Spike kicked at a rock in his path. Hands shoved into the pockets of his long, leather duster, the vampire made his way to the Summers’ residence. To talk to Joyce.
Growling at the nervousness he felt, Spike grabbed a teen walking by on his way to the Bronze. He sunk his fangs into the boy’s neck, wanting to drain him, but knowing that if he did, the Slayer would probably kill him.
Or he would die from losing Buffy’s love.
Either way, Spike let go of the boy and continued on his way. The teen ran off, hand clamped to the side of his neck. Swearing a what he felt was his only weakness, Spike turned onto Revello Drive.
The Slayer was training with Giles, which is why Spike had chosen this time to see Buffy’s mother. He may be an undead, soulless demon, but he did have some morals. And one of them was to get Joyce’s blessing to marry Buffy.
Taking as deep, unneeded breath, Spike went up to the back door and knocked. Joyce looked up at him from her seat in the kitchen. She smiled and answered the door.
"Well, hello Spike," Joyce said.
"Hello, Joyce," Spike replied. "Do you have a minute?"
"Of course," she answered, stepping aside to let him pass.
Spike took a step forward and halted suddenly with surprise. "Um…would you mind if we spoke out here," Spike stumbled over the words, his mind spinning at the fact that an invisible barrier heeded his path. "I could use a cigarette. Buffy won’t let me smoke anymore at home…"
"Say no more," Joyce said, grabbing her coat. "I know how my daughter can be."
Spike smiled falsely and fumbled though his pockets for the pack and lighter. Joyce stepped out, leaving the door open behind her as Spike lit up.
"What’s on your mind, Spike," Joyce asked the vampire.
"Two things, actually," Spike answered. "First, I was wondering if you’d help me plan a twenty-first birthday party for Buffy."
"A surprise party?"
"No!" Spike practically took Joyce’s head off with the force of his answer. "Sorry. I meant, its not a surprise party. Just a friendly get together."
"I’d be happy to help," Joyce told him.
Spike nodded and inhaled the smoke from his cigarette. "Thanks."
"And the second thing?" Joyce prompted after a minute of silence.
"Right, the second thing," Spike said. He stamped out the cigarette, then shoved his hands in his pockets. *Just get it over with, mate,* he told himself. "I asked Buffy to marry me and I wanted your blessing," he said in a rush.
"What?" Joyce said, a look of surprise on her features.
"I would like your blessing to marry Buffy," Spike repeated, slumping against the outside wall of the house. *This is not going well,* he thought.
"That wasn’t an ‘I didn’t hear you’ what. That was a ‘I can’t believe it’ what," Joyce clarified. "I think we’d better take this inside." She went back in through the open kitchen door. "Are you coming?"
"I…I can’t," Spike said, looking at the woman he’d hoped would be his mother-in-law.
"What do you mean you can’t?" Joyce said. "I’d think you had better, unless you aren’t serious about marrying my daughter."
"Oh, I’m bloody serious about that," Spike said, standing on the other side of the invisible barrier. "I mean that I can’t come in unless you invite me."
Joyce’s eyes widened in shock. She stumbled back a few steps, hands reaching for a weapon. "You-you’re a vampire?"
Spike nodded, his temper starting to flare. "What, you didn’t know?" Joyce shook her head in response. "Great. Bloody perfect. You fall in love with someone, give up killing, give up smoking, and for what?" Spike punched at the invisible wall. "She told me that she was going to tell you two bloody months ago!"
Spike swore violently, causing the paint to peel off the doorframe. Joyce continued to look at him warily, glad she was safe inside. "You tell the Slayer that I stopped by. Uninvited."
Whirling, Spike jumped over the railing along the back porch and took off running into the night. Joyce stood in the same spot, staring out into the now empty back yard. "Buffy," she said aloud. "You have a lot of explaining to do."
"Buffy, you have a lot of explaining to do," Willow told her friend, grabbing her left hand. She looked down at the diamond solitaire firmly ensconced on her third finger. "Why didn’t you tell me Spike proposed!"
"I’ve been in shock," Buffy said, allowing Willow to lead her to the library table. "Plus, he only asked me a few nights ago."
"Details, girl!" Willow demanded.
"It was so sweet," Buffy sighed. "We were trying to decide what classes to take next semester and got to talking about what I wanted to do after I graduate."
"Aaand he asked me if I wanted to choose him as a career."
"Ooh!" Willow squealed. "Then what?"
"He handed me the jewelry box and I asked him if he meant it and he yelled at me," Buffy said. Willow laughed. "Then I asked him to put it on my finger and he did. His hands were shaking and everything!"
Willow sighed. "You are such the lucky girl."
"Actually, that part happened later."
"Buffy!" Willow blushed.
Buffy laughed. "C’mon, Will. Don’t tell me you’re still the blushing virgin."
Willow turned even brighter red. "Well…that is…um, no."
"I didn’t think so," Buffy said. She leaned closer to her friend so as not to be over heard. "So, what’s he like?"
"Does he really wear tweed boxers?" Buffy didn’t think it was possible, but Willow turned even a darker shade of red.
"It’s ok, Willow," Buffy said. "You don’t have to tell me. Even though I told you all the details with the cookie dough."
Willow banged her head onto the table. "That’s so unfair."
"I know, what are best friend’s for," Buffy replied happily. "I can always go ask Giles…"
"No!" Willow said, sitting up abruptly. "I’ll spill, just please don’t ask him."
Willow grinned shyly. "Sometimes…"
Spike was furious. No, scratch that. He was beyond furious. He was livid. He grabbed a park bench and smashed it into a nearby tree, sending splinters of wood catapulting at his body. But Spike didn’t care as pieces became imbedded into his skin. The pain was less than he was feeling inside.
The last time he’d been in love, his heart was ripped to shreds because Drusilla thought he was too human. Now, his heart lay bleeding because he was ‘too vampire.’
"I don’t need you," Spike said aloud. "I don’t bloody need you!" But that was a lie. As much as he needed blood to live, he needed her. His enemy. His love. His Buffy.
Spike crawled into his condo like a wounded bear seeking shelter in a cave. Leaving the lights off, he stripped down to nothing then threw himself onto the bed. The splinters of wood dug further into him as he lay staring up at the ceiling. "I don’t need you," he said again. But the fates only laughed.
"Buffy, I want to talk to you. Now," Joyce Summers said as Buffy walked into the house.
"Sure, mom. What’s up?" Buffy asked, completely oblivious to her mother’s irate mood. She was still jonesing from her conversation with Willow.
"I had a visitor while you were gone," Joyce said, leading Buffy into the kitchen.
"A certain blond headed man," Joyce said. "Oh, I’m sorry. Not a man. I meant to say ‘vampire.’"
Buffy’s head shot up at her mother’s sharp tone. "Spike was here? When?"
"A little over an hour ago. When were you going to tell me he was one of them?"
"C’mon, mom, it’s not that bad…"
"Oh, really? And what about the last vampire you were serious with? I seem to recall that he tried to kill you, your friends and succeeded in killing Mr. Giles’ girlfriend!"
"That was harsh," Buffy whispered, her voice hoarse.
"But it’s the truth," Joyce said. "I’m not going to stand idly by while your new boyfriend starts to feed off your friends."
"Mom, he won’t…"
"Is that the correct term? Feed?" Joyce interrupted, voice heavy with sarcasm. "Or do you prefer snacking?"
"That’s enough!" Buffy screamed at her mother. "I love him and I trust him and nothing you can say will make me change my mind!"
"Wasn’t that the same way you felt about Angel? Look what happened with him."
Buffy slammed her hands onto the kitchen island, breaking the wood. "Don’t you ever say anything about Angel again! You have no idea what happened! You have no idea on the hell I went through because of what I did!" She turned and ran out of the room.
"Buffy! Wait!" Joyce called after her daughter. The only response she got was the slam of the front door.
Buffy didn’t know where she was running to, only that she needed to run. Tears streamed down her face as houses, then businesses flashed passed. She found herself stumbling to a halt outside the mansion where she’d sent her love to Hell.
Wiping the tears off her face, she entered the monstrosity, the moon the only source of light. As she approached the spot where Acathala had rested, an emptiness settled in the pit of her stomach.
Buffy looked around the shell of a once great mansion with morbid curiosity. Scattered remnants of the former occupants sat waiting for their return. Buffy stopped walking and looked down at the floor. With a strangled sob, she laid down on the cold floor. "I’m sorry," she whispered. "I’m so sorry."
Willow, Giles and her mother found her like that hours later. Giles sat and took his Slayer into his arms. "Shh. It’s ok," he said, trying to bring comfort to the small girl. "It’s ok."
"Thanks," Buffy said, accepting the warm cup of hot cocoa from Giles. They were sitting in his apartment, Willow on one side of her, Joyce on the other.
"You’re quite welcome," Giles replied.
"Buffy, your mom told us what happened," Willow said. "Including Spike’s visit."
Buffy looked over at her mother. "I’m sorry, mom, for blowing up like that."
"It’s ok, sweetheart," Joyce said, resting a hand on Buffy’s arm. "It was very rude of me to attack you like I did."
"But you were right," Buffy said. "How will I ever know that Spike isn’t going to turn around and kill me, or worse, you guys."
"Buffy," Giles said, leaning forward in his chair and resting his arms on his legs. "Spike doesn’t have a soul, so he can never lose it like Angel did."
"I know. So what’s stopping him?" Buffy asked morosely.
"Buffy, I never got to tell you why Spike stopped by earlier," Joyce said. "He wanted to ask for my help in planning a birthday party for you."
"Oh, joy. And I just so love my birthday," Buffy said sarcastically.
"Buffy, don’t be rude," Giles said.
"Sorry," Buffy mumbled in reply.
"He also came by for another reason," Joyce continued. Buffy looked questioningly at her mother. "He wanted to ask for my blessing on you two getting married."
"I was going to say yes immediately, but I figured I should do the parental thing and grill him like your father would have," Joyce said. "And when I found out he couldn’t come into the house…"
"Oh my god!" Buffy suddenly screeched. She set the mug down with a thump, sloshing the liquid onto the coffee table. "Willow and I did that revoking spell soon after I got back from…well, my vacation!" She turned to her mother. "What did he say when he couldn’t enter?"
"He swore profusely then told me to tell you he had stopped by," Joyce answered. "I’ve never heard such colorful language."
"Mom, this is very important. I need to know exactly what he said," Buffy told her.
"Ok. Let me think," Joyce replied. "He said to tell the Slayer he stopped by uninvited."
"Oh no," Buffy said, horror and shame etched on her face.
"What’s wrong?" Willow asked.
"Willow, think about it," Buffy answered.
"Oh!" Willow gasped. "He must think you don’t trust him. Or worse, don’t love him."
"Thank you for pointing that out," Buffy said dryly. She put her head in her hands. "What am I going to do? He must be so hurt."
"Buffy, I must ask you something," Giles said. Buffy looked up at him. "Do you love Spike?"
"Of course," Buffy answered quickly.
"Do you trust him?"
Buffy paused, then nodded. "I do. I really do."
"Then you’d best go to him," Giles instructed.
"And prepare for some heavy groveling," Willow added.
Buffy smiled, her lips trembling. "Thanks. I’ll go right now." She stood and slid on her jacket. "Wish me luck?"
"Even better. I give you my blessing to marry him," Joyce said, standing as well.
Buffy threw her arms around her mother. "Thank you, mom."
"You’re welcome. Now, go get your vampire…I mean, your man."
Buffy smiled at Joyce’s implied message.
"Spike, are you here?" Buffy asked, letting herself in the door.
"Go ‘way," Spike’s muffled voice came from the bedroom. Buffy took off her coat, hanging it on the hook behind the door before walking down the short hallway.
"Spike?" Buffy said, entering the dark bedroom. "Why are you in the dark?"
"Because I bloody feel like it," Spike answered. "Now, bugger off."
Buffy sighed. *This was going to be tough,* she thought, moving to the bed. "Mom told me you came over today."
"Look, I’m sorry," Buffy said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I did the revocation spell a few months after you had left. Based on my previous experience, I knew it was better to be safe than sorry."
"I don’t bloody care."
"Yes, you do or I wouldn’t love you as much as I do," Buffy told him. Spike made a sound that was cross between scorn and laughter. "I’m also sorry that I didn’t tell mom about you’re…condition."
"It’s not a bloody disease, Slayer," Spike said. "I’m a vampire. I like being a vampire."
"Well, I like that you’re a vampire, too," Buffy confessed. "I mean, with you I don’t have to worry about being careful with my strength, I don’t have to keep my duties a secret and we keep the same hours."
Spike stayed silent.
"I’m sorry, Spike. I’m sorry I didn’t tell my mom sooner, I’m sorry I did the spell on the house, and I’m sorry that you probably think I don’t love you," Buffy said. "Or trust you. But I do. Both. Love and trust you. And mom says that if I trust you, then she trusts you. She even gave us her ok for us to get married!"
Spike still was silent.
Buffy sighed. "Ok. I get it. I’m the baddie." Still nothing. "Not to change the subject, but why are we sitting in the dark?" She reached over and flipped on the light on the nightstand.
"Spike!" She gasped when she saw his nude form covered in blood. "What happened?" Buffy quickly stood and ran into the bathroom, returning with a wet rag and first aid kit that he kept around for her. Spike’s eyes were closed when she looked at his face, whether from pain or because he didn’t want to look at her, she didn’t know.
"I’m going to fix you up," Buffy told him, setting the plastic box on the nightstand. "Tell me if it hurts." She began to wash off the blood, wincing when he winced. "Sorry," she murmured. Looking closer, Buffy could see bits of wood imbedded in his skin. "Oh my god, Spike, what happened?"
Spike opened his eyes and glared at her. She could see pain hidden behind his angry stare. "What can I do to get you to believe that I’m sorry?" Buffy asked as she continued nursing his wounds.
"Leave, Slayer. I don’t need your help," Spike told her, hatred infused in his voice.
Buffy’s eyes welled up with tears. "But…"
"Now!" Spike yelled, leaping up from the bed. He stood there, a proud male in all his glory, hands clenched at his sides. "Before I do something you’ll regret," he finished, his voice deadly.
Buffy stood and ran out of the room. Seconds later, Spike heard the front door slam. He started to clench and unclench his fists, all the pain and anger welling up inside him. With a growl, his face shifted into its demonic features, then back to human again as the tears started to fall.
Spike sat at his kitchen table, scanning Sunnydale’s pitiful excuse for a newspaper. It had been a week since he’d last seen Buffy. Her twenty-first birthday was in two days and school started up again at the end of the month. Lighting up a cigarette from the fourth pack that day, Spike thought back over the past horrible week. He’d never conceived how empty his life was without her.
With a swear, Spike shook his head and turned his attention back to the paper. "Let’s see, gang violence, gang related deaths, theft at the hospital, yadda, yadda, yadda," he read. If he thought about it, he would have realized he had picked up Buffy’s mannerisms. Spike continued to flip through the paper until something caught his eye. The cigarette fell out of his mouth and onto the open paper as he read the announcement.
Couple to Wed: Buffy Anne Summers, Sunnydale High class of 1999, is engaged to wed William ‘Spike’ Suffolk of North London, England. They both currently attend Sunnydale Community College and plan to settle in the community.
Spike snapped out of his stupor when the paper started to flame. "Bloody hell!" He jumped out of his seat and threw the burning object into the sink, turning the water on full force.
After the flames became a soggy pile of burnt paper, Spike shut off the water and stood leaning heavily against the sink. Looking down, he could still read a small part of it.
Couple to Wed: Buffy Anne Summers
William ‘Spike’ Suffolk
Knock, knock, knock.
Spike shifted on his feet, anxiously awaiting for someone to answer the door. "C’mon, Slayer. It’s too early for patrol."
The door opened to reveal a surprised Joyce. "Spike! I mean…hello, Spike."
"Is the Slayer here?" Spike asked, unsure of his position with the woman.
"No, I’m sorry," Joyce said. "She’s training at the library."
"Oh. Ok," Spike said, turning to leave.
"Wait," Joyce said. Spike faced her again. "I wanted to apologize for the other day."
"It’s nothing," Spike replied.
"No, it’s not nothing. How I acted was terribly rude," Joyce told him. "Especially towards the man who is going to be my son-in-law."
Spike blinked at her statement. Seeing the announcement in the paper was one thing, but having Buffy’s mom call him that was quite another.
"Spike, would you like to come in?" Joyce asked, holding the door open wide.
"Come on, we can get to know each other better and we can plan for Buffy’s party," Joyce cajoled. Spike slowly stepped inside the house. "There, that wasn’t too difficult, now was it?"
Spike, for the first time in a week, felt like a weight had been lifted off his chest.
"Mom, I’m home!" Buffy called out wearily. "I’m going to take a shower and then go right to bed."
"Buffy, could you come in here a minute?" Joyce said, moving into the kitchen doorway.
"I’m tired, mom," Buffy said, but she walked towards the kitchen anyway. "Giles decided I needed to work on my concentration, so he made me do this Luke Skywalker on Dagobah pose. You know, where he balances on one hand while being lectured to by Yoda…"
She trailed off as she entered the room. Spike was sitting at the newly repaired island counter, mug of tea in hand. "Hello, luv."
"Spike, what are you doing here?"
"You know, Joyce, you daughter has no manners what so ever," Spike commented, not taking his eyes from the blond beauty in front of him.
"I know. I’ve tried to teach her, but she refused to learn," Joyce replied.
"Uh, guys? Still in the room?" Buffy said. She stood staring at her love.
"I’ll just leave you two alone," Joyce said, moving quietly out of the kitchen.
After a few moments, Buffy cleared her throat. "So, Spike. What brings you here?"
"I was looking for you," Spike answered.
"Really?" Buffy responded, hope in her voice.
"Yes, really," Spike said, his mouth tilting up in a sexy smile. "Come ‘ere."
Buffy needed no further prompting. She raced around the island and threw herself into Spike’s arms, holding him tight.
Spike inhaled the scent that was pure Buffy, a combination of sweat and vanilla with the underlying aroma of power. It felt so good to have her in his arms. He never wanted to let go. "Oh, Buffy," he sighed. "I missed you."
"I missed you, too," Buffy whispered back. "So much."
He pulled her onto his lap. "I got your announcement," he said with a wry grin.
Buffy smiled. "I figured I needed to grovel, so why not do it in front of all of Sunnydale."
Spike kissed the tip of her nose. "You grovel quite well."
"I’m sorry I didn’t…"
"Hey, no more apologies," Spike interrupted her. "We missed a whole week together, and I rather not make up the time talking."
"Sorry," Buffy said.
"Sorry, sorry," Buffy grinned sheepishly. She hopped off Spike’s lap and took his hand. "C’mon, let’s go somewhere more comfortable."
Buffy actually thought she saw Spike blush.
Closing the door to her bedroom, she noticed Spike looking at her things with curiosity. "Go ahead, look around," she told him, moving to her small portable radio.
Spike went over to the nightstand first. Avoiding the small, gold cross hanging from the lamp, he picked up a framed photograph of Buffy, Willow and Xander. Setting it down, he moved over by the desk to look at her collection of paperbacks. Music started to fill the room.
Spike turned around and saw Buffy digging through the bottom of her closet, rear in the air. With a appreciative grin, Spike went over to the bed and sat down. He swung his legs up and leaned back against the pillows, one arm behind his head. Next to him, he saw a pink pig. He picked it up with his other hand and set it on his stomach, playing with it.
Buffy pulled her head out of the closet along with a bag of Slayer equipment. Setting it on the floor, she closed the door and turned back to Spike. She gasped when she saw him. "Mr-Mr. Gordo," she whispered, her mind flashing back to another time long past.
Buffy climbed up the tree and onto the roof outside her window. She looked in to make sure the coast was clear and saw Angel pick up her stuffed pig, Mr. Gordo. With a smile, she tossed her bag of Slayer equipment into the room.
Angel jumped, spinning around, pig clutched in his hand. "Buffy, you scared me!"
"Now you know what it feels like, Stealth Guy," she said, climbing in the window. "Just dropping by for some quality time with Mr. Gordo?"
"The pig," Buffy answered, opening her trunk and dropping the bag in it.
"Oh," Angel said, chuckling. "I, uh…"
"Nothing." Angel tossed the pig onto the desk chair.
"Only you don’t have a nothing face. You have a something face. And you don’t have to whisper. Mom’s in LA ‘til Thursday. Art buying, or something," Buffy told him.
"Then why’d you come in through the window?"
Angel paused, looking at her. "I wanted to make sure you’re ok. I had a bad feeling."
"There’s a surprise. Angel comes with bad news," she said, sarcastically. Angel sighed and turned away from her. "Oh, god, I’m sorry. Look, I’ve been Cranky Miss all day. It’s not you."
"Well, what is it then?"
"It’s nothing," she said. Angel gave her a look. "Uh, we’re having this thing at school."
"Career week?" he asked.
"How did you know?’
"I lurk," he answered with a grin.
"Right. Well, then you know it’s a whole week of ‘what’s my line’, only…I don’t get to play. Sometimes I just want…" Buffy trailed off and sat on the edge of the bed.
"You want what?" Angel prompted, sitting next to her.
Buffy didn’t say anything. She was looking at her reflection in the mirror. Hers only.
"It’s ok," Angel said.
"The Cliff Notes version?" she finally said. "I want a normal life. Like I had before."
"No, Angel, it’s not you," Buffy corrected quickly. She touched his cheek. "You’re the one freaky thing in my freaky world that still makes sense to me. I just get messed sometimes. I wish we could be regular kids."
"Yeah. I’ll never be a kid," Angel sighed, standing.
"Ok, then a regular kid and her cradle robbing, creature-of-the-night boyfriend."
Angel laughed at her comment, the somber mood broken.
"Who, the pig?" Spike asked, bringing her back to the present. "Cute bugger," he said, setting the stuffed animal on the nightstand. "I had this ratty, torn up rag doll once. Took it with me whenever we moved. Don’t know why I did that. I wonder where it got to…"
At that very moment, Buffy realized that Spike was the most soulful vampire she’d ever met. He had more of a soul than Angel ever did, even without a curse.
"Spike," Buffy said softly, moving towards him. She knelt on the end of the bed, then crawled up to him. "Love me."
Spike pulled her on top of him. "Gladly," he whispered back. He pulled her mouth down to meet his in a soft, loving kiss.
"Ok, guys. I think you’ve embarrassed me enough for one night," Buffy told the group, her face red.
"But the night’s still young," Xander told her. "And I have many more stories I want to tell Spike."
"Not if you want to live to see your twenty-first birthday," Buffy threatened. Xander yelped and buried his head in Cordelia’s shoulder.
"Get off me, lame brain," Cordelia said, pushing her boyfriend away. "Do you really think I am going to protect you?"
"It was worth a shot," Xander told her, giving her his childish grin.
"Before these two need to find a closet," Buffy said with a knowing look. "I wanted to thank you all for the gifts." A chorus of ‘you’re welcomes’ assaulted her ears.
The birthday/engagement party consisted of Giles, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Joyce and Spike. It was held in one corner of the Bronze, Buffy’s third home, and she was enjoying every minute of it.
Spike smiled over at her as she chatted with her friends. His friends, now. He still found it hard to believe that these mortals accepted him, even somewhat trusted him. He picked up the framed copy of the announcement from the newspaper. Buffy planned on hanging it under the picture she drew of him.
"Wanna dance?" Buffy asked Spike, breaking him out of his thoughtful mood.
"Sure," Spike answered, setting the frame back on the table with the rest of the gifts. Standing, he took her hand and led her to the crowded floor. The song seemed to change just for them as they slipped into each other’s arms.
*Tale as old as time,
True as it can be.
Barely even friends,
Then somebody bends
Just a little change.
Small to say the least.
Both a little scared,
Neither one prepared.
Beauty and the Beast.
Ever just the same.
Ever a surprise.
Ever as before,
Ever just as sure
As the sun will rise.
Tale as old as time.
Tune as old as song.
Bitter sweet and strange,
Finding you can change,
Learning you were wrong.
Certain as the sun
Rising in the East.
Tale as old as time,
Song as old as rhyme.
Beauty and the Beast.
Tale as old as time,
Song as old as rhyme.
Beauty and the Beast.
The mansions sat on the outskirts of town, desolated, an empty memory of things that had once been. In the clear night sky, a bolt of lightning hit the building without sound, spilling its blinding light through the windows.
On the other side of the world, a dark headed woman looked up suddenly, then began to dance in the moonlight.
"Welcome home, my Angel."