Nostalgia and Brilliance
Spike was annoyed. He often was annoyed but never more so than right then. Sitting in a prison cell, pretending to concentrate on a game of chess he didn’t really care about, with a former vampire who was being no help at all.
Angel sighed. “I don’t have an answer.”
“Fat lot of use you are then.” Spike grumbled, looking in the general direction of the tiny barred window.
He glared. “You think I don’t wish I knew what to do? Buffy’s in trouble. I want to help. She was my world for a long time.”
Spike snorted to himself and wished this whole big mess would just go away. Why did everything have to be so complicated? Buffy was back and it should’ve been the best thing in the world ever. It was, but it was being marred by this whole trial issue. He could find no way out of it. It was completely unfair. Hadn’t the Slayer had more than enough of her fair share of bad karma? If only he’d reached her before she ran into that vampire. But then how could he have? He’d thought she was dead. Everyone had. Still he found a way to blame himself. It was his fault she’d been stuck in the portal in the first place. His fault that he’d had to live without her for thirty years. His fault that she’d never see Dawn and Giles ever again. Everything was his fault. This wasn’t a martyr complex either; it was just the cold hard truth. He’d always had a habit of ballsing things up, ever since his days of being a meek and mild human prat.
It seemed a leopard really couldn’t change his spots. Or his failings.
“How is Buffy dealing with this?” Angel asked, moving a piece on the board.
Spike shrugged with one shoulder. “She’s not. Far as I can tell. Just hopin’ it will go away.”
“She hasn’t changed then,” Angel replied wryly.
Spike looked at him then. “Not a bit. I know it shouldn’t surprise me since it hasn’t been thirty years for her but…it does. She’s exactly how I remembered her.”
He rested his chin on his hand. “Seemed shorter to me.”
He laughed a little. “Your failing human memory at work.”
Angel pulled a grouchy face and waited on Spike to make his move on the chessboard. He’d be waiting a long time because the last thing on Spike’s mind was chess. Instead they sat there in silence, thinking.
“It seems to me,” the dark-haired man said slowly. “That if you can prove Buffy was in another dimension where time moved differently, H.U wouldn’t be able to hold her accountable.”
Spike frowned. “And how in hell do I do that?”
Angel shrugged. “I have no idea.”
“You know, I think you are highly overrated.” Spike pointed at him.
Angel nodded. “But still better than you in every way.”
“’Cept chess,” Spike pointed at the board. “Checkmate.”
+ + +
“Holy crap, look at your hair!” Mya pointed at the picture, mouth wide.
Buffy pulled a face. “Hey, what about it?”
“Talk about mom hair.”
“I knew it!” She cried in despair.
“It was not mom hair,” Willow patted her on the shoulder. “It was just…practical.”
Buffy’s eyebrows rose. “Great.”
The three of them sat cross-legged on Faith’s floor, lack of chairs making it the only option, with a pile of photographs Willow had rescued from Sunnydale. Sunnydale of the past that was. Buffy had to admit it was nice seeing pictures of them all as they had been, as she remembered them. The pictures of Dawn and her had made her go all quiet until Willow had quickly changed them for pictures of Buffy and her mom hair.
Mya touched a picture of a very young looking Xander pulling a goofy grin and pointing at the camera. “Wow. Xander with two eyes.”
“It was quite an achievement,” the man in question announced as he came over, handing them mugs of coffee.
“Oh. No. I just meant…” Mya trailed off. “I meant nothing. Not a thing.”
Xander eased down next to Willow. “Glad to hear it.”
They all sipped on their hot coffees and Buffy smiled. It was nice to have them here. Just the other day she had been saying to Faith how she wasn’t ready to have them around but here they were and it was nice. She could handle the nostalgia trips in short bursts. Besides, with Mya around things were unlikely to take a heavy turn. Buffy had been surprised to see the teenager at her – or, rather, Faith’s – door without her father. It was just like how Dawn used to run away to Spike’s crypt without telling her. Only the other way around. The thought made her sad again.
“Do you guys have any pictures of dad?” Mya asked over the rim of her can of Coke.
“Um,” Willow frowned, pawing through the pictures.
Buffy set her mug down on the floor. “Spike wasn’t big on the posing for group shots.”
“Oh! Hey! There he is. Kind of,” Willow held up a picture. “If you squint and turn it on a ninety degree angle.”
In the forefront of the picture were Buffy, Dawn, Willow and Xander. They were in the Magic Box. Giles must have been taking the picture. Anya was barely in the frame at the register. And there in the corner was Spike sitting on the stairs, scuffed boots prominent, duster draped around him, leaning his chin on his hand. His face was only partially in view but there was enough to show he was incredibly bored. Buffy smiled.
“Holy crap, look at his hair!” Mya took the picture and stared at it. “It’s blonde. No, it’s neon. Did Billy Idol mind my dad being such an embarrassing rip-off?”
“Actually, he stole his look from Spike,” Buffy said and when they all looked at her she shrugged. “Allegedly.”
“Ah ha, here he is again,” Willow handed over another picture. “From Xander’s almost wedding.”
Xander shook his head. “Thanks for that.”
She pinched his cheek. Buffy and Mya huddled in close to view the picture. To her surprise it was a picture of Spike talking to her. She could remember the exact conversation as if it were yesterday. He liked it when she was happy. That’s what he had said.
“When…who took this?” She asked, looking up.
Xander shrugged. “We gave out a bunch of disposable cameras. It was a clever idea I came up with.”
“You stole it from Sam, remember?” Willow said innocently.
He glared. “Yes thanks, Will.”
“Can I just say one thing?” Mya paused for a moment. “That dress is really ugly.”
Buffy tilted her head. “It made me glow.”
“Like Kryptonite,” Xander nodded.
“Or radioactive slime.” Mya offered.
Buffy ignored them and looked down at the pile of photos scattered across the floor. Photos of them all. She saw Riley, Tara, Cordelia, her mother. Anyone that had ever meant anything to her. Now this would be all she would have. Photos. She had no idea what Riley was doing or if Cordelia became an actress. Maybe Oz cast out the wolf within. Was Wesley still with the Council? Did Robin avenge his mother’s death? She knew nothing. And she asked nothing.
“Buff,” Xander said softly, breaking her trance. “You need a place to stay, just ask.”
Buffy shook her head, tried for a smile. “Have to stay with my official Council handler.”
“Living with Faith…jeez,” Willow grimaced. “Gotta be hard.”
She shrugged. “So far, no drama.”
“Good. And, you know, if you felt like perhaps bedtime was a Kodak moment…you’d make an old man very happy,” Xander said, eyeing the single mattress.
Buffy pulled a face. “Thank you for the nightmares.”
“Seriously, Buff, I bet Faith’s not afraid to go over to the dark side.”
Willow shoved him. “Hey. There’s nothing dark about it.”
“Ow,” Xander protested.
The Slayer smiled. “Pervy Xander gets punished.”
“And not in the fun way,” Willow nodded.
“Hello, children present,” Mya raised a hand. “Please I beg of you to stop with the Slayer sexual innuendo stuff.”
From across the room, somewhere under a pile of blankets, Faith’s muffled voice yelled. “Yeah, shut the hell up!”
+ + +
“Note to self: keep only daughter on leash.” Spike said loudly as he entered Faith’s apartment. It was now mostly empty except for Buffy and his daughter still sitting on the floor with the pile of pictures, chatting lightly.
Mya looked up from the floor, perfectly at ease. “Father of mine, hello.”
Spike waved. “Mya, what a surprise. Finding you here. I was just stopping by but this is even better.”
“I live to brighten up your world,” Mya smiled.
“Don’t you just,” Spike beamed, then turned his gaze to Buffy. “How’s it goin’ here? With Faith?”
Buffy stood, stretching. “It’s…incredibly awkward. But I’ll deal.”
Spike nodded. “Good. I went to see Angel.”
Mya looked between them. “So, what’d he say? Did he come up with an ingenious plan?”
“No, his forehead may be large but that’s not an indicator of his brain mass,” Spike sighed, walking further in.
Mya shook her head. “You’d think immortality would give you people time to become problem solvers. Lucky for you I’m here. And I’ve come up with an idea.”
Spike arched an eyebrow in Buffy’s direction but spoke to Mya. “Oh, really. Do tell.”
“It’s simple, really,” Mya stood up and gestured towards them both. “You and Buffy should get together and brainstorm.”
“Brainstorm what?” Buffy asked, walking towards the fridge and retrieving a Coke.
“What you can do. About the impending jail…thing,” Mya waved a hand half-heartedly.
“I have no ideas. I’m idealess,” Buffy responded. “I’m really not all that useful, you know. ’Specially now I can’t even slay. I’m pretty much without use.”
Spike nodded. “And everyone knows I’m just a pretty face.”
Mya clapped her hands together. “Sounds perfect! Let’s say tonight, at our place. I’ll make myself scarce. It’s a date! A studious, totally professional date! Excellence!”
Spike turned to Buffy and rolled his eyes as Mya grinned at her own brilliance.
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