Summary: Spike hits the jackpot and wins a few million dollar.
Timeline: This starts a few days after Once More with Feeling. Giles had left Sunnydale by the time Buffy died and hasn’t returned, leaving Buffy’ financial problems in her own hands.
Thanks to my best friend ana_christina for her beta powers and constant support. You are the best!
Feedback much appreciated as this is my first Buffy fanfic. :) Hope you enjoy!
Chp 3, 4 and 5
Thanks for reading!
It was night again and this time Buffy wasn’t asleep anymore. She had spent many hours in the afternoon well covered in bed. The cold was attacking her fast and furious.
In the morning, she had managed to land herself in a four-hour long job again, she had got a spray painter position of all things. She was supposed to finish metal surfaces, but in fact, had ended up being a mess herself because she kept sneezing and the darned huge overalls wouldn’t fit her, having been forced to work on her interview clothes. Buffy had learnt on her way home that instant pink spray wouldn’t go off polyester and especially wouldn’t go off skin and hair.
“Everyone goes through this. Everyone. I just need to find the perfect job and I’ll be working there for the next thirty years.” Her voice, naturally low and girly, was morbid now and practically undistinguishable due to the nasal congestion. “I hope I gave Spike a cold. That would serve him well.” She hadn’t seen a vampire with a cold but she would put money that Spike was different that way, just like he was in other aspects.
“Oh, stop thinking of him. Double-strike him out of your mind. Scratch him. He is no one. He is a no-no.”
She dragged her wool socked feet downstairs to prepare for herself a hot pre-done cure-it-all patrolled-be-damned “Lemon Flu Night” that would knock her off until morning.
“Hello, pet, let Doctor Spike take care of you. That is not good for you, love.” He appeared out of nowhere and took away the Lemon Flu flashy green bag, dropping it into the trash can.
Buffy whimpered, showing her teeth at him in a very unfriendly way. “You again? Will you give me a break, at least till I am over this cold? What have I done to deserve this?” Her last desperate statement ended up in a shrilly pitiful squeak.
“Shhhh….don’t talk, you will only make your throat hurt. Go to bed and in a few minutes I’ll get you a natural infusion that will have you fine and dandy in a matter of hours.”
“No, Spike, no bed. Not bed at all. You’re not getting me anything to my room…” She pouted and looked at his raised eyebrow, defeated. “…I’ll wait here. You go and mix that potion thingy.”
He moved in the kitchen like it was his own home; he knew exactly where everything was. Buffy was bothered by that familiarity. She knew she looked like a mess with her hair in disarray and her robe hanging loose over a beige Mickey Mouse overgrown T-shirt. At least that would quench any undeniable and scorching passion he may be feeling for her right now. She hoped so, anyway.
“It’s just a little mixture that my mom used to brew. You know, back then there were no big pharmaceutics or pills that cured your headache just to make you ill in your tummy or make your hair fall.”
She noticed he had brought a brown paper bag, which lay torn by the counter. Spike extracted what seemed to be a bottle of honey, another of a white transparent liquid and many different herbs and started to happily concoct while whistling.
“You seem to enjoy that an awful lot.”
“What? You mean working in the kitchen? No, no, I am just doing an exception for you, pet. You wouldn’t catch me dead cooking.”
Buffy raised her eyebrows. “I see.”
He looked at her suspiciously. “I mean, would you like me to?” He asked, morbidly curious which upset her once again.
“Sure, Spike. Seeing you cook would turn me on so much,” she said sarcastically.
He just broke into a genuine smile and didn’t comment anymore for a change, which surprised her, because she couldn’t remember a single time that Spike didn’t ruin a moment with his big mouth and his even bigger foot.
Several minutes passed in companionable silence. Buffy missed being taken care of like this. It was like her mom used to in the past. Well, back then she didn’t really enjoy it, but she missed it now. The concern of her friends wasn’t the same thing. They pressed her unconsciously to show and tell them she was doing fine when she really wasn’t. And Dawn was too self-centered to think of anyone but herself at this point in the school year. Or year. Or decade.
“Alright, this is at the proper point.” Spike moved the preparation into an overgrown mug, helped with the matching plate and put it in front of Buffy, where she was sitting. “You drink now or even better take this to bed and drink there. You cannot get up after that.”
Buffy gave a sip to the almost boiling liquid and managed not to burn the skin of her tongue by pure luck. “Oh, yummy, this is good.”
He nodded and prodded her on the back to get up.
“But, hold on, this has liquor, hasn’t it?”
“Shut up now, and be on your merry way unless you want me to tuck you into bed like a good little Slayer.”
Buffy couldn’t help but smile back at his happy face, and suddenly she couldn’t believe her own ears, “Okay,” she murmured.
“Oookay then.” He held up the mug and pushed her slightly towards the stairs. Buffy could almost feel physically the intense happiness radiating from him at her allowing him to do this silly thing. The warm fuzziness that invaded her must have been the medicine. Or she really hoped so.
They walked up and, with every step, Buffy realized how dizzy she was and how the light bothered her. “It must be great to be a vampire and never catch colds. When I was appointed as the chosen one I thought that at least I’d be spared that, but no such luck.”
“No colds, but we get our asses kicked all the time so we make up for that. And we also feel physical pain so there you go, I have been more miserable than you’ll ever be.”
She smiled again, comforted by his avowal of misery. She knew it was wrong but it was only Spike after all. She could get some comfort from any little thing he said for a change. God knew he was her personal cross most of the time.
“And here we are!” He made Buffy sit by the edge of her bed and knelt in front of her, taking her slippers from each foot. She swung her legs under the covers and he fluffed the pillows before arranging them behind her and tucking her carefully.
Buffy felt his hand caressing her hair tenderly and looked up at him, feeling a slightly painful longing for something she wasn’t sure of.
Muffled sounds emerged from beneath, announcing the arrival of at least one inmate. Buffy held her breath hoping they wouldn’t catch Spike pampering her.
“Thank you Spike, I am fine and tucked now. It’s safe for you to leave now.” She dismissed him and bit her lip as he passed her the hot mug.
“You know there is no way in hell they will not see me go down those stairs, do you, Buffy?”
“You could jump off the window?”
“Bloody hell, so you say jump and I say how high and you say five meters and I go and land on my ass? There is a line I draw…”
Dawn burst into the bedroom, closely followed by Tara and Willow who could barely make it into Buffy’s room due to several oversized plastic bags with elegant motifs they were carrying with some difficulty.
“Spike was concerned with my cold but he is leaving now,” Buffy said without any prompting from the surprised group.
“Are you Ok, Buffy? I didn’t even know you had a cold. It’s bad, I remember last time you had one you had to be wheeled to the hospital. You remember that, Dawn?” Willow overreacted.
“Yes, I remember. Although, I wasn’t really there. But, yeah. I’ll go look for a thermometer just in case.” She was saying something with her eyes to Spike and Buffy wondered what it was that those two were plotting.
“So did you have fun today, little bit?” Spike asked cryptically. Dawn opened her eyes alarmed and pointed her head towards Buffy who exploded.
“Ok now, what is it? What you have you been up to, Dawn?”
“Nothing, Buffy, nothing bad at least.”
“What are those bags there? Who bought in Prada?”
“Buffy, it’s not Dawn’s fault. I just wanted to give her a belated birthday present. So I sort of opened a credit card for her.” He explained, “An additional to mine, only.” He added as if that made it Ok.
Buffy’s cry resounded into the house. She got out of bed and took away the bags from an alarmed and silent Tara and an apologetic Willow.
The items she threw over the bed must have cost several thousand dollars among jewelry, expensive leather coats, make-up and clothes, and Buffy started to cry in anger.
“You two knew of this?” She asked towards the other adults in the room.
“No, Buffy. Dawn called us after class to go and take her home from the mall. And it’s Ok, isn’t it? I mean…” Tara mumbled till her explanation on just why it was Ok died on her lips.
“I want that credit card right now.” Dawn threw the credit card at the bed and had tears rolling down her cheeks.
“And all this will be returned tomorrow first thing in the morning. I will be going with you to make sure this happens.” Dawn turned her back and kicked the door on her way out. She didn’t even say what she thought and Buffy wondered if she was so terribly angry, because it hadn’t happened before for Dawn not to throw a tantrum at such a direct order.
“Bloody hell, Buffy, it’s not her fault, if anything it would be mine! Just stop riding her back all the time!”
“And you, I won’t even hold you accountable for this. I am so stupid giving you the benefit of doubt over and over and over again. Now get out of this house and I don’t want to see you around Dawn again.”
“Have you lost your marbles? This was nothing to provoke the reaction you’ve had, Slayer. Maybe this cold has really gone up to your noggin.”
“Spike, you are not giving my sister easy money. She is not getting all worked up with pretty things she cannot have and even more important, that hasn’t worked to deserve. This is our hard real life. Not your surreal gray-shaded world. You are not really part of our lives and your money isn’t our money.” Buffy’s voice was getting lower and lower for the over abuse she was submitting it to. Tara and Willow had long deserted the room to let Buffy and Spike have it out as usual.
“Whatever, Slayer. I won’t beg you anymore. Next time, it’s you who calls me and me who may or may not respond.” Spike pointed a finger to her for emphasis.
“It will be a cold day in hell before I do that!” Buffy shouted.
“Spike, are you there?” Buffy asked for the second time into the cell phone. It was the number Anya had given her after she called to the Magic Box in a desperation previously not known to her. Anya had given it reluctantly fearing the right state Buffy had seemed to be into.
More silence and then, “Yes, it’s me, Slayer. Getting it cooler in hell dimensions these days?” She resisted the temptation to hang up on him, because she knew it would only mean she would have to call him again.
“It’s an emergency. I need you here as soon as you can. Where are you, anyway? Looked out for you in the crypt.”
“Not living there anymore. Not that safe these days with the change in my situation and all, I’ve got something new. Dawn knows where it is, why didn’t you ask her?”
“Dawn is the emergency.”
“Oh.” He paused. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“No, meet me at the police station and bring your checkbook.”
When Buffy arrived to the police station she found Spike lurking around the dark alley that led into it. He seemed more anxious than she was herself, and she was glad. It had been her intention to shake him into action by giving him the least possible details.
“Spit it out, Slayer. Is the bite-sized one in jail by any means?”
Buffy nodded, ashamed. “And it’s your entire fault, by the way.”
“If you hadn’t given her that credit card and obliged me to return all those things, she wouldn’t have…”
Spike seemed to try very hard not to react to this accusation.
“Some old guard got her smuggling a perfume out of the mall this afternoon. When they took her to the security area and made her undress they also found two halter tops and random make-up. She was caught shoplifting from a few different stores.”
Spike seemed deeply mortified. “Can’t believe she could have gotten caught.”
Buffy eyed him suspiciously. “You didn’t teach her to shoplift while I was gone, did you?”
“No, Buffy, rest assured I didn’t. Now let us go and get her out. By the way, why do you need a checkbook?”
“It’s not for bailing, just for the fines that the shops demand to let her go.”
Spike grabbed her arm and directed their steps to the doors of the station. There wasn’t much activity going on that night and a gentle looking cop asked them their business. “Summers, Dawn. She must be in your custody list.”
“She is minor, isn’t she?” The policeman replied with another question.
“She was taken away by social services one hour ago.”
“What do you mean? They called me twenty minutes ago and they said she was here!”
“This was before my shift. I am sorry, I cannot help you with what occurred except that I can give you the number and address of the facility to where she has been taken.”
“Please.” Spike took over and the cop handed him the number and address. It was about eight in the evening and things didn’t look up well.
Buffy and Spike made a ran for it, the place wasn’t that far away.
Buffy was shown into a small recess while Spike was left in the waiting room. Last thing she needed was to have him around while she was talking to social services. She was beyond nervous.
“Yes, good evening.”
“I am Ms Reinolds from Social Services.” They shook hands.
“I was informed my sister was taken here by you, Ms Reinolds. I came here to take her home.” The older lady sat behind a big mahogany desk and started shuffling papers, apparently not satisfied with what she had in her hands.
“Ms Summers, we tried to locate you for three hours. Are you always this unreachable?”
“I was busy, I am sorry, I had no idea…”
“Busy as in working I assume?” Ms Reinolds adjusted her glasses to look at Buffy properly.
Buffy was caught; she had been on a little slaying round tracking a couple of vampires that were doing nasty things in the sewers. She didn’t look her best because of it and she feared her smell wasn’t that good either.
“Busy looking out for a job in fact.”
“I hope you realize the gravity of the situation. Dawn has accusations from three different stores. I am afraid this will go to the juvenile court because she resisted arrest and tried to hit a security guard. I haven’t been able to locate her file yet, but undeniably an investigation will be opened. I am not at all acknowledgeable of Dawn’s legal situation. I assumed she was under her living parent’s ward but she has informed us that she lived with you and that other agents contacted your family during the last summer.”
Buffy was caught unaware. She had no idea what had happened then, she had been dead those months.
“Yes, indeed. Now do you think it is possible for me to talk to my sister?”
“You can for a few minutes. She will have to stay for the next couple of days, for evaluation. We will have a meeting on Friday, at four in the afternoon before releasing her to your custody, if that is Ok.”
“Totally perfect.” Buffy gave her a very forced smile.
“You burnt down a gym in your school and also had a minor shoplifting accusation at fourteen.”
“What? No, no, that file must be wrong.” Buffy forced a smile.
The man from the social services committee who was reading the file raised an eyebrow and the other three people including Mrs Reinolds didn’t look too convinced either.
“Miss Summers, please. We got this from your Sunnydale High. You signed an info release permission. This has been sitting there for years. We also know you are an unemployed college drop out and that your bills are not getting paid. You have no insurance. A lesbian couple lives with you.”
“And that is bad exactly why?”
The man read in the file trying to look for something. “They are both unemployed too. They have been living off you? On your mother’s life insurance? Is this right?”
Buffy looked mortified but nobody took pity on her.
“Your circumstances are highly unusual to say the least. I hope you understand we have to be harsh here, it is for Dawn’s well being. I am sorry but I don’t see a way out of this. Dawn’s grades have been going down all through the year. Things are getting totally out of control so it is my duty to inform you that the committee will be reviewing the formal custody of Dawn. We have tried to contact your father but he seems to be out of the country. We will press him to take your sister. Or else a foster home may become a good change for Dawn for…. a while.”
“Just a second, a foster home? Dawn is not an orphan, she has a family and friends who care for her, even our dad…”
“Your father hasn’t seen you in two years. He has not been sending child support either.”
“You’ve got to give me a chance here. I am going to find a job very soon.”
“It’s not only that, Miss Summers. Dawn hasn’t profited from living in a stable household with a father and a mother. This is what a foster home would be about. And if you agree with this, you can even visit her everyday. We can evaluate this later once Dawn has picked up her grades and her behavior has improved.”
“Is there a way I can fight this?”
“This will be decided by the judge. You will need a lawyer if you want to fight it, but I am afraid there is little chance given the current situation and the recommendation of this board. And if Dawn repeats her criminal offense she might even face a correctional establishment. So this is serious.”
“When? When will the trial take place?”
“Oh, no, it’s not a trial, just a hearing. Lucky for your sister she is a minor or things would have gotten real ugly.”
“I’ll get a lawyer.” Buffy clenched her teeth realizing there was little else to be said. The people in front of her were hardened and seemed to see her like a small ugly brown beetle under a microscope. She knew that breaking down in front of them would bring little to further her cause.
“In that case we will be holding a more complete investigation and also perform an inspection of your household. You can take your sister home now.”
Xander was driving both Dawn and Buffy home. Neither had said a word during the ten minute drive. The afternoon was very sunny and bright and a happy tune was playing on the radio, filling up the tense silence.
“Dawnie, I went to your school today and got your homework from your friend Sarah,” Xander commented noncommittally.
“I won’t be needing it. I am not going back to school.”
“What are you talking about?” he replied confused.
“I’d be totally seen as a loser if I go! My life has ended! “ She started crying silently.
“You should have thought about it before stealing in K-mart.” Buffy said coldly.
“Buffy, that doesn’t help things. We’ve all made mistakes. We will do them in the future too. I think what Dawn needs is a little understanding.”
“Tell that to Anya. She is still charging me for what Dawn took last week from the Magic Box. Or, even better, tell that to the foster family with whom Dawn will be living in a few weeks from now.”
“What?! What are you talking about?” Dawn jumped staring at Buffy with blazing eyes.
“The meeting I had today with Social Services. They decided I am not fit to have your custody.” Buffy’s voice broke and couldn’t say another word for many minutes.
Xander’s hands seemed a little shaky over the steering wheel.
“You’ll find a way out of this, Buffy, you always do. It’s what you do.”
Buffy looked out the window and felt angry at him. He seemed to ignore that while she was good at fighting the forces of evil and stopping the end of the world, she was a complete failure with real life and adult responsibilities.
“I can’t be everything for everyone.”
“So that is it? You won’t fight for me?” Dawn complained pitifully as they made a halt by Revello Drive. She immediately jumped off the car and ran to her room, not looking back.
Spike’s eyes popped out of their orbits.
“What is her problem?” he asked, befuddled.
“She is drunk I think,” answered the bartender as he gave Buffy an eyeful.
The Bronze was full, it was Friday and it was disco night. A 70’s special show. Spike had thought of dropping by when he didn’t find Buffy patrolling or at the magic box. He hadn’t seen her in days which worried him.
“She’s had two vodkas, a Jack Daniels and one piña colada. Her tab adds to thirty dollars. Is she your friend? Maybe she could pay before passing out.”
Spike dropped a fifty and jumped over the counter where Buffy and another girl were dancing to the Pointer Sisters.
“Hey, no boys over here!” Buffy pushed his chest and sent him flying to the ground. The air was heavy with smoke and the pink and yellow flashy lights danced over her leathery short skirt. Many of the guys around the place had his eyes riveted on the couple. The other girl must have been about eighteen and was using a very heavy punk make up and some chains around the waist.
“Moron!” someone shouted at Spike.
He had landed over a passing couple and other people almost stepped over his sprawled form.
“You silly bint!” He shouted but knew that Buffy wouldn’t be able to listen under the deafening noise.
He got to his knees and looked at the slayer, determined. Had he not been so pissed off at her, he would have gotten seriously sickened by the stares the men threw at her. Some of them had passed a bottle of beer from which Buffy drank and with which she danced by turns.
“Baby, have you thought of doing this as a profession? I know a place that would hire you in a second!” said some forty years old guy with a three day’s beard, who was so smelly that Spike felt slightly nauseous even from a few meters away.
“A job?” Buffy looked down excitedly.
“Yeah, sweetheart. Why not?” He looked at her pointedly and produced a five dollar bill which he moved with the intention of rubbing up her silky leg.
Spike punched the man and jumped at the immediate incapacitating pain he had inflicted to his own brain. “You pathetic ponce, where do you get your lines from? ‘Pimping techniques for Dummies’?” He asked the man after a few seconds. The latter hadn’t been much affected in the first place with the half-botched attack but looked rather pissed off from a distance.
“Want more?” Spike bragged.
“I will be calling the police for this,” replied the older man.
“You are not a man? Let us do this the traditional way, shouldn’t we?” Spike smiled wolfishly.
“I won’t be fighting for a stupid ho. You’d better control your girlfriend instead of going around punching innocent guys. Ten minutes more and you will have to punch half a dozen more like me, eh.” He gave a fake laugh teasing Spike. “But I bet that controlling a cocktease must be a full time job.” The man was shut up by a new punch, a little stronger now.
Spike didn’t see him leaving the Bronze as he dumped over the floor once again, seeing tiny lights in his head until the pain became tolerable again.
“Bloody hell, I need to hire a bodyguard. First thing to do in the morning. Thank God for cell phones.” He mumbled under his breath as he reached out for Buffy’s legs and tackled her.
Buffy was laughing out loud at something the other dancer was shouting into her ear.
Dancing away like never before was liberating. In times like these she missed Faith, the two of them had had serious fun at certain points. She was young and deserved some distraction. Too bad that neither Willow nor Tara were in for wild fun.
The feeling of Spike’s shoulder hitting her just under her knees from his position at ground level took her by surprise. She doubled over trying not to fall on the counter. But she was too drunk to do a back flip right now, she was going to land right on her nose, she realized in a second, right before actually hitting, waist first, on the aforementioned shoulder.
“What. Are. You. Doing!” Buffy was carried in the middle of the multitude by a very pissed off Spike. She kept raining girly punches over his lower back as her feet kicked.
Laughter could be heard all over the place at the demonstration. “Hey! Don’t take her away, pal!” A blond college boy demanded.
“That is a man for you!” said a girl to her companions from a close stool.
A group started clapping joyfully. Buffy turned completely red and stopped hitting Spike in favor of hiding her face into his leather coat’s back.
“You will pay for this. It will be bloody and many different shaped stakes will be involved!” said Buffy.
He put her down before reaching the door. That left Buffy cold as she didn’t expect him to.
“Alright, be my guest. Return there if you will. Don’t think I enjoy playing dad for you, Slayer. You know one hundred different good reasons why you shouldn’t be here right now and even your kneeling down in the church praying the rosary wouldn’t be good enough to get out of your problems.”
Spike rolled eyes his eyes. “Pet, you wanted to get pissed? Why didn’t you come and hit the crypt? We’d have done it together. You can get your kicks out with me in any way you want.”
Buffy seemed suddenly sobered. Instead of answering, she walked ahead of him into the street.
He ran after her.
“So that is what this is about? You’re jealous I got to party away from you?” her words were not very understandable and had that ridiculous dragging of someone drunk who wants to pretend that is sober.
“No, luv. Just knew you’d regret it in the morning. I wanted to make it easier for you. While one week ago I would have joined you up there, today this is just self-destroying.”
“Why did you come looking out for me?”
“I got you a lawyer.”
That got him an astonished stare.
“I got a lawyer already.”
“The sort you don’t have to pay for, right? How will that exactly help your case? I got the best one I could get in Los Angeles. You can actually have a shot with her.”
“I can’t afford a “best” of anything.”
“You don’t have to. You said it yourself, it was my fault Dawn did what she did. I will pay for my mistakes.”
“You sound almost reasonable. And that is scary.”
They were walking down the lane in auto-pilot towards the Summers’ house. Spike wanted to have a private chat with Buffy but in her state it would be total waste.
“We’ll be at your home in the morning and discuss this.”
“You have become seriously boring,” Buffy answered before doubling over and throwing up in the street.
Dawn peeked out the blinds of the kitchen door towards the corner as someone made an excessive noise with the horn of a car.
“It’s Spike! He is in his new car! I bet he wants us to open the door so he can rush in.” Dawn did and waved to him with a smile.
“Oh, what sort of car has Spike now?” asked Willow while peeling an apple.
“No idea, it’s black again but it looks very shiny and expensive.”
The vampire was covered in what seemed to be a black full body hood. He ran into the house closely followed by a fat woman in her late thirties wearing a gorgeous white suit and high black stilettos plus a fat portfolio and a very cute pair of glasses.
“Ladies!” he said happily as he uncovered himself. He was barely smoldering this time. The material of his cover must have been of the first quality.
“Dawn, this is your lawyer.” He made the introductions and the both of them sat in the living waiting for Buffy to go down. Dawn made a ran for it because she was fairly sure that Buffy wasn’t even awake.
Fifteen minutes later Buffy walked down the stairs freshly showered but her skin had withered slightly as living proof of her night of waste.
The three of them, Buffy, Spike and the lawyer, whom he called Ms Toots, sat and waited to start talking just until the moment the last of the Scoobies had left.
“Would you have something, ma’am?” Buffy remembered her manners with a slight jump in the couch. “Maybe a coffee or a soda?” She tried to smile.
“Yes, thank you,” The lady looked into her portfolio while Buffy got up and prepared two strong coffees.
“One for me too, pet.”
“Buffy… May I call you “Buffy”?”
Buffy gave Ms Toots consent as she waited impatiently by the microwave.
“I spent yesterday reading the notes and files on Dawn’s case. I will start by telling you that I need more time to make a real appraisal of where you are standing, but since the hearing has been set in ten days it will be better if we discuss this sincerely and neither of us hides anything from the other. Your sister’s future in danger. You fully understand this?”
“Yes, yes. Of course I do and I want to thank you for taking up our eh…case on such short notice.”
Ms Toots smiled at Spike, and Buffy noticed that she almost looked fondly at him. “William is a very special client and I love to take the side of kids in these cases. And don’t thank me unless we really manage to keep her custody.”
“William? Oh, you mean Spike.” Buffy snorted.
Ms Toots ignored her. “We need to make a complete defense plan of your case. I want to know what kind of witnesses you have of your good behavior and your ability to be a mother.”
“Oh, there is Willow and Tara and Xander. Also Giles, he is old and I am sure they would listen to him more than to anyone else.”
“Giles is the late mother’s friend who lives in England?” Ms Toots asked Spike.
“Yes, Toots, but he would fly here if we asked him to, wouldn’t he, Buffy?” Spike looked up towards her.
“Well, I am not so sure, I haven’t talked to him for the past few weeks, sometimes he is kind of unreachable.”
“Then you’d better try contacting him soon, but most likely given the short time we have this won’t work. What about your other friends? Friends who do not live here or whom you support.”
Buffy looked around on the window trying to think hard who could vouch for her and be at the same time some sort of model citizen. She was blank. Angel?
“Then we only have Mr Harris and William.”
“Oh, no, no, no. William cannot declare!” Buffy went livid at the very idea.
Toots raised a penetrating gaze towards Buffy.
“Is there something I don’t know?”
“Well, William has this skin condition, he cannot walk in the daylight.”
“I know, he told me but it can be worked out, after all, he did manage to get here in one piece, didn’t he?”
“I just don’t think that William would feel comfortable,” Buffy nagged toward him wordlessly hoping he reassured Ms Toots of his incapability as a nonexistent citizen and unreliable vampire.
“In fact I am planning to do so, Buffy. And that is nothing. There is yet another part of the plan to get Dawn that Toots and I have been talking about and that would guarantee you keeping her.”
Buffy saw him go red and get hot, if it was possible for a vampire to get hot. He got up and started pacing around the room, not looking at her.
Toots nodded with a confident smile. “Yes, that is the good news, I think the case is practically won if you two comply with the idea.”
Buffy flashed a big smile. “Practically won? Yes, I will do it whatever it is. Please tell me.”
Toots coughed. For a moment she seemed to falter but then she picked up her professional demeanor again. “William and you need to get married this week in order to keep Dawn’s custody.”
There was an ominous silence in the room for full five seconds that seemed like an eternity. Spike seemed to hunch a little with his back to Buffy.
“Are you making fun of me? Hilarious, Spike. Good one. I almost thought she was a lawyer.” Buffy got up and laughed, positive that this was one of Spike’s stupid practical jokes.
Neither replied. Instead, they waited for Buffy to stop her denial act.
“Because that is totally ridiculous, I won’t be getting married. I won’t marry Spike. Listen I don’t know how much he is paying you, but really….”
Toots’ face got a nice shadow of purple and got up as well.
“I am sorry, Miss Summers, it was indeed my mistake. This was something you and your fiancée must have discussed by yourselves. I will retire now and if you decide to find another lawyer just give me a call. Good day.”
Toots grabbed all her things and was walking to the door fast as lightning. Buffy’s felt dizzy as things were happening too fast. Her first instinct was to stop the lawyer.
She got her by the forearm before she would get hold of the doorknob.
“Please, wait. You have just surprised me. I am sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Toots didn’t turn her head. She sighed deeply instead.
“Buffy, I am not used to losing cases. I will be honest, yours looks pretty bad. I can hardly see a way out, short of giving money to the judge and that is something I don’t do and would probably get you in jail before you can say bogaloo.”
“Toots, wait,” Spike got her by the other arm and between him and Buffy, they took the lawyer back to the couch.
When they were seated again, Buffy tried to read Spike’s expression but it was blank and he avoided her gaze persistently.
“Alright, let us all calm down.” Toots said in a tone that talked of longer experience dealing with grave legal problems. “Ok, Buffy, here is the deal. Your expedient is huge, from being in a mental institution when only a kid to burning down public property, and the only thing in your favor right now is that you haven’t been in jail yourself. Other than that, the social services board can take Dawn away from you even without the shoplifting problem. The judge may go very hard on Dawn, in the worst of the cases she could end up in a correctional institute. Your fiancée here has a clean legal record, has excellent economic solvency and as he told me, there are witnesses that can vouch he has taken care of Dawn in the past almost like a father. If you present yourself united with him, and thus providing a stable home with father and mother for your sister, the judge wouldn’t have any grounds to deny the joint custody.”
“Spike is not my fiancée.” Buffy had stopped hearing when Toots had addressed him with that title for a second time. “Well, he was once, but not anymore, that was a spell.” Buffy was more stunned than angry at the moment.
“William, I thought you had said…” Toots reproached him.
“Toots, could you excuse us for five minutes please?” Spike grabbed Buffy shoulder and dragged her upstairs.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/255487.html