full 3/4 1/2   skin light dark       
Sunshine and Shadows by slaymesoftly
Chapter Twenty-four
<<     >>
“I think we should have skipped that last time,” Buffy said, pulling on her jeans and searching for her bra. “I’m going to be so late to dinner. Mom’s going to know what we’ve been doing!”
He laughed and sat up, shaking his head. “Not sure I follow that line of reasoning, love. Unless you’re planning to walk in and light up a cigarette or something,” he said, doing so himself.
“She’ll know. She’s got those Mom senses and she’ll take one look at me, I’ll turn red, and she’ll know.”
“Is that how she found out about Angelus?”
“No. She didn’t know much about him at the time, and I didn’t see her until the next day when I was too busy feeling crushed to worry about feeling guilty. If he hadn’t told her, she probably never…. But she knows you, and she knows you… and we… and now I….” She sighed. “She’s just gonna know, okay?”
“Guess that means I should stay away from the house for a few days? Give her time to get used to the idea and calm down?”
Buffy shook her head. “No. I think you should come by to pick me up. I don’t want her thinking you’re going to disappear now that you got what you wanted from me.”
He was off the bed and holding her before she had time to move.
“That is never going to happen, Slayer. You’re stuck with me now.”
“Promise?” She kept her face buried in his chest, her voice sounding much like the young girl he’d first encountered the year before.
“With all I have and am,” he whispered, pulling her closer. “I’m yours forever. Whether you want me or not.”
“I want you,” she said, still not looking at him. He tipped her chin up and smiled.
“Well, that works out nicely then, doesn’t it?”  He turned her around and gave her a little push. “Now get that delectable arse home before I forget that I don’t want your mum mad at me.”
She giggled as she looked over her shoulder to see his cock swelling up again. “You better put that away before you pick me up tonight!”
“I’ll hide it. Making no promises about puttin’ it away, though.” He made shooing motions with his hands. “Now go on with you. I’ll be by for you around half past six.”
Buffy waved and hurried out the door, running almost the whole way to her house.
To Buffy’s relief, her mother was involved in an apparently lengthy telephone call with her sister in the Midwest and only waved a hand when Buffy came in.  Which gave her time to run upstairs, clean up a little, and change into slaying clothes. For once she was grateful that Joyce made her do her own laundry, knowing that her underwear and jeans would have given away what she’d been doing.
By the time Buffy came downstairs, Joyce was off the phone and working on dinner.
“Will you toss the salad, please, Buffy?” she asked as she peered into the Crock-Pot she’d[Sp1]  set up before leaving for work. While they worked together to put a meal on the table, Joyce regaled Buffy with all the drama that was going on with her family. Buffy laughed and nodded in the right places, although she hadn’t seen her aunt or cousins since she was very young and had no idea about their lives.
As they ate, she told Joyce there was a Scooby meeting at seven and about having to dodge someone following her on her way home from school.
“Oh my God! In the daytime?”
“I’m pretty sure he was human, Mom. It was easy to lose him. I guess he works for the Mayor—oh, by the way, the Mayor is a demon of some sort. He’s what I have to do something about this year. Before graduation, if I can.”
“Before graduation?”
“Yeah. But if we can’t do it by then, you’re going to want to stay home.”
“You don’t want me to watch you graduate? Buffy, that’s just—”
“Mom. We’re going to try to take care of it before then. I promise. I’m just saying, if it comes right down to the wire, I don’t want to have to worry about where you are and if you’re safe.”
“And I am not going to miss your high school graduation! Not after we’ve worked so hard to make it happen.”
“All right. Let’s not worry about it yet.” Buffy glanced up as there was a knock on the door.  “I’ll get it. You stay here.” Buffy was suddenly all slayer, and Joyce obeyed without even thinking about what she was doing. When she could hear Spikes familiar accent, she remembered that it was her house and stood up.
“Why didn’t you let me answer the door?” she demanded, glaring at Spike as if it was his fault.
“Because I wasn’t sure who it was going to be,” Buffy said. “He’s a little bit early, and if there are humans stalking me now….”
“Good evenin’, Mrs. Summers,” Spike said with a small smile. “Didn’t mean to alarm everyone with my knock.”
“It’s fine, Spike. I was just surprised at Buffy’s reaction.”
“She has a point. You’d best make sure your doors are locked and the windows too. Humans won’t have to worry about any invisible barriers the way vamps do.”
“Maybe I can get Giles or Willow to come over and do some kind of spell to keep people out too,” Buffy muttered. “There’s got to be a way to keep strangers out.”
“Red should be able to set up some wards, love. Or the watcher will know how. It would be a good idea. I’m a bit disappointed it never occurred to him before this. I can guarantee if you’d been raised by a watcher, your house would be protected from nearly everything except flood or fire.”
Joyce frowned. “What do you mean, ‘if she’d been raised by a watcher’?”
“Most potential slayers are identified as such when they’re very young and are raised in the watcher’s family, or by the watcher alone if he or she doesn’t have a family.”
“That’s terrible! Why would their parents let them…? I’d never do that!”
“In some cultures, less sophisticated than this one, the parents are proud to know they may have produced a slayer, and they’re happy to let her go for training. If she doesn’t get called before she ages out, she comes home. In a lot of cases, the girls are already orphans. They get ‘adopted’ by their watchers.”
“So, Buffy’s different?”
Spike laughed and put his arm around Buffy’s shoulders just long enough to emphasize his words, but not long enough for Joyce to object.
“You have no idea how different she is from other Slayers. It’s what makes her so good at her job. So unpredictable. She hasn’t been indoctrinated her whole life with the Council of Wankers’ party line. Thinks for herself, Buffy does.”
“Which is why they wanted to get rid of her,” Joyce said shrewdly.
“More than likely,” Spike agreed. “But she was too good for them.” He beamed at Buffy proudly.
Joyce shook her head. “I’ll never understand any of this. I’m still working on vampires are real.” She glanced at Spike, who obliged her by letting his fangs drop and his eyes flare yellow before going back to his human mien. “Thanks for the reminder,” she said with a snort.
“Any time,” he said, then turned to Buffy. “Are we ready to go, pet?”
“Yeah, just let me check the windows and doors—”
“Buffy, I’m a grown woman, and I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time. I think I can manage to lock my own doors.”
“Okay. Sorry, Mom. Being a slayer kinda makes you bossy.”
Joyce nodded. “I remember how impressed I was last year when those creatures….” She paused to glare at Spike, who shrugged apologetically. “When Spike and those other vampires attacked the school and you were so cool and calm while you told people what to do to stay safe. I just don’t need that level of slayer bossiness in my own house.”
“And on that note….” Buffy gave her mother a quick hug, grabbed a jacket and followed Spike out the front door.  “Lock it behind us!” she called, giggling at her mother’s “I know” as Joyce slammed the door behind them.
“Whoa! You brought the car.  Is it a special occasion?”
“Taking my lady out for the night. Could be.” He held the door open for her, then walked around to the driver’s side and got in. “Or, it could be I got here early with the car so we could have time for some snogging before we have to go in to the room full of nummy people I’m not allowed to eat.”
“Just as an FYI, reminding me that you want to eat people is not likely to result in ‘snogging’, which, by the way, is a totally gross word for kissing.”
Buffy tried to keep her expression as stern as her words, but Spike’s chuckle told her he wasn’t fooled.
“Duly noted, love. If I want a snog, don’t call it that.”
Neither one mentioned the reminder about his eating habits.
The car did allow them to arrive a little early for the meeting, and as Spike had anticipated, they spent the extra few minutes making out in the car, now parked in a darkened area of the lot.  Lights on Oz’s van as it pulled in had Buffy reluctantly breaking what she mentally referred to as “Spike’s make-the-world-go-away kisses”.
“Looks like that’s Oz and Willow. I guess we’d better go in.”
“Fine,” he grumbled, adjusting himself. “Just when it was getting interesting…”
Buffy giggled and gave his bulging jeans a little pat. “I think that’s always interested,” she said, blushing as she did so, but she smiled when he gave an appreciative laugh.
“It is, love. Anytime you’re around, for sure.”
He opened his door and waited for Buffy to slide out behind him. With the car now between them and the rest of the parking lot, they clung together for another few seconds until they heard Willow’s voice.
“Buffy? Spike? Why are you parked way back there where it’s dark?”
“Um…” Buffy thought quickly. “I was checking for vamps. Giles needs to tell his landlord about all the lights that are out back here. It could be dangerous.”
Ignoring Spike’s snort of laughter, she walked toward her friends with a serious frown on her still-red face.
“Really. I mean who doesn’t want a lot of lights in parking lots in Sunnydale?”
“Uh huh.” Willow and Oz just looked at each other, then began walking toward the door. “So, are you guys coming in?” Oz asked as he opened the door and held it for them.
“Of course we are. We have important stuff to tell you about.”  Buffy smiled her thanks and followed him through the door before looked around the almost empty room. “But we should probably wait for Xander… and Faith. If she remembers she said she was coming.”
Before Spike could pull the door closed behind them, Xander came running up the sidewalk, shouting for him to wait.  Xander brushed past Spike, his eyes searching the room for Buffy.
“Buffy! You need to come with me. Faith is fighting some old vampire by herself and it doesn’t look good.”
Buffy and Spike were back out the door before Xander even finished speaking.
“Where are they?”
Xander gestured toward the street. “Just down the block. I caught up with her and asked if she was on her way here when the vamp came out of nowhere. Seems like they kind of know each other, ‘cause she called him by some stupid vampire name—” 
At Spike’s growl, Xander said, “Come on. Like ‘Spike’ is what your mother called you.”
“Trick,” Buffy said. “She’s fighting Trick. I’m surprised he’s alone.”
Buffy was vaguely aware that Xander was following them the best he could as they started sprinting in the direction he’d pointed. But by the time he reached the fight scene, they were just watching from the sidelines. They leaned against a parked car, seemingly relaxed, but with their eyes following every move made by both Trick and Faith. Buffy was tossing a stake up and down, but Spike put his hand on her arm when she started to move closer.
“Let’s just keep it fair,” he said, jutting his chin at two new vampires coming at the combatants from one side.
“I’ve got them. Three more at nine o’clock.”
Without more conversation, Buffy stepped out to intercept the two vampires Spike had spotted first. After telling Xander to say put, Spike approached the ones coming from the other side.
“Don’t you boys have any more respect for your boss than to get in his way when he’s making a kill?” he said as he got between them and the ongoing battle.
They blinked and growled, not sure what they were supposed to do since this clearly much older vampire seemed to think he was in charge.  Across the empty lot in which Faith and Trick were still exchanging blows, Buffy had already dusted the two vamps on that side.
“Hey! That’s the other slayer. What are you doing with her? Whose side are you on?”
“Not yours,” Spike responded, staking the closest vamp and going into game face.
Buffy had circled around, pausing to hand Xander a stake, and was now approaching the confused vampires from the rear.  They looked back and forth between Spike and the slayer they knew to be the more dangerous of the two, then turned to run. Buffy threw her stake, hitting one in the back, while Spike took to his heels after the other one, catching him easily and breaking his neck.
Seemingly indifferent to or unaware of the activity going on around them, Faith and Trick continued their almost-even battle.  Faith’s eyes flickered once to Buffy, who just said, “Here if you need me,” and remained standing a respectful distance away. 
Taking advantage of her momentary inattention, Trick managed to hit her hard enough to knock her down. Spike’s “You’ve got this, Slayer” gave Trick just enough pause to let Faith get her breath back, and she was on her feet before he could follow up what should have been a fight-ending blow.
“What the hell—” he began, frowning at Spike. He had no time to ask questions, as Faith threw herself back into the fight, attacking furiously. Within seconds she had Trick on the ground and her stake over his heart. She plunged it home, but remained kneeling in the dust, breathing hard and trying not to look at anyone.
Spike walked over and extended his hand. “That was a bloody good fight and a righteous kill. Good job, Slayer.” Buffy could hear the capital letter that he usually only added when speaking to her.
Faith peered up at Spike through the hair that had come loose in the fight, then took his hand and let him pull her to her feet.
“Yeah, well, thanks,” she mumbled. “I’m wicked happy you guys came along. Not sure I could have handled all of them.”
“That’s what friends are for,” Buffy said with a small smile. “Guess we better get back to the meeting, huh?” She turned to walk off with Spike, leaving Xander and Faith to follow.
“Thought I told you to run?” Faith said with a sideways glance at the stake Xander was still holding.
“I did,” he said. “Ran straight to the reinforcements.”
“You could have stayed there and been safe,” she said, with a puzzled frown on her face.
“And miss all the excitement?  Anyway, I was safe. I had two slayers and a grouchy old vamp to protect me.”
Giles was waiting at the door as the four of them walked up.
“All is well, then?”
“It is now,” Spike said.
“You can stop researching Trick,” Buffy said, beaming at Faith. “Faith dusted him.”
“It was pretty awesome,” Xander said, nodding his head.
Faith flushed and looked uncomfortable for a moment, then reverted to her normal cocky self.
“Yeah. Guess the mayor’s gonna be looking for a new deputy,” she said with a shrug. “No big deal. Just another vamp.”
Spike looked thoughtful. “Looks like there might be a vacancy there….”
Nobody pretended not to know what he was thinking or why Buffy was objecting to it. Giles frowned and nodded his head.
“It could be quite useful for us to learn exactly what is being planned and when.”
“We know when,” Buffy said. “Whatever is going to happen, it will be at graduation. We’ve got plenty of time to figure out what it is.  Don’t your books tell you about ascensions, Giles?”
“Very little, I’m afraid. It isn’t something that occurs all that often, and the records don’t agree on what takes place.” He gazed at Spike. “I don’t suppose you know?”
Spike shrugged and shook his head. “We vamps don’t mix much with demons old enough for ascensions,” he said. “Pure demons don’t think much of us because too many of us are human-like.” He looked at Buffy’s unhappy face, saying softly, “It’s too good a chance to pass up, love. I’m sure Trick told him about me. He’ll probably be expecting a visit from the former Master of Sunnydale. We know we won’t be able to keep this a secret for long. Should take the chance while we’ve got it.”
Buffy stared at him, then looked around the room, only to see nodding agreement from everyone there. She sighed, her shoulders drooping.
“Fine. Whatever. Do what you need to do. But if you get dusted…. I’m going to be really, really pissed off at you.”
“Love you too, Slayer,” he said with smile meant only for her.  “If I’m going to do this, I should probably get on it.”
Before Buffy could give a dismayed argument against it, Giles spoke up.
“Actually, Spike, unless you would have a very good excuse for why you already know Trick is gone, that doesn’t include having watched him die at Faith’s hands without offering assistance, I think it would be best if you gave it another day or so. Give him time to realize he may have lost his employee, and time enough to make sure you and Buffy weren’t seen together slaying the minions.”
Spike nodded. “I expect you’re right at that, Watcher. I can hit Willy’s and ask around for Trick, let it be known I was expecting to join him tonight for an attempt on Slayer Number Two, but he didn’t show up. Gets the thought out there that something slayer-related might have happened to him without having to let on I saw it.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Xander agreed enthusiastically. “You’ll just go hang out with the vamps and demons, and the rest of us will… not hang out there….” His voice trailed off. “What? We can’t go with him.”
“Slayers One and Two can do their patrol rounds, and then take themselves home,” Spike growled. “Don’t want you two by yourselves for a while. Not until we sort this demon out.”
“Don't tell me what to do!”
“I don’t take orders from you!”
Ignoring the glares from the two girls called to kill his kind, Spike appealed to Giles.
“You’re their bloody watcher. Can’t you do anything with them?”
A snort from Oz, a giggle from Willow, and coughing laughter from Xander had Giles sending them a glare before he responded with a resigned shake of his head.
“I’m fairly certain they don’t take orders from me either,” he said, turning his attention to Buffy and Faith. “However, I would like to strongly suggest that you follow Spike’s advice to do your patrolling together as much as possible for a while. We’ve seen twice now, that the mayor is quite determined to take at least one of you, and no doubt, both if he can, out of the picture. Chances of that being successful should be greatly reduced if whatever else he sends against you has two slayers to fight.”
Buffy and Faith exchanged looks.
“I guess we can do that,” she said, raising an eyebrow at Faith.
“Five by five with me,” Faith agreed with a shrug.
“So. If that’s settled, I’ll just head for Willy’s. See what else I can pick up in the way of information and what ideas I can plant about the Mayor’s head minion. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Slayer One.” And he was out the door and gone, leaving Buffy biting her lip and frowning.

<<     >>