I have done a couple of thousand words on “Angel of the Morning” anyway, and I’ve decided to post them now. I’m not sure about where I’m going to break the chapters up when I put the finished version of the story up on my site; this might be a better place to stop than the last one was; or not. In a way you’re acting as my preview audience. Please let me know if I’ve used any Englishisms.
Part one was Here
Part two was Here
Angel of the Morning
Buffy only had a half shift at the DoubleMeat the next day, and I would have expected her to be home when I got in from class, but there was no sign of her. I didn’t think anything of it, just guessed she was shopping or training or something, and I just got on with things and made sure there wasn’t anything Dawn needed.
I’d been home an hour, and I was just starting to think about going to see Spike and maybe taking Dawn with me, when the phone rang and it was Buffy. “Will, we need you at the Magic Box right away,” she said.
“What about Dawn?” I asked.
“Uh, better bring her too, I guess,” Buffy said; it sounded almost as if she’d forgotten about her sister, which was kinda weird, and it wigged me a bit ‘cause I was thinking Apocalypse. Or maybe a good lead on Warren. Anyway, Buffy hung up without giving me a chance to ask anything else.
We got over there as quick as we could. Dawn took her schoolbooks in case we were stuck there a while, she had homework to do, but I was pretty caught up on my work and so all I took was the iBook in case they wanted me to do any research on the Net.
“Hi, guys,” I said when I went in, and then I did a bit of a double-take ‘cause Tara was there. She hadn’t been coming to Scooby meetings for a while, so this had to be something big. Nobody said ‘Hi’ back, they just stared at me, and Anya went and put the ‘Closed’ sign up on the door even though it wasn’t closing time yet and so she was missing out on chances to make money. I started to get the wiggins. “Uh, what’s up?”
“Dawn, why don’t you go and do your homework in the training room?” Buffy said. Everybody was looking at me and I was getting a very bad feeling about this.
“Uh, Buffy, that’s a dumb idea,” Dawn said. “Like I’m supposed to rest my books on the pommel horse?” She went and put her bag down on the research table with a very determined ‘thump’, and I was pretty glad, ‘cause I suddenly got the feeling that she was the only friend I had in the room.
“Hey, what’s up, guys?” I repeated. “You’re starting to wig me out.” I really didn’t like the way Buffy was looking at me at all, and Tara was looking at me kinda sad and blamey like when I’d done the memory spell on her, but I hadn’t done anything wrong for ages.
It was Anya who let slip what was going on. “Now what were the rules for this again?” she asked Xander. “Only ‘I’ statements, or something? This is most annoying; it’s Willow who’s supposed to know all this stuff. How can we do it properly when it’s her we’re doing it to?”
“Ahn, I think we know what we need to do,” Xander said, but the cat was already out of the bag.
“What?” I pretty much yelled. “You’re doing an intervention? On me? What for? Just ‘cause I went to the movies with Spike?”
“Well, yeah, Will,” Xander said, sounding calm and reasonable. “We care about you, and we’re worried about you.”
“Oh! Oh! I know this one,” Anya said excitedly. “The way you’re acting, the things you’re doing, they’re wrong. Nobody’s judging you; he is sorta strong and – was it mysterious? – and compact and well-muscled. If he wasn’t an undead fiend I’d be all ‘go, Willow’. Has there been any straddling yet? Oh, I think I missed out the bit about blame. Should there be blame?”
“Yes, there should be blame,” Buffy said.
“This is just totally not fair!” I protested. “I went to the movies with Spike, that’s all. What’s with the intervention? Hey, if I had boinked him I guess you’d be burning me at the stake right about now, wouldn’t you?”
Buffy looked from me to Dawn and then gave me a death glare. I’d said ‘boinked’ in front of Dawn, and that was a big no-no as far as Buffy was concerned. Hey, not as if we hadn’t been talking about boinking when we were Dawnie’s age, and after a summer hanging with Spike I’d bet Dawn had heard ‘shagged’ a time or two as well. It wasn’t like I’d said the F-word.
“Will, hearing you say ‘boinked’ and ‘Spike’ in the same sentence, really not of the good,” Xander said. “Spike is an evil undead monster. If you want to go to the movies, take Dawn.”
“Yeah, you should totally have taken me,” Dawn put in, giving me a hurt pouty look.
“We went to ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’,” I said. “It’s an ‘R’. Anyway, you were at Janice’s. We thought we could take you to see ‘Orange County’ tomorrow.”
“Yay!” Dawnie was back onside. “Me and you and Spike? That would be totally cool.”
“You are so not going to the movies with Spike!” Buffy snapped.
“Why not? It’s not like you ever take me,” Dawn said, with the pout back in full force. “You never want to do anything with me.”
“I have to work, Dawnie,” Buffy defended herself. Dawn just sniffed and went right on pouting.
“Hey, back on track, people,” Xander called. “The point is that Willow went to the movies with Spike, and then they went to the Bronze, and it has to be stopped.”
“Uh, is it just me, or is there maybe something wrong with your sense of proportion?” I said. “I mean, I’ve done some bad things recently, yeah. I wiped everyone’s memory, I got hooked on bad magic, I went to a scary magic dealer and mixed with real low-lifes and took Dawn along with me, I crashed a car and broke Dawnie’s arm, and you just let me get away with it. But I go out for the evening with a guy you don’t like and it’s all ‘oh my God, we have to stop her’. Why? Just who are we hurting by going to the movies?”
“Uh, Tara?” Xander suggested.
“Newsflash, Xander, Tara left me,” I pointed out. “A couple of months ago.”
Tara was frowning at me, which was fair enough, but she looked at Buffy and gave her a frown as well. Buffy ignored her and just kept giving me the death glare.
“Okay, point,” Xander conceded. “The thing is, though, Spike is a serial killer in prison. We’ve been through all this before. It might start off with the movies, but it’ll end up with dead goldfish and maybe people, and it needs to be stopped right now.”
I was starting to get cranky. I knew what was behind this; Buffy was getting back at me for calling her on beating up Spike, and maybe for dragging her out of Heaven. Maybe even for the intervention when we found out she was hiding Angel when he came back from the Hell dimension, even though that one had been mostly Xander’s idea. Anyway, she knew what buttons to push on Xander, and she must have thought that if she got everyone against me I’d cave. Well, I knew some buttons to push, too, and there was the big red one in reserve if the others didn’t work. “If we’re going to talk about dead people, Xander, how about we start with the ones who danced themselves to death because you got careless with the summoning?”
Xander went pale. “That – that was totally an accident,” he said. “There wasn’t any way I could have known.”
“I know, but it still happened. And I’m asking you again, just who is it hurting me going to the movies with Spike? Who’s going to die through that? If Spike’s chip stops working, he’ll either get with the biting or he won’t. I’m thinking he won’t, but even if he is going to, what difference will it make if I’ve been to the movies with him or not? Except that, maybe, if we treat him like a person he’ll act like a person. He’s been pretty decent for a while now, Xander. I don’t see any reason why I should treat him like he’s radioactive or something.”
Tara was looking at Buffy all the time I was saying that, as if she was waiting for Buffy to say something. Sure enough, Buffy spoke up, but she can’t have said what Tara was expecting because Tara gave a sigh and a frown and turned away.
“He’s evil,” Buffy said. “What more do you need? He’s evil, and soulless, and if that chip fails he’ll kill us all. You know that.”
“I don’t know any such thing. Neither do you. If you really believed it you’d stake him, but you know it’s not true.” I didn’t want to bring what Buffy had done to Spike up in front of everybody, especially not in front of Dawn, but I was starting to think I was going to have to.
“Spike would never hurt me,” Dawn told her, sticking her chin out and lowering her brows. “Don’t you dare stake him.”
“He can’t be trusted,” Buffy insisted. “He’s all right in his way, but it’s not as if he’s a person. We shouldn’t encourage him.”
“We can’t forget what he is,” Xander backed her. “He’s a vampire. So, evil. Just a demon walking around in a dead body.”
“He has done a lot of good,” Tara suddenly spoke up. “I think m-maybe we should let W-Willow make her own decisions.”
Tara must have been pretty stressed out, ‘cause I hadn’t heard her stammer for a very long time. Stammer or no stammer, hearing her come in on my side was a great big relief. I gave her the biggest smile I could manage. Buffy gave Tara the big hurt eyes and the quivering lower lip, like Tara had betrayed her or something. Tara just frowned back at her, and then smiled at me.
“Thanks, sweetie,” I said. Which was maybe a bit surreal, ‘cause I was thanking the woman I love for backing me up over my freedom to pretty much date somebody else, and maybe I should have wanted her to be all ‘no, Willow is not to date anyone but me’, but one of the things that made Tara so loveable was her generosity, and her honesty, and her warm heart, and – wait, that’s three. Oh well, I was kinda facing the Spanish Inquisition anyway.
“Well, this isn’t working out the way you said, Xander,” Anya complained. “Can we stop now? There’s still some time left before closing. I might get a sale or two in if we open up again now.”
“But Willow still hasn’t seen sense,” Xander moaned.
“If Tara isn’t bothered why should we be?” Anya asked. Xander just spluttered. Anya turned to me. “Willow, if you’re dating Spike, how should we work it at the wedding? If you’re the ‘Best Man’ it would look very odd if your date is a man as well. Should you be a bridesmaid after all?”
Well, that was pretty much the end of the intervention. Willow 1, Buffy 0. I was feeling pretty good about things by the time I left the Magic Box. Pretty happy, in fact.
That was, until I got to Spike’s crypt.