The King And She Part 5

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The King And She
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Final part. Sorry again for intruding into the 27th, but it’s only by fifteen minutes.

Part 5 

“Thank you so much. Good night.” Buffy shook the hand of the lead-singer guy, who was the last of their wedding guests to leave.

“Yes,” Spike said, in his King Spike voice. “Thanks for coming. Your last album was great. That one song, Hole in your heart? Loved it.”

“Thanks, man.” The lead-singer guy’s look of bored cynicism dissolved into a sort of sulky pleasure.
“What’s up?” he said in passing, to Vondra and Ranjit, who were hovering near the door as he swept out of the room.

Vondra clutched Ranjit, as both girls sagged against the doorframe. “He spoke to us! He spoke to us!”

“Well, that’s made their night,” Spike said.

Buffy noted that the lead-singer guy didn’t go without a final yearning look at Dawn, who was on the far side of the room talking to Willow and Kennedy, and had clearly forgotten his existence.

“Excuse me a moment.” Buffy made her way across the room, to her sister and the others. Kennedy had her arm in a sling. Her face was pale, but otherwise she looked quite chipper.

Had Willow caved? Buffy could hardly believe it.

“Hey, Buffy,” Willow said. “Some battle, huh?”

Buffy shrugged. “It was okay. As battles go. How’re things with you two?”

Willow grinned. She put her arm around Kennedy’s waist. “We’re fine. In fact, we’re just great. Aren’t we, sweetie?”

“Sure,” Kennedy said, in a pained voice, though whether that was pain pain, or my-girlfriend-can-be-a-pain pain, Buffy wasn’t sure.

Probably a bit of both.

“We solved our problem,” Willow said. “So simple, when you think about it. We’ve decided we’re gonna have twins.”

“One each,” Kennedy clarified, “born as close to each other as we can work it.”

“Using the same sperm donor,” Willow said. “So they’ll be siblings in every way.” She kissed Kennedy’s cheek. “You have the best ideas sometimes, sweetie.”

“Yeah,” Kennedy muttered. “Pity I had to almost die before you’d listen to them.”

“Oh, phoo!” Willow rubbed her face against Kennedy’s shoulder. “You’ll be right as rain in a day or so, just you wait and see.”

Kennedy opened her mouth to reply, but checked herself. “Whatever. What, say, we call a cab, Will? Dunno about you, but I’m beat. I wanna go home.”

Willow gave Kennedy a smouldering look. “Sure. I can help you shower, if you like, what with your bad arm, and stuff.”

Kennedy looked pleased. Her good hand drifted down to squeeze Willow’s butt. “I’d like that.”

Buffy watched as they drifted away, hand in hand, towards the front desk and the ever-helpful concierge.

“Think this is gonna work? I mean, once they’ve had these babies, won’t they just get in a pissing contest about who’s the best mom, or like that?”

Dawn pursed her lips. “Willow does need to be best at everything, it’s true.” She put her arm around Buffy’s shoulders. “But you’ll be around, Aunt Buffy, to give her a reality check when she needs one.”

“Hey.” Buffy smiled up at her. “Speak for yourself, Aunt Dawn. You called Willow on it long before I did.”

Dawn sighed. “I tried. But she doesn’t listen to me- not like she listens to you. She thinks she has to be all surrogate mom and in charge.”

“You wait,” Buffy assured her. “That’ll change when she has her own baby. Babies,” she corrected.

“Maybe.” Dawn looked sceptical. “Time we were going too, don’t you think? Some of us are out on their feet.” She nodded towards Giles, who had settled into one of the ornate gilded armchairs, and was fast asleep with his handkerchief over his face.

Xander looked pretty beat too, but he walked over when he saw them looking his way.

“So, are we done playing nice with the vamps?”

Buffy glanced at Spike, who was deep in conversation with a hench-vamp – the same one who’d been co-opted into Giles’s anti-hangover spell.

If this goes on, Summers, you’ll even be able to tell one vamp from another.

“Maybe not quite yet,” she said. “I’m their queen, don’t forget. I can’t just kill my own subjects willy-nilly, whenever I want, can I?”

Or can I? Spike seems okay about doing it.

Xander shook his heads. “That’s nuts, and you know it, Buf. What about the other stuff we talked about? You know?”

Dawn’s eyes narrowed. “What stuff?” She put her hands on her hips. “What does he mean?”

Time to face the music.

“The stuff is, that I might not be getting a divorce from Spike any time soon, Dawn, okay?”

“Huh.” Dawn said. After a moment, she said, “He does seem pretty into you still.”

“Maybe.” Buffy seized on the opening. “Either way, he and I aren’t quite done talking yet. So, all of you go on home, and I’ll see you in the morning.”

Dawn’s eyes slid in Spike’s direction. He was alone, standing leaning against the wall, with his hands in his duster pockets, looking so much like the old Spike that for a moment – just for a moment- a chill ran down Buffy’s spine.

Then, he saw them looking. At once, King Spike was back. He snapped his fingers at the hench-vamp (she really should learn his name).

“Have the limos brought around to the front. Her majesty and guests are leaving.”

The hench-vamp bowed. “At once, your majesty.”

“You’re gonna stay?” Dawn said. She didn’t sound happy, but she didn’t sound hostile either.

“Uh-huh.” Buffy nodded. “We still have a few…issues left to sort out.”

Dawn grimaced. “Well, okay, but if you’re not back by midday tomorrow, I’m setting him on fire whatever. Got that?”

Buffy nodded. “Got it. Take the kids home, Dawnie.”

Dawn sort of shuddered all over. Then she began wrangling bitty Slayers.

“Buffy…” Xander put a hand on her arm. “You sure about this?”

Buffy nodded. “I am.” She gave him a pleading look. “I need to clear the air between us, Xander, once and for all.”

He sighed, and nodded.

Buffy went over to Spike. “I’m staying,” she said.

“Nice view, isn’t it?”

Spike was gazing out the window, into Hyde Park, where leafless trees tossed in the wind.

“It’s dark.” Buffy drew the velvet drapes across, folded her arms and glared at him.

“You’ve gone all avoid-y again.”

He sighed. “You’re right. Been holding this inside for so long, don’t even know how to start, Slayer.”

“You could start by calling me Buffy.” She took his hand in hers and led him back to the couch. He let himself be dragged, but took a seat at the opposite end from her.

“Buffy,” he said, as if testing the word. “All right, then.”

When he didn’t seem inclined to say more, she said, “Everything we were talking about earlier? About how you never called me? I understand, Spike. I do. But you were gonna keep this from me, weren’t you? That you still have…feelings for me, I mean? Why would you do that now?”

His hands had gotten restless. In fact, he looked twitchy all over.

Too bad, mister. No nicotine hit for you.

“Yes, I was,” he said, at last. “I mean, what’s the bloody point talking about it? Like I said, I never meant anything by this marriage, except to give you a tactical advantage. Didn’t want anything in return.”

“Tactical advantage? You mean, the vamps being all torn an’ stuff, because I’m their queen but they want to kill me?”

He frowned. “Well – yeah.” Suddenly earnest, he leaned forward. “That doesn’t mean you can trust them. You understand that, don’t you? If they even hesitate for a second to get on their knees to you, kill ’em. And never- never turn your back on them.”

She glared at him. “Okay, okay. Been doing this slaying stuff a while, you know.”

“I know.” He still looked worried. “But I don’t want something that’s supposed to help you getting you killed.”

“It won’t,” she assured him. “But what about you? Sometimes you have to turn your back on them, because you’re the king, and they’re the minions, and you’re front and centre. Aren’t you afraid of backstabbers? Literal ones?”

“‘Course,” he said. “Gotta have eyes in the back of my head, haven’t I? Plus, recycle the entourage a lot, so no one gets too cocky.”

“Recycle the entourage? Is that how you’d describe what happened to Anton?”

He grimaced. “Should be thankful to the fucker for betraying me really. Sometimes I forget they’re not people. But in the end, no matter how good they are at pretending, they always reveal their true colours.” His eyes met hers. “You know that, Slayer. From bitter experience.”

“That’s Buffy. And I know what you’re talking about, and can we please not?”

“Maybe we should,” he said. “Bet your sister would think so.”

“My sister still wanted to set you on fire until this evening. Now she thinks you’re ‘kind of cool’ again.”

“Oh,” he said. “Well, that’s progress, I s’pose.”

“And I don’t think we need to talk about it. I’m not a victim, and no one – not even you -is ever gonna make me one. As for you, you got your soul back, you died to save the world. Then you were a dumb asshole and didn’t call me. Then you grew up. I think we’re beyond needing to go there.”

He looked stubborn. “Doesn’t change the fact that I was wrong to let it slip – about how I feel, I mean. Got carried away, I s’pose, bein’ so close to you.”

“Just as well,” she said, “or we might still be fighting Cthulhu.”

She caught his eye, and then they were both laughing again.

Spike wiped tears from his face. “He was an ugly fucker, wasn’t he?”

She nodded. “Oh, boy, yes! Also, imagine waiting however many millennia for your apocalypse to come along, and then flunking your cue.”

And they were off again. But this time, when they stopped, she said, “So, why were you wrong? To let it slip, I mean.”

He looked hunted a moment, like he hoped she might have forgotten what they’d been talking about. Then, he sighed again.

“For so many reasons, Buffy. First and foremost, because I know you don’t feel the same way about me – never did – and I don’t want you to feel obligated. But second, even if you did feel the same way, we can’t be together.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but closed it again. They stared at each other. Then, she said, “You’re right. We can’t.”

She got up from the couch and stood facing him. “I can’t have the Slayer organisation too closely associated with you. It’s too dangerous. In fact -” she frowned as the thought struck her -“if there’re any more crazy stunts like the one you pulled in Beijing – any more protection rackets – being your wife would make my position as head of the organisation untenable. Damnit, Spike!”

“Not really,” he said, quickly. “I did think of that, believe it or not. If one of my plans to keep the juvenile delinquents happy goes pear-shaped, you call a press conference. Say you’re shocked – shocked, I tell you – and you’re divorcing me pronto.”

When she just gaped at him, he said, “I can put you in touch with a good PR firm, if you want.”

“Oh, for…” she flung herself down onto the couch again. “Okay, we’ll cross that bridge, if, and when we come to it.” She eyed him curiously. “Must admit, I’m impressed. That you thought about it, I mean?”

“Grown up now,” he said. “Like I told you.”

She rubbed her temple, where a headache was beginning to niggle. “So, really, the less we share a continent the better?”

He nodded. “Just as well I’m off to California next week, isn’t it?”

She was about to reply, when his cellphone rang. He looked at the display, frowned and clicked the ‘on’ button.

“What do you want, wanker?”

Oh, she thought. Angel.

The change in Spike was instantaneous. No more suave king of the vampires. Instead, he was all spiky and irritable.

“‘Course we stopped the apocalypse,” he said. “Don’t you have a mass to say?”

Buffy craned her head, trying to catch Angel’s response, but no luck.

“What do you mean they abolished Vigil? Where’s the penance in that?”

“Spike…” Buffy put her hand on his arm, but he scowled and shrugged her off.

“All right, all right. Sorry. Didn’t mean to make fun of your vocation. How’s Brother Damien doing? He was being a right pain in the arse last time we talked?”

There followed what Buffy supposed had to be monastery gossip, though it gave her the weird impression of listening to a married couple discussing the awful job of one of them.

At last, Spike said, “Yeah, the king stuff isn’t going too bad. Lot of good publicity about this apocalypse. My lot were well impressed. Didn’t have to kill any of them.”

Then he was scowling again. “Of course I warned her. I’m not a bloody idiot, you know. We were just talking about it when you rang.” There was a pause, then Spike said, “Yeah, she’s still here. If you must know, we’re reminiscing about old times.”

Another pause, during which Spike’s expression changed from irritable, to frowning concern, back to irritable multiple times. “It’s okay,” he said, at the end. “I’m pretty sure she forgives you.”

“Give me the phone!” Buffy held out her hand to him.

He gave her a warning look. “Yes, told her that. Yes, she understands. Angel…” He went silent, rolling his eyes at Buffy, as if to say, can’t get a bloody word in edgewise. Then he said, “Angel, look, I appreciate you’ve a lot to say, and none of it’s idle chit-chat, but Buffy wants to talk to you.”

Whatever Angel must have said in reply made Spike hold the phone away from his ear. “I’ll email you, okay?” he shouted, then thrust the phone at Buffy. “Here.”

She took it from him. “Angel? It’s me. Buffy.”

From the other end, silence. Not even heavy breathing.

Which, of course, didn’t mean Angel wasn’t there.

“Angel, listen,” she tried again, “Spike’s right. Whatever happened ten years ago, it’s water under the bridge, okay?”

More silence. Inexplicably, her eyes filled up with tears. “Angel, please. This is dumb. Just say something.”

At last, there was a gusty sigh, and Angel’s voice, sounding strange, and cracked, and broken. Like he’d gotten out of the habit of using it.

“Hi, Buffy.”

“Hi, yourself.” She smiled through her tears, very aware of Spike’s thoughtful gaze on her face.

But then Angel said, “I’m sorry. I can’t…Buffy, I can’t do this now. Give the phone back to Spike. Please.”

She started to protest, but there was something about Angel’s voice – strained, like he was barely holding it together. “Okay, she said, but I’m totally emailing you too. And I expect an answer, mister.”

Angel didn’t reply, and she handed the phone back to Spike, feeling shaken right to the core.

“Yeah,” Spike was saying. “Yeah, you made her cry, you wanker.” More silence, then, “No, she punched me in the face.” Spike’s tone of irritation mixed with insolence hadn’t changed, but there was a strange gentleness underlying it now, which startled her to hear.

“Yes, yes. You were right about the prophecy. In fact, you were right about everything. Yes, I admit it. Don’t let it go to your head, wanker.”

The conversation seemed to wind down after that. “See you soon,” Spike said, “and tell Connor I’ll catch up with him next time I’m in LA.”

Then, he hung up. “You all right, Slay…er, Buffy?”

She clasped her hands together to stop them shaking. “He’s really sick, isn’t he? Who’s Connor?”

“He’s doing better,” Spike said, the gentleness still in his voice. “And next time you see him, he’ll explain who Connor is himself. Not my story to tell.”

There was silence for a while. Then she said, “You guys are pretty close, aren’t you?”

He looked indignant. “What? No! We’re family, that’s all. Can’t choose your relatives, can you?”

“I guess not.” She stifled a yawn with her hand. “One thing I am wondering, when it’s Angel’s turn to be king, do I have to marry him too?”

She could see him swallowing his angry retort. “S’pose we’ll see,” he said, “When the time comes. Wanna go to bed, Slayer? It’s late. Your room should be…”

She scooted across the couch almost into his lap. “Thought you’d never ask.”

Kissing him the second time was just as good as the first.

When she let go his mouth at last, he gazed up at her in wonder. “That wasn’t…that wasn’t what I meant. I wouldn’t presume…”

“Well, it is what I meant. And I want you to presume. So presume.”

He didn’t need much prompting after that.

“God,” he moaned, breath cool on her heated skin. “You’re so fucking beautiful, Buffy. I adore you. I worship you.”

It certainly felt like it, when his lips seemed desperate to kiss every part of her body, some parts over and over, until she felt molten and wet, and like she might explode any moment. But if she did, that was okay, because she knew he’d put the pieces back together.

It had never been like this, she thought. Not with him. Maybe it couldn’t be, until both of them had done some serious growing up.

Afterwards, they lay in a heap, plastered together by sweat. His head was on her shoulder, hand on her breast.

“Buffy,” he said, sounding dazed, like he couldn’t believe where he was. “Buffy, Buffy, Buffy.”

“That’s me.”

He raised his head at last and looked at her. White curls were plastered to his forehead with sweat, like little stray half-moons. He gazed at her, lips parted.

“I don’t know what to say,” he said.

She smiled. “Don’t say anything.”

She woke to the sound of traffic outside the window. The drapes were still closed, and there was a lump under the quilt next to her.

She lay, blinking up at the ceiling and grimacing at the taste of you-didn’t-brush-your-teeth-last-night in her mouth. After a while, she sat up.


No answer, except for a sleepy grunt from the lump under the quilt. Weird, she thought, how he slept like a human. Was it because of his soul, or were all vamps the same?

Not that she had any intention of finding out.

She got out of bed, padded over to the window and peered out through a crack in the drapes. Raining again. And broad daylight. Definitely. In fact…

Ooh, crap!

She ran to where her clothes lay in a heap on the floor and fumbled her cellphone out of her pants pocket. Eleven forty-five! Christ.

She hit the call button.

“Wassup?” Dawn’s voice, sounding as sleepy as Spike’s.

“Dawn, I’m fine. Don’t set him on fire, okay?”

“Okay,” Dawn said, after a moment, during which Buffy imagined Dawn having her own what-time-is-it-and-how-the-hell-long-have-I-slept-for moment. Then, “When’ll you be back.”

“Soon,” she said. “I promise.”

“Wake me when you get here.” Dawn’s voice cut off abruptly.

Buffy sighed with relief and set the phone down, turned, then jumped almost out of her skin. Spike, stark naked, was standing right behind her.

He backed up in a hurry. “Sorry, love. Didn’t mean to startle you.”

Buffy had put her hands up to cover herself without thinking. Now, she found herself reluctant to let them drop.

Especially when he switched on the bedside lamp.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she said, very aware how fake her smile was.

His shoulders slumped a little. “If it’s about last night, I promise I won’t talk about it. Especially not to Angel.”

Her jaw dropped. “What? Why would you…oh.” By this time, she’d taken in the resigned look on his face. “Oh,” she said, again. “It’s not that, Spike. It’s not what you think.”

“It’s not?” He perked up a little. “Really?”

She shook her head. “Really. I promise you I am not feeling guilty because I’m still in love with Angel but I had sex with you.”

His expression turned sheepish. “Am I that transparent?”

“Kinda,” she said, at the same time as she thought, they both had their insecurities.

“So what is it, then?” he asked.

“Give me a moment.” She grabbed the edge of the quilt, yanked it off the bed and wrapped it around herself. “I don’t like being naked.”

He sort of pouted. “Dunno why not. You look bloody amazing.”


“No,” she said, “I mean, I’m embarrassed being naked around you because…because…”

Just say it, Summers.

“Because I’ve gotten older, and you’ve stayed the same.”

His jaw dropped. “You have got to be kidding me!”

She scowled. “You said I looked like my mom.”

He flung his arms wide, which gave her a great view of the effect her nakedness had had on him. “Yes, but I told you that was a compliment. Your mum was a very beautiful woman. Buffy-” he let his arms drop – “mature is not the same as old.”

He closed the distance between them and slid his hands inside the quilt. “You’re more beautiful than ever. And if you don’t know that, just look in a bloody mirror.”

Later, as his body moved over hers, cool to hot to steaming, she thought it was true that she wasn’t so old.

But one day she would be.

Carpe diem, Summers.

They took a long, leisurely bath together afterwards, then a very memorable shower. He looked so good on his knees at her feet with the water streaming over him.

Finally, room service. Coffee and croissants for her, a white enamel mug for him that he drank with his back to her.

She sighed. Time to get back to the real world.

“So, shall I see you next time you’re in London?”

His eyes were warm as he looked at her, but she could see him putting his king of the vampires mask back in place even as he spoke.

“Of course. This suite’s at my disposal whenever I’m in town. We can meet here whenever you want.”

“And you’ll keep in touch?”



“Spike,” she said. “I know what you’ve been wanting to ask, and I know you never will. What I said to you in the Hellmouth ten years ago, you were right. I didn’t mean it the way you wanted me to mean it. But I did mean it while I was saying it.”

He gazed at her, face going from kingly blank, to disappointment, to acceptance, to…an expression she couldn’t name.

“And now?”

“Now, I think it was a good thing we’ve had ten years apart. You needed that time, and I know I sure as hell did. Now, I think a day could come when I’d say it again, and mean it the same way as you. Also, I think that day could come soon.”

He stood up straighter. “Don’t mind waiting.”

She drew a ragged breath. Her hands were shaking again. Did he realise how much it had cost her to say that?

It seemed like he did. Crossing the room, he took her hand in his, turning it so the wedding ring, and that impossible sparkly diamond were uppermost.

“No promises, Slayer. That’s the nature of the beast. But I’ll do my best not to let you down again.”

She leaned forward and brushed her lips against his. “I know you will. But just so we’re clear, if things go bad, I won’t hesitate to throw this gazillion dollar diamond in the trash.”

He laughed. “Wouldn’t expect anything different.”

Wrenching the suite door open, he barked at the hench-vamp outside,

“Her majesty’s going home. Fetch the limo round.”

“Your majesty.” The hench-vamp sketched a bow and skeddadled.

“Goodbye, Buffy.” Spike raised her hand to his lips. “Give my best to everyone.”

“So,” Giles was polishing hard, “you’re not going to be divorcing Spike any time soon, then?”

Buffy shook her head. “Doubtful.” Only if things go seriously out of whack.

“I see.” Giles put his glasses back on and glared at her. “Are you sure you’ve thought this through, Buffy, because I have to say…”

“I have, okay?” she interrupted. “I already told him that if he does anything – anything at all – that might bring the Slayer organisation into disrepute even by association, I’m divorcing his ass and throwing him to the wolves. Or the vamps. Whichever. And no, I won’t be taking any money off him, or expensive gifts. Not even shoes.”

She patted Giles’s shoulder. “It’s cool, Giles. Really. I’ve spent years building this organisation up –we’ve spent years -” she gazed from Giles, to Xander, to Willow, finally to Dawn -“I’m not gonna jeopardise that.”

Four faces – the four she loved most in the world- gazed solemnly back at her. At last, Xander said,

“It is kind of cool that you’re queen of the vampires, Buf. A bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”

“It so is,” Willow agreed. “I can’t wait to see if they’ll be all fighty-fight-raar!-oops! then bow while you stake them.”

Buffy remembered Spike’s words of warning. “If we get to the fighty-fight stage, they won’t have time to bow.”

Giles, meanwhile, looked a little mollified. “That’s true. We should use the…the pause in hostilities to work out more effective strategies for dealing with our enemies when the situation breaks down, as it inevitably will.”

Buffy blinked. “What do you mean?”

Giles gave her an exasperated look. “Surely you realise the current detente can’t last, Buffy? Spike and Angel have engineered this situation very cleverly, it’s true, but it can’t go on indefinitely. Just the two of them trying to control the endless hordes of darkness? A charismatic vampire will arise to challenge them one day, their followers will desert them, and that will be that.”

Buffy felt the chilling truth of these words, even as she said, “You work that out from one of those books Spike gave you, Giles, huh?”

“No,” Giles said, crisply. “But they will come in very useful. I’d thought some of these volumes gone forever in the destruction of the Watchers’ Council Library. Spike’s given us a very precious gift, though I confess I’m at a loss how it’s his to dispose of.”

“A mystery for another time, huh?” Willow cut in, glaring at Giles. “Let’s not do this now, guys. We just foiled our twentieth apocalypse. We should be giving ourselves a pat on the back, not doom-mongering.”

Giles held up his hands. “I’ve said my piece. If Buffy wishes to continue her relationship with Spike, that’s entirely up to her.”

Willow nodded. “Damn straight. Hey, Buffy, wanna go shopping with me for baby clothes later?”

Buffy gaped at her. “You’re pregnant already?”

“Uh-uh.” Willow shook her head. “But I like to be prepared. Also, I thought we could, you know, talk about…stuff?”

Her eyes clearly said, Like, did you guys, you know, do it?

Buffy smiled. “Tomorrow, Will, I promise you. I’m kind of beat today. Think I’m gonna take a nap.”

Willow looked disappointed, so Buffy gave her a slow, deliberate wink. Yeah, we did it. Vampire issues? What issues?

Willow’s face split into a grin. “I’ll hold you to that. Come on, Giles. I’ll drop you home.”

Buffy saw them to the door. Xander sloped out behind them. He kissed Buffy’s cheek.

“I hope you know what you’re doing, Buf.”

“I hope so too,” Buffy said. “Thanks for the support, Xan. I appreciate it.”

Xander patted her shoulder. “Ah, it’s nothing. Also, I still hate Spike just in case you were wondering.”

“Raging hatred, check.”

“There’s a stake with him name on it if he hurts you again,” Xander called as he went down the stairs.

“Got it,” Buffy called after him.

S’okay, Xan. Dawn’s already on that.

Back inside the apartment, she sank down on the couch with a sigh of relief. It was good to be home.

For now. She had a meeting with Faith in Pittsburgh scheduled for next week. But for now. Home.

And Dawn.

“Here you go.” Dawn put a steaming mug into Buffy’s hands. “It’s alien tea, but Willow says you like that.”

“I do.” Buffy took a sip, and sighed again as the potent liquid zinged around her body.

“That is soo good!”

“It is,” Dawn agreed. “You look happy. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Buffy met her eyes over the rim of the mug. “I wasn’t either, Dawnie, but it’s happened.”

Dawn’s mouth turned down at the corners. “But he is still fucked up, right?”

“Oh, totally.”

Dawn nodded in satisfaction. “The setting on fire thing still goes without saying?”

“It does,” Buffy agreed.

Dawn sat down on the couch and set her head on Buffy’s shoulder. Her spiky hair tickled Buffy’s chin.

“It’ll be weird having him back in our lives again.”

“It will.”

“I’ve hated him for so long, you know? But I missed him too. I thought he was my friend, and then he just…well, you know.”

“I know,” Buffy assured her. “If it helps, he felt bad about you even before Sunnydale fell into the Hellmouth. He didn’t say so, but I knew.”

“It helps,” Dawn said. “Maybe I was wrong – about it not making any difference that he got his soul back?”

“Maybe. Guess we’ll find out, won’t we?”

Dawn snuggled closer. “Guess we will. One thing about him hasn’t changed, though.”

“What’s that?”

“He’s so into you it’s scary. I mean, what is his deal? You’re like, a hundred years old. Well,” she qualified, “over thirty anyway.”

Buffy tugged Dawn’s hair. “Well, he’s a grown up now. He appreciates a mature woman.”

Dawn raised her head so Buffy could see her roll her eyes. “Tell yourself that, Mrs The Bloody.”

“Don’t call me that!”

They laughed.



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