patrolling.”
She grinned at his disappointed expression: OK, she’d make it up to him later. She was never that tired after patrolling. In fact she was always full of energy and passion and...she stopped her thoughts because she could tell from the gleam in Spike’s eyes that he knew and smelt exactly what she was thinking about!
Hours later, Dawn was talking on the phone to one of her friends. Becca had gone to bed without any problems: Dawn had the feeling she was supposed to give her a bath, but she didn’t look that dirty and she was asleep almost before Dawn pulled the quilt up over her shoulders.
When the door bell rang, she told her friend she’d see her at school and rang off. Suddenly she felt cold and nervous. The last thing Buffy had said before she left was to keep the door locked all the time until she and Spike came home. But it might be Xander and Anya, of course. She could let them in. The bell rang again. Xander would have called out by now, told her he was standing there, not getting any younger and hey, he had ice-cream which was melting.
“Hello in there! Are you home, Buffy? It’s Donny Maclay. I’ve come for my daughter. Open up, Buffy. This is important. Becca’s in great danger.”
Dawn gasped. She remembered Donny, Tara’s brother, from the time when the whole Maclay family had arrived in Sunnydale to take Tara home with them. No one had liked him. Spike had punched Tara to show them that she was all human, no demon in her at all.
But Donny was Becca’s father! And he was saying his daughter was in danger. He must love her, of course he must. Perhaps he hadn’t known where Tara had taken her and had just found out in some way. How dreadful he must be feeling. Her own dad would surely be horrified if she’d vanished without any trace.
She moved towards the door as a sharp knocking followed another ring of the bell. Reaching for for the key, she yelped in pain as the large black cat sprang onto her arm and slashed at her wrist, claws drawing blood!