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Previous Chapter: Chapter 3
Next Chapter: Chapter 5

Note the updated warnings- this chapter has discussions of r*pe and su*cide. Please keep yourself safe, folks.

He’d been helping her every night with Macbeth while they sat together on the back porch.

Recently he’d taken to listening in to the heartbeats upstairs to ensure his girls were well. Not even two weeks together and that was already how he thought of them. His girls.

He shook the thought away and knocked softly on her door.

“Buffy?”

He heard her breathing stutter and the covers rustle as she sat up. After a second the door opened.

“Spike? What’s going on?”

“Could hear your heart racing from the basement, figured you must be having a nightmare.”

“I-I-I was… thanks…”

“No problem. Get back to sleep, pet.”

He turned to walk away, but her hand shot out to catch his wrist.

“Wait— I don’t really want to sleep after that. Would you want to play cards?”

He nodded. “Sure thing, Slayer. Why don’t you go get yourself all comfy-like on the couch and I’ll go get the cards and make us some cocoa.”

“Thanks.” 

As she settled in on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, she tried not to think about the horrific dream she’d just witnessed.  Watching someone who professed to love her as he dreamed of raping and murdering her? How was she supposed to handle that?

Spike sighed and hung his head in his hands as he waited for the milk to heat for cocoa. He knew something was still wrong, but he didn’t know how to ask. Well, he did, but he also knew he shouldn’t care. 

By the time he entered the living room with the hot drinks, Buffy had already turned the TV on to some sitcom re-run. He handed over her cup, then sat down on the opposite end of the couch. They were silent until Buffy headed upstairs to get ready for school.  Before she came back down, Spike had made his way back to the basement.

~

She’d managed to hold it together until she was about a block from her house. She didn’t realize she was shaking until Willow approached her.

“Buffy, Buffy are you alright?!”

She shook her head to clear it. “Y-yeah, I’m fine…”

“Buffy,” Willow said plaintively.

“I… I need to talk to Giles.”

She felt Willow’s arm around her, coaxing her forward towards the school.

“Okay, Buffy, we’ll go talk to Giles. Did someone hurt you?”

She shook her head again.

~

“Giles, I was IN his dream, I swear. I don’t know how I know, but I do.”

Willow held her best friend closer to her side, trying to calm her as she shook.

“Buffy…” Giles said softly. “I’m sorry, but it might help if you gave me more details.”

“It s-started off with me watching him kill someone.  It was so real, I think it must have been someone he murdered as Angelus. But then it changed. He was kissing me and it was alright for a minute, but then he tried to take it further. And I tried to stop him but I couldn’t. When it was over he bit me and drained me. Spike woke me up right as I was about to die.”

Giles looked at her sharply. “Spike?”

“Yeah, bleach blonde vampire, wears leather, lives with me? I guess he listens to our heartbeats at night to make sure we’re all safe. When he heard mine going haywire he knocked on my door and woke me up.”

“And you told him what happened?”

She shook her head again. “No. I was holding it together okay until I started walking to school.”

Giles sighed. “I believe you might be right about something happening to Angel, but I don’t know what. He came to me last night hoping to know why he’d been returned to Earth from the hell dimension. Towards the end of our conversation he became very distressed and eventually ran away.”

“We need to figure out what’s happening with him, Giles. I can’t be guest spotting in dreams like that again. It’s too much.”

“I understand, Buffy. I’ll do my best.”

When she looked up, the pity in his gaze cut her like a knife. She very suddenly remembered why she tried so hard not to be weak around anyone.

~

The next day was Christmas Eve, and Buffy realized she’d run out of time to procrastinate talking to Anne. And for some reason Spike had let it get this late without saying another word about her end of their deal.  She was grateful, though. She had enough going on without him pressuring her about having that talk.

She took a deep breath as she approached the living room where Anne was. Now or never, Summers.

“Ah, good evening, Buffy.”

“Hey, Anne. How are you doing?” She asked the woman, sitting down on the other side of the couch.

“Never better, my dear. Why do you ask?”

“It’s just that this is your first Christmas here, and all of your family is back in 1879. I just wanted to make sure you’re doing alright with it.”

“The only family that matters is here with me, sweet girl. It has been just my William and I for many years, since my husband passed. 

“Last Christmas I was haunted by a disease that was likely to kill me before I saw any more. Now I am being treated and feel better than I have in many years. This world is fascinating, and I am eager to learn about it. Plus, you and your mother are family now. You’ve been so kind as to take us in, I only wish we could repay you properly.”

“Don’t worry about it, Anne. It’s nice having you here.”

“I appreciate that,” Anne paused and smiled knowingly. “Now go tell my William he can stop worrying about me and focus on other matters.”

Buffy’s jaw dropped, and she sputtered, trying to cover. “W-what? No, he— I mean…”

Anne smiled brightly at her. “I know my son, Buffy, and I know how he worries. No matter how many times I assure him that I am perfectly happy with our circumstances, he persists in prodding. Maybe you will have better luck reaching him than I.”

“Oh, um, yeah. Maybe. I suppose I should go find him, then.”

“You do that. I believe I will continue my… movie,” she said the word slowly, it still foreign on her tongue, “and work on my crochet. Good luck, my dear.”

“Thanks, Anne.”

~

It felt wrong to barge into Spike’s room today, even though she’d been fine with it just a couple of days before. Between their nightly tutoring and seemingly endless hands of gin, she was starting to be able to consciously admit that he wasn’t so bad.

They’d talk about his mother, or her friends, or whatever hijinks he’d gotten himself into at poker the night before. Once Anne was asleep and they were done working on Macbeth, usually Spike would leave for Willy’s to play with his demon buddies. 

She could also to talk to him about slaying, and his views were a refreshing change of pace, frankly. With Willow and Xander and her mom and Giles, she had to hide some of it. Not only was she constantly downplaying the danger she was in, it also was unnerving for them to see how much she enjoyed her job at times. 

Spike understood. Spike was a fighter, he lived for a challenge.  He loved a good fight just as much as she did. And while at times she still harbored pipe dreams of a normal life, these days she was fairly content with her calling. She liked helping people, and she liked slaying.

Really, Spike was a lot more like her than she really wanted to admit. Both trying to shelter their mothers from the insanity of the supernatural, both stuck between worlds that don’t quite fit. Sometimes during their Macbeth study sessions she would make an offhand comment and he would just stare at her. As if he was seeing her soul and, more than that, as if he understood. And most of the time she didn’t doubt that he did.

He yelled for her to come in when she knocked, so she went down the stairs to find him lounging on the cot with a book.

“What brings you down here at this hour?” 

“Managed to catch Anne upstairs watching a movie. She wasn’t fooled even a little— she says to tell you she’s fine and to stop worrying.”

Spike looked annoyed and started moving towards the stairs. Buffy stepped in front of him, halting his progress.

“Spike, I think we just have to believe her. She seems really happy, and I don’t think she’s lying about that. I know you’re worried about her, but the best you can do is just keep an eye out.”

“Really? That’s the mighty Slayer’s big advice? Just give up? Never realized you were such a quitter, pet,” he said harshly, trying to scoot past her.

“Knock it off, Spike. I know you’re upset but you don’t have to take it out on me.” That was one thing she wished she didn’t share with him- a tendency to lash out when feeling helpless.

He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, everythin’s about you.”

Buffy’s eyes hardened. “No, it’s not. I’m just a convenient punching bag because you’re frustrated that you can’t do anything.”

Buffy wasn’t sure when she’d gotten so confident calling a master vampire on his shit like he was one of the Scoobies, but here she was.

“I can’t do anything?” He scoffed. “What about you? Almost cause the end the world— twice— and now you’ve got the Big Bad sleeping in your basement because the slayer can’t stand up to her mommy.”

“I’m not doing this right now, Spike. I’m sorry you don’t believe your mom is okay and I won’t let you go pester her about it more. But that’s not an excuse to act like a complete jerk.”

“Then what’s your excuse for acting like a frigid bitch on a regular basis?”

Buffy looked at him coldly. “Go to hell, Spike.”

She stormed up the stairs. The last thing Spike heard before he turned to the punching bag in the corner was the outside door slamming shut as she ran from the house.

~

“Merry Christmas, Buffy,” Anne said sweetly as Buffy came through the door, having woken up early to begin work on Christmas dinner.

Buffy smiled back, but it didn’t reach her eyes. 

“I’m just going to go sit outside for a little while. Enjoy the snow.”

Anne pursed her lips and watched her go, then moved to knock on her son’s door.

“William,” she said when he answered, “Buffy seemed distraught when she came in. I know it’s highly improper, but I would ask that you check on her.”

Spike sighed, but didn’t argue. It wouldn’t do any good except to upset his mother. When he walked through the door into the night air, he saw her sitting in her usual spot on the step, head in her hands.

“Still upset about earlier, Slayer?”

“No,” she replied harshly. “It’s nothing. Just go away, Spike.”

“Then what? More troubles with my poof of a grandsire?”

She sighed, but relented as he sat down next to her in the dim light of the cloudy morning.  The part of her that wanted to avoid being hassled won out over the part terrified of seeing the same pity on Spike’s face that she had on Giles’,  and she decided to spill.

“He was being haunted by the First Evil. Capital F. I guess it was turning itself into his people he’d tortured and tried to convince him to kill himself. And, you know, giving him dreams about me and trying to convince him to rape me. He almost met the sunrise this morning. I just barely managed to get him away. He probably still wouldn’t have made it without the snow.”

“What a manipulative berk!”

“What?”

Spike looked at her like she was stupid.

“Not only did he put you in an awful position, love, he managed to make it partially your fault.”

“What do you mean by that?” 

Instead of being harsh, her voice was soft. Scared.

“’I have to kill myself or I’ll hurt you’? He manipulated you. Get you to feel like you were the reason he needed to off himself, so you’ll feel guilty and not get brassed off. And you can’t stay hurt by what he’s done, because you had to be the one to tell him it was all okay. Not to mention the wanker took your excuse to stay away from him after he put you through all that. After all, if you’d really forgiven him you would be fine being around him. The victim shouldn’t be the one picking up the pieces when the victimizer feels bad.”

He watched the emotions flit over her face, before she settled on annoyance.

“And he had the nerve to tell me I’d proven I didn’t need him because you’re around. He’s supposed to care about everyone, right? He’s supposed to be doing good because it’s the right thing to do. But all he cared about was me and being petty. And I don’t even know how he found out about you, but he just can’t grasp that I don’t want to be part of this drama anymore.”

“So he has to blame everything else.”

“Exactly! I mean, it’s not like you can take his place. You might be here, but you’re not out fighting evil. He doesn’t need to freak out over someone encroaching on his snowflake-ness.”

Spike felt something twist in his gut at her statement, but brushed it off. He wouldn’t want to take the Poofter’s place anyway. Pining after the slayer. Pathetic.

“Thanks, by the way,” she said after a moment.

“For what?”

“Not being a jerk about the whole Angel thing. I know I got myself into this shitty position, but it’s not fun having my face rubbed in it.”

Spike looked down, ashamed.

“’M sorry about that, pet. Was just me lashing out, didn’t really mean it. Didn’t mean what I said earlier, either.”

Buffy sighed. “No, I mean, you weren’t wrong. It just hurts to think about it. It’s my fault that Jenny died. My fault Giles got tortured. Hell, it’s my fault you lost your girlfriend. I screwed up royally, and I did almost cause the end of the world.  All of it was my fault.”

“It’s not.”

Buffy looked up quickly, surprised by the vehemence in his voice.

“Huh?”

“I told you before. The Great Poof got his soul, what, almost a century ago? And all that time, he didn’t look into his curse, didn’t do anything with it besides brood. Hell, he spent the first few years with it following Darla around like a lap dog, trying to be evil enough for her. Then spent years hiding in sewers eating rats, from what I understand. Don’t know what snapped him out of it, but it had to be something. It wasn’t the soul that put him on the quest for redemption, or whatever sodding tripe he’s after.”

Buffy’s response was a soft whisper.

“It was me…”

Now it was Spike’s turn to ask, “huh?”

“It was me,” she said again, louder this time. “Some demon called Whistler pointed me out to him right after I’d been called. That was when he decided to start helping.”

“And you were what, 15?” At her nod, he let out a disgusted laugh. “Angelus is always in there, isn’t he, the sick fuck…” he thought for a second. “It makes a hell of a lot of sense, though. You’re his reward. He has to keep you close enough to stay on his hook, but far enough away that he can still feel ‘punished’ enough. He’s using you.”

She wanted to deny it. She wanted to say that it wasn’t like that. But something about this last encounter sat wrong with her. Maybe it was the jealous crap he tried to pull with Spike, maybe it was his inability to think of anyone besides himself and her, maybe it was just the universe whispering in her ear. Whatever it was, she couldn’t bring herself to pretend that Spike wasn’t 100% correct.

Instead, she looked up and met his eyes. He held her gaze for a long minute and for a bit it was like the world fell away. It was just them, sitting on the porch in companionable silence as snow fell around them.

For a minute, things were calm. They made a little more sense. 

And then she had to go and yawn and ruin the moment.

Spike chuckled softly. “Why don’t you head up to bed, Slayer? Sure your mum won’t be up for a little while yet, and you could use some sleep.”

As she stood, she asked him, “What are you going to do?”

“I’ll probably help my mum with the cooking.”

“You cook?”

“Not much, but I’d spend time in the kitchens with our cook when I was a child. Have some idea how to put together some of her favorite Christmas dishes.”

She looked at him thoughtfully. “You’ll have to tell me more about what things were like for you growing up. It sounds like something out of a BBC special.”

He laughed and held the door open for her. “You wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Maybe I will, someday. Now, off to bed with you,” he said, shooing her through the kitchen. She said a quick goodnight as she passed Anne, then beelined to her bed.

As she slipped into sleep, she wondered if her connection with Spike was what a relationship was meant to be like, not the cryptic warnings and mystery she had with Angel. By the time she had the thought, she was too far gone to even feel guilty for thinking it.

~

When she woke again, it was to the smell of Christmas dinner wafting through her door. She looked over at her clock. 11 am, perfect timing to head downstairs and demand presents.

“Merry Christmas, Mom,” she said as she came down the stairs and saw her mother sitting on the couch.

“Merry Christmas, Buffy. Now that you’re up you should go try to cut in with the wonder-cookers so we can open presents.”

Buffy nodded and bounced into the kitchen.

“When you guys have a minute you should come open presents with us.”

“We’ll join you ladies posthaste, we simply need to finish with the potatoes,” came the response in an upper-class accent.

It wasn’t Anne who replied though, it was Spike.

Buffy was sure the look on her face was priceless. She’d heard Spike talking to his mother before, of course, so she knew he sounded completely different when he did. It was another thing completely to be faced with the mannerisms herself.

He caught himself quickly, clearing his throat.  She was sure that he would’ve been flushing bright red if he could. 

“We’ll be there soon, Slayer, go keep Joyce company.”

She eyed him for a minute longer, but turned and walked back into the room with her mother.

~

What the sodding hell had that been? It was bad enough people saw his poncy side when he interacted with his mother, but now it was leaking out onto other people? Other people like the slayer?! Rationally he knew that it was just because he’d spent the morning alone with his mother in the kitchen, but irrationally he wanted to scream.

He hadn’t chosen this situation. Okay, sure, he would have, but he didn’t. And that made all the difference.

So he was in a fairly foul mood once again as Anne led the way into the living room. He knew he should probably go get Buffy’s gift from the basement, but after their fight the previous night and with his current bad mood, he decided not to. He could leave it somewhere for her to find anonymously. No need to hurt his pride worse.  He pointedly ignored the voice in his head that reminded him that they’d made up and she wasn’t responsible for his slip of the tongue.

As they entered the room, Buffy was sitting on the floor sorting through presents, sorting them into four piles.

“C’mon, sit down! Anne, here’s your pile,” she said, passing small stack of presents to her. “Here’s for mom…. And for you, Spike.”

He was surprised to see more than one gift sitting in his pile. A larger box was tagged from Joyce, and a smaller one from his mother, but the third gift was the real shocker.

“You got me something, Slayer?”

Buffy froze for a second, but did her best to play it off cool.

“Yeah, of course. It’s Christmas, I couldn’t just not.”

“Right… in that case, let me go grab something.” 

In a flash of speed he took off down the basement stairs. She heard him fumbling around down there before he appeared again, wrapped box in his hands.

“Merry Christmas, Buffy.”

Buffy looked down at the present he’d pushed into her hands, then back at him, then back at the present, then back at him. It was only her mother’s pointed cough that broke her out of her spell.

“Oh, um, thanks, Spike. I appreciate it.”

She vowed to open his last. It was probably something he’d just had laying around and hastily wrapped when he saw she’d gotten him a gift. Go figure. Might as well open the good stuff first, and pointedly ignore the tinge of hurt in the back of her mind that he hadn’t thought to get her something.

She received a new leather jacket and a bottle of her favorite perfume from her mom. Anne’s present was a small leather bound journal. There was a delicate floral design decorating the front.

“You mentioned that your dreams are often important, dear. I thought I would provide you with a place to write down the details when you have need.”

“Thank you, Anne, it’s beautiful!”                

Anne flushed slightly, clearly pleased at having picked out a gift Buffy enjoyed.

Buffy then watched while her mom and Anne opened their gifts. She’d gotten Anne a new set of crochet hooks so she wouldn’t have to keep using the old ones that had belonged to Hank’s mother. Joyce had gotten her a couple of dresses, along with a small book on the history of 20th century art. Spike, it seemed, had gotten her an old photo album.

“William!” she’d exclaimed upon opening it.

“When I began retrieval of our estate from the solicitor, I also found some of our family portraits. I combined them all into an album for you, Mother.”

“I love it, my dear, thank you! I never thought I would see these again…”

Joyce started opening her present to take some of the focus off the sweet family moment happening between the other two and give them a moment of privacy.  Buffy had gotten her a large framed photo of the two of them from Joyce’s last birthday. Anne’s present was a pretty maroon sweater that matched Joyce’s favorite shirt to wear to the gallery.

By the time Joyce was ready to open Spike’s gift, the mother-son moment was over and they had both turned their attention back to the festivities. She smiled over at Spike and peeled the paper off before opening it slowly.

The large, jewel-encrusted broach in the box had her stunned.

“Spike…”

“It belonged to Mum, Joyce. I decided to give it to you before she came back, decided right after you had hot cocoa with me the first time. Luckily she agreed that you should have it. I hope you like it.”

“I love it, but I can’t accept a family heirloom like this.”

“Nonsense,” Anne proclaimed. “We both think you should have it. The rubies never worked well with my complexion anyways.”

Joyce looked uncertain, but capitulated. “Well, okay. Thank you both so much.”

Spike opened the present from Buffy first, and looked up, surprised. 

“Buffy…”

Buffy blushed. “Oh, um, your mom said you might like it. She said you used to write a lot. I thought… It might be good.”

The look on his face was strange, but he didn’t seem too upset. “Right, I do. Thanks, Slayer.”

“Don’t mention it…”

After Spike’s joy at opening Joyce’s present of new Doc Martins, and the emotional display when he opened the pocket watch from his mother, Buffy was getting hopeful she might get out of opening his gift in front of everybody. Unfortunately, her hopes were crushed by Joyce’s voice.

“Buffy, you haven’t opened Spike’s gift yet. Let’s see it.”

“Yeah, sure.”

She opened the wrapping paper slowly, uncovering a small jewelry box, similar to the one Joyce had received. 

Inside was a necklace. It wasn’t as big or gaudy as the broach her mother had received, but it was covered in jewels and filigree metalwork.

“Wha—?” she attempted to ask, staring up at him with a starstruck expression.

“’S a locket. Open it.”

Inside was a photograph of her mother and Anne, taken at the gallery a few days ago. The other side was empty.

“Thought you might like to pick the second photo.”

“Spike, it’s beautiful, thank you.”

As she looked into his eyes, for a second she thought she saw something there. Something different than his usual bluster and bravado. Something she’d only seen when he looked at their mothers.

There was no way though. Spike was just good at being polite. No way would she be reading into the warmth she’d seen in his eyes.

And in no way was she even considering questioning the motives of yet another vampire after the tragedy that was her attempt at a relationship with Angel. No way, no how.

But even she couldn’t deny that the lousy day had turned into a wonderful Christmas.


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Table of Contents
Previous Chapter: Chapter 3
Next Chapter: Chapter 5

Reviews ( 1 )

Zab Jade
December 15, 2021 16:17

Excellent chapter. I loved Spike's response to the bullshit Angel pulled on Buffy. I also loved that he spent time with the cook as a child. That's one of my personal head canons, too.

The happy Christmas present opening was lovely. Great job. <3