April Come She Will: Part 2
“You need some more clothes,” Buffy mused. “Yeah, that dress is very pretty, and hey, you don’t sweat so it’s going to stay clean way longer than our clothes would, but people who don’t know what you are will see you in the same dress for weeks and they’re going to think you’re getting pretty stinky.”
“A variety of clothes is part of the repertoire of a good girlfriend,” April agreed.
“The trouble is, clothes cost money,” Buffy went on, “and hey, with Mom ill again we might run a little short. We’re pretty much the same size, mostly,” she cast a doubtful glance at April’s chest, “but there are a couple of things that might stop mine fitting you all that well.”
“Boyfriends usually like clothes that are tight on top,” April pointed out.
“Yeah, but there are limits,” Buffy replied. “Buttons would be under so much pressure that if they burst off they’d shoot out like bullets. And sweaters would be like they’d been sprayed on.” At that moment a rapping on the door interrupted the conversation. “I bet I know who that is,” she said, with a sigh, and went to answer the knock.
Buffy threw open the door and glared at the vampire who stood there with his fist raised to knock again. “What the hell do you want, Spike? ‘Cause hey, so not in the mood.” Her muscles were tensed as if she was about to throw herself at Spike.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Like you even care.”
“Bollocks to that, Slayer,” Spike spat back. His hand dropped to his side but his fist remained clenched. “Always liked Joyce. Liked her even when I bloody hated you, didn’t I? ‘S not all about you. Joyce is decent. Doesn’t put on airs. Always had a nice cuppa for me, well, at least until I bloody cocked everything up with the chains thing. How is she?”
Buffy’s shoulders lowered slightly. “She’s… well, she’s not exactly okay, but she’s not in any danger. Not any more. It was a pretty close thing.”
Spike heaved a sigh and his hand opened. “Glad she’s out of danger. Is she going to be all right?”
“The docs say so,” said Buffy, “but hey, that’s what they said after the surgery.”
“Yeah, well, this time they’re probably right,” Spike said. “Complications from the op is one thing, but complications from the complications would be too bloody much. She’ll be fine. She’s a fighter, your mum, she’ll be okay.”
“I hope so.” Buffy’s head sagged and her shoulders slumped. “God, I hope so.”
“She’ll be fine,” Spike said again. “Look, you probably aren’t up to patrol tonight. I’ll do it.”
“Can I come too?” April came up behind Buffy and gave Spike a beaming smile. “A good girlfriend should take an interest in her boyfriend’s work and hobbies.”
“Bloody hell, it’s the robot!” Spike exclaimed. “What’s she doing here, Slayer?”
Buffy shrugged. “It just kinda happened. She helped some with Mom. I was just so shocked I couldn’t think and she told me to dial 911, snapped me out of it, and hey, I figure I owe her.”
Spike’s scarred eyebrow quirked upward. “S’ppose I can forgive her chucking me through the window if she helped Joyce.”
“Oh, goody,” said April. “You are the most handsome man that I have seen since my amicable break-up with Warren. You would make a viable replacement boyfriend.”
Spike’s other eyebrow shot up to join its mate. “But you’re a…” His voice tailed away. After all, he had planned on getting Warren to make him a robot Buffy; only his failure to locate the git, before he had heard the news about Joyce and become distracted, had stopped him from going through with the plan. “You weren’t so friendly last night.”
“I was not aware at that time that my amicable break-up with Warren was permanent,” April explained. Her bright smile flashed again. “You made some suggestions to me. I would be willing to perform those actions if we were dating.”
“That right?” Spike’s eyebrows climbed higher. The robot girl was certainly a looker. If she was anatomically correct, and seeing as how the nerd bloke had made her as a girlfriend she probably was, she could at least serve to get his rocks off. Maybe it might even make Buffy jealous? Nah, wouldn’t happen.
“Go away, Spike,” said Buffy, her voice and posture confirming Spike’s deduction. “Dawn has to finish her homework and I don’t want her hearing you and getting distracted. Take April and go.”
“We could go dancing,” April suggested. “That would be an appropriate start to our first date.”
Buffy’s mouth twitched into at least a partial smile. “Yeah, you two go dancing,” she said. Her mouth tightened again. “Just so long as you go, Spike.” She stepped away from the door.
“Okay, I get the bloody picture,” Spike said. “Right. Dancing. S’ppose we could do that.”
“Yeah, right,” said Buffy, as April walked past her and went out of the door, “but do it someplace that isn’t here.”
“You are a much better dancer than Warren,” April told Spike.
“Well, yeah,” Spike said, shrugging.
“Comparisons between the present boyfriend and previous boyfriends should always be in the current boyfriend’s favor,” April went on. Spike’s eyebrows descended low. They rose again as April continued. “In your case there was no need for any spurious praise for purposes of ego-massaging. You really are a much better dancer than Warren. You were better than me until I completed an analysis of your movements, compared them with those of other people on the dance floor, and then shut down all non-essential tasks and diverted all available processor capacity to dance-related functions until I had achieved parity.”
Spike half-closed his right eye and tilted his head to one side. The robot bird’s dancing had been a bit crap when they started, jerky and with too much use of the arms like Red that time when she’d been knocking back the beers after Wolf-boy had skipped out on her, but after a couple of records the robot had been swaying smoothly from the hips and moving as well as Buffy. “You can learn?”
“I can now,” said April. “It must have been part of the upgrade that Warren gave me at the time of our amicable parting.”
“Interesting,” said Spike. “Could be useful.” His lips twisted into a smirk. If the robot was programmed to do what her ‘boyfriend’ told her, and considering that she was as strong as a bloody ox, then maybe she could bring him humans to… The smirk vanished. He saw a mental image of Joyce shaking her head, disappointment plain on her face, and of the Nibblet fixing him with a sullen and hate-filled glare the way that she had at the Magic Box two days ago. Bugger that for a game of soldiers. Maybe he couldn’t fix things with Buffy, chaining her up and threatening to feed her to Dru might have been a step too far to get over – what the bloody hell had he been thinking? – but he was sure that there was still a chance to put things right with her Mum and the Bit. Only not if he got caught eating people.
“The atmosphere here is drying out the coating on my eyes,” April said. “My eyelids are beginning to grate when they go through the blink cycle. They will become abraded. I must apply my artificial tears.”
“Yeah, you do that, pet,” Spike said, and then frowned. Calling the sodding robot ‘pet’? Bloody stupid verbal reflex. She was bloody convincing, though. Smarter than Harm. Although that wasn’t saying much, so was the microwave, but still.
April departed in the direction of the Ladies’ room. Spike lit up a cigarette and took a swig from his bottle of beer. When he lowered the bottle he saw Xander sliding into April’s vacated seat.
“What are you playing at, Evil Dead?” Xander glared at Spike in the way that he did in at least seven out of every ten of their interactions. “How come you’re with the robot?”
Spike shrugged. “None of your business.”
“If this is some scheme to get at Buffy…” Xander began.
“Don’t talk bollocks,” Spike interrupted. “Was the Slayer who bloody told me to take the robot dancing. Got to admit it beats hell out of being thrown through windows.”
“Why would the Buffster do that?”
Spike’s eyes rolled up to point at the ceiling. “How would I bloody know? Probably just to get rid of me. And the robot. Could try bloody asking her.”
“Huh? Ask the robot?”
“I meant ask Buffy, but yeah, you could ask the robot what she’s up to. Not sure there’d be much point, but you never know.” Spike grinned at the evident puzzlement on Xander’s face. “Look, whelp, got something more important to talk about. What time does the hospital let in visitors?”
Xander almost managed to pull off the impossible feat of frowning and raising his eyebrows at the same time. “What’s that got to do with the price of… oh. Joyce. You’re gonna go and pretend to be interested in how she is so you can look good to Buffy.”
Spike gritted his teeth and rolled his eyes. “When will you lot bleeding well realize that I like Joyce? Nothing to do with the Slayer.” He slammed the beer bottle down onto the table and stood up. “Not going to put up with you bugging me. Soon as the bird gets back from the Ladies I’m sodding off out of here.”
“Is this the end of our date?” April asked from behind him.
“S’ppose so,” Spike replied. He turned and saw Anya standing beside April. “Hey, Demon Bird, what are the hospital visiting hours?”
“Nine to eleven and three to six,” Anya replied.
“Yeah, daytime only, Night Stalker, so you’re out of luck,” Xander chimed in.
“Think I’d let a little sunshine stop me from seeing Joyce?” Spike swung back to face Xander again and his upper lip curled into a sneer. “Shows what you know.” He turned once more. “Come on, uh, April, let’s blow this joint.”
April frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” she said. Her smile returned immediately. “Anya has been telling me about money and how it can be exchanged for goods and services. Acquiring money would enable me to obtain more clothes.”
“Should have bloody known you and Demon Bird would get on,” said Spike. “We’re leaving. That’s what ‘blow this joint’ means.”
“Oh. I did not know that. Yes, Spike, we will leave and you will walk me home. Then we can make out.”
Xander adopted a mocking sneer. “Aw, is Spikey gonna make out with a robot?”
“Bugger off, Harris. She’d score the same on the Turing Test as your bint,” Spike retorted. He grabbed hold of April’s hand and set off out of the Bronze with April trotting at his heels.
Xander watched them go with a frown on his face. “What’s a ‘Truing Test’?” he wondered, “and hey, for the hundredth time, just what is a ‘bint’?”
Buffy opened the basement door. “You can stay down here,” she told April. “That way nobody will see you recharging and wig out.” She shook her head. “I still don’t get how come you’ve practically moved in with us, but hey, at least you won’t be eating us out of house and home. And I so do not want a play-by-play of how you boinked Spike.”
“Boinked. A slang term for ‘had sexual intercourse with’,” April said. “Oh, I did not boink Spike. A good girl does not put out on a first date.”
Buffy let out a sigh of relief. No descriptions of Spike boinkage, definitely of the good.
“We just made out,” April continued. “I used kissing_01.gfd and kissing_02.gfd. Tomorrow we can move on to stage two.”
“Huh.” Buffy frowned. “It didn’t take Spike long to get over his obsession with me.”
“Oh, is he your ex-boyfriend? Was your break-up amicable?”
“No way was Spike ever my boyfriend,” Buffy snapped. “A world of no.”
“Good,” said April. “Spike is my boyfriend. You are my housemate. I will make you pancakes in the morning.” She set off down the stairs to the basement.
“Hey, wait a… pancakes? You can make pancakes?”
Joyce stepped cautiously over the threshold. She supported herself at one side with a walking cane; Buffy was at the other side with a hand under Joyce’s elbow. Dawn hovered behind them and watched her mother anxiously.
Joyce glanced around the room and her eyebrows climbed. “Wow. The place is absolutely spotless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so clean. Everything is gleaming. Well done, Buffy. And Dawn.”
Buffy’s jaw dropped. “Uh, it wasn’t like this when we went out,” she confessed. “It must have been April.”
The basement door opened and the robot in question emerged. “Welcome home Mrs. Summers,” April greeted. “I have cleaned everything in preparation for your return. A good girlfriend must have an extensive repertoire of domestic skills.”
“Uh, yes, uh, April,” Joyce said. “You were here when I, uh, was taken ill, right?”
“I was,” April confirmed. “I told Buffy to call 911. That is what you should do in the event of a medical emergency.”
“I kinda froze up,” Buffy admitted. “If April hadn’t jolted me out of it… I don’t want to think about what might have happened.”
“Thank you, April,” Joyce said, giving a warm smile that was marred slightly because the right side of her mouth did not turn up as much as the left and made her look a little lop-sided. She turned to Buffy. “Is April a… relative of Anya’s?”
Buffy’s eyes flickered from side to side before steadying to meet her mother’s gaze. “I, well, April’s a robot.”
“She’s a really good cook, Mom,” Dawn piped up.
“Culinary skills are an important attribute for a good girlfriend,” April stated.
“Uh, yes,” Joyce agreed. “A robot?”
“Long story,” Buffy said. “Uh, she’s kinda moved into the basement. And she’s dating Spike.”
“A robot,” Joyce repeated. “Dating Spike?”
“I’m not sure he had a lot of choice about it,” Buffy said. “April tends to just do things and it’s not easy to tell her ‘no’. But hey, the house is super clean, right?”
“I shall make chicken soup,” April announced. “My programming states that this is appropriate nourishment for an invalid.”
“She’s kinda like a walking, talking, version of the ‘hints and tips’ columns in the magazines,” Buffy said. “Uh, and not just the domestic hints. Although she isn’t as bad as Anya about the other things.”
“Well, I’m really not up to cooking and cleaning at the moment,” Joyce said, “and, if you don’t mind me saying so, Buffy, your cooking does perhaps lack something.”
“Like, edibility?” Dawn suggested.
“At least when I microwave pizza it doesn’t turn into Kevlar,” Buffy retorted. “So, you’re okay with April staying here?”
“I don’t see why not,” Joyce said, “and certainly not if her cooking is as advertised.” A crease appeared between her eyebrows and she lowered her voice. “She is, uh, safe? For us, that is?”
“I think so, uh, I’m pretty sure so,” Buffy said. “Warren, he’s the guy who made her, said he’d given her three laws that mean she can’t hurt people.”
April’s hearing was acute enough to have heard the exchange despite the lowered voices. “I must not harm humans,” she declared, “unless they pose a clear and present danger to the wellbeing of myself or to other humans who are obeying the law, in which case I can use the minimum necessary force to end that danger.”
“That doesn’t sound like one of the Three Laws,” Joyce remarked. “It’s a very long time since I read the books but I’m sure they were a lot less complicated.” The furrow in her brow gradually cleared. “It sounded reasonable enough, however.”
“April is totally safe,” Dawn said. “Well, as long as you keep her away from the spaghetti and the refrigerator magnets.”
“That’s all of her stuff,” Warren said. He handed Buffy a large cardboard box. “Cabling and connectors, external modem, cleaning materials, lubricants, and her clothes. Five complete outfits.”
“Lubricants?” Buffy wrinkled her nose. “No, don’t tell me, I so don’t want to know.” She glanced dubiously at the clothes in the top of the box and then her eyebrows quirked upwards. “Thigh-length PVC boots? Tacky, but, uh, I wonder if they would fit me?”
“Come in, Spike,” Joyce said.
Spike’s eyebrows shot up. “Are you sure, Joyce? Your eldest was pretty definite about the disinvite.”
“It makes things a little awkward for you to be barred from here now that you’re dating our houseguest,” Joyce said. “I’m sure that you will behave yourself and not misuse your privilege. Isn’t that right?”
Spike gave her a rueful smile. “Yeah. Sorry about all that.” He stepped over the threshold. “Never meant it to go that far, y’know? Didn’t expect Dru to turn up. Won’t happen again.” He looked intently at the right side of Joyce’s face. “How’re you feeling, Joyce? Not tiring yourself out, I hope?”
“Oh, I’m feeling fine,” Joyce replied. “April takes good care of me. I hardly have to lift a finger.”
Buffy was sitting on the couch running a whetstone along the blade of a sword. “Hello, Spike,” she said in a flat and neutral tone.
“’Lo, Slayer,” Spike replied.
April emerged from the basement before the conversation could go any further. “It’s Spike,” she said, “and he’s wearing the coat.”
“Full marks for identification,” Buffy muttered.
“I am ready to go out,” April said. “Are we going dancing again?”
“Could start off by dancing, yeah,” Spike said. He tilted his head to one side and ran his tongue over the tips of his teeth. “Move on to other things later, yeah?”
“Good,” said April. “As this is our third date it would be appropriate for me to go back to your place for coffee afterwards. I do not drink coffee but it is a euphemism for other activities. Stage three.”
“Sounds good,” said Spike. “’Night, Joyce, look after yourself. ‘Night, Slayer.”
Buffy rose from the couch and followed the pair out as they left the house. “Spike,” she said, once outside. “I’m not giving three cheers about Mom inviting you in but I’ll let it stand as long as you behave yourself.”
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Slayer, I’ll play nice,” Spike said. “April keeps me in line, anyway.”
“I’ve noticed,” Buffy said. “She’s pretty important to us right now, Spike. I’m going away on a vision quest with Giles. April has to be here for Mom. Don’t you dare screw things up. Look after her.”
“Sure thing, Slayer,” Spike said, continuing to walk away with April at his side.
“I really mean it, Spike,” Buffy said, following close behind him. She caught him by an arm and brought him to a halt. “If you’re taking her back to your crypt then you make sure that nothing happens to her. If she doesn’t come back in good shape you get staked.”
“Bleeding paranoid bint,” Spike muttered, and then raised his voice to a normal level. “Don’t worry, Slayer, I’ll take good care of her. She’s important. I get that. Nothing will happen to her.”
Across the street, lurking behind a hedge, Glory’s minion Murk grinned. “I think,” he whispered to another one of the leprous demons, “that we have located the Key.”
Spike lay on his bed and watched as April dressed. “D’you have to go back?” he asked. “Could stay here. Got electricity for you to recharge, if you need it, and we could have another shag later.” He grinned. “Bloody brilliant, that was.”
“You were superb,” April said, “and I would love to move on to positions_04.gfd and beyond, but I promised that I would spend the night at 1630 Revello Drive in case Mrs. Summers needs anything. A good girlfriend keeps her promises, not just to her boyfriend but to others as well.”
“Yeah, s’ppose you’re right,” Spike conceded. “Got to admit I’ve a soft spot for Joyce. Wouldn’t want her to have any problems. Right then, pet, I’ll walk you home.” He pulled on his own clothes and followed April up the ladder to the upper level of his crypt. He tensed as he emerged into the chamber and realized that they were not alone.
“Lady, sir,” said Jinx, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but we need a moment of your time.” A dozen more of Glory’s minions filed into the crypt behind him.
“Bugger off,” Spike snarled.
“I don’t think you belong here,” said April.
“True,” Jinx agreed. “I’m here to invite you to the divine presence of Glorificus.”
“Thank you for asking,” April said, “but I must return to 1630 Revello Drive.”
“I’m afraid I won’t take no for an answer,” said Jinx. The demon minions leapt to the attack.
Spike punched one in the face and knocked the demon to the ground. Another jumped to take the first’s place and kicked Spike.
April growled. “Combat mode engaged,” she said. “I don’t think you’re human.” She rammed her fist into one of the demons so powerfully that it pierced his rib-cage and her arm disappeared up to the wrist in its chest.
Spike back-handed Jinx and sent the chief minion sprawling. He clubbed a demon senseless. Three then jumped Spike at once. He knocked one down but the other two managed to seize Spike’s arms. Another demon hit Spike across the back of the head with a club. He staggered and his knees sagged. A second blow dropped Spike unconscious.
April kicked one of the minions in the stomach. Her stiletto heel impaled the demon and it screamed in pain. Unfortunately for April the heel remained stuck in the demon’s body and forced her to stand on one leg. She ignored a club blow to the head and punched a minion with lethal force.
“Grab her limbs,” Jinx shouted. He scrambled to his feet and seized April’s left arm. His companions rushed to obey his command and April was caught by her legs and both arms. Once lifted into the air, with no leverage, she could not free herself. “Carry her to Glorificus,” Jinx ordered. The struggling and protesting robot was borne shoulder high from the crypt.
“Bring the man as well,” Jinx commanded. “Bind him first.” Other minions seized Spike and used cords to tie his hands and legs. The demons dragged him from the crypt and carried off their two captives towards Glory’s penthouse apartment. They left two of their number lying dead in the crypt.
“The most splendiferous, beauteous, magnificent Glorificus will be delighted,” Jinx gloated, as they went. “We have captured the Key.”