*Hank Summers’ residence, LA*
She woke with a start after yet another nightmare. She’d dreamt that she was fighting the Master, only to find herself drowning again. Angel was ripping her clothes when he disappeared, leaving Spike in his stead to drag her out of the water and kiss her back to life. Then it was the Master again, chasing her. Way wiggy how my hair looked. I so wouldn’t have two-foot long pigtails.
The Master was him, only not him, just the skeleton with distended fangs and those red eyes of his, instead of the usual amber. Once again, Spike came and scattered the bones, extending a hand her way. I mean, seriously, do I look like I need saving? Who the Hell does he think he is popping all over the place in my dreams. I’m the Slayer, I don’t need his help.
Satisfied with her conclusion, Buffy walked into the bathroom and started doing her morning “wake up with makeup” ritual. Halfway through removing last night’s eyeliner, she stopped and her hand dropped to the sink. She stood there, looking at the girl in front of her and trying to remember where the carefree cheerleader had gone.
After several seconds of intense staring, she shuddered and continued by removing her mascara, then put some new makeup on and gave the mirror a cheery fake-smile. This is me being happy. I’m alive and I’ll do whatever I want. She whirled out of the bathroom, put on a pair of jeans and a white tank top and went into the living room. Since it was a Saturday, her dad was there, reading a newspaper with the TV on, some newscaster going on about something or other.
“Morning, Buffy.” He apparently was in a sour mood. Looking at his watch, he then looked up at her. “Or should I say afternoon. It’s 1 PM.”
Rolling her eyes and letting out an irritated puff, she put a hand on her hip. “So? It’s a Saturday and it’s summer. You don’t seriously expect me to not have, you know, fun, right?”
“Fun is…” Hank caught himself and didn’t continue whatever it was he was going to say. Instead, he frowned a bit. “That librarian, Gives or something, called again. He wouldn’t say what it was about, just mumbled about a book or something. Are you in trouble again?” His stern voice turned understanding. “Or is he… bothering you?”
“God, no!” Buffy took half a step back, as if someone had slapped her, and made her most expressive ‘eww’ face. “That’s like, gross, Dad. No, he’s just… I spent a lot of time in the library last year.” Seeing her father’s disbelieving face, she all but giggled. “Seriously, I did. I had to catch up and stuff. And he got it in his head that I like books or something and now he always calls to tell me when he’s got some interesting news.”
Seeing that her father was even more puzzled, she had to elaborate. “On books, or, you know, things you find in them. I get loads of homework done like that.”
Visibly restraining from commenting further, Hank went back to reading his newspaper. “There’s food in the fridge.” Putting on another big smile, she all but skipped to the kitchen.
She spent the rest of the day shopping with her father, then went to some Italian place for lunch. While she was shopping, Buffy decided to buy some more patrol-friendly clothes and even some flats. She was getting ready to explain her new choice in fashion, but her father hadn’t even noticed the change, so she just smiled, thanked him for using his credit card on her and went to the next store.
After they got back to his apartment, she flopped down on the couch, turned on the TV, while Hank went into the kitchen and started making calls. As she was zapping on the TV, there was a knock on the front door and Hank went to open it.
“Hello. May I help you?” The formal tone he used intrigued Buffy and she strained to listen better.
“I’m looking for Buffy.”
All of a sudden everything slowed down, including her heart beat, as she heard the familiar British accent being spoken by the now familiar voice of Spike. For a split second, she pondered what he might want from her, blood or kisses? She thought about how he must have found out her address, how her dad didn’t know not to invite strangers in, especially lack-of-pulsey types.
Before she was even aware of what she was doing, she was already halfway to the door, telling her dad she’d deal with it. He didn’t even have the decency to seem surprised by what she thought of as her thunderous look. Barely sparing a glance at her now very worried father, she raised a palm to stop anything the annoying blond vamp might have said.
“Dad, I’ll just step out a sec to talk to William. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.”
Her father started saying something about waiting and calling her a young woman, but she ignored him, stepped outside and closed the door behind her. What she didn’t count on was Spike not taking a step back, pressing her against her dad’s front door instead. Having him crowding her personal space was at the same time highly uncalled for and welcomed.
He had this certain something that made her feel on edge and safe at the same time, a kind of feeling she hadn’t felt many times since being called. Maybe his saving her had something to do with it, she rationalized.
Pushing him away, she finally had some space to breathe and hurriedly started whispering, “Are you crazy, coming here? If my dad found out…” She didn’t finish that sentence as memories of support groups, helpful medication and syringe-wielding orderlies flashed through her mind.
“You’re bloody kidding me, Slayer- mmpfffmmmm” He probably would have said more had she not covered his mouth with her hand.
Through clenched teeth, she seethed, “I said my dad shouldn’t find out, so stop calling me that. Actually, why did you come calling at all?”
She arched her eyebrows inquisitively and lowered her hand just enough so he could talk, but kept her palm on his chin – just in case.
“You wound me, kitten. You mean I can’t come find out how my favorite S- I mean damsel in distress is doing?” he asked with what was probably his most innocent look. For some reason, he reminded her of Wile E. Coyote. Just as she was clearing that image out of her head, he leered at her, as usual. “You know, the natives around here say once you save someone’s ass, you’re responsible for it. So maybe I came to look at your ass, see if it’s all safe-like.” He rolled his tongue around his front teeth in a way that was probably supposed to get her hot for him. It got her mad, instead.
“You’re a pig, Spike!”
“Oink, oink, baby. Never said I wasn’t.”
Feeling her frustration mount because of his presence and words, she lashed out the best way she knew how: she took her hand off his face and punched his nose.
He covered his mouth and nose with his hands, his eyes shooting daggers as he roared, “Bloody Hell, Slayer! Why’d you do that?”
Before she could do anything to shut him up again, she heard the door open behind her.
“What’s going on here? Should I call the cops?”
Buffy groaned inwardly at her father’s presence. Just what I don’t need right now. Raising her voice and turning her head slightly towards her father, never letting Spike out of sight, though, she tried to get rid of at least one of them.
“Yeah, Dad, maybe you should.” She felt like patting her own back. Her dad would probably go inside to call the authorities and Spike would run off, not wanting to explain his lack of pulse and papers to the men in blue. The plan was perfect! Perfect, that is, until the undead pest had to open his big, fat mouth and ruin it.
“That’s not necessary. I’m her boyfriend, she’s just pissed at me for not being around much these last few weeks.” Then he took his hands away from his still bloodied nose and extended his right one towards her father like he wanted to shake hands. “I’m William, by the way, but most people call me Spike.”
Buffy could have sworn all her blood had left her face as she took in the unlikely scene. There was her dad, safe behind the invisible barrier stopping Spike from entering his house, with his cell in his hand and thunderous eyes. On the other hand, the vampire she was imagining as little specks of dust flying in the wind was standing there, hand extended and an almost hopeful look on his face, despite the blood that had started dripping down his chin. What happened next was like a scene from a bad horror movie.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but I intend to get to the bottom of this. Both of you come in, right this instant and start explaining.”
Buffy mentally slapped her forehead, as there was a brief flash of victory in Spike’s eyes. What else can go wrong? She didn’t even have the time to finish her thought, when Spike turned his back on her dad after crossing the threshold and vamped out.
“Aren’t you gonna join us, Buffy?” When she jerked forward, he shifted back and smiled at her father. “I’m sorry for meeting you like this and being a right ponce, but could I get something to clean up? Your daughter packs quite a punch.”
Hank looked suspiciously at his daughter and then started heading towards the kitchen. “Didn’t know she had it in her.”
“It’s one of the reasons why I love her.” Spike replied with a conspiratorial wink at her.
Mortified, Buffy could do nothing but close the door behind her and look first at one, then at the other man in front of her. It all felt like a nightmare, although, pinching herself did nothing to wake her up. She watched as her father brought some tissues from the kitchen, which Spike shoved up his nose to stop the bleeding. Not that he was bleeding anymore, the big faker. Next thing she knew, she found herself sharing a couch with one of the creatures of the night she’d been chosen to fight, under her father’s disapproving stare.
“So, what’s going on with you two?”
Once again, Spike took it upon himself to answer Hank’s question.
“Well, I met your daughter in Sunnydale. I rescued her from some shady types wanting her hide.”
Hank’s face darkened even more, if that was possible. “Young lady, I thought we discussed staying out of trouble last year. You didn’t start it, did you?”
Buffy felt her blood run cold for what felt like the thousandth time that evening. “No, Dad, nothing like that, it was just some jocks playing a prank.”
Spike latched on to the idea and ran with it. “Yeah, especially this one git, thinks he’s a bloody Angel or something. I had to step in when he was blabbering about soul mates and such rot.”
Lowering his voice to a conspiratorial tone, he leaned in a bit closer to Hank, “Between you and me, I don’t think he had the best intentions for my girl, here.” Turning to her, he seemed outraged as if a thought had just occurred to him. “You didn’t meet with the pillock again, did you?”
Pinning him with an icy glare, she responded with an equally frosty tone, thinking about how to get rid of him faster. “No, haven’t seen him since that night when we first met.”
Her father, frown firmly in place, cut their discussion short. “How old are you, William, and what do you do with your time?”
This time Buffy intervened before Spike had a chance to say anything, worried that he’d make things even worse. “He’s twenty-five and he’s a bouncer.”
“A bouncer? Well, I guess that explains the Spike thing. And what are your intentions regarding my daughter?”
Buffy felt like she was about to burst out laughing, although she was still way wigged. If Spike had been a real boyfriend, she would have probably chewed her dad’s head off for going after him like this. The way Spike was put on the line for his stupid ideas made her all giddy inside, though. Like anyone could believe we’re together.
“Well, uh, sir…” Buffy decided it was fun watching Spike squirm. Of course, in what she was beginning to suspect was his usual fashion, he turned things around on her. “I know we’ve only been dating for a few months, but I was raised a gentleman. I’ll wait for her to turn 18 and then we’ll get married.”
Hank looked as stunned as she felt. Spike was surprisingly not laughing as he took Buffy’s hand in his and looked deeply into her eyes. “Sorry to spring this on you like this, kitten, but it just had to be said.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
Once again, Hank cut to the chase. “Have you two slept together? You realize I could have you thrown in jail, young man, don’t you?”
“Gross, Dad. How can you say that? Jeez, of course I didn’t sleep with him.” Getting past her initial outrage, she was even more upset by what her father’s words meant. “Is that what you think of me?”
“Well, what am I supposed to think? You burned down a school, start hanging out with that no-good Pike and then you come up with those ridiculous stories about fairies and vampires and only God knows what else. Now this guy shows up and calls himself Spike, which, by the way, isn’t that far off from the last one. On top of it all, I hear you’re in trouble again and then this guy is boasting that he wants to marry you. Really, Buffy, what am I supposed to believe?”
She could see a vein in his temple almost bursting from his fury. His face was all red, just like when he and her mom had been fighting before their break-up. The little girl inside Buffy crawled inside herself and started weeping. That left the Slayer in charge.
“Well, for one, you could just ask, not jump to conclusions. You could also just believe me when I tell you something, not call the loony bin.”
She felt Spike tense after her last statement and noticed her father backing up in the armchair looking almost scared of something. Turning to the current bane of her existence, she was surprised to see the blond seething with fury. A muscle on his jaw was ticking, his hands were balled into tight fists and his eyes were shooting daggers at her father.
In a chillingly calm voice that contrasted with the pot ready to boil impersonation he was doing, the vamp spoke without unclenching his teeth, “You put your daughter in a loony bin? What kind of sick ponce does that?”
“Who the hell do you think you are, asking me that? For all I know, you’re some pedophile trying to bed my daughter.”
Both men rose from their seats and stood toe to toe, something that Buffy knew could end leaving her an orphan. She stepped in between the two and placed a hand on each of them in restraint.
“Enough with the alpha-male posturing. Spike, you better get out of here now, before I kick your ass. Dad, let it go.”
The following seconds became a blur. Hank tried to push Buffy away, the only thing keeping her on her feet being her Slayer reflexes. Spike seemed to lose it at this and probably before her dad knew what was happening, he was being held in the air by the neck with one hand.
“Don’t touch her, you bloody git!”
Buffy sent Spike flying with a kick and took a defensive stance in front of her stunned father. “Get the hell out of here, Spike, before I remember who we both are.”
Spike seemed to be almost as stunned as her dad was as he got up slowly. “This is all your fault, Slayer. I came here to play nice, not listen to 20 sodding questions.”
He then rounded past her, moving sideways so as not to give her an opening for another attack. Before he went out the door, though, he stopped, straightened out and looked at Hank again. “By the way, next time you threaten someone, or invite them into your bloody apartment, make sure they don’t look like this.” He then vamped out and showed off his fangs. “Until next time, Slayer!”
With that, he was gone, leaving Buffy exhausted with all the ups and downs of the emotional rollercoaster she had just been through and her dad looking ready to throw up. After what felt like an eternity of neither of them looking at the other, her dad’s shaky voice broke the silence.
“Who… what was that guy?”
“Sit down, Dad.” As they both collapsed in their seats again, Buffy took a deep breath and got ready for a long night. “You can’t tell mom about any of this.”
She then proceeded to tell her horrified dad how she’d spent the past year of her life.
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