The walk home was without incident, and they were soon back in their own apartment. Spike went directly to the fridge and took out a carton of blood. Buffy frowned, as they’d eaten before they went out.
“Nothing, love. It’s just that I burned up a lot of energy tonight and I don’t want to go into battle not being up to snuff. It’s just insurance.”
“I never thought of that. I wonder if the Gem pulls energy from your body when it heals you so fast?”
He shrugged. “Prob’ly does. A lot of it is magic, but sometimes magic needs something to work with. Seems like I sometimes need to eat more often than I did before I had it, but it’s been so long now I can’t be sure. Might just be my imagination…” He took his blood from the microwave and chugged it down. “Might not,” he said, as Buffy stared at him with narrowed eyes. “Either way. I’m good to go, now.”
“Doesn’t this seem like something you might have mentioned before… like, oh, I dunno, four years ago?”
“Why?” He seemed genuinely perplexed. “The important thing is that it keeps me safe. If I have to eat a bit more often, seems like a good trade-off to me.”
“It just seems like something I should have known,” she muttered. “A good wife would have noticed that before now.”
“You are a good wife, sweetheart. The best wife I ever had. And if you give me a moment to rinse the blood out of my mouth, I’ll be happy to express my appreciation for you as often as I need to until you believe me.”
Buffy laughed at him, even as he went to the sink and swished a handful of water around in his mouth.
“I thought the idea was to come home to rest up for tomorrow….”
“You can be lying down restin’ while I appreciate you,” he said, putting his arms around her and nuzzling her neck. “In fact, that’s probably exactly what you should be doing. Starting now.”
He picked her up, smiling when she automatically put her legs around his waist, and carried her into the bedroom. He leaned over the bed and encouraged her to drop her legs. When she was lying there, smiling at him, he began to remove her clothes, beginning with her boots and socks. He worked his way up her body, tugging off her jeans and underwear, but only pausing to drop a quick kiss on the exposed flesh before continuing his journey, pulling up her shirt as he did so. When he had her completely naked, he stood at the foot of bed, beaming.
“There she is,” he said, his expression cocky, but his voice full of wonder and affection. “My perfect wife, my mate, my love.”
“I’m down here, naked, and you’re up there, still dressed,” she said with a small pout. “What’s wrong with this picture?”
“Nothing from my point of view,” he leered, even as he started shedding his own clothes. He kept his gaze on her until he had dropped all his clothing on the floor with hers. “It’s a perfect picture,” he insisted, as he crawled up the bed until he was hovering over her, their bodies just barely touching.
“I love you, Mrs. Pratt,” he whispered. “More than you can imagine.”
“I love you too, Mr. Pratt. I’m glad we got this chance for me to show you I do.”
“Do you think this means we can stop worryin’ about us in the future?”
Buffy frowned a little and nudged him with her nose. “I stopped worrying about that years ago,” she said. “Don’t tell me you still aren’t sure?”
“I’m sure about me. I knew when we first started talking about it that I would still have loved you, even if we didn’t remember being us. It was you, wasn’t sure we’d still be us.”
“But we are us,” she breathed against his neck, pulling the skin into her mouth to suck on it.
“We always will be.” He growled at the sensations she was causing, and when her legs went around his waist again, he groaned and slid into her. “Had planned to spend some time appreciating you,” he murmured. “But this works too.”
Buffy began to move in rhythm with his slow thrusts, sighing, “I’m feeling pretty appreciated right now.”
“That’s the plan….”
Although they’d spent more time than they’d expected appreciating each other during the night, Buffy still woke up early the next morning. She was too wound up about the day’s events to sleep in. She let Spike stay in bed with a pillow over his head while she showered and got dressed for the coming battle. In spite of having the scythe and intending to use it, she also spent some time lining up other weapons she might want to have with her. A sharp hunting knife, several stakes, and newly sharpened sword all went onto the chair the scythe was leaning against. She frowned, then began an additional pile of weapons for Spike to take with him.
She ate some cereal—only enough to have fuel in her body, not enough to be able to cause any problems later—then decided it was time for Spike to be up. But before she could do anything about it, she heard him muttering to himself about “ungodly hour for a vampire” and “the things I do for her…”.
He stumbled to the kitchen, naked, his hair still mussed. She grinned as he grabbed his blood and put it in the microwave before he turned to greet her.
“Good morning,” she said, giving him a quick kiss and an even quicker grope. “Are you hungry again?”
“Somebody made me expend a lot of energy last night,” he said, grabbing her hand and putting it back on his cock. “Look at this poor thing… all worn out and—” He had to stop, both because he couldn’t maintain his grumpiness with Buffy’s hand stroking him, and because his cock responded immediately and made a liar out of him. Her giggle made him smile in spite of himself.
“Don’t be starting something you don’t plan to finish,” he said, pulling her closer. In spite of his words, he used his free hand to reach for the warmed blood in the microwave, and she laughed and moved away.
“Just hold that thought until we’ve kicked evil ass.”
As he tipped up his mug and guzzled the blood, rather than sipping it like coffee as he normally would have, she frowned, while he put the empty cup in the sink.
“Should we not have done that last night? Are you going to be too—”
“Bite your tongue, woman! Not too anything. Just wanted to get that out of the way so I can get myself ready to go.”
“Okay, well get dressed then. I want to get to Sara’s in time to answer any questions the potentials might have, and also give the ones who don’t want to fight a chance to talk to Willow about the other spell.”
“I’ll just get my kit on and we can head over there.” He gestured at the piles of weapons on the chairs. “Do we need to take the car?”
“Nah. Whatever we can’t carry can stay here. I just wanted to give you some choices.”
“My first choice is always with me,” he said, going into game face briefly.
“Yeah, yeah, you’re all ‘I’ve always got my weapons’ guy. But you’re going to have some extra help whether you want it or not.”
“Yes’m, General Buffy, sir,” he said as he went into the bedroom, his laughter floating behind him.
By the time they’d sorted out which weapons to take, and hidden them around their bodies well enough for the walk to the Guardian house, their short trip got them there just around the time Buffy had told Sara to expect them. So, it was no surprise to find the girls all milling around the big common area. Most of them had already chosen weapons from the armory and were comparing notes. Buffy went to talk to Sara and Willow, leaving Spike to observe how the potential slayers interacted and how many seemed eager to get their full powers.
In addition to noting how well Mel did reassuring some of the less eager ones, and also how Kennedy seemed to mistake bossiness for leadership, he nodded his head as if he’d suspected it all along. He wasn’t at all surprised to see Rosita off by herself, clearly doing her best to appear as eager as the others, and just as clearly not eager at all. As casually as he could, he wended his way between the armed potential slayers, and leaned against the wall near Rosita.
“Did you talk to Sara, yet?” he asked, smiling when she flinched and gave him a guilty shrug, shaking her head “no”.
“You should to that,” he said, carefully keeping any trace of disapproval from his voice. “Once all these girls get powered up, she’s going to need a lot more help than just Willow. She’d be happy to have you joining her as a Guardian. Much happier than she would be to send you into a fight you don’t want to have, and that might end up with you or someone else getting killed.”
She flinched again, and he rested his hand on her shoulder. “Nobody’s going to think less of you,” he growled. “And if anyone gives you a hard time about it, you let me know and I’ll sort ‘em out.”
She glanced up at him. “But, they’ll be slayers. Won’t you… I mean, I know you’re old, but…”
“Appreciate the concern, luv, but I’m not worried about a newbie slayer. For more reasons than you need to know. Just go have your talk with Sara and Willow before Buffy starts her meeting.”
With a resigned sigh, Rosita nodded, then stood up and walked over to where Buffy, Sara, and Willow were still talking.
Heading your way, love. She needs a bit of encouragement to do what she needs to do.
Buffy whispered to Sara, who greeted Rosita with a smile and an arm around her shoulders.
Spike grinned to himself, knowing Sara would work her own version of magic on the girl. He went back to studying the other potentials, but didn’t notice anyone else not fully participating in the excitement.
The arrival of Winston and Joyce, who refused to meet Buffy’s eyes and looked away quickly when Spike grinned at her, gave everyone a chance to settle down and prepare for what would be next. Sara took Joyce to the kitchen for coffee, and left her there to chat with Rosita and Dawn, while she went back to join Willow and Buffy. Winston and Spike were off to the side, ready to answer questions if needed, but clearly leaving the proceedings to the women in charge.
Buffy stared around the room at the girls who were about to have their lives changed completely. Almost all of them, even those who hadn’t had watchers in their lives and were not as skilled as those who had, looked ready for what was going to happen to them. She nodded and waited for them to stop talking among themselves.
“All right, Slayers,” she started. “Let’s get this show on the road. Here’s what’s going to happen….”
She quickly, but thoroughly, ran through the plan for the attack, and who would be responsible for what. There was a gasp when she told them that there was another slayer in town, one almost as old as her, and that she would be joining them at the high school.
“Faith will be guarding Xander at first, but as soon as he’s pulled the alarm and emptied out the building, she’ll join us and be in charge of half of you. She’s an experienced slayer, and you should follow her directions as much as you can. We’ll worry about introductions later.” She paused, then reminded them, “The First can look like anybody who is, or has been, dead. Please remember that. If Spike or I suddenly appear in front of you, telling you to leave or do anything else that doesn’t make sense, take a swing at us. Chances are, it’s the First and it will disappear just like it did the other night.”
She glanced at Spike, then back at the girls. “When we first go in, our job is going to be to make sure the school is empty of civilians, and that we’ve cleared it of any lurking Turok-Hans or Bringers. You’ll be spreading out in pairs to be sure we’ve covered the whole building and it’s safe for others to come in. Giles and Wes will be in charge of a small group intercepting Bringers, because they can come from anywhere, and the sun doesn’t necessarily keep them from being out and about. The two experienced watchers can hold their own, so I’ll probably only leave one pair of slayers with them, but if you have a problems or questions, they’re the ones to ask.
“Once the building above ground is clear and we’ve moved on to the basement and secured it, we’ll move to the sub basement, which is probably where we’ll find the most Turok-Hans. With luck, there won’t be many out this early, but we don’t know that. I’m sure the First is on guard now, even if it doesn’t know we’re planning to hit it today.”
She paused again, then said, “At that point, our main goal is to see that Winston can get to the hellmouth without having to waste magical energy fighting his way to it. That will be our job. Spike and me,” she said, pointing to him. “We’ll be clearing the way in front of him. Faith, and… Mel—” She waited for Mel to get over her surprise and nod. “—will be in charge of the two groups that are doing clean up of the area around the hellmouth. Your job will be to take out any Turok-Hans or Bringers that might be trying to get at us from behind. Are there any questions?”
Kennedy’s hand shot up. “Who is this ‘Faith’ person, and why are she and Mel in charge?” Unspoken was the obvious “Why am I not in charge?”
Buffy bit back the comment she wanted to make, settling for saying, “Like I said, Faith is an experienced slayer. In our time, she and I were in charge of training all the new slayers. She also was there helping when we took the First down that time. And Mel has impressed me—us—with her leadership abilities.” She looked around the room. “I didn’t have a chance to stay in my own time for very long after we closed the hellmouth, so I don’t know everything happened there later, but I was there long enough to learn that just giving a girl super powers doesn’t automatically make her a good slayer. There’s a lot more to it. I’m having to rely on my instincts…and on Spike.”
She narrowed her eyes at the girls. “For those of you who might not know, he’s pretty famous for having killed at least two slayers. And since in our time, he had a chance to help me train potentials as well as fight beside them in the hellmouth, he’s a pretty good judge of who will and who won’t be a good one.” She hastened to add, “I’m not saying any of you will be bad slayers. Being a slayer is a pretty special job, and all potentials are chosen for their… potential. But we’re still human, and some of us learn faster than others. And some just….”
Spike broke in. “What Buffy is trying so hard not to say, is that there isn’t going to be a one of you that can or will match her. But it doesn’t mean you won’t be brilliant at being a slayer. Or that the average vampire shouldn’t be afraid to be in the same city as you.”
“Are you afraid of us?” Kennedy asked, less belligerently than he might have expected. He just gave her a toothy grin.
“Not the average vamp, am I?”
“That’s enough,” Buffy interrupted. “Are there any other questions? Or are we ready to do this?”
There were murmurs of assent and nodding heads all around the room.
“Alright then,” Buffy handed the scythe to Willow. “Do your thing, magic woman.”
Willow nodded and took the weapon with her as she settled herself into a small study area adjacent to the main room. She sat down with the scythe in her lap, and began the spell.
While Winston watched Willow, clearly pleased with the confidence she’d shown by not looking at him when she began, Buffy and Spike (and Sara) watched the potentials absorbing their new powers. Seeing them, one by one, sit up straighter and glow with power and confidence was fun to watch. In her time, Buffy had been too busy fighting to watch the spell take effect. She beamed at her new ‘army’, even as Spike cringed away from the power in front of him.
“A bit much, isn’t it?” Winston murmured.
“You feel it?”
“Can’t not feel it. Are you all right?”
“I will be. Was a bit too busy back in the day to worry about how scary it was to be surrounded by slayers. May take some getting’ used to.”
“Good thing they’re going to have plenty of other evil things to take out their new need to slay things on, isn’t it?” Winston said with a grin.
Spike grinned back. “I do seem to find myself hopin’ for more evil in need of slayin’ than I did a few minutes ago.”
They stared at the new slayers, now flexing and stretching, testing their new strength and abilities. Willow had come back and returned the scythe to Buffy. Her hair was still white from the effects of the spell, but she was beaming and assured Sara and Buffy that she was fine. Sara murmured to her that Rosita was in the kitchen, and Willow nodded. As she turned to go offer Rosita the de-slayer spell, she whispered, “Good luck” to Buffy.
“We’ve got this,” Buffy said. She raised her voice to get the new slayers’ attention. “Let’s go, Slayers. We’ve got evil butt to kick.”
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