- Always Wait For You – Prologue
- Always Wait For You – 1
- Always Wait For You – 2
- Always Wait For You – 3
- Always Wait For You – 4
- Always Wait For You – 5
- Always Wait For You – 6
- Always Wait For You – 7
- Always Wait For You – 8
- Always Wait For You – 9
- Always Wait For You – 10
- Always Wait For You – 11
- Always Wait For You – 12
- Always Wait For You – 13
- Always Wait For You – 14
I think this will be last chapter posted for a while. I’ll be back later with the rest of the story. See behind the cut for Chapter Nine, in which Buffy and Spike find that they have some issues to work out…
Buffy felt like she had just dragged herself to bed when she heard the sound of teenaged giggles coming from her daughter’s room. With a groan, she rolled over and put the pillow over her head, determined to squeeze out at least a few more hours of sleep. When she next opened her eyes, it was to the smell of burning toast and a suspicious silence.
She pulled herself out of bed and made her way downstairs, pausing only to make sure that the kitchen wasn’t on fire before starting the coffee pot. As she sat at the counter, head in hands, staring at a pile of blackened bread crumbs, she wondered briefly where her children were. Even in broad daylight and with Lucy to accompany them, they knew they weren’t to leave the house without checking with her first. As independent as they could be from time to time, and as angry as she knew they probably were at her, she couldn’t imagine that they would disobey her on something as important as their survival.
The sounds of thumping and talking coming from the closed door to their playroom in the basement, answered her question and she allowed herself to relax. By the time she had a cup of hot coffee in her hands, and had brushed the burnt toast crumbs into the sink, she heard steps on the basement stairs and she stiffened in anticipation of another cold reception from her children.
When her “good morning” earned her a mumbled “morning”, she chose to view as a good sign. Shortly after, Joy and Lucy entered the kitchen, carefully closing the basement door behind them and giving Buffy quiet responses to her greeting.
“So,” she ventured when they were uncharacteristically silent, “what were you doing downstairs?”
“Just messin’ around,” Will said casually. “You know, playing video games and stuff.”
Still too sleepy to question why the girls would have been interested in his very boy-oriented video games, she nodded.
“Don’t you have a game today?” she asked casually, hoping she hadn’t slept through it.
“Relax, Mom,” he said with a trace of his usual good humor. “It isn’t till 3:00 this afternoon. We don’t have to leave for another couple of hours.”
“I knew that.”
His snort and the giggles from the girls were her only reply, but she couldn’t even pretend to be miffed. That they were willing to joke and giggle with her went further to raise her spirits than almost anything else they could have done. She sipped her coffee for a minute and then asked, “Would you like me to bring the video camera today? So you can show your dad your game tonight?”
“Yeah, that would be okay,” he said, striving to keep the excitement out of his voice. “I mean, you know, just in case he wants to watch it.”
“He wants to watch it,” Buffy assured him as she got up to go look for the camera. “I know he does.”
They were back from the game and eating dinner when Spike appeared outside the dining room door. He hesitated briefly, then opened the sliding door and walked in, casting a wary look at Buffy as he entered the house; but she gave no sign that she didn’t think he had a right to come in whenever he wanted to.
He greeted the girls and ruffled Will’s hair, asking, “Didn’t you tell me you had a game today? How’d it go?”
“Went okay,” he replied, leaning back in his chair casually. “Wasn’t my best game, but I managed to score a couple of goals…”
“A couple, huh? Well, good on you then. Did the team win?”
Will nodded, then unable to contain himself any longer he blurted, “Mom taped the whole game so that you could watch if you want to.”
“IF I want to? Of course I want to. Soon’s you finish your veggies, that is,” he added, pointing at the plate with the carefully spread out peas. “It’s nice to know some things never change,” he observed, raising one eyebrow at his blushing son.
While Buffy cleared the dishes, Spike headed for the living room, only to have Joy grab his arm and guide him towards the basement stairs.
“Why don’t you watch it down here, Daddy,” she said coyly. “It’ll be more fun.”
Spike glanced at Buffy who shrugged and shook her head.
“Alright then, let’s go watch this tape where it will be more fun.”
He obediently followed them downstairs. Buffy’s curiosity got the best of her, and she stopped to see what was going on. Spike was standing at the bottom of the stairs, frozen in place as Joy and Will caroled together, “Ta da!” Buffy halted just behind him, her brain taking a minute to catch up with her eyes. Then she saw what they had spent the morning doing.
“Video games, huh?” she said dryly, surveying the makeover of her basement.
The day bed that was normally a wide couch for people to sprawl on while watching TV or playing video games was now made up as a real bed, complete with matching sheets and a quilted coverlet. An old card table had been placed in the middle of the floor and covered with a brightly-colored tablecloth. They had dragged out an old bookcase, cleaned it up and filled it with Spike’s own books – which had been boxed up for years. An unrolled carpet remnant was now covering the tiled floor and a lamp that Buffy recognized as coming from the guest room was carefully placed on another small table that was beside the bed/couch.
When Spike didn’t move to enter the room, Joy asked anxiously, “Do you like it, Daddy? We thought you’d want to stay out of the sun during the day so we fixed you a place to be. There’s a TV and everything.”
When Spike just stood, speechless, Buffy watched their faces begin to fall and she poked him in the back until he growled at her.
“Say something,” she hissed just loud enough for him to hear.
“Don’t you like it?” Joy’s chin trembled just slightly, doing more to shake him out of his shock than did Buffy’s continuous poking. Stepping away from her demanding finger, he shook his head.
“I’m just gobsmacked, is all,” he said quickly. “Don’t quite know what to say…Did you ask your Mum about this?”
They sent identical guilty looks in their mother’s direction, searching for some sign of what she thought about their morning’s activities. Her face showed some anxiety, but no trace of anger, and they relaxed and waited for Spike’s approval.
“No, she was still asleep,” Will explained. “But it’s okay. This is our playroom – so if we want to make it a…a vampire lair. Well, that’s our business,” he finished with a defiant thrust of his chin.
“It is NOT a vampire lair!” Buffy’s horrified voice frightened all three youngsters into a guilty cringe. She struggled to control her tone of voice, stepping between a rigid Spike and the stairs he was obviously planning to take on his way out of the house. “I think it’s very…nice…that you wanted to give your father someplace to spend the day. But please don’t call it a ‘lair’. If he wants to use it, it is just…just a…”
She flailed around for a word to use, choking when Spike muttered, “Den? Crypt? Nest?”
“That’s not funny!” she whispered.
“If that’s what they think it is…”
“They don’t know any better,” she growled. “I didn’t know that they even knew that word.”
“Oh for…they’re the children of a slayer. They have their own slayer bodyguard. They have slayer friends. How the bloody hell could theynot know that word?”
“So,” she said, not realizing how her voice was getting louder. “You’re okay with having your children thinking you spend your time in a ‘lair’?”
“I’m okay with spending my daylight hours in a bloody closet if it means I can be in the same house with my children!” he shouted.
They stood nose to nose, glaring and breathing hard. Buffy was on the bottom step, making her the same height as Spike. The air quivered between them, the only sound being Buffy’s angry breathing and Spike’s soft growling.
Lucy and Will looked panicked – the slayer started to move closer, not sure what she could do, but worried that there was going to bloodshed between the two adults now exchanging whispered insults and waving their arms around. Suddenly, Joy grabbed her arm.
“No, wait! This seems kinda familiar. Remember, Will? Remember how mad Mom and Dad used to get? They’d get all mad and yell at each other and then they’d… Well, I don’t remember what they did then, but it was always all right after.”
Will’s forehead wrinkled. “Yeah, I guess. It’s sort of familiar. But Dad was human then. What if they really start fighting? What if mom tries to stake him?”
His frightened question halted the burgeoning argument in time for everyone to hear Xander’s voice.
“Hey! Are you all down here? Shouldn’t it just be the sunlight challenged family member who hides in the cellar?”
He stopped a few steps above Buffy and surveyed the newly decorated room.
“So, the Holiday Inn is going to lose a guest already?”
“We’re discussing it,” Buffy mumbled, not meeting his eyes.
Xander correctly read the body posture of the two people below him and gestured for the kids to follow him back upstairs.
“Looks like your mom and dad need to have a talk, guys. How about you come upstairs with me and see if we can find something for dessert?”
When they reached the kitchen, Joy and Lucy pulled out a carton of ice cream and fixed bowls for everybody, including Faith, who had just strolled into the room.
From the basement they could hear voices being raised again as Buffy and Spike went back to their “conversation”.
“This is a good thing, right?” Joy asked anxiously, her eyes going back and forth between Faith and Xander. “That they’re fighting instead of not talking to each other?”
Faith shrugged. “Wouldn’t be for most people – but then you poor kids don’t have ‘most people’ for parents, so…” She cocked her head, her keen hearing having picked up the sound of a fist meeting flesh. “Okay, now it’s a good thing.”
Downstairs, Buffy and Spike were facing each other, neither one untouched by their disagreement over how she wanted her children to see their father, but neither one actually hurt either. Contrary to how such a disagreement might have ended many years ago, they had only exchanged one blow before Buffy dropped her hands in shame, causing Spike to do the same. And this time they did not run together and begin ripping their clothes off as soon as the argument ended. Instead, Spike turned his back, effectively hiding any evidence that he might have been turned on. Buffy retreated to the steps, knowing she wasn’t far enough away to hide her scent from him, but still too angry to want him misreading her intentions.
She crossed her legs and wrapped her hands around her knees, allowing her breathing to go back to normal. Spike gave himself time to calm down before turning to look at her.
“So, where does this leave us?” he asked quietly. “Do you want me to pretend that I’m living down here because there’s a good video system, rather than because I’ll burst into flames if I walk too close to an upstairs window?”
“No,” she said, sighing and dropping her head back against the newel post. “I don’t want them to forget what you are – but I don’t want them thinking that it’s a cool thing to be, either. Will was already into thinking that a vampire that was good would be really awesome. I want them to understand exactly how not like the average vampire you are. I don’t want them to think that because their father is safe to be around, that some other vamp might be too. ”
“Point taken, pet.” He cocked his head at her. “Got to admit, the whole ‘vampire lair’ thing sounds a bit too much like Andrew to make me comfortable, anyway.”
“Are we agreed then? You’ll tell them that this is not your ‘lair’ or your ‘nest’ or any other term they might hear used to refer to places where vampires live?”
He nodded. “Alright. We’ll just say it’s my room, and let it go at that. Won’t seem too strange if you think about it. There aren’t any more rooms left upstairs, so it just makes sense to give the visitor his own place, right?” He kept his tone light, showing no trace of how he felt at being a visitor in the house he had helped pay for.
Buffy winced, in spite of the lack of accusation in his voice.
“You’re not a visitor,” she said, her eyes focused resolutely on the floor. “It’s your house, too.”
“Well,” he responded, his tone still light, “I’m not exactly the loving husband anymore, am I? So, no reason why I shouldn’t have a room of my own.”
“I guess not.” Her shoulders slumped as she stood up and turned around. Her left hand rested on the railing as she started up the stairs and for the first time he noticed the gold band on her hand.
“When did you start wearing that again?” He pointed at her hand, his voice cold. He waited for her to tell him that she thought it would look better if he was going to be living in the house with them.
“I never took if off.” Without looking back, she continued up the steps, leaving a bewildered vampire to stare after her.
She entered the kitchen, and, ignoring the curious looks, walked to the refrigerator to take out an ice pack. She hesitated for a second, then pulled out a second one. As Spike entered the room, she walked over and silently handed him one of the ice packs; then she sat on a chair and held her own bag to her jaw.
“Did youhit each other?”
Joy’s tremulous voice reminded them that none of the young people in the room had ever seen Buffy and Spike physically fighting. In spite of their memories of hearing them shout at each other when they lived together before he was turned, they had never been given any reason to think that they might hurt each other. Her daughter’s voice was suitably appalled and Buffy struggled to come up with something to say that didn’t sound like an excuse.
“It’s a slayer/vamp thing, love,” Spike’s voice was a quiet rumble. “Doesn’t mean what it would if we were both regular people.”
“Which one of you hit first?” Hard blue eyes glittered dangerously as she looked back and forth between her parents. After a painful couple of seconds, Buffy’s hand reluctantly waved around, then dropped to her lap. “Mom!”
“He hit me back,” Buffy offered lamely.
“After you hit me,” Spike pointed out.
“You wanted me to hit you!”
“Oh, said that, did I? Must have slipped my mind in all the excitement.” His voice was becoming a louder rumble.
“You know you did! You are such a moron!”
“And you are a first class bitch!”
“Ah!” Xander’s voice broke into what looked like an escalating new argument. “’Moron!’ ‘Bitch!’ Reminds me of the old days. Good times…good times…”
Shamefaced, Spike and Buffy looked at each other, small smiles twitching at the corners of their mouths.
“Mom? Daddy?” Joy’s trembling voice reminded them that loud, physical fights between their parents were not something the children were used to or expecting.
“We’re sorry, honey. We didn’t mean to scare you. We won’t do it anymore.”
When Spike’s only response was a scoff, she kicked him under the table. “Will we?”
“No,” he said with a sigh. “Your mum’s right. I’m sorry – never meant for you to see that side of me. I wouldn’t hurt your mum for the world, you know? It was just my demon and hers gettin’ reacquainted. Won’t happen again. I promise.”
Joy continued to glare at them. “Are you going to apologize to each other? Like, right now?”
Buffy bit her lip, fighting back her natural urge to refuse. “I’m sorry, Spike,” she said, not looking at him. I guess I’m a little tense because…because…”
“Because neither one of us knows what’s going to happen next?” he finished for her. “I’m sorry, too, pet. I’m brassed off about…other things…and I took it out on you and the kids.”
Neither one chose to elaborate on what those “other things” might be, leaving their audience free to assume they were referring to Angelus and Dru. If they both were aware that it was uncertainty over where they stood with each other rather than just fear for their children, they kept it well hidden — from themselves, as well as from anyone else.
In the silence that followed the apologies, Will looked back and forth between them. “You told me that you and Mom fought all the time when you hated each other. Does this mean that you hate each other now?”
“Of course not!”
“Bloody hell, no!”
They spoke simultaneously, the force of their combined denials enough to dispel the fear on Joy and Will’s faces.
“So, do you still love each other?”
Joy’s quiet question stopped all conversation in the room as they all waited with bated breath to hear the answer. An answer which never came. Instead, the ringing of the phone allowed Buffy to bolt from the room without a response, leaving Spike staring after her with his own answer more than visible in his eyes.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/222919.html