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Previous Chapter: Chapter 4
Next Chapter: Chapter 6

Buffy and Spike looked up from where they sat on the cot when they heard the basement door.

“Xan, Wills, what are you doing here?!” Buffy said, smiling brightly at her friends.

“We both got ditched by our dates, so we thought we’d come spend some time with you. What are you guys up to?” Willow asked kindly.

Xander’s demeanor, however, was a different matter.

“Yeah, Buff, what the hell are you doing down here fraternizing with the Evil Dead?”

Spike looked like he was about to bite the boy’s head off, but Buffy put a hand on his arm to stop him.

“We’re playing Gin, Xander. It gets pretty boring around here, and if you haven’t noticed, he lives with me.”

“But Buff—,” he began to object.

“No, Xan. You’re lucky Anne wasn’t around to hear you talk about him like that.”

Buffy had learned over the past few weeks that Anne was a force to be reckoned with. The normally quiet Victorian lady certainly had a protective streak to her when it came to her family.

“Ooh, spooky scary Big Bad has to have his mom fight for him,” Xander goaded.

“Alexander Harris, that’s enough!” Willow cut in.

He looked at his oldest friend like she’d just grown another head. “Wills…”

“No, Xander, listen to me. We came over here to spend time with our friend, and she’s already busy with another friend. If we plan to stick around, the least we can do is be polite. I swear, Spike’s behavior has been better than yours since this all started and he’s not even human. What’s your excuse?”

Xander stared gobsmacked into Willow’s resolve face, before his own expression hardened.

“Fine, I’ll see you later. Buffy. Willow.”

Once he’d stalked up the stairs and shut the door (harder than strictly necessary, of course) Willow turned to Buffy and Spike.

“I’m so sorry, guys, he can be such a jerk sometimes. He’ll come around though, I promise. He’s not the type to let his pride keep him from his friends for very long.”

Spike had been staring at the witch during the whole fiasco, and finally he shook his head and spoke, almost incredulous. 

“Thanks, Red, I appreciate it.”

“Hey, I figure you’ve been pretty nice to me, I might as well return the favor. And even if you weren’t, Golden rule and all.”

“Golden rule?” He asked.

It was Buffy who answered.

“You know, treat others how you want to be treated?”

Spike’s face gained a faraway look. 

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew, 7:12. Had forgotten that one.”

Buffy looked at him with no small amount of surprise.

“You know Bible verses?”

“Mum raised me a proper Anglican boy. Lots more where that one came from, still buried in here,” he replied, gesturing to his head.

“That’s pretty cool,” Willow replied. “My mom tried to get me interested in the Jewish education thing, but I never got too far.”

“Not much of a choice, back in Victorian England.” He turned to Buffy. “Want to fold this round, pet, so we can deal Red here in?”

He turned back to the redhead. 

“Assuming you want to stay, of course.”

“Yeah, I’d like to,” she said shyly. “Buffy?”

“Of course, Wills, come sit down.”

Willow sat down on the floor by the cot, looking at her friend… both her friends, really, where they sat on opposite sides of the bed. Buffy started up a conversation about their French class, and Spike shuffled the cards and dealt them all in.

~

“You’re such a cheater!”

“No, I’m bloody well not!”

“Yes, you are. I saw that card come out of your sleeve!”

“Yeah, well, maybe if you weren’t such an uptight bitch you wouldn’t be hallucinating.”

“Right, I should really remember the ever-so-important life lesson of trusting the formerly-evil vampire over my own eyes,” she cut back sarcastically.

“You damn well should! And I’m not formerly, anything! Still the Big Bad over here.”

At the raised eyebrows from both girls, he shrunk back a little.

“Whatever. I’m still not a bloody cheater.”

Willow looked between the two with an amused smile.

“This happen a lot?”

Their answers were simultaneous.

“Only when she’s a bitch.”

“Only when he’s an asshole.”

Willow just laughed at them.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Hey, at least we manage to keep it away from the moms!” Buffy protested.

“Former enemies here, what else do you expect?” Spike looked at her, amused.

Willow giggled. “Maybe insults with a little more bite than a small puppy?”

“Watch it, Red, or I’ll show you more bite!”

Buffy couldn’t help but giggle, which turned into a full on laugh at Spike’s indignant ‘what?’

“Sorry, that was just bad. Bad, bad comeback.” 

“Watch yourself, Slayer, or I’ll tell Red all about your—”

He found himself tackled backwards, Buffy’s hand covering his mouth. He taken aback by how warm and soft her body was against his.

“Don’t you dare! You swore you weren’t ever going to bring that back up again!”

Spike wiggled and managed to get his mouth free of her hand. Part of him couldn’t believe that 

“What, you don’t want the witch to know that you—”

He was cut off by her jumping further on to him to replace her hand on his mouth.

“Come on, Buffy, now I’m curious. What did you do?” Willow asked with false innocence.

Buffy looked at her, eyes wide, before shoving herself off of Spike and glaring at him. “I hate you.”

“Mutual,” he replied, sitting up and dusting himself off dramatically. “Anyways, Red, the slayer here decided to ask me whether or not I ever got the chance to meet Shakespeare.”

As she stifled a laugh, Willow looked over at her friend, who had made herself as small as possible in the corner of the cot.

“Laugh it up, Buffy’s stupid, ha ha,” she grumbled, face bright red.

Willow opened her mouth to correct her, but Spike beat her to it.

“You’re not stupid, Slayer, you just don’t have much room in your life for academics. Nothing wrong with that. Arguably for the best, since so far you’ve kept the world around an’ all.”

The redhead didn’t miss the slight blush on her best friend’s face when she thanked Spike.

~

They’d lost track of the number of rounds they’d played when Anne’s voice from the kitchen interrupted them.

“William, would you be a love and come assist me?” 

Buffy smiled as Spike popped up without hesitation and headed up the stairs, leaving the two girls alone.

It was silent for a moment.

“Soooo,” Willow began, raising her eyebrows at her best friend.

“So, what?”

“So, have you kissed him yet?”

Buffy’s eyes shot open to the size of dinner plates.

“What are you talking about?!”

“Clearly there’s something going on between you and Spike, Buffy. It’s almost New Years, which means it’s almost been a week since Christmas. And you still haven’t taken off the locket he gave you. Not to mention the giant flirt fest I walked in on down here.”

“We weren’t flirting! We were just… teasing each other.”

“Buffy, it’s me, it’s Willow. I’m dating a werewolf. I don’t care that you’re falling for another vampire, I really don’t. Besides, Spike’s been really cool since his mom showed up.”

Buffy’s face softened. “I guess you’re right. I just don’t think there’s any way he likes me. I mean, we still argue on a regular basis, and he’s been around forever. There’s no way he’d ever be interested.”

“Oh, come on, Buffy. I’ve seen the way he looks at you. Besides, Angel was interested and he’s even older than Spike.”

“Angel wasn’t interested in me, Wills. He was interested in the idea of me. It just took me a while to figure it out.”

Willow looked at her best friend thoughtfully.

“This has to do with whatever happened at Christmas that you’ve been refusing to talk about, doesn’t it?”

“Is it possible to avoid this?” Buffy asked pleadingly.

“Do you see this face?”

Drat. Resolve face.

“Fine. I had to pull Angel back from the edge of killing himself. He was being haunted by the First Evil— you knew he’d been acting strange. But in the process I had to listen to him talk about fantasizing about raping me. When I got home after that whole nightmare, I talked to Spike about it, and he said something that made a lot of sense.”

“What’s that?”

“He said Angel thinks I’m his toy at the bottom of the redemption cereal box. I have to stay in love with him and waiting around, but he can’t actually have me because he hasn’t been ‘redeemed’ yet. And he pointed out that the whole ‘love at first sight’ thing is pretty high with the pedo-vibeage.”

Willow gave her friend a curious look.

“Did he actually phrase it like that?”

“Willow!”

“Sorry… but really, did he?”

“No, it was the Buffy digest version,” she huffed.

Willow looked almost relieved. 

“Okay, good. I have enough trouble wrapping my head around how Spike is with his mom without adding in Buffy-esque metaphors.”

“Oh, I didn’t tell you— he slipped up Christmas morning and talked to me in that voice.”

“Really?! How’d it happen?”

Willow’s reaction was so enthusiastic that Buffy realized she needed to temper her friend’s expectation. 

“It wasn’t super scandalous or anything. He helped his mom in the kitchen all morning, and when I came downstairs for presents he said something about having to finish the potatoes or something like that, just all weird and fancy.”

“I think it’s a good sign that he’s willing to let his guard down like that around you.”

“Willing isn’t the word I’d use. I don’t think he thought I saw, but he looked so angry right up until I handed him his present.”

“I think maybe you should talk to him about it, Buffy. Who knows what kind of trauma he has going on there.”

“Yeah, maybe.” She didn’t say a word about what Anne had told her about Spike as a human. It wasn’t her story to share. “We’ve just been getting along halfway decently most of the time, I’d hate to mess that up.”

Willow gave her a look, but didn’t push. 

“Whatever you say.”

~

New Year’s Eve Eve was only two days after the minor spat with Xander, but Buffy had still pretty much forgotten about it when he came by to drop off snacks for the festivities the next night.

He hadn’t asked her why she wanted spicy chicken wings over the phone, of course, but had instead decided to do so in person.

And then exploded at her answer.

“He’s going to be there for New Years?!”

Buffy looked at him like he was stupid. 

“Yeah, of course. He lives here, remember?”

“But he’s—” 

Buffy cut him off.

“No, Xander. You need to stop this if you want to stay welcome in the house. Anne’s a really nice lady and I like her a lot, and Spike is different with her around.”

“Yeah, probably because he’s plotting to murder you all,” Xander grumbled.

“Stop it! Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you, Buff. It’s him I don’t trust.”

“Xander, just give him a chance, please?”

“A chance to what, Buff, get in your pants, go psycho, and kill one of our teachers? Or maybe it’ll be Giles next—”

He was cut off when Buffy slapped him across the face.

“Get out, Xander. I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

“Fine. Don’t come crying to me when this all blows up in your face.”

It only took a minute after he’d stormed out the door for Buffy to crumple to the floor, crying. She didn’t register the sound of heavy boots taking the basement stairs two at a time until she felt cool arms wrap around her shoulders.

He picked her up and carried her to her bed with no response from her.  He whispered a soft, “I’m sorry,” before leaving the room.

He didn’t feel comfortable being the one to comfort her, and Joyce was at the gallery setting up for the New Years party there, so he sent his own mother to help.

It was only a few minutes later when Anne came in.

“Oh, my dear, whatever happened?”

Buffy wiped frantically at her eyes and tried to hide her distress.

“Oh, no, it’s nothing. Thanks, Anne.”

Anne gave her a disapproving look. 

“Don’t lie to me, Miss Summers. My William said you had a visitor who upset you, tell me what happened.”

Buffy sniffled, but knew the look in Anne’s eyes. It matched the same one her son had when he set his mind to something. She wasn’t going to give in.

“I made a mistake l-last year. And people died because of it. I know it’s my fault, I know that. But Xander’s supposed to be my best friend. Hearing him talk about me like that…”

“Come here, child,” Anne said, sitting down on the edge of Buffy’s bed and pulling her into her arms. 

“People say harsh things when they anger, my dear. What was it that brought this on?”

“The mistake I made… I trusted someone I shouldn’t have, and Xander thinks I’m doing it again.”

“My William,” Anne replied.

It wasn’t a question, but she nodded anyways.

“For what it’s worth, I believe your trust is not misplaced, Buffy. I know when I first arrived you told me that my son wasn’t at all the same as the monsters you fight. I’ve seen enough to know that instead the truth is likely more complex than that. I’ve seen the shadows of pain in my son’s eyes as he tries to hide from me. But for all he’s changed, I still see the same man inside of him.”

“I don’t think it’s misplaced either, but that scares me. I had no doubts about Angel, none. And look how that turned out.”

“You’re not to blame for trusting the wrong person. You made a mistake in your judgment; you are only human, and young at that. The fact that your mistakes have graver consequences than most does not make you more responsible for them than any other.”

Buffy sniffled, but looked thoughtful.

“Thanks, Anne. I think I’m going to try to get some sleep.”

“Goodnight, my dear girl. Rest well.”

~

“Stupid berk, says he trusts the Slayer to lead him, then carries on like a complete sodding wanker. Bloody hell, I’d like to rip his throat out through his brain stem… or no… I could tie him up with his intestines! That’d show him not to make the girl cry…”

Anne stood quietly at the top of the stairs, listening to her son rant to himself as he paced the hallway below. While his descriptions made her queasy, she agreed with the sentiment. This Harris boy had harmed her surrogate daughter, and he needed some parental guidance.

“William…” she called out, a second before heading down the stairs, allowing him the illusion his voice might not have carried to her.

“Is she okay, mother?”

“She’s resting…” she paused for a moment before bringing her hand up to his cheek. “You truly care about her, don’t you?”

Immediately his old bravado stole over him. 

“The slayer? No, of bloody course not, why would you think that?”

Anne’s only response was a set of raised eyebrows.

Spike huffed out a sigh. 

“She’s not half bad company, alright? An’ she’s less fun when she’s hurt.”

“If you say so, my son,” she replied wearily.

His hands tightened around the railing as he realized that in his terror at the question being asked, he’d put on the Big Bad persona in front of his mother.

He’d just made the decision to go after her and apologize when she turned back to him.

“Do you know that boy’s address, William?”

“I do not, Mother, but I believe Joyce would know. Perhaps she could drive you over?”

~

Xander opened the door to his house to find Anne Pratt standing on the other side. She’d had no trouble enlisting Joyce’s help in finding his home as soon as she’d arrived from the gallery and heard what had happened.

“Hello?”

“Hello, dear, my name is Anne Pratt. I don’t believe we’ve met yet.”

Xander’s expression instantly closed off.

“You’re Spike’s mom.”

“Indeed I am. And I believe you would be one Mr. Xander Harris?”

He nodded.

“You seem like a good boy, Xander, you really do. I’d hate to see your prejudices ruin your friendships.”

“Look, lady, I’m sorry I don’t like your son, but—”

Anne cut him off. 

“Oh, my dear, this has nothing to do with your dislike of William. I’m here because of how you treated Miss Summers when you came calling most recently.”

“But I didn’t—”

Anne didn’t let the boy waste his breath.

“You treated her as if she were the enemy, attacked her for mistakes she’s agonized over enough. You say that she’s your friend, and that you trust her to lead you as the slayer, but you do not act like it. I don’t know much about these supernatural things, but I believe in the military they would call someone in her position a general. I believe you need to make a decision— do you trust your general, or not? And if so, do you trust your friend?”

“You have no right—”

Anne cut him off yet again. 

“I am aware that I don’t. But I care about Miss Summers and her mother very much, as they have been nothing but kind to me since I arrived. I only ask that you think about what I’ve said, in hopes that Buffy might not need to suffer the agony your arguments over her judgment will induce.”

Xander was speechless, so Anne simply nodded sharply.

“Thank you for listening, Mr. Harris. I bid you a good day.”

With that, she spun on her heel and headed straight for the car where Joyce waited.

~

It was only an hour later when there was a knock on the door at Revello Drive. Anne was crocheting in the living room and reached the door first.  She smiled warmly when she saw Xander staring back at her.

“Buffy, your friend is here!” she called up the stairs.

Buffy rushed to the edge of the stairs, but slowed when she saw who was at the door, her expression quickly turning weary.

“Hey, Buffster, can we talk?”

Her jaw clenched, but she nodded.

“Yeah, let’s stand out on the porch. Thanks Anne.”

They walked out onto the porch and Buffy closed the door behind them.  They stared at each other for a minute before he started.

“Look, I’m sorry Buffy. I shouldn’t have said what I did to you. I know you beat yourself up a lot for what happened and I shouldn’t have blamed you. If you think we can trust Spike, then I trust you.  Or at least I’m willing to try to, because I don’t want to be someone who hurts you. Forgive me?”

Buffy pulled him into a tight hug. 

“Of course, Xander. Thank you for apologizing. You’ll still come for New Years tomorrow, then?”

“Wouldn’t miss it. Besides, it’s better than whatever big party Cordy would want to drag me to anyways.”

“It still means a lot.  Thank you for trusting me.”

“Of course. I’ve gotta go try to convince her to come with me tomorrow instead. I’ll see you then?”

“See you then.”

~

And he did, technically. Unfortunately, though, he and her other guests were a prime example of ‘seeing doesn’t equal interacting’.

It was New Years, for gods sake, how did she wind up stuck here practically alone with Spike?

Not that he was awful, mind, but Willow and Oz and and Xander and Cordy were all snuggled watching the ball drop, and here she was at a table with her ex-mortal enemy whose mother she really liked.

Said mother was out with Joyce at the gallery New Year’s party.

She didn’t think about the part where she thought she might like him a little, too.

“Be right back, slayer.”

Oh great, now she was getting ditched by the evil vampire, who she very definitely did not like at this moment. Could she be any more pathetic?!

She’d resigned herself to loserdom and put her head down on the table when she heard a throat clear.

“Huh?”

There was Spike, holding 2 glasses of champagne.

“Thought we might as well ring in the new year right.”

She looked at him curiously.

“Um… right.”

She took the glass and sipped at it. It wasn’t half bad.

“Sorry you’re stuck here with me for the countdown.”

“Not the worst company, if I’m being honest,” she said, lips barely curling into a smile as she stared down at her glass.

“Thought a girl like you would have boys lining up to be your new years kiss”

“You overestimate just how much popularity being the slayer gives you. Half the school thinks I’m a freak, and the other half knows it.” She sighed.  “So, nah. And even if they were I wouldn’t be interested.”

“Guess I’m just a lucky bloke.”

The countdown started, then. 

Their eyes met as the others started counting aloud in the living room. 

Ten seconds stretched into an eternity. They stared into each other’s eyes, lost in the moment. 

As it reached one, Spike and Buffy touched their glasses together for a toast, each wearing a warm smile.

“To old enemies,” Spike toasted.

Buffy’s eyes sparkled with laughter. 

“To old enemies.”

~

The next morning when Anne and Joyce questioned their children about their New Years over breakfast, neither woman missed the sideways glances they gave each other when they thought no one was looking. 

It was as if their eyes were drawn to each other.

The women shared a look with each other. They’d discussed the possibility of their children developing feelings for one another after Buffy and Spike began spending so much time together.

Joyce was nervous, but tried to keep an open mind because she did like Spike, and Buffy was nearly eighteen. Anne, on the other hand, was unadulteratedly thrilled. Her son deserved to have someone, just like he’d always desired. And Buffy seemed like a wonderful young lady. And who better to keep him on the straight and narrow than the warrior for good, chosen, she was sure, by God himself. And, surely, it was a sign that he was coming to terms with who he was as both a man and vampire.

 


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Table of Contents
Previous Chapter: Chapter 4
Next Chapter: Chapter 6

Reviews ( 2 )

Zab Jade
January 19, 2022 00:47

Also, I love Spike quoting scripture from memory. So many forget that part of him having his humanity intact is that he was raised as a Christian.

Zab Jade
January 19, 2022 00:45

Excellent chapter. I did worry a bit about Xander's characterization, since he often gets saddled with things that Willow actually did (constantly insisting that Anya needed to act like a human was a Willow thing, not Xander, but I'm always seeing him accused of that. Or of never having Anya's back when he argued in Troll that she could watch the shop just fine on her own and didn't need Willow as a babysitter.), but he was in character, and it included his habit of doing/saying something stupid, then apologizing once he'd time (and sometimes a nudge) to think about it and realize he was in the wrong. I love that that got included.

I love Anne. She's a lovely character who manages to be a fierce mama bear while still being polite, charming, and kind.