“Your WHATter?!” Buffy exclaimed.
Spike stepped around her and picked up the picture of his family. “Daughter. She’s just turned sixteen. A bloody handful, too.”
Buffy stared at him and felt like she’d been dealt another blow. A kid. He had a kid. Spike, of all people, had a child. A wife, a child, a house in suburbia, a job, a car – he’d been truly domesticated. What was next? A white picket fence and a dog called Fido. Buffy did a quick scan of the room looking for chew toys or a dog bowl but found none.
Despite the very fact that Spike had a child was shocking it was also, as far as she knew, impossible. So she suspended her disbelief momentarily to ask a pressing question.
“Spike, you’re a vampire. I kind of thought that meant you were lacking…” she groped for the right word, flustered. “…you know, the baby-making necessities.”
He smirked and looked at the picture a moment more. “That much is still true. Although there are exceptions to every rule. We got Mya when she was six years old. She’s adopted.”
Well, that answered that question then. Before she could ask any further questions she was interrupted by a melodramatic shriek.
Buffy turned to her right to see the girl standing in the doorway, hands pressed against her cheeks and mouth wide in the universal sign for shock. The Slayer could tell that this was Mya; she still looked quite like her photo. Long wavy dark brown hair falling around her shoulders, cool blue eyes with long dark lashes framing them, tanned skin and a bone structure that was almost as gorgeous as her father’s. God, Spike is her dad…
“That’s really funny, no, really,” Spike snorted at her.
Mya shrugged easily with one shoulder, her lips melting into a smile. “I got my wit from you, father.” She replied mockingly. Then her eyes turned to Buffy, appraising. “Hi.”
“…Hello…” Buffy managed while studying the girl probably a little too intently. She was just so amazed that Spike had a daughter and now that daughter was standing only a few feet away.
Spike cleared his throat and shifted from foot to foot. “Mya, this is…this is Buffy.”
The girl opened her mouth; brow creased, then closed it upon Spike’s look. Mya then turned her gaze back to Buffy with a newfound interest. In fact she seemed to be studying her just as hard as the Slayer had previously done to her. The two women locked eyes and both laughed nervously.
Mya spoke first. “How is this possible? I mean, you are the Buffy, right?”
“I guess I am,” she nodded, smiling. “Unless it’s suddenly become a really popular name. Which I can’t see happening.”
Spike placed the picture back on the fireplace. “Remember I told you she went away? Well, she came back. With a slight delay of thirty years.”
She arched an eyebrow. “I see... but she looks exactly like she does in those pictures you have.”
“You have pictures?” Buffy asked, surprised.
Spike mumbled to himself and slumped down onto the couch. The Slayer didn’t prod him further although she wanted to. Spike had pictures of her? It wasn’t the most shocking revelation – not by far – but it meant something to her. What exactly it meant she wasn’t sure of yet.
Mya came closer, a quizzical look on her face. “Thirty years, huh?”
“S’what I’ve been told.”
“Was it some kind of other dimension? One where time goes slower than ours?” She asked.
Buffy arched an eyebrow. “I guess. You know about that kind of stuff?”
“Yeah, my Aunt taught me all about it.” She nodded.
Spike looked up, catching Buffy’s eye. “She means Dawn. She called her Auntie Dawn.”
Buffy sat down quickly in the armchair opposite him before she fell down again. Just the mention of her sister’s name brought it all back to her. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths trying to control herself. It would do no good to lose it in front of Spike and his daughter.
She thought she might be hyperventilating and possibly feeling a little faint because when she opened her eyes the room was moving in a way that made her feel more than a little sick.
“Are you okay?” Mya questioned, her voice sounding slower and deeper.
Buffy looked up at her. “No, I’m really not.”
Spike stood again and placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Give us a few minutes, would you? Go do that thing you like to do.”
“What thing?” Mya frowned.
“I was tryin’ to be subtle, dearest.” Spike threw his hands up. “Kids these days have got no tact, I tell you.”
Mya rolled her eyes. “That was subtle, huh? You could have just told me to sod off like you do when you’re watching soccer. Jeez.”
“It’s football!” Spike protested.
“Whatever!” She strolled out of the room and disappeared.
Buffy and Spike looked at each other and he was the first to look away. She sighed and looked at the floor. She wanted to ask about Dawn and Giles and everyone else but then she thought if she did she might just scream. And that wasn’t an option. So instead she tried small talk.
“She has the American slang. Bet that pisses you off.”
Spike chuckled and walked over to the fireplace, leaning against it. “Not too much. I’m used to it now. She has quite a way with English swear words, though. So it’s not all bad.”
Buffy smiled politely. “Was your…her mother American?”
“Yeah, Californian girl born and raised.”
She nodded. “Just like me.”
Spike looked anxious. “S’pose so.”
“I didn’t mean…” Buffy trailed off, clearing her throat. “What was her name?”
“Claire. How did you meet?”
He looked at her openly, finally. “Buffy, do you really want to know all this?”
“No,” she replied honestly. “But then again I don’t want any of this to have happened. I want it all to be back as it was. I know that’s selfish of me.”
Spike shook his head. “No, it’s understandable.”
“Spike, I want you to be the same guy I left back at my house a couple of hours ago. I don’t want you to have been married, to have a child. I can’t help it.” She stood, turning away. “I don’t know if I can’t deal with this. I mean your daughter was just standing a couple of feet away from me. You have a daughter, for god’s sake, and it’s freaking me out!”
He replied wryly. “It freaks me out too, sometimes.”
“Spike.” Buffy scowled.
He sighed and threw up his hands. “I don’t know what to say, Buffy. I don’t know what to do anymore than you do. I never thought I’d see you again. We thought you were dead.”
“You got over it soon enough.” She turned back to him.
He pointed at her, face grave. “You don’t get to say that! You don’t know what I went through. I didn’t even look at another woman for fifteen years. And I didn’t go looking for love, it found me.”
“Yeah, well,” Buffy stepped closer, facing him down. “I’m sorry if I’m finding it all a little hard to grasp. You try missing out on thirty years of all your friend’s lives!”
“I know it’s hard for you but it’s hard for me too! Seeing you again, out of nowhere, it was like…I can’t even describe it. If you think that this is easy for me then you are dead wrong. You may have lost the past thirty years but I wanted to lose them. For a long time every day for me had to be endured, not lived. I came this close to taking a nice long summers day stroll so many times I lost count. I would’ve bloody done it too if Harris and the Bit hadn’t stopped me!” Spike exclaimed, jaw tight.
Buffy searched his face, silently; when she spoke again it was softer. “Xander?”
“Yeah, well,” his shrugged wearily. “Some things change in years past. I won’t say we’re best mates or what have you, but we’re alright with each other now. Most of the time.”
“Wow,” she said, trying to diffuse the fight that was waiting to happen. “Miracles do happen.”
He nodded, simmering down. “I’d say so, considerin’ you’re here.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls.” She almost smiled.
Spike did break out into a crooked grin for a moment before he let out a pent-up breath, running a hand over his hair. He murmured something about needing a cigarette and in that moment he was the same Spike he had always been, just lacking the coat. She found herself walking towards him and he looked mildly surprised when she put her arms around him. Buffy buried her face in the junction between his neck and shoulder and just closed her eyes.
For a moment he stood unmoving in the circle of her arms but then he wrapped one arm around her and his free hand stroked her hair gently. And for a short while Buffy forgot and it was good.
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