Hero’s Reward 4/12

This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series Hero's Reward
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A/N: Some dialogue borrowed, and in some cases twisted, from “Gone” by David Fury and “Doublemeat Palace” by Jane Espenson

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Chapter 4, Returned
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“How short you thinking of going, honey?” The hairdresser ran appraising fingers through Buffy’s long honey hair. “This is real pretty, but I think an update is just what you need, am I right?”

“Not too short,” Buffy had no plans on emulating Dorothy Hamill’s famous wedge look from years gone by, but something near her shoulders wouldn’t be too jarring. ‘Maybe some lighter streaks too,’ she mused. “I’m thinking about here.” Buffy motioned with her hand to a place just above her shoulder, right about where a vampire might find their eyes drawn to the neck it would curtain. ‘Way to go, Buffy, why not just go get an arrow tattoo or a ‘bite me here, you sexy vamp” one?’

Buffy felt vaguely ashamed of herself for going out of her way to try to spiff up her appearance just because an annoyingly stupid vampire had taken up a new habit of rejecting her! She really didn’t get this new attitude of Spike’s. She had practically served herself up on a silver platter to the very vamp who had professed over and over again to be in love with her, to desire her. The frustration had nearly overtaken anger in the ‘I’ve only got limited emotions’ race going on inside of her. The idiot had even suggested therapy for her! What, was he saying that now she had finally seen what a hot male body he wore and that he wasn’t a complete waste of space she had lost her mind?

Deep down, Buffy knew that there was a lot of truth in the things Spike said. She HAD been utterly lost since her mother died and all that happened in the time since then had only managed to overwhelm her. Everything was too much and yet not enough. Easier to dwell on her waning powers of attraction than to think about the long laundry list of things gone bad in Buffyville.

Giles had arrived the night before and was sleeping the sleep of the jetlagged in her mom’s old room even now. Willow had somewhat less than graciously moved in with Dawn for the duration of his visit. ‘I should have just ended the whining by reminding Will that she isn’t paying room OR board.’ Buffy sighed deeply and thought about the money she was spending on this unnecessary haircut. It could have been better used for some decent groceries, but there was just something about rejection that made a girl want to do something to get the attraction back on track.

So many urgent situations all clammering for her attention and action! Feeling the hairdresser’s hands work magic as they massaged the shampoo into her hair was downright decadent under the circumstances. Just this morning she had to deal with a stiff-rumped social worker who seemed to think Dawn was not being properly cared for while Willow whined and moaned about having to move her things into Dawn’s cramped quarters. The little slip about Willow being gay and the raised eyebrows on Mrs. Kroger as she speculated if Buffy was encouraging these sleeping arrangements had been icing on the cake. ‘Geez! As if! Willow thinks of Dawnie as her little sister, or my little sister at least. Since when is being gay the same as being a pervert? Mrs. Kroger needs to move into the right century.’

Buffy remembered the conversation with the old cow clearly. There had been the lecture on Dawn’s falling grades and absences. ‘Let’s see, Mom dies, a hell god kidnaps her, I die…..I think there are some good reasons for that, you sow! Wish I could list them for you.’ Then she’d had to make Buffy feel like one of those welfare moms minus the welfare. ‘Let’s see how well she can provide with a high school education and a middle-aged woman’s responsibilities before she’s twenty-one!’ The worst part was that the bitca was going to recommend that Dawn be taken away, sent to a father who had no interest in his REAL daughter, let alone one gifted to him post-divorce by a bunch of monks! “Gonna be watching!” Who knew big brother was actually a chubby, middle-aged Nosy-Nelly!”

“Excuse me, miss?” The confused hairdresser didn’t know if she had been insulted or not. Surely that extra five pounds she was carrying wouldn’t make her chubby and forty was hardly middle-aged any longer! Didn’t the latest Vogue magazine have an article that forty was the new thirty?

“Oh, sorry,” Buffy blushed and apologized. “I was talking to myself about this busy body woman I had to deal with this morning.”

The hairdresser smiled in relief and evened up the sides of Buffy’s new haircut. She might have been tempted to leave it had she actually been the target of the comment. Working in a service industry where people were often terribly rude was taking its toll on her. ‘I need a vacation!’

Buffy looked in the mirror and smiled at her new look. “Cute! Spike called me ‘Goldilocks’ the other day. Bet he’ll still like it, even if it is shorter.” It would at least get his attention.

“I’m sure your boyfriend will love it. You look like a doll, if I do say so myself,” beamed the proud hair artist.

“Spike’s not my boyfriend,” Buffy rushed out. “He’s just this…this….” She stopped when she realized she had no idea how to classify the vampire. They hadn’t really been enemies in a long while and since the whole ‘Glory using him as a pinata’ episode he had at least earned the title of friend and comrade in arms. She’d like a lot more of Spike’s arms; they were nice as she recalled from Willow’s screwed up spell.

“I see.” the hairdresser nodded sagely. “He’s the one you want to dazzle.”

Buffy sighed in confused sadness, “I guess. Used to be I dazzled him no matter what, but now I’m all ‘forgettable Buffy.’ Stupid vampire!”

“Vampire?”

“Uh…umpire, I said ‘umpire’…um…he, uh, does stuff with the little league,” Buffy covered. ‘Probably ate a team somewhere at some point.’

“Oh, athletic! Nice.”

Buffy had sudden visions of Spike’s buff body and his grace in a fight and sighed dreamily, “Oh yeah, nice. Worlds of nice.”

~~~

The Three Stooges of Nerdom stood in front of a shop with the enticing sign in the window, ‘Spa. Women only. Bikini Wax Wednesdays’. Warren was carrying a long object wrapped in black and was nearly salivating.

“What if we get caught?” Andrew twitched from foot to foot, looking like he was more interested in whether the establishment had a public restroom than any bikini wax.

“No way! We’ll be invisible, and besides, we cased this place for, like, weeks,” Jonathan was as excited as his goofy friend but trying to remember to put his cool on. He remembered how suavely he behaved when he had cast that spell the year before. He was hoping to show off at least a tiny bit of that image in front of Warren today. The genius, their elected crime lord, was always putting him down and Jonathan was getting heartily sick of it.

Warren pulled off the cloth and the shiny, awkward device came into view. The large stolen diamond glistened in the sunlight.

Andrew was looking across the street, ogling a rather buff in-line skater wearing the tightest running shorts he’d ever seen, when he noticed Buffy exiting the beauty salon. “Slayer alert!!!!! Headed our way! Don’t think she’s seen us yet.”

As Buffy began to cross the street, heading right towards the trio, Jonathan and Andrew began to try to wrestle the invisible ray gun from one another in a desperate attempt to use it before the Slayer arrived and caught them in the act.

“I need to be invisible,” shouted a panicked Andrew.

“I need it more. Buffy KNOWS me. She’ll go all vigilante and I’m too fragile for jail!”
Jonathan was in a frenzy, desperate not to be seen by the girl he once idolized.

As they played tug-of-war with the cumbersome machine, the diamond on top began to spin and the soft purr of the device began to grow louder. Lights as red as poppies burst from the end and hit Buffy as she walked blythely down the street and past the alleyway where the boys stood.

As they looked on in horror, Buffy disappeared, along with a maintenance cone, a dumpster and the fire hydrant.

“Shit!” Warren spoke for them all.

~~~

Anya and Xander were going over wedding reception plans for the millionth time. Xander somehow wondered if he were under a curse of his own as he listened to Anya talk of this demon and that demon and where to seat them! Bad enough, Anya had suggested Spike for Best Man since she had asked the newly returned Giles to walk her down the aisle.

“No, Ahn! No to Spike as best anything! I’ll let you invite him only because he’d crash it otherwise and probably cause trouble, but he’s NOT in the wedding party. Besides, I’ve already asked Willow to be my Best Person. She’s my oldest friend and it’s only right.”

“She’d look good in a tux, but then so would Spike,” came a voice out of nowhere that sounded suspiciously like Buffy.

“Buffster? You hiding somewhere?”

“Nope,” she popped the ‘p’ and tweaked him on the cheek. “Nothing to hide here.” She giggled. Somehow she had become invisible and had never felt more free in her life. She wanted to do nothing more than play for a while.

“Um…have you been feeling neglected lately? Because we’ve just been working on the wedding and really meant to come over more often.” Xander was a bit frightened of this development. Surely it wasn’t a side effect of the resurrection spell! They couldn’t lose Buffy again, not now.

“Nope, no Marcie repeat here. I don’t know what happened. I left Main Street after getting my hair cut…,” Buffy started to explain only to be interrupted by a suddenly interested Anya.

“You cut your hair?”

“Yup,” Buffy sounded downright giddy in a way that further unnerved Xander.

“How short, ‘cause I’m thinking about getting my hair cut before the wedding.” Anya began to thumb through one of her limitless magazines looking for the style that had caught her eye earlier.

“Um, up to here…well…if you could see my hand, it’s kind of just above my shoulders and flips up on the ends.” Buffy tried to describe the new her.

“Oh, like Mary Tyler Moore! How precious!” Anya frowned as she tried to decide if she should make Buffy wear it up for the wedding so none of their friends would focus on the cute, perky Slayer instead of the sexy bride who was supposed to be the center of the world that day.

Xander would never understand the workings of his Anya’s mind. How could she NOT be freaked out by an invisible Slayer? “Hey, guys! This is serious stuff. The Buffster is all ‘Invisible Woman’ and not even wearing a trench coat so we know where to look!”

Anya huffed, “ How do YOU know what Buffy is wearing?” She turned in the direction where she last heard Buffy speak, “You ARE wearing clothes, aren’t you? Because it would be very bad if you suddenly became visible and weren’t wearing anything.”

Buffy giggled. “No worries. Got all my clothes on. They disappeared the same time I did, so I think they’ll turn up when the rest of me does.”

“Did you see anything odd or make a wish or something before you zapped out?” Xander was on the case like a dog with a bone.

“Didn’t see anyone. Now no one sees me. You know there may be an upside to this whole thing…”
Anya nodded in agreement. “True, an invisible Slayer has to be lots more effective than a regular one. You could sneak up on all the vampires and demons and poof them before they know you’re there! This could be a good thing.” She frowned when she realized just how powerful that might make a Slayer. “Hmm…why would anyone want to give you that advantage?”

“I’m less with the why and more with the how,” mused a worried Xander. Why was he the only one to see the seriousness of this whole situation?

Buffy was busy playing with the merchandise making things seem to float and fly. “Buffy, will you please focus!” Xander was getting annoyed.

No one could see the cute pout on her face, but they could hear it in her voice, “I am. It’s just that this is kind of fun. I don’t have a lot of fun usually.” She moved a skull directly in front of Xander and opened it’s jaws and shut them in a biting movement. Xander dodged the macbre toy and tried to get them back on track.

“I could go check the spot where Buffy disappeared, Mulder out some clues,” he offered.

“Okie dokie, you do that,” Buffy said lightly. “I think I’m gonna….” Her mind raced with a menu of things she could do while invisible. There was the bank that had refused her loan and the siren song of free money, but she reminded herself of how wrong that would be. Spike! Oh, yeah, he’d never see THIS coming…literally! Yes, Spike was definitely on the menu, but first, a bit of a necessary visit to the Social Services office. Mrs. Kroger said she was going to be watching everything Summers–well, let her try now! Buffy thought it was about time to do some watching of her own.

As the ringing bell over the door alerted the engaged couple that they were once more alone, Anya voiced her suspicion, “It seems pretty obvious to me that it’s some kind of spell.”

“Spell? Who? You said yourself that it makes no sense for one of her enemies to make her invisible.” Xander looked clueless.

“Well, maybe it’s a mistake, a magical mistake,” Anya suggested.

Xander mulled that over and laughed nervously, “But who would have that kind of…oh, God! Will! Look, Ahn, I’ll be back as soon as I can. Gotta go see an old friend.”

“Willow had better not try any magic on our special day! You tell her that,” Anya ordered. “I’d hate for her to try to whoo hoo up some gift and send us all into another dimension or something. It would probably be one filled with bunnies.”

~~~

Giles sipped his tea and cleared his throat. Willow had been difficult to corner, seemingly avoiding the Watcher who had last called her an arrogant amateur when they discussed her ritual for bringing Buffy back to them. In the time since that argument, Willow had learned the harm she had done to her best friend and she really didn’t want to revisit that place of shame with Giles.

“I recall that you indicated the ritual had been interrupted when we last spoke of this,” Giles began. “Demons, I believe you said. Certainly a practitioner as well versed as yourself knows the importance of continuity in a successful ritual. One must have every precaution put into place; all i’s must be dotted and every t crossed.”

“But it worked,” Willow had a slight whine to her voice that even annoyed her! “I mean, yes, there was a little oopsie at the very end, but all the real work of the ritual was already done.”

“Even the dismissing and cleansing rituals vital for a rite of that power?”

“We-ell….” All that stuff was just window dressing, in Willow’s opinion. The important part was the meat of the ritual and Buffy was living proof that it had worked!

“Judging by your hedging, I assume you did not.” Giles sighed deeply and began to think Spike might be onto something. In magic, there were specific things that could not be ignored if one wished the results to be correct. Any deviation could lead to chaos and disaster. “Am I to assume you used a ritual from the Osirian Grimoire, the rites of Osiris?”

Willow blanched. “Yes. We had a real urn of Osiris, Giles; we didn’t substitute anything!”

“And what, precisely, did you offer as a blood sacrifice?”

Willow felt her lunch rise in her throat at the shame of the memory. She’d murdered Bambi! “I did a spell to call a sacrifice. It was….a fawn.” She noted the look of horror on Giles’ face and added, “I was quick and careful. It didn’t suffer!”

“And how did Tara feel about this use of magics?”

Willow whispered, “I didn’t tell any of them. They don’t know where I got the blood.”

“And you think Osiris would think the blood of a fawn a fair price for what you were demanding?”

“Buffy’s back!” Willow was getting indignant. She had been avoiding magic ever since her trip to Rack’s, feeling guilty even, but this cross-examination was putting her on the defensive. “Must have worked for him.”

Giles raised an eyebrow in skepticism. “Indeed.”

There was a deep silence between them that spoke volumesbefore Giles asked his next question. “Just how did you word your request, Willow? And I really do need it verbatim.”

“I’ll get the notes so you can see for yourself,” Willow got up and headed for the stairs before Giles could stop her. With any luck she could compose herself before she had to return to the table of inquisition.

Giles closed his eyes and sighed wearily. This might well prove to be a tangle he alone could not undo. Really, the young witch was completely irresponsible!

~~~

Buffy chuckled at the results of her visit to Social Services. Mrs. Kroger should thank her, really, for the paid time off due to her little pranks. Buffy hadn’t felt so lighthearted in…well, ever! There was a lot to be said for being a ghost. ‘That’s what I am, anyway. I was dead, should still be dead. I’m finally in this world the only way I should be…a ghost haunting the living!’ “Hmm…maybe I should also haunt the dead,” she decided and headed towards Restview Cemetery and a surprise visit with a certain resistant vampire.

She hummed to herself as she made her way across town. Really, why was Spike suddenly so reluctant to take what she had been offering. He had been flirting with her, toying with her, for years! Since he decided he was in love with her, he’d become a puppy dog, following her looking for any crumb that might fall his way. This was just silly. “Well, let’s just see how he deals with Invisi-Buffy!” She was a girl with a plan.

The crypt door opened with a slight squeal and Buffy worried her entrance might be given away by it, but Spike was nowhere to be seen. “Probably downstairs,” Buffy surmised. “Well, that’s convenient. Bed, hot vampire, free Buffy…sounds like a good recipe to me.”

She lifted the trapdoor and made her way stealthily down the ladder in quest of her reluctant suitor.

The bed sheets were rumpled from sleep. ‘Nice! Satin,’ Buffy could almost feel them caress her body already. No Spike though, and it was HIS caresses she really craved. ‘Now where would any self respecting vampire be at this hour?’ “Spike?” she gave up the surprise factor in favor of locating him and finally getting this dance off the ground. No answer. Buffy sat on the end of the bed and pouted.

~~~

The door crashed open and a smoldering blanket covered vampire rushed into the living room of the Summers house on Revello Drive. Giles watched in bemusement as Spike beat the smoking relic and cursed. ‘He really is the most astonishingly odd vampire in all my memory. Should be fast asleep now, not running through town making a spectacle of himself!’

“Oy, Watcher,” Spike blurted out, getting right to the point. “Just the bloke I need to talk to.”

“Whatever could be so urgent that you could not wait for a less flammable hour should prove interesting. Do come in, Spike.”

“Figured Buffy was more likely to be out and about and really don’t want her knowin’ ‘bout this conversation,” Spike confided. “Twisted her knickers enough already by tellin’ the bint she should see ‘bout getting some help.”

“Yes, she was quite prevoked. Jet lag is bad enough without being wakened to the sounds of cursing and various beauty products being flung about in the loo.” Giles still had a bit of a headache from that. “If you ran all the way over here to ask me if I have discovered the reason for your chip malfunctioning, you’ve wasted your time. I have begun research into the ritual, yes, but as much as I am flattered at your confidence in my ability to sort it out quickly, it will take some time.”

“Know that, you git.” Spike rolled his eyes. “Here for a different reason. Well, same reason…Buffy..,different problem though.”

“I’m listening.”

Willow was too. She had never had a great aversion to Spike, in spite of his murderous past. Aside from the bottle incident a few years before and the embarrassing attempt to bite her that one time, he hadn’t ever actually hurt her and that bottle thing really could have been much worse! Right now, though, she positively loved the undead menace. As long as he distracted Giles, she was off the grill! Maybe now would be a good time to slip out the back door and avoid the Spanish Inquisition a while longer. She crept down the stairs and made a mad dash out the back door and smack into Xander.

~~~

“Will,” Xander began carefully, “You haven’t been…um…doing any creative mojo lately to… you know…help Buffy or anything, have you?”

Willow looked at her oldest friend and gave him a gimlet-eyed stare. Why was everyone always questioning her use of magic! Couldn’t they see she was only trying to use her powers to help everyone, to make things better? “Why do you ask?”

“Well, Buffy’s kinda invisible,” Xander blurted out. “Anya and I thought–well, we figured the only witch we knew with that kind of power….”

“Maybe she’s just feeling ignored,” Willow offered. She didn’t want to discuss why she hadn’t been using the magic lately. No one needed to know about her trip to Rack’s.

“I asked that same question, and no, that’s not it. Buff said she just came out of the hairdresser’s and suddenly…poof…no Buffy.” Xander sighed in frustration. He had really been hoping it was a spell gone wrong because Willow was always able to fix those…eventually.

“Not me. I’ve been trying to save the good stuff for emergencies. Tara left because she said I used it too much and I’m conserving,” Willow hedged. “Maybe Amy …”

“Whoa! You mean ‘I was a teenage rat’ Amy, ‘cause I’m not liking where that thought is going. I always got some weird vibes from that chick even before her mom wound up in the trophy case,” Xander also remembered the ill-fated love spell she had managed to mangle for him years ago.

“Let’s go ask her,” Willow latched onto Xander’s arm and steered him away from the prying eyes and inquiring mind of Giles.

~~~

Giles motioned to the chair the furthest from the sunlight that still managed to bathe the majority of the living room. Spike took a seat and began to fidget.

“Look, I’m not proud of a lot of things I’ve done, but I can’t see any way around this.” Spike had his eyes closed as he spoke. He was clearly uncomfortable. “If you were a reasonable duffer, I wouldn’t have to go into the details, but I know you lot. I don’t lay it out there, you’ll be makin’ a million excuses not to take it and then I’ll just have to admit it in the end. But,” he glared at the Watcher, “this never leaves this room. I mean it. Not to Buffy, not to that council of idiots you serve, not in some bloody journal for posterity either. Stays between us, I mean it.”

“Go on.” Giles steeled himself to play priest to Spike’s implied confession.

“Buffy needs money.” He saw Giles nod and realized the man was aware of the Slayer’s dire straits. “Gonna go off and throw herself away in some dead end job, slavin’ away and getting buried under unpaid bills and guilt. What kind of life is that for someone like her?” He looked at Giles with defiance. “Girl’s special–not just Chosen. Special. Job like that’d suck the soul from her faster than I used to drain necks. Still out savin’ the whole bloody world every night, raisin’ her little sis–it’s not fair!” Spike looked around the comfortable but less than new surroundings. “Got upkeep too. Witch isn’t payin’ her way. Council just looks on her like another weapon in the drawer to use and replace. Girl’s got needs.”

“I know all of that, Spike. We discussed this, remember? I felt it incumbent to come here and see to this other issue first. I fully intend to plead her case before the Council upon my return. Perhaps a stipend of some kind can be arranged.” Giles had serious doubts about that, but he did intend to try. Maybe Buffy would only need a part-time position if they could be convinced. “What has that to do with your shamefully checkered past, to phrase it politely?”

“I can fix it,” Spike began. “Tried to tell her money wasn’t a problem.” Of course, that had been the first time around as she toiled beneath the cow hat of shame. She hadn’t listened then and doubtless wouldn’t this time either. No, this required stealth. “Silly bint won’t take it from me, but I’ve no use for it.”

“Are you saying you have money?” Giles fumed at the memory of all the times the vampire had leeched from all of them. The demands for payment for his help in the early days and the outright pilfering that had continued even while Buffy was dead. Suddenly, he had a thought that made his blood run cold and his back stiffen. He turned cold eyes on Spike and demanded, “If you think any of us will touch your blood money, your ill-gotten gains taken from God alone knows how many innocent victims–”

“And so he proves my point,” Spike muttered but Giles heard him. “Nothin’ like that. Like I said, not my proudest moment.” He took a deep breath and began his unlikely tale. “Back in the 20s, it was. Me and Dru were in Chicago. Great times! Bootleg, Capone, lots of mayhem in the streets, perfect pickings for a pair of clever vamps and we were that pair. Long story short, picked out a ripe tasty nibble one night, but before I got my fangs in her she started crying and begging. Nothing new there, spiced up the kill usually, but I was in a sentimental mood that night, I guess, and her words stopped me. Plain little thing, all worn lookin’ but well dressed, she was. Gave me this story about how her mum was sick and she was the only one there to tend her. Begged me to let her live, show her mercy. I’m a vampire, damn it! Mercy’s not one of our prime virtues! Like I said, not proud of actin’ out of my nature, letting Dru down, but there you have it. I let the little wren go.”

Giles quirked an eyebrow. The story was anything but what he had been expecting. “Do go on.”

“Don’t know how she found me…it was a few years later,” Spike continued. “Dru and I were livin’ in the open with a false name. Dru was havin’ one of her bad spells and we had to stay in one place for a while, easier to do with some fake papers and all. Dru was getting some treatments for the worst of her inner voices, psychiatry was new then and worth a try. Anyway, this chit I let go spotted us and asked about. Seems her mum finally passed. She had the same sickness and wasn’t long for the world. No family left, she was all that was left. Anyway she left her estate to me, or to William Benedict, at any rate–that’s the name I was using at the time. Tidy sum, not a massive amount of weath but nothing to sneeze at either. I had no use for it, prefer to take what I need, or did in any event. Set up an account and that was all the thought I gave it.” Giles noticed that Spike’s accent had changed slightly in the telling, as if the story was touching some part of him that was not the standard Spike personae.

“Are you offering that money to Buffy?” He wasn’t particularly surprised if Spike were doing so, but he wanted to be clear. Indeed, there was no moral reason for anyone to turn down the offer if Spike’s story of how he got the money were true.

“I am, but I need help.” Spike had figured it all out, what would be need to be done. He had also checked on the account and was impressed at how much it had increased over the years. “Need to get some papers done so I can lay claim to it. Make me my own heir. I’ve got that in the works now. What I need is to get the money to Buffy without her knowing it’s coming from me. That’s where you come in.”

“Just how much are we talking about?”

Spike quietly stated the amount.

Giles whistled and sat down hard. That sum would certainly remove any need Buffy might have for a job. She could even return to school if she wished, and ensure Dawn’s future as well. All they needed was to find a way to explain the windfall and set up the necessary accounts.

~~~

Willow felt like Nancy Drew solving the ‘Mystery of the Disappearing Slayer’ using only the clues at hand and not one whiff of magic. ‘Maybe Tara was right and I’m using it when I don’t need to,’ she mused. ‘Too good to waste on the trivial.’ She returned to Revello Drive with an oddly quiet but totally visible Buffy only to meet Giles’ raised brows both at the day’s events and at Willow’s crafty escape from his questioning earlier.

After they explained it all to the Watcher, a slightly sullen Buffy headed to her room with claims of a slight headache. “Probably a side effect from those idiots and their Star Wars toys.”

“Undoubtedly. Rest is just the ticket.” Giles commiserated. He was not as quick to release Willow from his company though. “Willow, those notes you promised failed to appear even if Buffy has. I would appreciate them now, if you please.”

“Sure thing,” she said with a rueful grin. Willow scampered up the stairs and gathered the papers she had used in her research for the ritual to return Buffy to the land of the living. “Nothing wrong here. Giles will see that I was super-duper careful. That’s me, no mistakes on the big spells! Nope, I covered all my bases.”

She handed the notes to Giles and headed out the door in a rush for a pre-arranged meeting with Xander, leaving Giles to sort through the various papers for himself.

~~~

Buffy lay in bed and tried to figure out what was going on with herself. She had actually been angry that Spike was not in his crypt earlier. What was currently shocking her was admitting what her plans had been had he been at home like a good little vampire was supposed to be in the daytime.

‘I was going to force myself on him if I had to! Just keep quiet and…and…molest him!’ She felt the beginnings of deep shame and for once not about the attraction she had to admit to feeling but for thinking of forcing the vampire against his stated will. No amount of ‘he really wants me’ excuses made that okay.

‘I was all about the “Eww, Spike kissage!” until he turned me down. How sick is that? I don’t want to admit I want his hot body ‘til he doesn’t want me? Maybe he’s right and I do need help.’ Buffy felt ready to cry. On some level, she knew that she had tons of issues, a veritable black hole of issues going on. ‘Enough to make a psychiatrist wealthy…if I could afford one that is. Wonder if that’s why Spike was attracted to me? Dru was a nutcase and I’m two thirds of the way there myself.’ She was well on her way to a real headache with all the thoughts spinning in her mind. “Buffy and self reflection? Not mixy,” she said and got up to take a couple of aspirin before the ache took root.

“Well, Dru was crazy thanks to Angelus….” Buffy stopped abruptly and realized that at least some of her tonage of issues had Angel’s return address on the label. ‘And I really don’t want to go there.’ She hated to think her perfect yet doomed great love had left her with the inability to be in another relationship. How could any love that was right and good and pure do that? Still, she had to admit that since Angel walked out of her life in a cloud of smoke and angst, she had guarded her emotions like the crown jewels without the benefit of tourists. She had called Spike’s emotions for her a freak show and those had been Angel’s exact words when describing their relationship. She had yearned for a ‘normal’ relationship with a ‘normal’ guy only to find such a relationship lacking in the extreme. Riley hadn’t been exactly normal, but close enough–and that had been a big bust. As much as she had wanted to love him, it hadn’t happened, not really.

When had she decided that she wanted normal anyway? Oh, yeah, right after Angel told her that was what she should have when he said he was leaving! Her mom had wanted normal too, but then she had also wanted Buffy to just give up being the Slayer. When HAD Buffy decided she wanted normal? HAD she ever really decided that? If she had wanted normal, why hadn’t she given Xander a go? Was she really just attracted to vampires?

The attraction she had felt for a long while towards Spike was the most frightening thing to admit to. She had always found him hot; any female would. All the time they had known one another they had never been able to kill each other, never really tried a hundred percent…why? She had never even had his invitation revoked after they had stopped Acathla, although it left her mom vulnerable had the vampire decided to return and finish the truce at the end of his fangs. Why?

She remembered the night she died, how she had trusted SPIKE to care for her sister if anything had happened to her. Why Spike? Why not Giles or the gang? The funniest part was that he seemed to have been as good as his word. She hadn’t been told too many details about that summer when she was in heaven, but she knew enough to know that her trust had not been misplaced.

“Too many questions,” Buffy mumbled into her pillow. “Don’t wanna think, wanna sleep.”

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/261322.html

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