“I’m going to remain in Sunnydale for the foreseeable future, although I won’t be an employee of the London Council. I’ll act as a liaison between the Coven there and our organization here. With Willow spending her time working on being a Guardian, as well as time with the Coven, I felt that my presence was more important here so that the organization always has a magic practitioner present.”
“Not to mention, this is where my mom lives,” Buffy said with a smirk.
“And there’s that,” Winston agreed with a smile. He glanced at Spike, then back to Buffy. “Did you know that Travers confirmed Spike’s frequently stated opinion that Joyce was a potential who aged out?”
“No! I mean Spike always says that, but…. so, my mom was a potential, huh? Does she know that?”
He nodded. “I told her. She took it pretty calmly— just said she’s glad it was you who was called and not her. I told her she’d contributed enough already, having given the world one daughter who is The Slayer, and one who is a mystical key and it remains to be seen what else.”
They all looked at Sara, who just smiled enigmatically. “All of you, and Dawn, will have to wait a little longer until she turns eighteen. Then we’ll talk about what else she may want to do with her life.”
It was settled that the final conversation with Travers and company, would include only those who needed to be there. Buffy, Spike, Willow, Giles, and Anya at Giles’ request. Buffy was tempted to make it more of an old time Scooby meeting by inviting Xander as well, but she hadn’t spoken to him yet about being the contractor for the school she was determined to build. Willow had spent much of the time with Sara and Althenea, and they’d settled what they needed to do just then in terms of her responsibilities to the Guardians, as well as her time with the Coven. Sara agreed that Willow could speak for her if necessary.
Without waiting for Giles or Buffy to begin, Travers took the offensive.
“I believe, after a day spent talking to individual people, and much discussion among ourselves, we’ve come up with what we think is an equitable solution to what could be a thorny problem.” He smiled around the table at his companions.
“John here, in return for his ability to keep our records and many employees safe, will be promoted to a new position, where he will design security procedures for any situation in which a squad of slayers has been placed. That will, of course, include the Guardian House here, as well as whatever you manage to put together in terms of a training facility.”
Spike made no attempt to hide his snort, and John had the grace to look embarrassed. Buffy just rolled her eyes and left it to Giles to respond.
He pointed out, “With a practitioner of Winston’s caliber living in Sunnydale, the likelihood that John will be able to come up with anything more secure than the existing wards and alarms is very slim. No offense meant,” he added, with a smile at John.
Giles didn’t mention Max or the assistance he had given in protecting lives and property. Buffy had made it very clear to everyone that Max was not to be mentioned or referred to in front of anyone from the Council. Should his name somehow come up, he would be dismissed as an old friend of Sara’s who had provided some advice to them years ago.
There was some uncomfortable throat clearing on Travers’ part before he acknowledged that John’s expertise might be better spent on the Council building as repairs were being made. He dismissed that item, and moved on to suggesting it might make better sense to set up the slayer training facility in England, or elsewhere in the UK, where he could keep an eye on it, and make sure he approved of the curriculum.
“I don’t think so,” Buffy said quietly, although she knew Spike could sense her anger, and she felt him stiffen beside her.
“I beg your pardon? What is the alternative? I don’t intend to finance such a facility anywhere except where I have control over it.”
“Not a problem,” Buffy said. “Earlier this morning, I made the down payment on a very nice piece of property. And it already has a building on it. It’s not exactly what we need, but it’s a start. It isn’t very far from the Guardian House, believe it or not, and just a short drive or a good run, from where we live. By the time Xander has quit his job and set up his own construction company, we should have an architect hired and ready to sit down with him… and me… to draw up the plans for the expansion.”
Does Harris know about this?
He will. Be quiet!
“You do understand that even if you can find a way to finance this place, you will need to have a curriculum, instructors…. You have no idea what you’re in for.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Did you miss the part about how I was sent back in time from almost a year from now? Trust me, Giles—future Giles, that’s now this Giles—” She shook her head. “This stuff gets so confusing…. Anyway, Giles and I spent months working on what kinds of lessons we needed to offer to begin with. Eventually, I think the idea was going to be to open smaller schools in other places, Cleveland, for instance, but that was just an idea for down the road. The point is, I’ve already been through a lot of late nights working on curriculum stuff, instructor stuff, and just general stuff-stuff, like how to find all the slayers out there and how to get them to come to us to learn more about what they are now. I’m pretty sure I remember enough of it to get off to a good start. And I’ve got some brains I can pick when I need to.”
She stopped speaking and stared at him defiantly, chin up and mouth closed.
“You really have thought this out, haven’t you?” The expressions on the faces of those Travers had brought with him ranged from annoyance on one of the younger watchers, to interest on the other, and to calm acceptance from Althenea and John. As always, Charles was standing close by, but not part of the group, and, as always, his eyes were primarily on Spike.
“Again. Been there, done that. This is different, for sure. In my time, we didn’t have all the resources this Council does all over the world, but we had some. A surprising number of watchers managed to survive the attacks on their potentials, and they were ready to work with us. And we were able to access the financial resources… at least the ones we knew of and could find. We might have had a little magical hacker help from Willow there,” she said slyly, winking at Willow, who managed to look surprised and confident at the same time.
Travers turned his attention to Giles.
“And you, Rupert. Do you seriously believe she can pull this off? Think about it, man. These new slayers will need watchers. Where will she get them?”
Giles sat up straighter and met the other man’s eyes firmly. “I do believe we can do it.” The use of the plural pronoun didn’t go unnoticed by anyone, and Buffy smiled at him. “It will be more difficult without your cooperation, but I’d like to think that after you’ve had time to think about this, you will see the wisdom of working with us, rather than against us.”
Travers couldn’t avoid seeing the slight nods from Althenea and John, and the younger of the two other watchers.
“You, Thomas,” he growled, focusing on the watcher. “Am I correct in assuming you approve of all this?”
Thomas blanched, but said bravely, “I don’t know that I approve of it, but they seem quite determined, and I’ve seen and heard enough to know Ms. Summers is not only an amazing slayer, but she is surrounded by a small group of very talented and determined people. I should like to volunteer to remain here with them and offer whatever assistance I can.”
Travers sighed deeply. “I cannot express how deeply flawed I believe this plan to be. Nor how concerned about the possible consequences I am. However, I will not actively oppose it at this time. You may do whatever you choose here, assuming you can pay for it. The Council will offer what support we can in terms of providing watchers for as many slayers as you have sent out into the world. But those will be optional positions. If they choose to support a small group of slayers as they risk their lives every day, I will allow it. And I will pay them accordingly. I will not, however, pay the slayers. Nor will I pay you and Faith for whatever expertise you have to share with these girls you have so recklessly brought into this dangerous life.”
What do you think? Should I take it?
Probably the best you’ll get from him right now. Let me be the bad guy.
Buffy was still trying to formulate her response when Spike stepped up behind her and gave Travers a cold glare.
“That’s big of you,” he said. “Nice to know you’ll allow it. But just so you know, nobody was asking for your bloody permission. I know you don’t like me, and you really don’t like that Buffy’s married to me, but just so there are no misunderstandings, the only reason I’m not tearing your throat out for trying to kill my wife in three different timelines, is because she wouldn’t have it.” Spike turned his amber stare to Charles, now on his feet, stake in hand. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, mate. I’ve killed slayers and Turok-Hans. I won’t even break a sweat with you.”
“Spike…” Buffy’s saying his name aloud told him it was for the benefit of the audience, and he gave her a quick smile.
“Relax, love,” he said, keeping a close eye on Charles, but going back into his human mien. “I’m not plannin’ to kill anybody today. I just wanted to go on record that I’ve not forgotten your Cruciamentum.” He shifted his gaze to Giles. “Nor that you put her through that,” he added. “I’m going to hit a demon bar for a while. Feel like spending time around people who don’t pretend they aren’t evil.” He gave Buffy’s shoulders a little squeeze and left the shop, making no effort to hide his ability to go out into the afternoon sun.
There was a moment of silence before Buffy found her voice. “Well, I guess Spike’s feeling a little cranky today. To be fair to him, he’s been holding that Cruciamentum stuff in since you got here.” She smiled, but didn’t let it reach her eyes. “He’s not as forgiving as I am… So, where were we?” she said brightly.
Travers exchanged looks with Althenea and nodded at her. She nodded back and turned to address Buffy.
“I have something to share with you that may or may not affect your plans for the future. Sara and I have been going over your narrow escapes in the past few years, as well as when you were stabbed in your own time, and we think… it’s possible… your Willow’s resurrection spell….” She blew out a loud breath. “We believe it’s possible you are… immortal.”
“Huh? I’m im—what?”
“Your slayer healing already means that you don’t age normally, so your life span is likely to be quite long… if nothing fatal happens to you. That should be true for Faith also, and probably for all the girls you’ve activated. But in your case, in addition to your enhanced ability to heal yourself, it’s also very possible that the spell that resurrected you, has meant that you cannot die. Naturally or otherwise.”
“I can never go back to Heaven?” Buffy’s first thought was very plain, and she made no attempt to hide her dismay.
“Bugger,” Giles whispered. The watchers kept their faces expressionless, but Travers’ eyes gave away that he’d already heard their theory.
“So we think,” Althenea said, somewhat sadly, as she realized Buffy might not be as excited about it as they were . “We could be wrong, but I think you should be prepared for the idea that you cannot die.”
“On the plus side, Buffy,” Willow said, anxious to take the look off her friend’s face, even though she been the one to do the spell, “Spike won’t have to watch you grow old and die. You’ll both be immortal.”
Buffy didn’t reply, but she’d already sent a jumbled version of the conversation, and her reaction to it, to Spike, who’d immediately spun around and was back inside the shop before she could say anything else.
He didn’t speak to anyone, just pulled Buffy from her chair and out the door.
“Deep breaths, Slayer. Take deep breaths. We’ll sort this out.”
“I can’t die, Spike. I’ll never go back to Heaven… never get to rest…”
She sank to the ground, heedless of the traffic on the street and the other people on the sidewalk. One flash of Spike’s fangs sent the curious ones on their way, and he dropped beside her, pulling her into his lap as if they were home alone. He held her tightly while she trembled and fought to hold back screams of anger. With one final shudder, she relaxed against him and sighed into his shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean I want to die anytime soon, I just….”
“You just know what your reward will be, and now there’s a chance you won’t see it. Nothing to apologize for, love. Much as the idea of loving you forever appeals to me, I’d never wish that on you. What say we go home where you can digest the idea without the audience?” He flashed his fangs again at the people slowing down to watch them.
She shook her head. “I should probably go back in there. I’m kind of curious to see Travers’ reaction to the idea that he can’t get rid of me now.”
He gave a shaky laugh as he helped her to her feet. “You are one amazing woman, love.”
Buffy shrugged. “I’ve had my meltdown—in front of half the town. It’s time for me to suck it up and get back to work.” She paused and leaned into his side. “Doesn’t mean I might not have to go out into the desert later, where I can scream at the Powers That Be, but right now, we have work to do.”
“Hell of a woman. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. My mate is one hell of a woman.” He put his arm around her and kept it there until they reached the door of the Magic Box.
They reentered the shop to find Willow in tears, Giles with a sick look on his face, and Travers and Althenea in a heated discussion back in one corner.
Willow stopped sobbing long enough to blurt out a garbled apology for what her future self had done to Buffy. With a sigh, Buffy assured her that she was well aware that she hadn’t been the one to do it, and wouldn’t have had any reason to think it could have had that effect anyway.
“It’s fine, Willow. I’m over it.” She glanced over to where Travers and Althenea had stopped talking to stare at her.
“Are you quite all right?” Travers asked, to everyone’s surprise. “That must have been quite a shock.” He glared at Althenea, who glared back at him.
“It wasn’t the happiest news I’ve had all day, but hey, I’m married to an immortal, right? Just more domestic joy to look forward to than we might have expected. Now, what else do we have to talk about here?”
“Buffy…. I….I’m not sure quite what to say.” Giles frowned and shook his head.
“Just say we’re done here for a while, and that I can go home with my husband. I think we need some alone time.”
“I’m sure Rupert and I can thrash out anything else we need to arrange before I leave.,” Travers said. “Thank you for your cooperation, and please take all the time you need.”
“Let’s go, love.” Spike was still holding her hand and he tugged her to the door. Buffy gave a small wave and allowed him to pull her outside again. This time, they just began walking at a pace few humans could have matched, and they were soon home.
They went straight to their door and entered, locking it behind them. They share a soft laugh at themselves, knowing as they did, that nothing could get near it, never mind open it.
“Tell me what you need, love,” Spike said. “I can’t make this go away, but there must be something I can do to make it better.”
She sighed. “How did you get used to it? The whole, I’m a vampire and I can’t die thing?”
“Different kettle of fish, love. First place, I can die. Or be killed, anyway. So there was always that little bit of uncertainty to make unlife a bit interesting. And I’ve been around less than two centuries. Not nearly enough time to get bored with it.” He paused. “An’ I doubt you and I are going to be spending eternity in the same place, so nothing to look forward to on my part.”
“You have the Gem. You aren’t going to die now.”
He took a deep breath. “There’s a good chance, love, that if and when I lost you, I’d rip that Gem out of my body. Forever without my mate just wouldn’t have much appeal.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. Drama queen!
“Well, I guess you don’t need to worry about that anymore, do you?” she added aloud, smiling to take the sting out of her first thought.
He took hold of her shoulders and forced her to face him. “A. We don’t know that for sure. She said they think that’s what’s going on. The only way to test it is for you to die again, which is not an experiment I’m willing to participate in, just in case you were wondering….”
“And B would be that I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend eternity with, and I would do everything in my power to make you happy about it.”
“Yeah, well when you were claiming me, I’ll bet you weren’t thinking it was going to be forever….”
“Yes, I was. Because if you go, I go. Your forever is my forever.” He gave her a crooked grin. “So, if you want to keep me alive, you’ll need to make sure you don’t die.”
“Well that’s cheating!”
“Evil, pet. What can I say?”
“I think you should say you love me and always will. And we should probably be naked at the time.”
“And brilliant ideas like that are why I married you….”
“So.” Buffy ran a fingernail around Spike’s nipple, still red from where she’d been sucking on it. “When you say you’ll always love me…. do you mean like, always for regular people? Or always for people who won’t die? Ever.”
“Told you when we first got here, I loved you in our own time and I would have loved you in this one, no matter what happened to our memories. My body… and soul… would have been just as in love with you as they ever were. Losin’ our memories wouldn’t have changed that. And still being together fifty or a hundred years from now isn’t going to change it either. You’re stuck with me, Buffy Summers Pratt. For whatever ‘always’ turns out to be for us.”
Without responding verbally, Buffy suddenly lurched up his body and fastened her teeth onto her mark on his neck. She bit down hard until she could taste blood on her tongue, at the same time, throwing a leg over his body and stretching out so as to be pressed against him, skin to skin, everywhere they could touch. She kept her teeth in his neck as he used his hands to place her into position over his cock, but when she wasn’t able to feel him as she wanted to, she let go and sat up. They gave matching sighs when she sank down onto him, digging her fingernails into his chest as she began to move.
She smiled at his usual ability to sense what she needed, when he only guided her hips and let her set the pace. She moved slowly until she could tell he was struggling with his own urge to move faster, then she stretched out upon him again, allowing him to roll them over so he was gazing down at her.
“My turn to drive, love.” As he spoke, he increased his pace, making sure he was hitting all the places she needed him to hit.
There was no need for Buffy to verbalize her feelings, as he could feel her through their bond. He sent back his own internal satisfaction at knowing he was bringing her pleasure, as well as making sure she could feel his own steadily increasing pressure for release.
Buffy arched her neck, exposing his marks and holding on to him with a slayer’s full strength.
Now. I need this. We need this.
Singing my song, sweetheart.
He slid his fangs into his marks as gently as was possible with their lower bodies in such vigorous motion. At the first hard pull of her blood, Buffy gave herself over to the sensations, and soon shuddered around him in a prolonged orgasm that she never wanted to end. She felt him convulse above her as he sucked her life blood, and she was overwhelmed by her reactions and the mutual ecstasy they were sharing.
As they came down from the stronger than usual experience, jumbled emotions flowed back and forth between them through the bond. There was no need for words, as every nuance of emotion was more than apparent to each of them. Spike’s wonder and his complete devotion mingled with Buffy’s gratitude and her fierce love for her mate.
You were thinking ‘mate’
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