Always Wait For You – 3

This entry is part 4 of 15 in the series Always Wait For You
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Chapter Three behind the cut

 

Chapter Three

The next morning found a subdued Will apologizing to his mother for his “smart mouth”, and, after accepting her own repeated apology for her loss of control, a quick, I-know-you’re-too-manly-for-this hug sent him off to school with his mother’s “I love you” echoing in his ears. When he’d mentioned his smart mouth, Buffy had grinned wryly and responded, “You come by it honestly, honey. Trust me.” The indirect reference to his father had Will beaming with pride. Any time he was compared to Spike, even if it was for a negative quality, he seemed to grow a little taller – his father having taken on heroic status in the eyes of his only son.

In spite of his sister’s insistence that he paid no attention to what went on at the slayer school, he did listen. Especially when the conversation turned to stories about Sunnydale or his father. With Joyce not being the only one to assume that he wasn’t paying attention, he had actually picked up as much information as she had. He just lacked her ability to put things together in a way that would guide him towards even more unknown facts about his parents and their early days as heroes on the Sunnydale Hellmouth.

Buffy was sitting in her tiny office on the third floor of the old, converted elementary school that served as both school, training facility and dormitory for the slayers in training and those staff members who didn’t have anywhere else to stay. She was mulling over what Joyce had said the night before, wondering if she had really been right to try to keep the true story of their father from them. It was becoming more and more of a strain – not just on Buffy, but on everyone who interacted with the Pratt children.

Remembering what they did and did not know about Buffy, Spike, Angel and the history of their lives in both Sunnydale and in Los Angeles was becoming more and more difficult for everyone. Buffy had eventually shared with her children that she had burned down the gymnasium of her first high school, regretting it immediately when her son’s eyes lit up with excitement. She immediately assured them that it had been an emergency situation with no other alternatives and that they should never, ever, on pain of being grounded forever, even think about doing such a thing themselves.

“If you think you’ve spotted vampires – in your school or anywhere else – you tell a slayer. You hear me? You tell me, or Faith, or Aunt Willow – call somebody who’s qualified to deal with it.”

Will’s lip had stuck out rebelliously, even as he agreed to turn over any vampire hunting to one of the adults in his life. It was obvious to everyone that Will had inherited much of the impulsiveness that had plagued both his parents and Buffy resolved to watch him more closely. She was just wondering if she should ask Xander to spend more time with him, giving him a role model of a normal male, when Faith strolled in without knocking.

“What’s up, B?” she asked, draping herself over a chair. Like Buffy, there was little sign of aging in the brunette’s face or body. Only the way they carried themselves, and the fact that everyone knew who they were, gave away the fact that they were the last of the “original” slayers. Living with a man who loved her had mellowed Faith just enough that she and Buffy had become the close friends that had seemed impossible at one time. But she was still her usual authority-hating, reckless self.

Buffy sighed and gave a short recap of her behavior the night before. She dropped her head in her hands, mumbling, “Joyce thinks I should trust them enough to tell them everything they don’t know.”

“Like, for instance, that the vamp outside her window was probably her father?” Faith’s voice was deceptively light and smooth, but her tense posture as she waited for Buffy’s response made it obvious that she was expecting fireworks.

To Faith’s surprise, as well as her own, Buffy just raised her head and met her sister slayer’s eyes calmly.

“How did you know?”

“Come on, B, how long have we known each other? You think I can’t tell when you’re lying?”

“You think it was Spike?” Buffy didn’t even try to keep the hope from her voice.

“I felt him,” Faith said in an uncharacteristically gentle tone. “It’s been a long time, but I know William the Bloody when I feel him.”

“Why didn’t you say something last night?

“Wanted to see how you wanted to play it.”

“I don’t know,” Buffy admitted. “I mean, I thought it might…but he’s never been back, and…”

“Why did he leave?” Faith raised her hand quickly, acknowledging Buffy’s right not to tell her. “Not my business, I know, but why’d you let him walk?”

Buffy’s face crumpled, relief at being able to share the secret she’d been hiding for so long destroying her usual defenses.

“It was him,” she whispered. “He was…he was my Spike. Not a strange demon, not a fledgling…he was just Spike. I couldn’t do it. Not when he…”

“No soul?” Faith’s expression said she had recognized immediately why Buffy hadn’t brought her newly-vamped husband home. “Is that why you sent him away?”

Buffy nodded. “It seemed best. I was so afraid…” She raised her eyes. “I was stupid.” She dropped her head again, playing with a pencil on her desk. “How long have you known?”

“Almost from the get-go. I can’t believe nobody else figured it out yet. Nobody who knows you, anyway.”

“It’s obvious?”

“Buffy, you live your life like a nun. You haven’t let a man touch you since he died, have you? You haven’t taken off your ring. And…” She paused, looking guilty. “And I saw him once. Before last night. It was just after he… I was having some trouble with a pack of vamps – the baby slayers froze on me, and I was trying to dust vamps and protect them at the same time. It was gettin’ a little hairy and then, suddenly, the vamps started droppin’ like flies. Broken necks, most of them, some just out cold. Down long enough for the babies to get their courage back and start doing their jobs and dusting them.

“When I looked around, I saw him – and then I felt that signature that says ‘this is an old, powerful vamp’.“ She stopped talking and waited for Buffy to look up. “He didn’t say anything to me. Just nodded and vanished. Never felt or saw him again until last night. Figured it was a secret best kept to myself.”

“You didn’t even tell Xander?”

Faith shook her head. “That was hard. Especially when the girls started talking about what happened and how I’d disabled a whole pack of vamps for them all by myself. But…”

“But you didn’t trust Xan not to go after him.” Buffy’s flat tone was the result of the residue left from Xander’s actions during their years in Sunnydale. Before Spike became human and was gradually accepted by her best male friend as someone he could like. When he was just an unsouled demon that Buffy had sullied herself by falling in love with. She nodded her understanding.

“You know, that’s one thing I never worried about. How anyone else would see him. I was just terrified for my – our – kids. I never thought—” She looked at Faith with hard eyes. “If not for the kids, I would have brought him right home with me,” she said challengingly.

“I know,” Faith agreed quietly. “I know you would have.”

“But I didn’t. And now he’s back. I wonder why?”

“You don’t think…”

“No! I don’t think… I was stupid. He would never hurt them. Soul or no soul, Spike would never hurt the people he loves. I sent him away for nothing. And now he’s back.”

“Maybe he’s just visiting,” Faith offered. “Wanted to see how the kids are growing up…”

“Why didn’t he tell me? Why didn’t he come back, then? I stayed up all night.”

With her usual lack of subtlety, Faith responded, “You were on a date. Remember? You had a honey with you – and you brought him into the house with you.”

“He isn’t a ‘honey’!”

“Spike wouldn’t know that, would he? Probably looked to him like he’d be in the way.” She grinned at Buffy. “Good thing the guy left fast. Can’t see William the Bloody being too gentle with somebody he thought might be banging his wife.”

“Not helping, Faith!” Buffy groaned. “How am I going to find him and tell him…”

“Tell him what, B?” Faith’s voice carried more of an edge. “For all you know, he saw what he came here for and is gone again.”

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/221229.html

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