Forget and Smile – Epilogue

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A bit of a new epilogue to Forget and Smile, my Spike Shanshu story. The naughtiest thing about this snippet is that it’s unbeta’d, so a G rating for this post.

Willow smiled at the two people sitting facing her desk. It wasn’t a reassuring smile, and she felt a little guilty about that, but she couldn’t help herself. Buffy and Spike were acting like students who had been caught texting answers during an exam instead of a couple of teachers. They’d slunk in, shifty-eyed, in response to her request that they come to her office, and sat in the two straight-backed chairs in front of her instead of lounging on the couch the way they usually did.

Ah, guilt. Half of my job as principal involves recognizing it and exploiting it.

And now the opportunity to use it to tease them is irresistible. She played with some papers and let her smile change into her “I’m so disappointed” face. Her victims exchanged glances.

“Look,” Willow said in a robust tone, “I know that you two are pretty wrapped up in each other right now, but the entire school knows what you’ve been up to, and it’s staring to create real problems.”

Spike shifted in his chair and tried to look as if he’d never met the woman sitting next to him.

“Will, I swear there have been no smoochies on school grounds!” Buffy protested. “Not even in town. Not even hand-holding.” She blushed. “Well, maybe a little hand-holding under the table, but that was at Ray’s and there were no students around.”

As if that makes any difference, the way the two of you look at each other. Willow bit her lip and took pity on them. “I wasn’t talking about smoochies, or hand-holding. I was talking about the two of you sneaking off to kill a Sasquatch on your own and wasting a teachable moment. You could have at least taken a few of the seniors along as observers, but from what I hear, the only one you invited was a llama.”

“It was a guard llama,” said Buffy in a small voice.

“Well, if I’d only known that…” Willow had to stop or let her voice quaver into a snicker.

“We were using real firepower,” Spike protested. “Did you really want a dozen girls crashing about in the dark, with some rifles thrown into the mix? They’d rack up a higher casualty count than a Vice President.”

Willow hadn’t known that, but she remained firm in her purpose. “In any case, you are going to take the seniors — and Katie — on a field trip.” Because I want to get you two and Katie out of the way while I do a bit of research on her latest discovery. Willow’s gaze strayed to the old book lying a few inches from her hand, distracted enough to miss the first few curses Spike uttered in response to her order.

“Bloody hell, I’m not taking them on another sodding trip,” he ended. “I’ve only just stopped having nightmares over the last one.”

“A field trip?” Buffy’s voice squeaked. “You’re not going to send us to that vacuum cleaner place, are you?”

“What?” Willow confused.

Spike sounded like a man being strangled when he replied, “I think she means the Herbert Hoover museum.”

“Oh!” Willow had to resort to more lip-biting, not sure if she was more amused by the latest Buffyism or by how skilled Spike was getting at interpreting them. Then her sense of humor got the better of her again. “No, not there. I was thinking something more along the lines of John Wayne’s birthplace, with a side trip to the bridges of Madison County.”

If Spike had still been a vampire, he certainly would have gone lumpy and fangy at that. As it was, he managed a pretty threatening glare. “That had better be a joke, Witch.”

“It is,” Willow admitted. “But there is a bridge I need to you check out. Some of the trolls who live under an overpass in the Marengo area are reporting some strange activities. I’ve done a bit of scrying, and I don’t detect any very strong magics in the area, but there is definitely something paranormal prowling around. Your mission, whether or not you want to accept it, is to help the girls figure out what it is, decide if it’s dangerous, and slay as appropriate.”

“What are trolls doing in Iowa?” asked Buffy.

“Came over with some of the middle-European immigrants.” Spike sounded unenthusiastic but resigned. “Shy little buggers, most of them. Not what you’d call excitable either. If they’re worried, I suppose someone should check it out.”

Willow nodded her approval of his acquiescence. “And there is an attraction nearby that the girls may enjoy. They’re due for a treat, so you can take them there after you finish helping the trolls.”

“Near Marengo,” Spike said slowly. Then he sat bolt upright, his face reflecting all the horror he hadn’t shown at the prospect of trolls and unknown paranormal menaces. “Not…not the Amana Colonies?”

For a few seconds, Willow let herself bask in a daydream of Spike in that forest of open-year-round Christmas stores, self-consciously folksy inns and shops, and purveyors of dandelion wine, while a gaggle of bored teenage girls whined along behind him. “No,” she admitted at last. “Not the Amanas. I want you to take them to Williamsburg.”

Spike let loose a stream of curses.

Buffy’s eyes were wide with fear. “Willow, what’s in Williamsburg?”

Willow reminded herself that she really did need to focus attention away from her own activities and hardened her heart. But she hesitated to say the words, so it was left to Spike to choke out the dreadful truth. “The outlet mall.”


to be continued…

May the day bring all of you smiles! And chocolate, of course.


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