Wesley didn’t get to answer before the door opened and Dawn came in, followed by Xander, who stopped beside Anya. Dawn went right to the silent group at the table and stopped to glare at Buffy and Spike.
“I thought we agreed that I don’t need to be picked up after school any more?”
Buffy glanced at Xander, who held up his hands and shrugged. “All I did was offer her a ride,” he said.
“You’re over-reacting, Dawn. Calm down and say hello to Wes—Mr. Wyndam-Pryce.”
Dawn barely glanced at Wes as she said, “Hi” then turned back to Buffy. “So, you didn’t tell Xander to pick me up after school?”
“No, we didn’t. He was just being nice to you. Obviously a waste of his time,” Buffy snapped. She sent Xander an apologetic smile. “He’ll know better next time.”
“But if we had, Bit, we’d be expecting you to be a bit more gracious about it and thank the man.”
Spike gave Dawn a disappointed frown, earning him an annoyed “There you go with that ‘I know you better than you think and I can tell you what to do’ stuff again. You aren’t my mom… or my big brother,” she finished in a mutter.
“Not quite,” he agreed quietly, smiling at Buffy’s sympathetic hand on his arm. “But I know your mum raised you better than that.”
Wes frowned again at the obvious pain Dawn’s words had caused Spike. “Why do I get the feeling I’m missing a great deal of what I need to know?”
“Prob’ly ‘cause you are,” Spike said. “Till we can be sure you aren’t here just to feed the big poof’s need to control Buffy’s life, there’s no sense tellin’ you things he doesn’t need to know.”
Wesley nodded. “I have to respect that concern. What can I do to alleviate your fears?”
Spike shrugged. “Not sure what you can do to convince me, Oxford. Best talk to the Slayer and the watchers and see if you can make them believe it.”
Wes raised an eyebrow at Spike. “Just so we’re clear, is your lack of trust based on my relationship with Angel, or does it have something to do with your nickname for me?”
Spike gave a grin that didn’t reach his eyes. “Now why wouldn’t I trust a fellow alumnus?”
While Wes gaped at him, Giles interjected a quiet, “Remember the rule about not blaming people for things they haven’t done.” Understood, but unspoken, was the “yet”.
“Right you are,” Spike admitted. “My apologies, Watcher. Maybe we can steal you away before you become too involved in his little gang of minions. Or fall in with the wrong ladies—urk!”
Buffy’s punch to his back interrupted him before he could say too much. Between her punch and glares from Giles and Winston, he sat back and mimed zipping his mouth closed.
Wesley frowned in confusion, having no idea what ladies Spike might be referring to as he was sure Spike had never met Fred. “Are you referring to Cordelia?”
Spike shook his head, saying, “The cheerleader? Nah, she’s a bit of alright, inn’t she? No. I meant nothin’. Just using my mouth too much.”
“And I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.” Xander approached the table and nodded to Wesley. “Used-to-be-watcher person. How’ve you been?”
“Ah… Mr. Harris, is it?”
“Just Xander. Mr. Harris is my old man and you don’t really want to know him….”
“Ah, yes. Of course. Xander. How are you?”
“Still getting used to my friend Buffy having another vampire in her life… but at least this one has a sense of humor.”
Wesley’s lips twitched and they all watched him struggle to balance loyalty to Angel with any sign he agreed with Xander’s truthful remark. “Indeed” was his final response as he gave up and joined the unanimous smiles around the table. “It seems we are all struggling with that.”
“Struggling with what? The big poof’s sense of self-importance, or the Slayer’s obviously improved taste in men?” Spike’s words were said lightly, but his stare was challenging.
“In all honesty, I would have to say… both.” Wesley’s returned gaze was just as challenging.
“Fair enough,” Spike replied with a nod.
“If that’s settled, can we get back to filling Wesley in on what he can be told?” Giles looked around the table until he’d received nods from everyone. “I think it’s fair to say that we can tell him about Glorificus, and what we had to do to contain her. I’m not sure it’s necessary to discuss the Key in great detail, but….”
“But it won’t make a lot of sense without it,” Buffy said.
“So, this Key, and the hellgod from which you were keeping it, that was what kept you too busy to properly chastise Angel last year?” Wesley seemed genuinely interested in Buffy’s answer.
“Pretty much,” she admitted. “Which he should be thankful for, by the way, because my first impulse once that claim was gone and I figured out how he’d done it, was to drive a stake through his arrogant heart.”
Buffy’s tight lips as she finished speaking made Wesley flinch away from her, although he nodded his agreement.
“An understandable reaction,” he said. “But events here prevented you from doing so?”
“If I may?” Winston cleared his throat. “At the time Buffy and Spike determined to initiate their own mutual claim, the reason for which goes somewhat beyond simply being in love with each other, things with Glory were coming to a head and it was important that we be prepared for anything. Buffy’s presence was key to luring Glory out to where we could best defeat her without endangering innocent lives.”
He looked at Buffy. “Would you like to explain, or shall I?”
“You go ahead. You’re all magic guy and from the Council, so he’ll be more likely to listen to you,” Buffy said with a quick glance at Wesley.
“You are a member of the Council of Watchers?” Wesley raised his eyebrows, not having moved as far away from his upbringing not to have his own sources there.
“Only in the sense that they are responsible for my being here,” Winston said smoothly. “I am not a member of the current Council of Watchers.”
Buffy and Spike exchanged small smiles at this easy semi-truthful explanation, which Wesley accepted at face value and nodded at Winston to go on.
“How does he do that?” Xander whispered to Spike, who shrugged.
“Wish I knew. I’d get myself in a lot less trouble.”
Winston quickly summarized the previous year’s issues with the Key having been given to Buffy to protect, as well as the arrival of Glory and her minions. He glossed over what the Key actually was and explained the plan they’d come up with to destroy the hellgod.
Wesley interrupted him to ask Spike, “So, your job was to kill the hellgod’s human form?” His disapproval was palpable.
“Mine, or whoever else was in a position to do it. Slayer didn’t want to. I didn’t have those inhibitions.” He gave Wesley a yellow-tinged stare to make his point.
“Clearly not,” he said thoughtfully. “The advantage of not having a soul, one must assume.”
“Assume away,” Spike said shortly. “I’ll be outside havin’ a fag in the nice dark alley.” He stood up and walked to the back door, surprised when Xander walked out with him.
“So, you’re not liking Wesley’s version of you?”
Spike shrugged. “Got to keep remindin’ myself he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know—like that it was his bloody idea to send me here to kill Glory’s human host or to keep Willow from bringin’ her back if Buffy died anyway.” He threw the only partially smoked cigarette away. “Or that he was the one workin’ the mojo part of what sent me back.”
He shook out another cigarette and stuck it in his mouth. “Should be thankin’ him, I guess. Brought me back to Buffy, didn’t it?” He lit the cigarette and blew a smoke ring at Xander.
Waving away the smoke, Xander said, “I was gonna point that out if it didn’t occur to you. It worked out pretty well for you it seems to me. For both of you,” he added.
“It did.” Spike raised an eyebrow at him. “Might need you to remind me of that every now and again. I didn’t realize he was quite such a straight-laced watcher type before.”
“Trust me. Compared to what he was like when he showed up to be Faith’s watcher? This is loose as a goose.”
Spike snorted. “Must have been a real treat then. How’d the girls do with him?”
“About what you’d expect. They sassed him and then did whatever they wanted to. He didn’t last long.”
“Sorry I missed it,” Spike said with a laugh. “Would have been a lot of fun rattling his cage.”
Xander nodded his head. “I think it was pretty rattled by the time he left here.” He watched Spike leaning against the wall to enjoy his smoke. “So, in your time, were you friends?”
Spike shook his head. “Not really. Had a few good talks while I was a ghostie. I expect we could have been friends. He’d lost the stick up his arse by then, but he was all about the ‘we know what’s best for the world’ attitude that Angelus has, so I never got time to get to know him better. They explained my lack of options to me not long after I was solid again, and off I went to good old Sunnyhell.”
“And Buffy,” Spike agreed, flicking his butt away. “Reckon I’d best be gettin’ back in there in case she needs me.”
He sat down beside Buffy just in time to hear Wesley say, “I understand from Angel that you had a seer helping you some time ago.” He looked at Anya briefly, then back at Buffy. “Is it Willow? I remember that she was quite busy with magic at one time.”
“Willow’s amazing with the magic—she helped us out with the spell to keep Glory in her human form.” Buffy smiled at him. “But no, she’s not a seer.”
“So, you no longer have someone who can see into the future? I was hoping to meet him or her to compare notes.” He seemed disappointed.
“Compare notes? Are you a seer now?”
“No. No, of course not. But Cordelia—”
“Buffy nodded. “That’s right. I forgot about that. She got Doyle’s seer powers, didn’t she?” She frowned at Wesley. “That was the reason Angel came up here at Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. The seer told him there was danger here.”
“Danger. On a hellmouth. Imagine that,” Xander scoffed.
Ignoring the rude interruptions, Wesley continued. “I was really hoping to meet your seer. It’s quite disappointing that I cannot. Has he or she left Sunnydale then?”
There was silence as they all tried to come up with an appropriate response that wouldn’t give too much away. Finally Anya blurted, “It’s Spike! He’s the one who can see the future.” Ignoring Xander’s groan, she beamed, pleased with her contribution to the conversation.
Wesley looked from Anya’s smiling face to the blank ones around the table, finally settling on Spike’s.
“You are the seer?” He frowned, obviously realizing that he wasn’t getting the whole truth.
“In a manner of speaking, I reckon,” Spike said eventually. He glanced at Giles, who gave a shrug.
“And is that something you picked up from your sire? Did Drusilla pass her abilities on to you? How was it that Angel didn’t know about it?”
“The big poof doesn’t know what he doesn’t need to know,” Spike said shortly. “Didn’t tell him, ‘cause it wasn’t any of his business. He was just here to bitch at us for livin’ together and there wasn’t any reason to tell him how we knew what we knew. All he needed to be told was that we had good reasons to be working together and our personal lives were none of his business.”
Wesley looked back and forth between Spike and Buffy. “And yet, working together against a common enemy is hardly a basis for forming a permanent bond between you. It still seems unlikely that two such natural enemies would be spending enough time together to fall in love.”
“It’s going on almost two years since then,” Giles broke in. “More than enough time for feelings to develop between two people who are spending a lot of time together working on the same problems.”
“Two people, perhaps. A slayer and an unsouled vampire….”
“The poof didn’t tell you that part of it, I take it?” Spike growled.
“Spike has his soul,” Buffy said. “He got it for me.”
Wesley’s mouth dropped open. “Where…? How…? When…?”
“Perfectly good questions, all of ‘em,” Spike said. “Maybe someday I’ll tell you about it. But not today. All you need to know is that it’s another thing your boss left out of his story. And it’s one he does know about. He saw it when he was here the first time.”
He stood up and glanced at Dawn who had been chatting with Anya. “Are you going to need me for help tonight, Bit?”
She shook her head. “No, I think I’ve got it. It’s easy stuff, and science. Not exactly your strong suit, is it?”
“Not my fault the world’s got so complicated an old vamp can’t keep up with it,” he growled.
She laughed at him, then pulled him toward the door. “It’s getting dark out, so you have to walk me home anyway, Big Bad.”
Buffy wasn’t fooled by Spike’s grumbling about being used as a bodyguard for an ungrateful bint. She knew he was happy to have some time to spend with Dawn.
“You two go on,” she said. “I’ll do a quick patrol and meet you at the gate to Restfield, ‘k?”
“Alright, love,” he said, dropping a quick kiss on top of her head. “I’ll meet you there shortly.”
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