Okay, folks, here’s another chapter of Taste… hope you enjoy… still with the PG-13 rating
The Taste Of Truth 3
Thankfully the house was deserted and quiet. Buffy ran up the stairs and into her room, locking the door and barricading it with her dresser. She fell facedown on the bed and covered her head with the pillow.
She was terrified. Willow’s words kept echoing through her head. Permanent memory loss. Always telling the truth. Losing her sense of self. It was too much. She already had enough problems being herself just being the Slayer. What if she lost all her memories of all that?
How would this affect her slaying? She would still be the Slayer, just wouldn’t remember that she was. Demons would attack, vampires would hunt her, and she would be completely clueless to the reason why. Her friends and family would be in constant danger and she would be unable to defend them. If her memory loss continued, everyone that she knew and loved would be in danger, including herself.
She rolled over and stared at the familiar lines and cracks in her ceiling. What could she do? How could she prevent this from happening? She felt so darn helpless. She was no good with the research, and magic was totally out of her realm. Give her something to kill—that was easy for her. Bring on the damage and she was your girl. Give her a puzzle like this and she was left out in the cold.
The phone rang next to her, and her hand hesitated before she picked up the receiver. “Hello?” she said, a little breathlessly, and Riley’s voice came through the receiver loud and clear.
“Buffy—I just came from the Magic Box and they told me what happened. Are you all right?”
She considered her answer carefully. “As well as I can be right now. I don’t think that I need to be around anyone right now, with the side effects of the demon mist. I don’t want to lose my memory if I don’t have to.”
“I agree, Buffy. You’re doing the right thing, staying away from people.”
She couldn’t tell much from his voice. That was the trouble with the telephone. “I still have to patrol tonight, but I’ll do that alone too. I hope that Giles and the gang come up with a solution soon, though.”
“Me too.” He almost sounded…no, he wouldn’t want her to lose her memory, would he? She discarded the thought when he continued. “I’ll talk to you later then, Buffy. I love you.”
“I love you too, Riley,” she said automatically and thoughtlessly, and the bile flooded her mouth and nauseated her. Oh my God, she thought—does that mean that I don’t really love Riley? She rolled over and replaced the receiver on the telephone, pondering the latest revelation of the demon mist.
She didn’t love Riley. She didn’t love Riley. Her relationship was a lie.
She tried a little experiment. “I love Willow. I love Xander. I love my Mom. I love Dawn. I love Giles.” None of these declarations produced any foul taste in her mouth or any nausea. Her memory felt fine. “I love Riley.” The nausea returned with a vengeance, as well as the horrible taste of bile. Suddenly she wondered who this Riley was, and she stopped herself cold. No more thinking. Sleep. She would sleep, and stop any further problems from cropping up.
Buffy woke hours later with a headache and feeling feverish. She realized that her mother was at the door, knocking frantically. “Buffy! Are you all right? The door won’t open.”
“Have you talked to Giles, Mom?” Buffy called.
“I just spoke with him. Buffy, are you all right?”
Even muffled by the door, the worry was clearly heard in her mother’s voice. “Giles is working on a solution, Mom. Hopefully it will be all right.” Good, no bad tastes. “I’m staying away from people right now, Mom. Every lie, even a white lie, makes me lose my memory faster.”
She could almost sense her mother’s increased anxiety. “Will you be down for dinner?” Joyce asked through the closed door.
“Just put a plate aside for me. I’ll eat before I go out on patrol.”
“Buffy, I don’t think that you need to go on patrol alone. Why don’t you take Wil—I mean, Spike with you?”
Buffy’s eyes widened at her mother’s suggestion. “Why would you want me to take him with me?”
“Buffy, you need someone there with you who will watch your back. Who were you thinking of taking? Riley?”
Joyce was stunned by her daughter’s answer. “Who’s Riley?”
Joyce went right downstairs and called Giles, reporting her through-the-door conversation with Buffy, along with its surprising conclusion. “Why would she forget Riley?” she asked, breathless after spilling the tale.
Giles sounded worried, even through the phone line. “I suppose its part of the memory loss. Riley has only been a part of her life for a relatively short time, compared to the rest of us. Perhaps that could be a possible explanation.”
“Are you finding a cure for this?” Joyce asked, and she heard Giles sigh.
“We’ve made some progress, but there are many avenues of research left to explore, Joyce. Just…encourage Buffy not to lie. It seems that the more lies she tells, the faster the memory loss.”
“I’ll do that, Giles. Work faster. I don’t want to lose my daughter.” Joyce hung up the phone and turned to see Buffy easing her way cautiously down the stairs.
“Who were you talking to, Mom?” she asked, heading for the microwave and the dinner plate sitting in front of it.
“Giles, dear. He told me that they’re making progress on finding a cure for you, but to make sure that you don’t lie in any way, shape, or form until they do find one. Can you do that?” Joyce watched her closely for signs of…what she wasn’t really sure, but there had to be something she could watch for.
Buffy waited for the plate to warm, turning to face her mom. “Cure for what?” she asked, folding her arms. “I don’t remember anything being wrong with me.”
“Just—don’t tell any lies. All right, Buffy?” Joyce looked even more worried, if that was possible, and Buffy went to hug her mom.
“I won’t lie, Mom. I promise. If that makes you feel better.”
“It does. Now, I want you to take Spike on patrol with you.” At Buffy’s mutinous look, Joyce thinned her lips. “No arguments, Buffy. He can help you and watch your back.”
Buffy sighed, then turned back to the microwave when it dinged its completion. “All right. I don’t want to, but I will.” Suddenly her mouth was filled with a disgusting taste, and she grimaced. “Eww! Did I eat something bad?”
Joyce looked disturbed. “That’s part of what they’re working on, sweetie. Giles said that you would have a bad taste in your mouth when you told a lie—so that means that you lied about Spike. You do like taking him on patrol with you, don’t you?”
Buffy thought carefully about answering. Not answering would keep her secret a secret, she thought—but that was a good way of getting in trouble with her mother too. She saw her mother cross her arms and decided to spill her guts. Better to be on good footing with Mom than to be in the doghouse.
“I…well, you know Willow cast that spell last year, when Spike and I were engaged, right?”
Joyce nodded, and Buffy was emboldened to continue. “I…I sometimes have dreams about it. I…he is cute, Mom. And sometimes, he can be nice too, like when he helps me out on patrol. And he is so not about trying to kill me anymore, since he got the chip and all.” She bit her lip and worried it between her teeth for a moment, then decided to finish spilling her guts. “Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to date him, okay?”
Joyce smiled. This was easier than she thought it would be. “William is a good man, Buffy. You really should look past his shortcomings.”
“Like the whole sunlight allergy thing? Drinking blood? Mom, he’s a vampire. Look what happened when I dated Angel. Blood and carnage and a world of badness. I don’t want to go through that again.”
“Spike has a chip, so he can’t hurt any of us. He also doesn’t have a soul.” Joyce wasn’t sure what that meant, but it seemed important to her daughter.
“Exactly. He doesn’t have a soul. Angel wanted me to have a normal life, that’s why he left. And I don’t think that Giles or the gang would be too happy if I dated another vampire, do you?”
Again with the bad taste, but it was getting a little easier to handle. Must not have been a big lie, Buffy thought, remembering what her mother had just told her.
Still, Joyce saw her strange look. “I don’t think that you believe that, so I don’t think it counts as a truth. In fact, I can tell by the look on your face that it was a lie. So who would object to Spike? Not me. Dawn wouldn’t either, I don’t think.”
“Giles and Xander.” Buffy tested her tongue, and found it to be true. “They would definitely hate him being my boyfriend.”
“Is their opinion really that important to you?”
Buffy pondered her Mom’s question. Was it important? Xander was dating Anya, an ex-demon. Giles had a pretty checkered past, as far as she could tell from the whole Eyghon episode, not to mention his behavior during the band candy fiasco. “You know, not really. Yeah, they matter to me, but would it kill me if they didn’t approve of everything I did? Probably not.”
She took a bite of her dinner and only tasted the rich spaghetti sauce. No badness there. Good, it must have been true then. At least, to her it was true.
She was prevented from further discourse with her Mom by a knock on the back door. Joyce opened it slowly to reveal none other than the object of their recent discussion—Spike.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/79514.html