Chapter 11 Word count: 3397
Disclaimer: I own nothing
A/N: As always big thanks to beta arina_summer
Feedback: Yes please!!!
Buffy carefully crept down the stairs to the basement; she didn’t want to disturb Spike in case he was sleeping. She was relieved when she reached the landing and saw him up and folding the sheets and blanket her mother had given to him.
She smiled watching him silently. “How domestic of you,” she commented after a moment.
Spike cracked a grin, his back to Buffy. “Mornin’ Slayer ,” he greeted. Spike finished folding the blanket and placed the pillow on top of the linens. He turned around and his eyes immediately went to the mug in Buffy's hand. The sent of Blood rose from it to Spike's nose and caused his tummy to rumble. Spike nodded to it, “That for me?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Who else would it be for?” She crossed the room and extended the mug to Spike. “It’s a perfect ninety-eight point six. I checked.”
"Thanks." Spike smirked, lifting the mug to his mouth. He paused just before putting his lips to the rim. HIs eyes squinched as he looked into mug, taking in the lumps in the dark crimson liquid. "Hey, is that...Weetabix?"
Buffy’s lips curved up in a smile, as she presented him a spoon from behind her back. “Blood wasn’t the only new item Mom added to her grocery list. I guess I must’ve mentioned that you like it mixed in with the blood.”
“You know,” Spike began, “you and your mum better be careful with the hospitality, or I just might just never wanna leave.”
Buffy thought she wouldn’t mind him sticking around for a while. But, on second thought, she figured it might get awkward with her mother around. Three’s Company, Hellmouth style? Er...no. She so did not want to go there.
“Well, tell her thanks for me,” Spike said. He stirred the cereal and blood a bit before taking out a spoonful and putting it in his mouth. “Oh, yeah,” he moaned, eyes closing as he slowly chewed slowly. “Now, that’s what I call a breakfast for champions.”
Buffy snickered, wrinkling her nose. Her laughter died abruptly as Spike’s tongue slipped out of his mouth and ran along the seam of his lips. Buffy felt her breath catch and her body temperature go well above the norm. She looked away, taking a step back, and fanned herself discreetly.
“So, um,” she began , clearing her throat, “I was, uh, wondering if you wanted to come to the library with me. I need to give Giles the info about the new Slayer. And, seeing as how Giles is the king of details, I’m sure he’ll want to hear everything about your... encounter with Faith.”
“Sure,”Spike replied. “I’ve got no problem givin’ Watcherman the facts. But don’t you think it’d be better to do so at a less lethal time of day?”
Buffy’s lips twitched. “That or we can just take the tunnels. It’s how Angel always got around during the day....” Buffy’s words drifted off as she realized that she had just said Angel’s name and it hadn’t come with the feeling of her heart being in a vise. It made her feel guilty. Shouldn’t she be in more pain after having lost the love of her life? Thinking about Angel now brought back the image of him as decomposing corpse from her dream the night before. And him telling her to go to hell.
“You all right, pet?” Spike asked, concerned.
Buffy shook herself. “Yeah. Fine,” she assured. “So we better get going. You are coming, right?”
Spike was still looking at her with narrowed eyes. He didn’t believe for a second she was fine. But, he didn’t want to push.
“Sure,” he said. “Ready when you are.”
The sewers to the high school lead up into the boiler room. Spike and Buffy entered it just as the warning bell for first period was pealing. They waited a few minutes after they heard the second bell sound before venturing up to the main floor— to allow time for the hallways to clear. Buffy poked her head out first, looking both ways for any signs of the little troll they call a principal. Once she established that the coast was clear, she and Spike cut down the hall toward the library.
They were about twenty feet away from the door when Spike caught the sound of the now familiar, husky voice of the new Slayer It seemed like Faith had beaten Buffy to the punch in informing Giles of her arrival. Spike’s footsteps slowed. He didn’t think Buffy was going to like being unexpectedly greeted by the sight of her counterpart for a second time . But, due to the her brisk clip with which Buffy walked, she was already ahead of Spike and getting ready to push through the doors.
“Ugh, pet,” Spike spoke up . Buffy paused and looked back at him, her brow pinched together.
“Yeah? What’s wrong?”
“You might wanna brace yourself,” Spike began. But, before he could say the rest, a raspy chuckle tinkled through the library doors . The sound was loud enough that it was heard even by Buffy’s human hearing. and her body stiffened in response.
Teeth clenched, the Slayer spun around and burst through the double doors. Spike was hot on her heels. Buffy entered the room and was greeted with a familiar scene: all of her friends gathered around Faith, looking at her with adoration and intent as she sat crossed-legged up on the table. Even Giles appeared to be taken in by her charms. Buffy was highly disappointed, not to mention pissed off, with her Watcher.
“What up, B?” Faith greeted . “I’ve been waitin’ for you.” She unfolded her legs and slithered— like a snake, Buffy thought— off the table. “Been having a blast getting to know G, here.” She nodded her head towards Giles, with that the same coquettish half-smile that she had been giving Spike the night before . The Watcher, however, did not seem as indifferent to the action though. Giles had to duck his head down to hide a his blush and a pleased smile.
“Damn, girl,” Faith said as she trotted Buffy’s way, “you sure lucked out in the Watcher department. If I’d of known that they came this young and cute, I’d have requested a transfer.”
Spike rolled his eyes at the comment. Buffy grimaced. “Okay,” she said , clearly wigged, “raise your hand if, ewe !”
Xander feebly put up his hand. Willow, Buffy noticed, disturbingly did not.
“Yes,” Giles cleared his throat, remembering himself and recovering from the flattery he wasn’t used to getting. “Good morning, Buffy. Um, Faith has just finished explaining about what occurred last night. And has since then been telling us about the rather interesting exploits she’s had in the limited time since her calling. Did you know that one time she actually wrestled an-”
“Alligator,” Buffy finished tightly. “Yes. I’ve heard.”
“Erm, yes...” Giles fumbled in the face of his Slayer’s clear irritation. “Good.” He again cleared his throat, trying to dispel the tension. “Ah, Spike,” he Giles said, redirecting himself, “hello.”
Spike gave the man a neutral nod, “Rupert.”
“Hey, Soulman,” Faith said. “Ugh, ouch. Did I really do all that?” She gestured to Spike’s face. “Man. I’ve never had a chance to get a real good look at my handy work – bein’ as most of the vamps I fight are kinda on the dusty side before any bruises get a chance to show.”
Spike’s lip twitched a little. Buffy’s blood pressure rocketed.
“I just brought Spike along so he could give you some details about what went down last night,” Buffy told Giles.
“Yes. That was very good thinking,” Giles acknowledged. “But I think that Faith already touched on all the important details.”
“I’m sure she did,” Buffy said, her voice holding a hostile note that no one seemed to notice – except, of course, for Spike. But then, he always noticed everything.
“Well,” Spike interceded, “I guess I’m not really needed here, after all, then.”
“Nope,” Xander concurred, “you’re not needed at all.” Willow elbowed him in the side while . Everyone else ignored the comment.
“Guess I’ll jus’ be headin’ back then,” Spike said.
“I’ll walk with you,” Buffy offered.
“Uh, Buffy,” Willow spoke up, “don’t you have that make-up Health Science examine in a bit?”
Crap. She had forgotten about that. “Yeah,” Buffy mumbled. “I do. And, actually, I could use a little coaching...”
“You can hang out with us while Buffy’s testing!” Willow offered Faith. In her excitement at the prospect of hanging out with the new Slayer, Willow had missed Buffy's plea for help.“You wanna?”
“Please say yes,” Xander begged, “and bring your stories.”
Buffy pressed her lips together and sucked in her cheeks, trying not to appear bothered by being slighted by her friends yet again. She glanced over at Spike. He gave her a small, sympathetic smile that helped dull the ache. She smiled back.
“Cool,” replied Faith. “See ya, B. We can patrol tonight. Two Slayers on the prowl. The Hellmouth better watch out!”
“Gee. I can’t wait,.” Buffy replied acerbically, that brief feeling of calm vanishing.
“Later, G,” Faith called to Giles, “we’ll talk weapons later.” As she passed by Spike, she leaned in and murmured, “Later, Soulman.”
Buffy clenched her fists. Despite Spike’s saying that he had no interest in Faith, she couldn’t quite believe he could be so indifferent to her charms. If even Giles could be taken in...
“Right,” Spike said after the others had gone and it was just him with the Slayer and her Watcher, “I guess I’ll be taking off then.”
“Well, hey,” Buffy said. “I still have a little time before my exam. Maybe I could walk with you for a bit.”
“Actually, Buffy,” Giles interjected, “I was wondering if I could speak to you for a moment. I’ve been having a bit of trouble with the binding spell for Acathala.”
Buffy turned to Giles, annoyed. “It can’t wait?”
“I would rather think not,” he replied primly.
“Watcher’s right,” Spike asserted. “After all the hell that stone ugly thing caused, you’ll be wantin’ to make sure he stays dormant so he doesn’t cause any more trouble. We can catch up later.”
Buffy softened a little. “Okay.”
“All right. See ya later then.” He gave Giles another nod. “Rupert.”
“Oh,” Spike said as an afterthought as his hand was poised to push open the door, “by the way, good luck on your test, pet.”
Buffy smiled. “Thanks. ”
As Spike traveled the tunnels, he patted his jacket pocket, searching for his pack of cigarettes; . hHe didn’t find them and realized that. He figured they must have fallen out when he’d took taken the jacket off to go to sleep last the night before,. hHis lighter, too, was missing.
He Spike sighed and turned to the left , heading back towards Buffy’s house
When Spike came into the basement, he found Joyce there, tending to the laundry. Her back was to him, so he cleared his throat gently to alert her to his presence. Buffy’s momther jumped at the sound and spun around, her hand on her chest.
“Sorry.” Spike held up a hand. “Didn’t mean to frighten you, love.”
Joyce chuckled softly, clearing away her tension. She waved a dismissive hand his way.“It’s all right, Spike. I’m just not used to anyone being in the house this time of day.” Her brow furrowed. “I thought you left with Buffy.”
“Er, yeah., I did. But, as it turns out, I wasn’t needed to explain things to the Watcher after all, so... I came back ‘cause I couldn’t find my smokes. Have you...?”
“Oh!” Joyce set down the towel she had been folding, and crossed over to a shelf. She took down Spike’s cigarettes and lighter. Smiling, she put them out to Spike. “Here you go.”
Spike sighed, “Thanks, pet.” He began to tap one out, but paused. He looked up at Joyce with a cocked eyebrow. “Do you mind if I...?”
Joyce waved her hand. “Go right ahead.”
Spike smiled gratefully, “Thanks.” He slid one out. His brows pulled together as he noticed the pack seemed a bit light. He could have sworn he'd only had a couple.
“Oh, all right, you caught me!” Joyce confessed , though unprovoked. “I swiped a couple. Please don’t tell Buffy.”
Spike’s lips curved backup. “Your Ssecret’s safe with me,” he assured her.
“Thank you,” she Joyce replied. “I’m not usually a smoker, you know. I mean, I was when I was younger. But I gave up the minute I found out that I was pregnant with Buffy. And I’ve more or less been good about not smoking since then. Occasionally, I’ll sneak one or two here or there— when I’m stressed with work, or...” she sighed, her excuse trailing off.
Spike could tell that her next words were likely something about Buffy. He couldn’t blame Joyce, he supposed. Spike couldn’t imagine what it must be like for her, being the mother of the Slayer, not knowing whether or not when your child leaves the house if she’ll come back alive. In fact, Spike thought Joyce had a remarkable self-control if she was only sneaking cigarettes here and there. He figured his own habit had probably doubled since he met the girl.
Spike held out the pack to Joyce. “Care to join me?”
Joyce bit her bottom lip, looking tempted. Still, she closed her eyes and shook her head. “Oh, I really shouldn’t.”
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” Spike prodded, almost not able to resist. Guess It seemed that he wasn’t quite the reformed bad boy after all.
Joyce clucked her tongue. A small impish smile at the corner of her mouth. “Oh, well, maybe just one.” She pulled one out of the pack. Spike smiled and lit it for her. Joyce closed her eyes, a look of ecstasy flitting over her features. She blew out a cloud of smoke murmuring, “God help me, I know they’re bad for me, but I love these things.”
Spike snickered, lighting up one for himself. “Yeah. I know what you mean.”
“You know what goes well with smoking?” Joyce asked. Spike could think of several things... But Buffy being the current object of his affection, he didn’t think any of the things going through his head would be appropriate to discuss with her mother. “Coffee,” Joyce answered, much to his relief. “I just put on a pot. Would you care for some? Or we still have blood in the fridge if you’d prefer?”
“Coffee sounds good,”Spike replied.
Joyce smiled. “All right.” She crossed the room and started up the stairs. Spike followed.
“Um,” Joyce said as she opened the basement door. “Should I put the blinds down for you?” She gestured to the kitchen window.
Spike waved a hand. “Nah. I should be fine at the table. There’s not too much direct sunlight coming through over there.” He walked over and took a seat at the shadier side of the kitchen table.
“All right.” Joyce crossed over to the cupboard. She opened one up and reached to the back of one of the higher shelves— her smoldering cigarette perched between her lips. Spike watched her curiously, thinking it was an odd spot to keep the mugs, especially given that Buffy’s was so short. However, understanding hit him when Joyce pulled out an ashtray. She brought it over to the table and set it down.
“Here we go.” She set her cigarette down in one of the slits before resuming going to the counter to get the coffee. Spike flicked the ash from his fag over the ashtray .
“Do you take sugar or cream?” Joyce inquired.
Spike shook his head. “Black’s good for me,” he told her.
Joyce put a splash of cream and a spoonful of sugar in one of the mugs, leaving the other alone. She brought them over to the table.
“So,” Spike ventured after a moment. “Joyce, besides smokin’, what other bad behaviour did you ‘ave when you were younger?” he asked, a sly grin curving up one corner of his mouth. “Bet you were a real rebel back in your day.”
Joyce giggled; it was a pleasant sound. It reminded Spike a bit of Buffy’s laugh. The woman blushed slightly. “Well, I don’t know about that,” she said. “Though, I had a bit of a rebellious streak, I suppose. There was this one time when a friend of mine and I– ” She giggled again at the memory, shaking her head. “Oh no, I’d better not tell that story. If it ever got back to Buffy, I’d never live it down.”
“Oh, come on,” he goaded. “I’m real good at keepin’ confidences. I’d never tell soul, I swear.” He held up three fingers on his right hand and put his left over his chest, “Vamp’s honor.”
Joyce chuckled. “I trust you. But, I’m still not telling you the story. Some things are best left in the past.”
Spike gave a soft, thoughtful smile. “I reckon that’s true.”
A moment of silence ticked by.
“Spike,” Joyce said, “I’m actually really glad that you’re here now. I wanted to have a chance to speak with you without my daughter acting as a referee, telling me which topics are allowed and which aren’t.”
Spike snickered. “She’s a bit overprotective, I suppose.” He sighed. “But, you can talk to me about whatever you like. Go ahead.”
“Well, actually, it’s Buffy I want to talk about,” Joyce elaborated. “Or, more specifically, you and Buffy. About the time you two spent together over the summer.”
Spike’s jaw set. He was suddenly uncomfortable. He thought for sure that Joyce was about to give him a piece of her mind about what she thought of him and his daughter’s co-habitation. Buffy had told him that her mother had seemed all right with the arrangement, but Spike had had his doubts. How could any mother be all right with knowing her daughter was all alone in a house with a strange man for weeks on end? Especially one that had tried to kill the girl less than a year ago.
Spike nodded, accepting his fate. “All right, Joyce,” he said somberly. “Say whatever you need to say.”
“I want to say, thank you.”
Spike was sure that he heard her wrong. His eyes squinched and he leaned in a bit. “Beg your pardon?”
Joyce sighed. “I’m thankful that you were there for Buffy after what she went through.” She shook her head. “I can’t imagine what it was like for her – and lord knows she doesn’t talk to me about it. And I understand that, I do. I know I never shared much with my mother at that age, and my biggest secret was, well, sneaking smokes.” She waved her cigarette in the air. “As much as I would love to be the one Buffy confides in, I accept that perhaps there are certain things I don’t understand about her. Things that no one can understand – except you. You seem to be able to do the impossible, you can relate to Buffy on her level.” She paused, pulling on her cigarette. “I have a bit of a confession to make, I heard you two talking a little last night before I came in.You really seem to know what to say to her, to make her feel better. Well, I’m just really glad that she has someone like you in her life. So, thank you.”
Spike smiled. “No thanks necessary, Joyce. If anything, I should be thanking you for bringing Buffy into the world and turnin’ her into the woman she is now. She’s truly a remarkable girl. I’m the one that’s lucky; she lets me be a part of her life.”
Joyce smiled, touched by Spike’s affection for her daughter. It reinforced her good opinion of him and his role in Buffy’s life. “You’re a really great guy, Spike. You know that? It’s going to help me sleep a lot better knowing your on my daughter’s side.”
Spike smiled back at her. “You don’t need to worry ‘bout that Joyce, I always will be.”
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