"How much stuff did you buy?" Joyce Summers asked as she watched Angel unload groceries from a large, paper bag.
"Just enough to make dinner, Joyce," Angel answered. Ever since the night of Willow’s twenty-first birthday, the two of them had been getting together on a regular basis, sharing stories of the past, of their friends, of art. Sometimes he would help her at the gallery with a new shipment, cataloging and setting up the display or he would accompany her to a showing in Los Angelus or the other surrounding cities. They were becoming good friends, bonded by their ‘children’ who were getting married in less than a year.
"I didn’t know you could cook," she said, picking up the celery and going over to the sink to wash it.
"Whistler made me learn," he replied, pulling out a pan and setting it on the stove. "Said if I was going to live with him, I had to earn my keep. And that guy ate like a horse."
"Isn’t Whistler the guy with the funny hat?" she asked. He nodded. "Buffy was telling me about him one day. She said he was very annoying."
"He is," Angel commented.
"She said she also threatened to pull out his rib cage and wear it as a hat," Joyce said.
Angel laughed at the thought of Buffy going off on the immortal demon. "When did she meet up with him?"
"The day I found out my daughter was the Slayer," she replied. "Let me tell you, I thought she was nuts. If I hadn’t had seen that vampire turn to dust in front of my eyes…"
"What happened?" Angel asked, curious as to when she found out her daughter’s destiny. Being in Hell sure threw him out of the loop. He took the oil and pre-cut meat and began to cook it in the pan.
"I had just pulled in the driveway to see Buffy and Spike heading up the front walk," Joyce said over the sizzle of the oil as she moved to the cutting board. She took out a knife and began to cut the celery. "That was the first time I met Spike…well, second actually, the very first being on Parent-Teacher night Buffy’s Junior year. I hit him with an axe." She sent Angel a wane smile.
"I was there," Angel commented, pushing the meat around with a fork. "I’m surprised you didn’t find out she was the Slayer that night."
"When I think back on it, I ask myself how I could’ve been so blind," Joyce said. "Anyway, where was I?"
"Buffy and Spike headed up the walk," he prompted.
"If I wasn’t so upset, I would have recognized the chemistry between those two," she said, pushing the celery aside. She took out the hand crank can opener. "The looks they were shooting one another were hot enough to melt ice. But I was worried because the police had told me she killed a girl. Kendra, I think her name was."
Angel’s brow knitted at the name, a flit of recognition ticking his brain. "Go on."
"They told me they were in a band together, then a vampire attacked," Joyce said. "I sort of lost track of reality after that happened. Spike and I were sitting in the living room uncomfortably as Buffy talked to…I think it was Willow, on the phone. Then she returned and started having a very intense conversation with him. Oh, I do remember that she told him just before he left that if Rupert died, Drusilla would die." She looked over at Angel. "Wasn’t Drusilla Spike’s old flame?"
"Yeah," he replied absently. His mind was whirling, trying to figure out why the last part rang a bell. Suddenly, it clicked. "Acathala."
"So that’s why the little runt stopped me from killing Giles," Angel said to himself, not hearing her. He closed his eyes for a minute and thanked a God who no longer held him in favor for Spike’s actions. When he opened them again, he saw Joyce staring at him in confusion and concern. "Sorry. Bad memories."
She nodded sympathetically, but did not press, instead continuing the story. "After that, Buffy and I had a fight and she left. She didn’t return for three months. I didn’t find out until later what had happened to make her run away." Angel nodded, but did not comment, knowing he was to blame. He took the meat off the stove, pouring the oil in a convenient cup, then forking the meat into a dish. "Ok, your turn."
"My turn for what?" he asked with trepidation, his heart in pain.
"I told you when and how I first met Spike," she replied, draining the cans of their juices. "Now you tell me how you did."
A smile crossed his face, blotting out the pain as he thought back to the past.
"Just pick a seat already," Spike sighed, juggling the goodies he held in his hands. The screen was flickering with pre-show advertisements as Buffy scanned the nearly empty theater. Mid-week in Sunnydale during the summer was a good time to go to the movies, especially to a not-so-popular film.
"I want to get a good one," Buffy said, walking down the aisle. He followed shaking his head. She finally chose two halfway down the theater and at the end of the long row, against the wall. She flopped down into the worn seat next to the blond vampire, happily munching on the bag of popcorn she held.
Spike set the sodas in the convenient cup holders, then tossed the boxes of candy in her lap save the M&Ms. Those he opened and began to munch on, avoiding the red ones. He liked to save those for last. "What’s the name of this bloody picture again?"
"If you didn’t want to come, you should have said something," Buffy said, glaring at him. "Angel’s making dinner tonight with my mom. We could have joined them."
Spike arched an eyebrow. "Peaches can cook?"
"I wouldn’t talk, Mr. Kiss-The-Chef," she responded, making fun of the apron she got him after his summer cooking course. "Besides, it probably would have been fun."
"I can think of much better ways to have fun, pet," he replied. He looked at the screen thoughtfully. "Although most of them involve branding irons."
Buffy groaned. "Why do I put up with you again?"
"’Cuz I look damn sexy in these here jeans," he drawled with a bad hick accent.
"That you do," she giggled, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. He turned his head in time to catch the kiss on his lips, instead. When she pulled back, he gave her a half smirk, then turned back to the screen as the lights dimmed.
"How did I meet Spike," Angel started, pouring more oil in the pan and throwing the other ingredients into it. "Remember, this was over two hundred years ago, so my mind is a little fuzzy."
"Whose wouldn’t be?" Joyce joked, cleaning off the island counter.
He chuckled. "I was in London at the time, working my way around the city, when I ran into him. Literally."
"He was running down the street away from the police and smack dab into me," Angel said. "Not a good thing to do to a vampire who’d already become feared only after two decades. I picked him up by the lapels of his torn, dirty pea coat so I could instill some terror in him before I drained him dry. My demon face was close to his when the light from a shop window hit him, accentuating the sharp angles of his face as his blue eyes stared into mine with an unholy deadness. That’s when I realized he wasn’t afraid. In fact, he seemed more ticked off that I stopped his flight."
Joyce put the place settings on the counter as Angel put the cooked meat back into the pan, stirring it with his fork. "Do you know why he was running from the police?"
"No. He never did tell me about that," he replied. "Anyway, I yanked Spike into an alley and turned him into a vampire. That’s pretty much it." He turned off the stove and moved the pan onto the counter, on top of a ceramic pot holder.
"Was he mad at you after he found out he was a vampire?" she asked, curiously.
"No. Usually I’m thanked by the vampire in question," he responded. "The demon takes over and is free of all moral obligations or conscience that comes with having a soul. But Spike didn’t thank me, in fact now that I think about it, when he finally learned to control the human mask, that deadness I told you about in his blue eyes was gone. And when he looked at me, it was as if a child was looking at a parent doing something silly."
"I’ve seen that look many times," Joyce said, pouring the wine he’d brought. "So, I gather Spike was different than your other…children? Is that the correct word?"
"Yes. Or minions," Angel replied. "Depends on if the sire, or father as it were, likes the vampire he created or not. And when we talk about one particular childe, it’s spelled with an ‘e’ on the end of the word." She nodded. "And, yes, Spike was different. Not to get into too much detail, but I was a very cruel, viscous vampire and I thought that Spike would be the same, so I taught him everything I knew, bringing him with wherever I went, much to Darla’s ire."
"My sire," he said. "And at the time, my lover. She was a bit…possessive of me. She was really pissed when I took him as a lover, too."
Joyce blinked several times as she sat down, stunned, on the stool. "Are you saying that you…and him…"
Angel looked up and, noticing her reaction, gave her a sheepish grin. "I take it Buffy didn’t say anything about what happened at the high school earlier this summer." She shook her head. "Ok, do you recall the oral report she gave for that Mythology class?"
"The one about vampires?"
"Yes," he replied. "The two of them talked about vampires and sex in it, remember?" He saw a light go on behind her eyes, then she nodded.
"I guess it’s ok, then," Joyce said thoughtfully. Angel let out a loud laugh, startling her. "What’s so funny?"
"Just the entire direction this conversation has turned to," he said. She started to laugh as well as they sat down to eat dinner.
"Slayer?" Spike said quietly, his voice tight.
"What are you doing?"
"What does it feel like?" she replied softly with a small, seductive laugh.
"I thought you wanted to watch the movie," he ground out through clenched teeth.
"There’s other reasons for going to the movies," Buffy said.
"Tell me how he was different," Joyce prompted, taking a bit of the food Angel fixed for them. "Oh, this is delicious. I’ll have to thank Whistler if I ever meet him."
"Don’t thank him too much, or his ego will swell," Angel replied with a half grin. "Ok, like I said before that deadness in his eyes disappeared once he was in control of his demon. He learned to control himself pretty quickly, too, which doesn’t happen that often."
"How long does it usually take?"
"A year, maybe more depending on the age of the master. The older he or she is, the faster it happens. I could control mine in less than a month, seeing as Darla was already over two hundred when she sired me," he said. "But I was only two decades old when I sired Spike, and he was in control within two months, three at most."
"Impatient, wasn’t he," Joyce commented.
"That Parent-Teacher night we were talking about? He attacked the two nights earlier than he was suppose to because he was bored and antsy," Angel said. "It must have been hell on him to be stuck in that wheelchair. But I digress, you wanted stories about your future son-in-law."
"Dirt to blackmail him with," she replied with an evil smile.
Angel chuckled. "Ok, here’s a good one. One night after he’d been with me for about a year, Darla and myself were invited to a very fancy party, a black tie affair. Darla and I loved to play the rich socialites, so we had the clothing and knew the proper etiquette. I suggested we bring Spike with us, well not suggested, more like told her he was coming."
"I bet she wasn’t too happy about that."
"Surprisingly, she didn’t put up much of a fuss," he said. "Anyway, we get all decked out after finding him the proper attire, then went to the party. Now, in those days it was rare to have shoes that weren’t dirty or worn slightly from the outdoors, but Spike somehow managed to keep his so superbly polished, they were like mirrors - to those who had a reflection, of course."
"Of course," she nodded, smothering a laugh. "Go on."
"Well, I kept my eye on him as we worked the party. He seemed to take it all in like he’d just won a trip to Disneyland, sampling the champagne and hors d’ouvers, listening in on conversations of businessmen or politicians. Then I noticed him looking down at those shoes of his as he stood by the ladies."
"Don’t tell me…"
"Yep," Angel said with a laugh. "He was trying to look up their dresses. I didn’t have a heart to tell him all he’d see was their slips and petticoats as he moved from woman to woman, with a speculative expression on his face."
Joyce laughed with him as she pictured the Spike she knew now dressed in his finest, acting like a little boy. "You must have been so proud," she teased.
"And that was just the start of his weird behavior."
Spike’s head shot around the darkened theater, seeking out where the other patrons were sitting as Buffy got bolder. "Slayer!" he squeaked. "People are going to see!"
"When did you turn into such a prude?" she asked with a smirk, their voices low under the sound of the movie. She looked down at his lap, then arched a devilish brow at him before sliding to her knees in front of him.
Spike’s eyes almost popped out of his head.
"Before we moved on to mainland Europe, Spike hired himself onto a theater group as a backstage crewman," Angel was saying as their pleasant meal continued. "For the unlife of me, I could not fathom why he did that. He never fed off of any of the other stagehands, actually did the work he was asked to do, and didn’t try to hamper the show in any way. The only reason I found out he’d gotten the job was because we were… intimate then, and I was not happy with the amount of time he spent where I couldn’t get my hands on him."
"Did you ever find out why?" Joyce asked, taking a sip of wine.
"Much later, through Drusilla," he answered with a nod. "The were performing his favorite play and it gave him the opportunity to see it again and again for free."
"But I didn’t think vampires were suppose to care about such things?" she said, puzzled.
"They’re not, but like I said, Spike was very different. I followed him one night, intrigued and a bit angered, and alternated between watching the play and watching him watch the play. The expression in his eyes and on his face threw me in a fit of rage. After it was over, I killed all the actors, burned down the theater, then took him out of the country."
Joyce didn’t flinch at his words, already knowing that he felt deep pain over his past killings. They were beyond that point in their casual friendship. "What play was it?"
"Romeo and Juliet," he answered, which caused them both to laugh as they thought of their two star crossed ‘children.’
"Tell me about him and Drusilla," Joyce said as they moved their dishes to the sink to be washed.
"To tell you about them, I have to tell you about her first," Angel said, his gaze focused out the window above the sink. "She was one of the worse things I did when my demon was in control. She had psychic powers, visions and premonitions, and I wanted her because of that."
"You don’t have to explain if you don’t want to," she said as she added soap to the water. He gave her a look of relief.
"Let’s just say that when I finally turned her, she was no longer all together upstairs," he said, tapping his temple. Joyce nodded. "She became like a child, an evil child, but a child none the less. She played with dolls, had tea parties, talked to the stars along with the desire to be the center of attention. Spike was completely infatuated when I brought her into the fold. Even though I ignored him and centered all my attention her, he would hang around just to watch her dance in the moonlight."
"It sounds like he was a romantic," she commented. "The play, watching her, learning to dance…"
Angel frowned. "I guess he was. Anyway, they didn’t get together until after I was out of the picture, so I can’t tell you how they acted together. From what I saw when they first came back to Sunnydale, he loved her very much, catered to her every whim, put up with her child-like personality for a century. I was pretty much sick of her after a decade, but since I knew of his desire for her, I refused to give her up."
"That wasn’t very nice," Joyce said to him.
"I wasn’t a very nice guy."
Spike growled low in his chest at Buffy, his eyes flashing gold in the darkened theater. "My turn," he said, his hand snaking out to run up and down her thigh below the shorts she wore. Buffy’s giggle turned into a sharp intake of breath at his meaning, her body tightening in anticipation.
Angel and Joyce moved into the living room, wine in hand, and sat on opposite ends of the couch. Their conversation momentarily drifted to the art gallery before returning to the peroxide blond vampire.
"I have the perfect story to tell you that’ll demonstrate how different Spike really was," Angel said suddenly, his eyes alight with the memory. "If I hadn’t had seen this with my own eyes, I would never had believed it. As it was, I’m surprised I didn’t kill him for his strange behavior."
Joyce looked extremely interested. "This sounds like the beginning of a good blackmail story," she said.
"I’ll say," he replied with a smile. "This happened a few years after Drusilla joined us. She had a….a thing for children, so one night we attacked an orphanage." He looked down sadly for a minute, then continued the story. "Anyway, Spike was right there with us, creating havoc and death left and right until he came upon this one child. He couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old, no different in my eyes than any of the others in the place." He paused, the guilt and pain rising to the surface.
"It’s ok, it happened in the past," Joyce told him. "Go ahead."
He nodded, collecting himself, then continued. "Like I said, when he came upon this one child, a boy, who was sitting in the middle of his bed staring up at Spike’s demon face. But he wasn’t screaming or crying like the other children, he was just watching him. I saw Spike crouch next to the bed, looking at the boy with his gold eyes and fangs. The boy reached his hand out and touched the ridges above his eyes, studying him."
"Brave boy," she commented softly.
"I watched as Spike’s face dissolved into the human one you’re accustomed to seeing while the boy touched him. The child cocked his head and smiled, holding out his arms as if to be hugged. Spike blinked at him in surprise, then let the boy hug him. After a moment, his arms came up around the child, hugging him in return. He picked the boy up and walked out of the orphanage."
"Then what?" Joyce said, intrigued.
"I followed him to a church several blocks away, making sure he didn’t see me. Without hesitation, he went inside. Cautiously, I entered as well, keeping to the shadows," he said.
"I thought vampire’s couldn’t go into churches," she said.
"We can with no problems, we just need to avoid the holy objects. The building itself is no danger," Angel replied, continuing. "From my vantage point, I heard Spike call for the priest who came out of a side door. He told the priest he’d found the boy in the street. I watched as Spike passed the child to the man, then went to leave when the boy’s soft voice stopped him. He turned and the boy held something out to him. I swore there were tears in his eyes when he accepted the gift."
"What was it?" Joyce asked.
"A handmade rag doll," Angel said. "The boy told him its name was Floppy and that he’d keep Spike safe. I saw Spike kiss the child’s forehead, then leave."
"He still has that doll, you know," Angel said. "I saw Buffy and him searching for it in the mansion several months ago. It was a big shock to me when they found it, that a vampire would keep something like that for close to a hundred and fifty years."
"From all the stories you told me, I think when you changed him into a vampire, you gave him a soul rather than taking it away," Joyce said. "Even if it was only a little bit."
"Maybe," he replied, thoughtfully. "It would help if I knew more about his life when he was still human to make the comparison."
"We’ll just have to weasel it out of him, then," she responded with a grin. "I’m going to be his mother-in-law, after all, so I have some power over him."
Angel chuckled. "That you do."
Buffy buried her head in Spike’s shoulder. "Wow. Movies just get better and better."
"Hello, you two," Joyce said as Buffy and Spike entered the door. "How was the movie?"
"Um…" Buffy blushed. "Good."
"Best picture I’ve been to in a long time," Spike replied, putting his arm around his fiancée’s waist. Buffy blushed even brighter red, elbowing him in the side, then escaped for the kitchen mumbling about needing a drink. "So, did Angelus bore you to tears?"
"No, we had a pleasant dinner," Joyce said. "And quite an interesting conversation. Tell me, do you still shine your shoes to look up women’s dresses?"
If Spike wasn’t certain before, he was now. Vampires do blush.