Forget and Smile – Chapter Three

This entry is part 3 of 16 in the series Forget and Smile
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Title: Forget and Smile

Rating: R, eventually

Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc. Only the lame plots and dialogue herein are mine.

Notes: This is a sequel to Sweet Lethe, a short story I wrote just after Chosen aired. At the time, I called it my Silly!Sappy!Amnesiac!Shanshued!Spike tale, and that still strikes me as a pretty good summary. I started writing the follow-up then, but never finished, although I kept adding bits from time to time. I suppose the delay makes sense, because the story picks up years later, when Buffy goes to visit Willow and Spike. She hasn’t seen him since the events in Sweet Lethe, and he still has no memory of his past and no idea he was once a vampire.

Word Count: Still editing, but this got away from me. It’s going to be a long one, folks, at least 25,000 words.

Thanks: To keswindhover and revdorothyl for betaing, and enigmaticblues for reopening the comm and running this season in spite of having an incredibly busy life.

The story begins here.

Buffy followed the others as they clattered down the spiral staircase that provided access to the tower office. “What’s wrong?”

“Don’t know,” said Spike, jumping down two steps at a time, skidding across the flagstone floor of the faux medieval hall on the ground floor, and dashing out the huge wooden doors that led outside. Buffy gasped in horror as he ran into the sunlight, her heart skipping a beat before she remembered that he could do that now.

“Just a texted SOS,” gasped Willow, dragging Buffy’s thoughts back to the real emergency. Willow’s slower progress down the stairs had kept Buffy, who was bringing up the rear, from catching up with Spike. “But at least it’s not the weapons hall this time.”

Okay, remembering now why I don’t get involved in the training programs any more. Buffy galloped across the lawn separating the “castle” from a much more sedate brick building a short distance away. “Why don’t you just transport to wherever we’re going?”

Willow seized the handle of a glass door and paused to get her breath back as she waved Buffy inside. “No transporting into the magic lab. No magical activity of any kind allowed here unless I or another qualified teacher unlocks the spell I put on it, which kinda takes longer than running over here.”

They were in a wide, dark hallway with one door open at the end of the corridor. Light and curses were spilling out. And so was something white and fluffy that was spreading over the floor.

“What a bloody mess! Just what stupid stunt were you lot trying to pull, because I can’t believe this is the mischief you were after? And what wanker left these two bints alone in here in the first place?”

Willow slowed to a walk. “If Spike’s that angry, nobody’s hurt.”

Spike reappeared at the end of the corridor and gestured at the floor. “Just a domestic disaster, witch.” He caught Buffy’s eye. “Miss America there better be careful of those fancy boots, though.”

Buffy firmed her chin and deliberately stepped through the foam, refusing to look down at her feet. She peered around a corner into a a kitchenette inhabited by four very unhappy people.

Spike waved a hand at two of them. “These juvenile delinquents are Kitten, uh, Katie and Sarah.”

Katie was a small, sturdily-built girl with soft brown eyes and a long, thick braid down her back. Buffy thought she was maybe twelve years old. Sarah was taller and thinner, and her makeup and styled hair gave the impression she was in her late teens.

They were standing in a large, shallow puddle topped with suds. It appeared to be originating from the base of a dishwasher that sat under the tiny counter next to the sink, its door agape as if it too was appalled by the mess. The sink itself was filled with small cauldrons encrusted with something pink and sparkly.

At least it smells better than most disasters. Kind of lemony.

Willow introduced the other two teachers. “Buffy, this is Ms. Brice, who teaches Introductory and Intermediate Magic, and Julie–Ms. Carlson, our Biology teacher.”

Ms. Brice was a nervous-looking woman in a caftan. She wore lots of dangly jewelry and had long black hair. Julie Carlson was a tall, strongly-built woman in her thirties with a surprisingly calm expression, considering the circumstances. She even looked a little amused, her blue eyes narrowing as she watched the pupils squirm as their crimes were subjected to the glare of five adults.

“What happened?” said Willow in a voice that suggested she had to ask that question a lot more often than she liked.

Ms. Brice waved at the girls, her bracelets rattling. “They made a mess during magic lab. They were supposed to be working on an antidote to Fyarl mucous paralysis, and instead they tried to make glitter nail polish. So I told them they needed to wash all the gear.” She glared, her mascara-clogged, unnaturally long eyelashes quivering indignantly. “This is only my second day teaching here, and it’s the second time I’ve had students seriously misbehave.”

Better get used to it, thought Buffy, remembering her own adventures with teenagers. They’re as bad as demons. Maybe worse, because it’s against the rules to slay them.

“We tried,” said Sarah. “To clean up, I mean. But there was so much stuff.”

“And we were out of dishwasher detergent, so she told us to do it all by hand. In the sink.” Katie sounded bitter about this injustice.

“Horrors,” murmured Spike, who had found a relatively unfoamy spot near the wall and was leaning back. He was trying to look inscrutable, but Buffy could tell he’d decided the situation was funny.

“We thought that the soap you use in the sink would work just as well in the dishwasher,” said Sarah in a small voice.

She held up a plastic bottle of the yellow stuff whose advertisements boasted that just a tiny bit would produce lots and lots of cleaning power. It was the kind that made Dawn bitch about stupid monks who named her after dishwashing soap.

“How much did you use?” Willow’s voice was quivering. Buffy was afraid to look at her because she didn’t want to start laughing either. But the kids looked so incredibly woebegone, and this mess was so very different from the lethal scenarios she’d imagined on the way over from Willow’s office that she found it hard not to burst into giggles.

“Um, only about half a bottle.” Katie’s tone was defensive.

“Is that all?” drawled Spike, one eyebrow lifted and his face reflecting only innocent inquiry.

That did it. Buffy had to turn her back for minute. She pretended to be monitoring the flow of suds out into the hallway. When she looked back, Ms. Carlson was handing out cleaning supplies.

Sarah sniffled. “We’ll never get all this up with this little mop and bucket!”

“It serves you right!” snapped Ms. Brice.

Katie and Sarah froze and looked as if they were about to mutiny.

Ms. Carlson said, “There are more in the science building. Come along and I’ll unlock the custodian’s closet for you.”

Buffy noticed that her calm tone had the opposite effect of Ms. Brice’s angry words. The girls sighed and seemed resigned to their fate.

At least, they did until Spike snickered. “The sorcerer’s apprentices, multiplying the buckets and mops as they work.”

The girls scowled at him.

“Multiplying by unmagical means,” pointed out Ms. Carlson calmly, walking past him and starting down the hall.

Katie made a face and said to Sarah, “You start cleaning and I’ll get the other mop. We need to get this done fast. Spike’s finally letting me start watching Dead Like Me tonight.”

Spike took a deep breath and stood up straight. “No, Kitten. After you finish, you’re going to spend the rest of the evening alone in your room, doing homework. And so is Sarah.”

Sarah just looked sadder, but Katie’s vote rose to a wail. “But, Spike, I’ll already be punished by having to mop!”

Remembering how Spike had always given in to Dawn, Buffy was surprised at his response to the pleading. “No, Kitten. Cleaning up is your punishment for being a pest in magic lab. Staying in tonight is your punishment for being an even bigger pest while cleaning up.”

“But–it’s Netflix night!”

Buffy saw Spike’s jaw work. He looked from Katie to Willow, and Buffy saw the slight shake of Willow’s head. Biting his lip, he shook his head more emphatically.

“It’s not fair!” Katie stomped off down the corridor with Ms. Carlson beside her. When she reached the heavy institutional door, she thrust it open with so much energy the hinges whined and instead of swinging back, it remained ajar. Buffy saw her sturdy form step into the afternoon sunshine. And then she wasn’t there.

“Katie!” yelled Ms. Carlson and Willow, just as Spike bellowed, “Kitten!”

And Katie was back, hands in her jeans pockets, eyes on the ground as she stalked along saying, “Okay, okay, I’ll be more careful. Sheesh.”

Buffy said slowly, “Uh, did that girl just disappear for a second?”

“Yeah,” said Willow. “She wasn’t controlling it very well, so as soon as she got out of range of the anti-magic spell, she flickered out.” She smiled grimly and shrugged. “I’ll explain Katie later.”

Buffy glanced at Willow and her stomach clenched. Her friend’s expression said she was planning something, and Buffy still wasn’t comfortable with Willow planning on her own. And if the plans were intriguing enough to distract her from piles of soapsuds and a sometimes-invisible girl, Buffy was even less comfortable.

Her fears were proved justified when Willow turned to the man who was still watching Katie shuffle away and said, “Well, Spike, since you’re free for the evening now, how’d you like to join Buffy and me for dinner?”

Chapter Four


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