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Love Continued by slaymesoftly
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Chapter Nine

Still fuming after her unsatisfying conversation with Giles, Buffy hurried home to get ready for her first real date with Spike. She had no illusions about their lives allowing them to have many occasions like this and she intended to make the most of it. She worried briefly that they wouldn’t be allowed into a really nice restaurant with Spike in his signature leather coat, jeans and Docs, but then she remembered how nice he had looked in his dress pants and shirt before he left town the last time and knew she was worrying needlessly.

If she had learned nothing during the long months of late-night conversations with the blond vampire, she had learned that there were depths to him that she was sure no one – with the possible exception of her perceptive mother – had ever suspected. Buffy herself knew only that the bad boy persona that he was so fond of flaunting was not really the man he had been before he was turned. She didn’t really know who or what that man was, but she was quite sure that the poetry-reading, sensitive lover that she’d come to know was much closer to William than was the punk thug that was all he usually allowed the world to see.

By the time Buffy had laid out the sophisticated but simple dress that she hoped would make her look older than her just-turned eighteen years, she heard her mother come in. Quickly ducking into the bathroom, Buffy turned on the shower and got under the water before Joyce could come upstairs and begin questioning her about the advisability of continuing her relationship with Spike.

(It’s not like I’ve got a chance at a normal life. You’d think she would have figured that out by now – cute little grandbabies are just not in her future. Not unless she finds herself a boyfriend real fast and produces another girl who won’t grow up to be a slayer.)

By the time Buffy got out of the shower and began drying her hair, Joyce was upstairs and there was no avoiding the conversation her mother obviously intended to have with her. With a sigh, she answered, “Come in, Mom,” when Joyce knocked firmly on her bedroom door.

Buffy kept her robe tied securely around her, not wanting to rub her mother’s face in her very adult relationship with Spike by letting Joyce see the expensive lingerie that she had purchased to go with the new dress. She worked on her make-up while Joyce sat quietly on the bed and watched the young woman in front of her prepare for a date with a man born over a century and a half in the past.

When she took a deep breath and prepared to speak, Buffy steeled herself for the anticipated lecture, almost falling off her stool when Joyce began by saying, “Buffy, I think, if I had time to get to know him better, I could become very fond of Spike.”

“Okay, who are you and what have you done with my mother?” Buffy softened her words by smiling into the mirror so that Joyce could see that she wasn’t trying to be as impudent as her words might seem.

Joyce shook her head and smiled back at Buffy’s reflection before she answered quietly, “I have had to watch you grow up tremendously in the past year. As much as I might want to think of you as a typical high school senior going out for her first grown-up date, I can’t lie to myself. The things you do every night, the dangers you’ve been facing since you were fifteen years old, the things that you endured last year…you’ve lived through more difficult things than most adults in their thirties.” She gave a shaky laugh. “Here I was thinking I’d had a hard life because my husband left me, and meanwhile my teen-age daughter’s first boyfriend was trying to kill her. I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t a middle class mother inside me screaming silently that Spike is too old for you, too experienced in the ways of the world, too…”

“Evil?” Buffy filled in with a wry twist of her mouth.

“Actually,” Joyce smiled softly, “I don’t think he’s nearly as evil as he would like to think he is. But yes, I can’t be thrilled that you seem to have fallen in love with a…a creature of the night. I mean, if I’m being honest with myself, the fact that he lives on human blood should be much more important to me than the fact that he’s a bit older than you are. And yet, I cannot imagine a circumstance in which Spike would hurt you. Not physically, anyway.”

“So, what are you worried about, Mom?” Buffy’s voice was gentle. She knew this conversation was not an easy one for Joyce to have.

“I guess my worry is that you will permit him to continue to drop in and out of your life whenever it suits him, and as a result, you will pass up any chances you might have at a normal relationship with a…someone less…” Joyce waved her hand around, at a loss as to what to call a non-vampire.

“Mom,” Buffy turned to face her mother. “I’m never going to have a normal life. If I lost my powers tomorrow and never had to slay another vampire or demon, I would still know everything I know about them. I would still have all those memories of fighting and slaying; I would still have been raped and tortured by the…vampire who I thought loved me. And,” she took a deep breath, “I would still have been responsible for the death of the man who put me into that situation.”

She shook herself lightly and continued, “I am not a normal girl. Never have been; we just didn’t know it until I was called. As Giles pointed out to me earlier today, even if I say I’m quitting the Council, I will still be a slayer.”

Buffy blushed slightly and said, “At the risk of giving you more information that you might want to have, I want to remind you that I am very, very strong. Not just strong-for-a-small-woman-strong, but stronger than the strongest man. I’m not sure that in some… situations…I wouldn’t hurt a normal man. Spike is as strong as I am. I can’t accidentally hurt him the way I might a human man.”

“Oh my god! Are you saying you’re with him because you don’t think you can have a physical relationship with anyone except a vampire?” The horror on Joyce’s face was unfeigned, and Buffy hastened to reassure her.

“No, no, Mom. I’m with Spike because I love him. I love everything about him- the man and the demon. I’m only saying that it’s probably a good thing that he is a vampire because I don’t know if I could be…content…with a human.”

By the time Buffy finished speaking, both mother and daughter had flaming cheeks and Joyce rose to her feet quickly.

“Well, then. I think I’ll just let you finish getting dressed.”

Without meeting Buffy’s downcast eyes, she quickly left the room, pausing outside the closed door to take a few deep breaths. When she had calmed herself, she went back down to the kitchen, muttering to herself, “Well, I think that went well; all things considered.”

Spike’s arrival, only a half an hour later, served as its own reminder of how different this relationship was going to be from one with a human boy. He burst into the house through the door Joyce had thoughtfully opened for him, blanket smoking and shoes smoldering. He smiled his thanks at her and shrugged ruefully when she stared pointedly at the still-warm blanket he had dropped on the rug. Quickly picking it up, he draped it over his arm and apologized.

“I’m sorry, Joyce. It’s a bit too early in the evening for me to be running around outside without protection.”

“And yet, you continue to do it,” she responded, shaking her head at him.

“Told the Slayer I’d pick her up at 5:30, didn’t I? I’m a man of my word.” The vampire sounded almost offended that she would expect him to wait until it was safe for him to go out in the waning sunlight.

“I know you are,” she soothed, hiding her smile. “I guess I should just be grateful that it’s winter time and the sun will be gone soon. I would hate for Buffy’s first grown-up date to end with her escort going up in flames.”

Spike’s answer, if he had one, never made it out of his mouth as Buffy came tentatively down the stairs towards him. Joyce took one look at the deceptively simple little black dress her daughter was wearing and knew that her credit card bill at the end of the month was going to be a whopper. In the place of the high school senior who had been in her shop earlier, there was a beautiful young woman who looked every bit as adult as the good-looking blond man waiting for her at the foot of the stairs. His eyes remained riveted on Buffy as she slowly descended the steps, stopping when she was standing in front of him and smiling uncertainly.

The shy smile was a bit put on, as one look at the expression on Spike’s face when he first saw her told Buffy all she needed to know about how she looked; but she pretended to be worried about his reaction. She ignored the way her mother rolled her eyes when Buffy asked shyly, “Do I look okay?”, but she couldn’t contain her giggle at the vampire’s deep growl.

“So, that’s a ‘yes’?”

Reminding himself that her mother was standing only a few feet away, Spike refrained from showing her exactly how very much a “yes” it was, saying only, “You look lovely, pet. We should get going if we’re going to make our reservation at 6:00.”

With a quick peck on her mother’s cheek, Buffy allowed Spike to open the door for her, then tugged on his blanket until he draped it over his head again. Joyce watched silently from the door as they had a brief argument over whether Spike was going to risk immolation by holding the car door open for Buffy, then settled into the old car with its darkened glass and pulled slowly out of the driveway.

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