She didn’t think she would sleep at all. When Spike showed her to the guest bedroom and told her she should get some rest she had insisted emphatically that that wasn’t going to happen. She had only lain down on the comfy bed – embedded into the floor just like the one in the cell – for a moment, and yet she woke up three hours later.
And when she woke up she had forgotten. It only lasted a moment; the relief. Then she remembered and it all crashed down on her again. Weary, Buffy sat up and looked around the room. It was quite bare. The walls were the colour of coffee stains, the flooring wooden. In one corner of the room sat a computer on a desk littered with papers.
She stood and walked over to it, eyeing the computer. It looked a lot like the computers of her time. Clearly Bill Gates had run out of ideas in the past thirty years. Buffy picked up a pile of papers and was surprised to see they were sheets of poetry. Poetry by many different poets but all love poems. Buffy turned her attention to the one on the top of the pile.
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
that this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
“I see you found dad’s ode to geekness,” Mya said suddenly, from the doorway.
Buffy jumped and whirled around to face the girl, papers still clutched in her hands. The girl just smiled and took another step into the room. That overwhelming weirdness hit Buffy again. This was Spike’s daughter. Okay, so, technically speaking she wasn’t his biological daughter…but he had raised her. She called him dad. It was odd. More than odd.
The Slayer cleared her throat. “I didn’t know he liked poetry.”
“Only since forever,” she said simply. “He’s putting together all his favourites. I have warned him he’s one step away from wearing a beret and owning bongo drums.”
Buffy laughed, setting the papers back down on the desk. “I’d like to see that.”
“I, however, would really not.” Mya grinned and wandered over to the desk, letting her hands skim over the papers. “This must be weird for you.”
She nods slowly. “That it is.”
They looked at each other for a moment, neither of them sure what to say next. Buffy bowed her head and looked down at her bare feet. They were incredibly dirty and she imagined the rest of her was too. She didn’t want to even imagine what her hair looked like.
“Is there a shower I could use?”
Mya brightened up. “Of course. I’ll show you where it is. Do you have any clothes to change in to? It’s really too hot for a sweater.”
“No, I haven’t got anything.”
Ain’t that the truth? Mya ushered her out of the room professing she could borrow some of her clothes, as they were practically the same size and build. Buffy waited as Mya went into her room to get the clothing. When she came out she handed the Slayer a towel, jeans and a tank top.
The designs of showers hadn’t changed much either. To turn on the hot water or the cold there were simply a button for each. There was also a button in the middle and Mya informed her that if she pressed that the shower spray would come out at optimum temperature. Buffy had no idea what that meant but when she was left alone to bathe, she decided to be wild and impulsive and she pressed the middle button.
The shower beeped and started. The water came out at what could only be described as perfect. Not too cold. Not too warm. Buffy sighed and stood beneath the spray, hoping to wash away the day.
It hadn’t even been a minute when she heard a knocking on the door.
“Buffy?” Spike called.
She spluttered beneath the water. “What?”
“Oh. Nothing,” he replied. “Just checkin’.”
Buffy frowned and heard his footsteps retreating. She shrugged to herself and returned to washing her hair. After ten minutes of soaking herself at ‘optimum temperature’ she turned the shower off and towelled herself dry. After staring anxiously at the pile of Mya’s clothes she finally pulled them on. It was all kinds of weird but she had nothing else and they actually fitted her.
When she left the bathroom she was could hear Spike humming in the kitchen and listening to the radio, the sounds of pots and plans clattering, and then Mya laughing hysterically. The Slayer paused outside the room for a moment, collecting herself, before hovering in the doorway.
Spike was at the cooker frying some bacon, a dishtowel thrown casually over his shoulder as he belted out his rendition of ‘Born in the USA’. Mya stood beside him slicing up onions and occasionally joining in with envious air guitar skills. Buffy smiled.
Mya turned and caught sight of her. “Buffy! Hey, we’re making you food. I had to remind this guy here that we humans actually have to eat. Figured you must be starving.”
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded and at that precise moment her stomach rumbled. “Thank you.”
Spike turned away from the stove. “I’m making bacon. You like yours well done, right?”
She wondered how it was he remembered that. In fact, she wondered how it was he even knew that in the first place. Maybe he paid more attention than she realised. Still, to remember it thirty years on…strange. But good strange.
Spike nodded, smiled, and turned back to the stove. Mya skipped over to her, long hair bouncing behind her and linked their arms. Buffy was a little surprised but she let herself be led away and outside. Mya took her into the backyard which was enshrouded in darkness; tiny lanterns lined the sides of the huge garden, and they sat at a table just outside the back door. The doors were actually like huge windows, that slid, so when she turned and looked she could see back into the bright kitchen and at Spike burning the bacon and cursing.
The grass was cool and damp beneath her bare feet and Buffy sighed, enjoying the feeling of it against her soles. When she looked up she found Mya watching her with curiosity. The girl looked down, embarrassed to have been caught.
“You’re…not what I expected,” she said quietly, gazing at the tabletop. “Not that I know what I expected. I never thought I’d meet you.”
Buffy nodded. “I could say the same about you.”
Mya laughed. “Yeah, gotta be a shock.”
“Slight understatement,” Buffy laughed with her. “But I’m glad. I’m glad he’s happy.”
She looked up. “He’s not, you know. Happy.”
Buffy didn’t know what to say to that and even if she had thought of something she would have been interrupted by Spike opening the sliding doors and stepping out into the backyard carrying two plates of food.
“Dinner is served,” he announced jauntily. “I went for a bit of the old full English breakfast – but in a dinner kind of way.”
Mya quirked an eyebrow. “That made total sense.”
“Why do you always have to sass me, hmm?” Spike set the plates down.
She shrugged with one shoulder. “’Cos you make it so easy?”
“Charming,” he rolled his eyes and sat down next to Buffy.
The Slayer watched the two of them, interacting as if they’d known each other for years. And, of course, they had. It reminded her a lot of the way Spike and Dawn had been with each other. She tried not to dwell on that too much, though.
Instead she set to work on the burnt bacon and the rest of the food. Devouring it unapologetically.
Spike sent Mya off to get them drinks of some kind and when she was out of earshot he spoke. “Buffy.”
“Yes?” she looked at him.
“I’ve been given permission to work from home for the next couple of days. To get you up to speed on everything,” he explained gently. “If you’re up to it that is?”
Buffy set down her knife and fork. “I’ll have to be.”
Spike nodded. “If you need anything just ask.”
“Got a time machine?”
“Sadly lacking in that department,” he replied, pausing. “But I do happen to have a whole freezer of ice-cream in various flavours. I’ve heard it’s the next best thing.”
Buffy smiled a little. “Ice-cream is good. Although not such a good idea right after eating burnt bacon.”
“That’s not burnt! It’s ‘well done’.”
Mya appeared with drinks. “He lacks cooking skills. But he does try.”
“Oh, sod off the pair of you,” Spike grumbled good-naturedly.
“So, Buffy,” Mya sat back down. “What was my dad like thirty years ago?”
Spike shook his head. “Oh no. Let’s not even go there, I think.”
“And yet I think we must.” Mya beamed.
“Buffy’s had a long day and –”
“He’s…he was a good man.”
Mya snorted. “Christ, what happened?”
“Oi!” Spike protested. “What is this? Pick on Spike day?”
Buffy’s lips curved up in a smile. “There, there.” She patted him on the head.
Spike pouted and the expression made Mya crack up which, in turn, made Buffy laugh. And maybe it was too soon to laugh. But, really, it had been thirty years. And so she laughed.
** The poem is an extract from one of Pablo Neruda's poems.
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