Chapter Nine-The Last to Know
Buffy trudged up the front steps to her house, exhausted and somewhat shaken from the conversation she just had with Wood. On her short walk home Buffy had involuntarily dwelled upon what the young Principal had said. Sure, she knew Spike was a vampire and with that came a history of violence and bloodshed. She knew he had killed two slayers and she had known Robin’s mother had been a slayer. Why the hell had she never put two and two together?
Buffy groaned as she reached her front door, placing a hand tentatively on the big brass doorknob. Wood’s bewildered reactions to her announcement about having a relationship with Spike had also plagued her thoughts. Was she being careless with Spike? Was he still a danger? Buffy shook her head. She couldn’t start doubting him now. When it came down to it, Buffy was probably the only person who really believed in him. She could never abandon the faith she had in Spike. She just couldn’t do that to him.
Buffy pushed the door open and suddenly found herself in the midst of the house’s daily training routine. A large group of SITs were sitting in the living room, attentively listening to Anya ramble on about vampires and Turok Hans. Luckily for Buffy, no one heard her come in. She watched them for a minute, seeing Dawn at Anya’s side, drawing diagrams on a large dry erase board. The Slayer couldn’t help but note the look of concentration on her little sister’s face. With her super slayer stealth, Buffy headed across the foyer toward the stairs.
“Now, another thing you gotta consider is vampire stamina,” Buffy heard Anya state as she gradually made her way upstairs. “In hand-to-hand combat they can fight for hours and never get tired. As a matter of fact, it’s what makes them excellent lovers. I’m talking hours of sex here people.” The last remark made Buffy stumble a bit.
“Uhh, Anya? I don’t think they wanna know about sleeping with vampires,” Dawn shyly advised, not surprised but still uneasy about having to be the one to censor the forthright ex-demon.
“Why not? It’s vital information,” Anya adamantly countered.
“Yeah, if humping vampires turned them to dust,” one of the girls joked, eliciting a few snorts and giggles from her peers.
Clearly misreading the comment, Anya gave her straight-faced, overly perky response. “No. No it doesn’t. But it might disorient them long enough for you to land a stake in their chest.”
A burst of laughter suddenly resonated throughout the house from the living room. As Buffy reached the top of the stairs, all she could hear amongst the giggling was Anya repeatedly asking “What? What did I say?”
The Slayer let out a few chuckles of her own. She was going to have to definitely talk to Anya about what was and what wasn’t appropriate when it came to teaching the young impressionable minds of the Potentials. She so didn’t want them to start getting any wrong ideas about vamps. The thought of the girls ogling and drooling over Spike suddenly jumped into her head. Buffy was without a doubt going to have to talk to Anya.
Making her was through the surprisingly clean upstairs hallway, Buffy opened the door to her room. All she wanted to do was get out of her work clothes and find Spike. She smiled. She could hear him shouting out orders through the open windows of the house. ‘Guess he’s training the other half of the troops in the backyard,’ Buffy surmised as she made a b-line for her closet. Pulling out a pair of well worn jeans and a comfy maroon tee, Buffy quickly changed.
Turning around, she gasped when her eyes settled upon the room. It was spotless. The clothes that had once littered the floor were gone. The notebooks Spike had been using to keep track of the girls’ progress were no longer scattered across her room. Instead they were in a neat pile by the nightstand. Buffy disbelievingly approached the bed, which was actually made! She couldn’t believe how excited she was getting about a clean room. Boy, did she ever need to get a life.
On her pillow lay a single, yellow flower, one she recognized from the garden in the backyard. A smile spread across her face as she brought the soft petals to her nose, inhaling the sweet scent. Glancing back down, she caught sight of a note. Eagerly picking it up, Buffy read the words scrawled on the small piece of paper.
I figured since I’m spending my nights in here with you and all, I should probably lend a hand with the keep up. Now hurry up and come give me a kiss hello.
How was it that whenever she started to doubt herself, in whatever she was doing, Spike would always come through with the little gestures? Staring down at the saffron flower in her hand, Buffy’s uncertainties began to vanish. No matter what happened Spike would be there for her. And that was all she needed to know.
As Buffy made her way back downstairs, she realized that the two groups were taking their daily thirty minute break before the switch happened. Girls filed in and out of the living room, crowding the downstairs level of the house. Idle chatter reached Buffy’s ears as she surfed through the throng of teenage girls, trying to make her way down the hall. Squeezing herself past a few more SITs, she finally entered the kitchen.
At the same moment, Kennedy and Andrew emerged from the backyard. Both were staring at the tiny screen on Andrew’s handheld camcorder.
“I think they’re starting to get it,” Kennedy stated as she gave the replay one last glimpse.
“I know. They’re all like mini-Buffy’s, except you know, without the super powers,” Andrew replied before an enthralled expression materialized on his face. “Spike’s a pretty good leader too. Kinda like Aragorn, reluctantly leading his wary and broken fellowship against the evil forces of Lord Sauron.”
Kennedy stared incredulously at the starry eyed geek. “Yeah, sure Andrew. Whatever you say.” And with that, the brunette hurriedly marched out of the kitchen, trying to find someone actually sane to talk to. She nodded a ‘hello’ to Buffy before passing her by.
The Slayer returned the greeting before heading to the back door. “Hey Andrew. Is Spike back there?” she asked the distracted ex-Trio member. A barely discernible affirmative mumble was his only response. With a shrug, Buffy made her way outside.
Spike was leaning against the house’s rear brick wall, completely protected from the sun’s deathly rays. Smoke danced in the air above his head from the lit cigarette dangling between his lips. Spotting Buffy, he prematurely finished off the smoke, stomping out the barely burned up cig. Grinning from ear to ear, he sauntered over to her, taking her small hands in his. “Got my note?”
Buffy hesitantly nodded. “Yeah and you’re sweet but there’s no way I’m kissing you.”
“What? Why the bloody hell not?”
Buffy giggled, watching him get flustered. “You know you’re real cute when you get all huffy. But I’m still not kissing you. Especially not after you’ve been suckin’ on those cancer sticks. You’re all stinky,” she pointed out with a pout.
“First of all, I am not cute,” Spike announced indignantly. “Secondly, what’s with the bleedin’ fascination with my breath? Kinda shallow, don’t ya think pet?” he seductively wondered, edging his way closer to Buffy.
“Hey! You better stay back, Mister! I’m warning you,” Buffy half-heartedly resisted as she playfully backed away.
“C’mon luv. Just a quick peck. S’all I ask,” Spike pleaded, giving her his most devilish smirk. “Don’t make me tickle you again.”
Buffy snatched her hands from out of his grasp. “Try it and I’ll toss you into the sun,” Buffy gave out one of her own threats.
Spike remained unfazed. “You wouldn’t want to do that now,” he cautioned as he swiftly grabbed her by the waist, yanking her to him.
Buffy remained outwardly stubborn, though inwardly, she had already caved. “Oh yeah? Why not?”
“‘Cos big ole piles of dust can’t do this,” Spike huskily whispered before pressing his lips against hers.
Buffy instantly surrendered to the kiss, finding that she needed some kind of physical confirmation that she wasn’t being reckless, that she wasn’t abandoning her duties as the Slayer by having feelings for Spike. The gentle caress of their lips soon turned firm and demanding. Buffy opened her mouth, pushing her tongue against his. Spike groaned, loving it when she took control. They fervidly continued to kiss until Buffy pulled up for air, nearly hyperventilating from lack of oxygen as she rested her forehead against his.
Spike was seeing a few stars himself. It had been a while since their embraces had ever been that fervent. It wasn’t to say that the fire was gone. On the contrary, it was still there, beneath the surface, as hot as it had ever been; just it was no longer an all consuming wildfire, decimating everything in its path. What had Spike slightly irked was that the kind of kiss they had just shared wasn’t very different from those Buffy used to bestow upon him as a means to escape. The kind that had initiated the torrid love affair that, much like a blazing inferno, had nearly destroyed them until there had barely been anything left. Spike pulled away to gaze down into her eyes, releasing the breath he didn’t know he had been holding when he saw her staring back up at him with nothing but warm adoration. There wasn’t a single trace of the cold, emotionless void that had once haunted the hazel depths of her eyes. To say Spike was relieved would have been an understatement. Buffy wasn’t trying to forget. He grinned as he ran the back of his hand over her flushed cheek. ‘Slayer’s just a bit randy, is all.’
“So, pet, how was your day?” Spike asked as he took in a deep, unnecessary pull of air, figuring casual conversation might get his excited mind off thoughts of ‘Randy Buffy’. The Slayer immediately started talking about her day, purposefully omitting her little encounter with Principal Wood only an hour ago. The topic of discussion eventually steered to that of training SITs and the other subdued chitchat they usually exchanged everyday after Buffy arrived home from work. Walking hand in hand, they went back inside, finding Dawn and Andrew hanging about the kitchen. Andrew was still immersed in his little clip show while Buffy’s little sister scurried around, preparing herself a snack.
“Hey Buffy. We’re out of milk,” Dawn greeted her sister, shaking the empty milk carton in her hand.
“Hi Dawn. It’s nice to see you too. Why, yes, I had a great day. Thanks for asking,” Buffy replied, her deceitfully cheerful voice laced with sarcasm.
“Yeah, whatever. Still low on milk here,” Dawn declared unapologetically.
Buffy scanned the kitchen. “Isn’t it Willow’s turn to do groceries?” She couldn’t remember seeing the redheaded witch since she had walked into the house. “Where is Will?”
Andrew chose at that moment to pipe up, taking his attention off of the small digital screen of the video camera. “Some Fred guy called from L.A. Willow said she had to go but shouldn’t be gone for too long,” he informed the group, appearing a little concerned. “You don’t think she’s cheating on Kennedy with this guy? He did sound kinda effeminate. Maybe…”
Spike quickly cut him off. “Maybe you should shut your gob.”
Andrew gulped at the vampire’s unimpressed glare and nodded as he retreated back to his video watching.
Buffy remained silent. What was so dire that Willow had to leave the Hellmouth to go to L.A.? She knew it had something to do with Angel. Was he in trouble? And if he was, why hadn’t he asked her for help instead of Willow’s? Buffy didn’t like all these dealings going on behind her back. It made her feel like she didn’t have any control, which terrified her.
Sensing her uneasiness, Spike gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Bet it’s nothin’ to worry ‘bout, pet,” he reassured but not without adding, “Reckon Peaches just needed to borrow Red for a little soul cleansing meditation. ‘Probly cross-legged and chanting as we speak.”
The vampire’s lighthearted insults didn’t get past Buffy, who was trying to give him a reprimanding scowl. It didn’t work though and soon a reluctant smile tugged at her lips.
It wasn’t a secret that Spike had never really liked his Grandsire or that he hated the fact that the older vamp had been the first to claim Buffy’s heart. Yet what bothered him the most was that the instant Andrew had mentioned L.A., Buffy instinctively thought of the poofter. Angel already had what Spike so desperately craved— Buffy’s love. Was she ever going to let him in?
The sound of a few soft chuckles escaping her lips eased some of Spike’s worries. If Buffy could at least laugh at Captain Forehead and not get all defensive then maybe there was a real chance, maybe he wasn’t just grasping at straws. Maybe.
Spike’s inner musings were interrupted by Anya’s unexpected appearance as she noisily stormed into the kitchen, taking a seat at the breakfast nook. “Really, how difficult is it to understand how to kill Gnarok demons?! I swear, if I have repeat decapitation with castration one more time I think I just might disembowel one of the little slayerettes myself!” she vented, clearly frustrated.
“Uh…Why are you even giving instructions on Gnarok demons anyway?” Buffy inquired suspiciously. “Wasn’t the point of these little lessons for you to teach them about the First and vamps?”
Anya shook her head dismissively. “You never know what these girls might have to face one of these days. Plus, teaching them only vampire demonology would be like having a world history class and only discussing the last two hundred years. I think it’s a very limited view of the demon existence. Good thing I’m human again because I would’ve been very offended.”
Buffy’s unconvinced expression didn’t falter one bit throughout Anya’s spcheel. “Just make sure they know everything we do about the First, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. Again my effort goes unappreciated,” the ex-demon complained.
“Okay Anya,” Buffy snapped back. “Since I’m so inconsiderate, why don’t you take the night off?”
Anya let out an unfeminine snort. “And who’s gonna take over demon lessons for the next batch of Potentials?”
Buffy glanced over to her sister. “Dawn will.”
The girl in question was beyond shocked, her crystal blue eyes wide with astonishment. “Mmmuuhhh?!” Dawn asked with a mouthful of peanut butter and jelly, pointing to herself disbelievingly.
The Slayer nodded. “Sure, why not? You’ve been helping Anya out and you’re like mini-Giles with all the research, so it only makes sense.” Not wanting to pressure her sister, Buffy also added, “Only if it’s okay with you, that is.”
Taking a sip from her half-filled glass of milk, Dawn swallowed what she had been chewing. “That’s so okay!” she cheered enthusiastically. Resisting the urge squeal, Dawn calmed herself down. “You’re really gonna let me help out?”
“Yup,” Buffy determinedly replied. “You are now licensed to order SITs around.”
Dawn ran to her sister and hugged her. “You’re the best,” she whispered before scurrying off to the living room to prep for her debut as official demonology instructor, yelling back at Andrew to help her set up. Looking up from his camcorder, the boy jumped to the occasion, almost skipping out of the kitchen.
“I think you’ve created a monster,” Anya quipped as she watched Dawn excitedly putter around the living room.
“I still have time to change my mind,” Buffy shot back.
“Did I say monster?! What I meant to say was—Oh whatever! I’ll be in the tub,” Anya announced as she got off the kitchen stool, going upstairs to enjoy an evening soak.
Spike chuckled as he pulled Buffy into his arms. “Was a good thing you just did for her, luv.”
Buffy stared up at him confused. “What, Anya? She’s been getting on my nerves all week.”
The vampire shook his head. “No. For Dawn. Keep gettin’ the feeling that the Nibblet feels a lil’ left out amongst all this hustle and bustle.”
“I know,” Buffy lamented. “I’ve sensed it too but she still has school and homework and I never wanted her wrapped up in any of this in the first place. God, when I was her age I would’ve given anything just to be normal. Instead Dawn’s begging to join the wacky apocalyptic fun.” Buffy sighed as she placed her head on Spike’s chest. “So I figure if she’s doing the safe book stuff, she can help me out. We could even be a team. The Summers Sisters’ Slayer Brigade. What do you think?”
Tipping her chin up with his finger, Spike locked his gaze with hers. There was a playful mirth dancing in his cerulean eyes. “I think you’re a wonderful sister.”
The concern marring her brow disappeared as a smile reappeared on her lips. “Sucking up will get you everywhere,” Buffy quipped before planting a sweet kiss on Spike’s lips. ‘Mmmmm. Spike lips. Lips of Spike.’
Dawn’s unexpected announcement ended their short blissful break from reality. “Buffy! Giles is back!”
Buffy grudgingly pulled out of Spike’s embrace, giving him a remorseful look before heading out of the kitchen. Potentials were moving toward their designated spots, indication that recess was clearly over. Spike greeted his new group as they made their way past him to the backyard, ordering them to do a few laps around the house to warm up. He didn’t want to go outside just yet.
Giles glanced around him, not believing this was the same house he had left weeks ago. To begin with, the place itself looked immaculately clean. There weren’t any girls lofting about and the strangest of all was that the hum of incessant chatter was gone. Walking further into the house, the Watcher spotted a group of Potentials sitting in the living room, alertly paying attention to Dawn as she seemed to be giving some sort of lecture on vampires. ‘Since when had she become an authority on vampires?’ and ‘Where were the rest of the girls?’ he wondered, automatically searching for Buffy. Dawn did his work for him by calling on her sister after she had spotted him standing dumbfounded in the hallway.
“Giles! You’re back,” his Slayer happily called out as she made her way to him from the kitchen. “Wasn’t expecting you back so soon.” She peeked behind his back and saw two, very intimidated girls. “And with more Potentials.”
“Ah, yes. These girls were discovered by the coven while I was in England. This is Emma and Jem,” Giles introduced, still distracted by the drastic change in the Summers’ home. The two girls timidly waved at the Slayer.
The back of Buffy’s neck tingled, making her turn around. Spike was standing a few feet behind her. She was relieved he hadn’t gone out to train the SITs just yet, but was unsettled by the inexplicably somber disposition he suddenly appeared to be in. Unable to ask the vampire what was wrong, Buffy pushed the issue aside and asked “Spike, can you show the girls where they can put their stuff?”
Spike’s somberness turned into an offended grimace, his jaw clenching as his lips straightened into a thin line. “Sure thing, luv,” he grounded out as he gestured to the newbies to follow him up the stairs.
Oblivious to the vampire’s mood swing, Buffy gave her old Watcher a hug. Taking a step back, she looked at him sympathetically. “You look beat. You want some tea or something?”
Giles gave her a warm smile. “That would be lovely.” He followed her into the kitchen where she poured him a cup of Earl Grey. A really cold and bitter cup of Earl Grey.
Catching the face he made, Buffy shrugged meekly. “Sorry. I thought it was a fresh pot.”
“It’s alright,” Giles casually waved off.
Spike returned, still stone faced with the morbidly silent teenage girls trailing behind him. Buffy mouthed a ‘thank you’ to the grumpy vampire before taking the girls into the living room. Finishing off the introductions, Buffy tried to get the new Potentials comfortable. “Why don’t you guys join Dawn’s powwow. You can start training with Spike tomorrow,” Buffy suggested. Emma and Jem joined the group, their shyness slowly abating as they mingled with other girls their own age.
Getting back to Giles, Buffy found him standing beneath the archway leading to the front hall, curiously watching her little sister, pride twinkling in his eyes. “You wanna go for a walk?” she whispered to him over his shoulder as to not interrupt Dawn’s lecture.
The Watcher nodded as he proceeded to the front door, knowing there were more than a few things that needed to be discussed with his Slayer. He paused when he noticed she wasn’t behind him anymore.
“Just give me a sec, Giles,” she quietly requested as she scampered off to the kitchen.
Spike was where she had left him, his miserable glower gone, replaced instead with stoic indifference. Grabbing her coat from the back of one of the barstools, Buffy put it on as she started to relay her plans to Spike. “I’m gonna do some catching up with Giles. I’ll be back soon.”
He only nodded. Moving in to give her a kiss, Spike was startled when Buffy placed a quick peck on his cheek. Glancing around to make sure certain uninformed individuals hadn’t seen, she bolted down the hall and out the door with Giles, leaving Spike alone to only fear the worst.
After a few blocks in comfortable silence, Buffy finally spoke up. “You know we don’t actually have to walk around if you’re tired.”
“I’m fine. Nothing like some fresh air to ease my jetlag,” Giles assured. “So, I see that some changes have been made since I’ve been away.”
“That’s putting it lightly,” Buffy sardonically replied.
“Care to elaborate?” Giles asked, genuinely intrigued.
“Short version goes along the lines of I went through some portal that we found in a slayer emergency kit and got possessed by demon slayer-making mist. We then found some cryptic prophecy about it that we think says Spike will kill some Tainted Guy and it will make my spirit awaken, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Since then we’ve been training the Potentials nonstop. Well actually Spike’s done most of the training, but it’s been completely under my supervision,” Buffy finished her anxious rant.
Absolutely worried, Giles came to a halt, inspecting Buffy, trying to find evidence of what she had been through. “God Lord Buffy. Are you alright? The possession, it didn’t—?”
“I’m fine, Giles. You can breathe now,” Buffy good-humoredly reassured her pseudo father.
Yanking the specs from right off his face, Giles vigorously wiped his glasses. Now that he knew Buffy was safe or at least seemingly so, another part of her story troubled him. Spike. His involvement in the latest prophecy the Scoobies had discovered was eerily coincidental to what Althenea had told him. A vampire with a soul, one who Buffy truly loved, would have a hand in defeating the First. It not only meant that Spike’s involvement was a crucial factor in this war but that Buffy loved the vampire. Or would come to love him in the near future. Giles wasn’t completely surprised by the notion, he just wasn’t sure if he was that comfortable with it.
“The coven said that the First was gathering its forces,” Giles started, getting to real reason behind his trip overseas.
“That explains why it hasn’t shown its ugly face in a while,” Buffy cut in.
“It was not the only thing I learned from Althenea. She mentioned that we must be wary of a man in black,” he continued, waiting for Buffy’s response.
“Well the only guy who wears black around here is Spike, but you can’t really label him as a ‘man’ since he’s technically a vampire,” she rationalized.
“We simply cannot dismiss the possibility she was referring to Spike,” Giles deceivingly insisted. He wanted to see for himself what his slayer felt for the vampire, even if it meant editing out what he already knew, or at least suspected.
“Please, don’t start ragging on me about Spike,” Buffy pleaded as she clutched her brow. “He’s done more in this fight than anyone else. If it wasn’t for him none of the girls would know a jab from a right hook and I would probably still be a pulling at my hair, trying to figure out how to deal with a house full of scared teenage girls. You once said that I depend on him and I recognize that I do, but it’s only because I trust him. I trust him with my life, Giles,” her voice reached a desperate tone as she concluded her intense tirade.
“Are you in love with him, Buffy?”
The question came out of nowhere and nearly knocked her off her feet. “What?!?! No!” she automatically answered, but knew it was far from the truth. “I mean…I dunno. Is it like written on my forehead or something?” she asked, almost sounding like Dawn during her whiny pre-teen phase.
Finding themselves in the park, Giles directed them to an empty bench. “Buffy, in clear spoken English, what is your relationship with William the Bloody?”
Fidgeting nervously with her hands, the Slayer stared down at her lap. “We’re kinda going steady.”
Hearing only silence, Buffy peeked up at Giles who wasn’t even looking at her but staring out into space with an extremely contemplative expression on his face. “Uh, Giles, it’s your cue to freak out and tell me how I’m screwing everything up.”
“I’ve already told you my misgivings concerning Spike,” the Watcher calmly began, still staring at nothing. Turning to face Buffy, he took her hands in his. “Obviously you haven’t heeded them. However, you are an adult now Buffy and it is your right to choose how you want to lead your life. So long as you know what you’re doing, I really have no choice but to accept it.”
“I don’t,” Buffy whispered.
“You don’t what?”
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” she pointed out. “I’m so confused and I’m way in over my head. I don’t even know if everything I’ve done, that we’ve done, to prepare for what’s coming will even make a difference. My house is a hormonal ticking time bomb, I still have to play mom for Dawn, and the school’s new principal and my boss is actually a demon hunter with some personal vendetta against my boyfriend. I still have got no clue what this demon stuff that got sucked into my body is going to do to me and if it’ll even help us in this fight,” Buffy declared, releasing a shaky sigh. “And then there’s Spike…”
“Whatever happens, Buffy, I am here for you. You might not have faced this kind of adversity before, but that has never stopped you,” Giles comforted, trying to instill some much needed confidence in his slayer.
“So you’re really okay with this whole Spike thing?” she asked, nibbling on her bottom lip.
Giles heavily exhaled. “Just tell me you’re going about this relationship in a more…how should put it?…reserved manner than the first time around?”
“I’m not sleeping with him Giles,” Buffy told him, unashamed.
“Thank God!” he exclaimed under his breath.
Getting up from the park bench, the duo quietly made their way back to 1630 Revello Drive. Spotting her house, it was Buffy again who broke the silence. “Well that was easier than I thought it’d be,” she contentedly remarked.
Walking up the front steps, Giles stopped just short of reaching the door. “And I think I’ve found a way of making things even easier.”
Buffy watched as the Watcher pulled out a small box from his coat pocket. “What’s that?”
“The trick to de-triggering Spike.”
A/N: Thnx Darkezza. You rock!
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