I return to work tomorrow night, and so I won’t be able to keep up this pace up any more. It’ll be back to once every 7 to 10 days or so.
I’m going to see if I can knock off a chapter of ‘Sunnydale Passions’ or ‘Savage Beauty’ before I go back to work. No promises, but I’ll do my best.
Previous parts here:
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six / Part Seven / Part Eight
Part Nine / Part Ten / Part Eleven / Part Twelve / Part Thirteen / Part Fourteen / Part Fifteen
Angel of the Morning
Now that I knew that Buffy was up to having visitors I wanted to go see her myself, but they wouldn’t let me do that yet. “Tomorrow”, they said, and I had to accept it, ‘cause I wasn’t up to being pushy. I did find out that Dawn was officially out of danger, and that was a weight off my mind.
Oh, and I mentioned the itching, and they took samples for analysis and said that they’d ease off on the antibiotics a touch and give me something for the yeast infection in a few hours, and that was of the good; ‘cause the yogurt trick was so not going to work with all the antibiotics waiting to massacre the good bacteria.
I thought about calling Anya, but decided not to ‘cause she’d only get snippy if I kept her talking too long when she could be serving customers, and I had a feeling this thing about Angel’s son wasn’t going to be explained in two minutes. I ended up just lying in bed brooding. But hey, at least my hair wasn’t sticking straight up.
- - - - -
Giles arrived in mid-afternoon. He wasn’t alone; there was a good-looking woman with him, who looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place her and I was really puzzled. I gave Giles one of my patented one-armed hugs, I was getting pretty good at those, and then I looked at the woman and Giles said “You remember Lydia, of course, Willow?”
Well, that knocked me for a loop. It was Lydia from the Watchers’ Council, the one who’d come over as part of Quentin Travers’ entourage when they gave us those tests before they would give us the information about Glory, and who Spike had tagged as ‘Lydia the Tattooed Lady’. I tried not to look too wigged, ‘cause that would be rude, and I said “Yeah, of course. Hi, Lydia.”
She had changed a lot. She was still kinda buck-toothed, but she didn’t have the glasses – contacts I guess, like Giles – and her hair was loose instead of all scraped back tight, and her clothes were classy chic instead of all severe, and hey, she was pretty darn attractive! Guess that cliché in the movies when the hero pulls off the secretary’s glasses and loosens her hair, and suddenly she’s a beauty, isn’t so lame after all. Not that Lydia quite made it into the ‘beauty’ category, she wasn’t likely to be winning Miss Universe any time soon, but she wasn’t a dog either. My first thought of ‘a good-looking woman’ was a pretty accurate description.
It was obvious right away that Lydia hadn’t come along with Giles just ‘cause of being a Watcher, or ‘cause she was a bit of a Spike fangirl; she and Giles were a couple. A new couple, there were things about each other that they were still finding out, and I don’t know if they’d, well, not that it was any of my business anyway.
I filled Giles – and Lydia – in on what had happened since he got the call from Spike. They’d come straight to the hospital; Buffy would have been Giles’ first priority, but she was asleep, and so I got to be the first to see him. That meant I could get my say in before Xander could tell his side of the story.
Spike had told him over the phone about me getting rid of the chip. That was something that had impressed Giles, and really he wasn’t worried about it at all. Spike getting Tara to act as a sort of advisor on moral issues seemed a good idea to Giles as well, although he hoped that Spike wouldn’t get Tara into any danger.
“I would have preferred Spike’s chip to remain in place for rather longer,” Giles remarked. “A few months of teaching martial arts and interacting with humans on amicable terms would have been good for him, I feel, and reduced even further the chance of him giving in to his, um, basic instincts. However, I accept your decision in the circumstances, and I regard Xander’s decision as precipitous and, indeed, counter-productive. The bad blood between the two vampires could well lead one, or indeed both, to do something stupid.”
“I told Xander that dusting Spike could even give Angel that perfect happiness moment,” I said, “like in that saying of Genghis Khan and Conan the Barbarian about the best things in life.”
“What, ‘hot water, good dentishtry, and soft toilet paper’?” Giles responded, with a baffled expression on his face that threw me for a moment until I spotted the twinkle in his eye.
I placed the quote – from Terry Pratchett - and mimed hitting him on the shoulder, not being up to doing it for real. “Not Genghiz Cohen,” I scolded him. “No, I’m talking about the ‘crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women’ thing. I scared the crap out of Xander with that one, ‘cause Angel hates Spike a whole lot. Probably not enough for dusting him to really unleash Angelus. I hope.” Well, mainly I hoped that Angel didn’t dust Spike, but Angel losing his soul in the process would make the badness even worse.
“I most sincerely hope not,” Giles said. “I agree with you that the risk is slight, but then so is the risk of Spike throwing away all that he has gained with us recently in exchange for the temporary gratification of a fresh meal. I really must have serious words with Xander. And, of course, do my level best to persuade Angel to return to Los Angeles and let us deal with things here in our own way.”
“Xander said something about Angel having a son,” I said. “That has to be crazy talk, right? Unless he’s adopted a kid, and hey, that would be a pretty dumb thing for him to do anyway.” I swallowed, ‘cause this was a topic I wasn’t all that comfortable with discussing with Giles. “Uh, it isn’t possible, is it? ‘Cause I haven’t been doing anything about taking precautions.”
“There is a prophecy,” Giles mused, and he did the gesture towards his non-existent glasses for the first time since he’d gotten here, “about two vampires having a son. Rather contradictory, if I recall correctly. Ambiguous.”
“The Tro-Clan prophecy from the Nyazian Scrolls?” Lydia put in. “A rather suspect prophecy, isn’t it? The latest word at the Council is that it was tampered with to support the agenda of one particular demon. It’s been classified as ‘unreliable’.” They spent the next couple of minutes discussing the prophecy, and they were all lit up and animated, and so much on the same wavelength that it was easy to see how come they were a couple.
Eventually I managed to get them back on topic, to some extent anyway, and I told Giles about Tara and Spike’s plan for locating Warren. Giles was impressed, and agreed to do what he could to help. He could receive transmissions from Tara and me, although he couldn’t transmit back, but that would probably be enough for him to act as the third station. “I will be ready as soon as Tara is,” he assured me. “I’m not too jet-lagged, as I managed to get some sleep on the plane.”
I happened to look at Lydia at that point and her cheeks colored slightly as Giles spoke. Surely they hadn’t joined the Mile-High Club? Not Giles! No, I had to be jumping to false conclusions there.
“Hey, fantastic, Giles,” I said. “If we can get the Warren business cleared up then all we’ll have to worry about is persuading Angel to go home.”
“This business about him having a son is fascinating,” Giles said, and he was off into Prophecy Crit world again. Still, at least he’d brought me chocolates, and he left them unopened. Can’t beat British manners.
- - - - -
I talked to Spike on the phone later. My silly little worries just vanished straight away, ‘cause he was so glad to hear from me, and he told me how much he’d missed me, and how much he loved me, and hey, we did some pretty hot talking. Between my injured shoulder and the other little problem I didn’t think we were going to be making love any time soon, but the talking was the next best thing.
I linked up with Tara and Giles in the late afternoon, and we did the spell, and we got a fix on Warren. He was in the cave system out of town where Buffy had once fought the beast that Jonathan had conjured up. I could only think of one reason why he’d be lying low in a cave rather than trying to make a run for it out of town; he was building gadgets. He can’t have had all that many resources left, but whatever he was building was bound to be nasty, and so I was all for it when Spike said that he was going straight in, and Giles didn’t raise any objections.
Of course Spike couldn’t keep talking on the phone when he went in after Warren, and so I was back to the sitting waiting and wondering, and it dragged on and on for an awfully long time.
Time that was interrupted by an unexpected visitor.
“Hey, Willow,” Cordelia greeted me.
“Hey, welcome to my sickbed, Cordy,” I replied. It had been nearly a year since I’d seen her last, and that hadn’t been a time I really wanted to remember ‘cause it was when I’d gone to tell Angel that Buffy was dead.
“So, how’s it been?” Cordelia came over and sat down by the bed. She wasn’t looking good. Her hair was dyed with blonde streaks, and cut in a bob that was totally the wrong shape for her face, and her clothes were nothing special. Hey, I looked better than Cordelia, or would have done if I wasn’t devoid of make-up, in my pajamas, and in a hospital bed.
“Pretty good, only, getting shot? Not something that I’d recommend. How’s it been for you?”
“It’s been hard,” Cordelia said, to my surprise. “I’ve been tricked and lied to, and come this close to making a really stupid decision, and now Angel’s charging off on a dumb quest and I can’t stop him.” She sighed. “So, you and Spike, huh? You’ve forgiven him for the kidnap and the bottle in the face thing?”
“Yes,” I said, unequivocally. “It took a while, but hey, it’s when Spike first really noticed me as a girl, you know? I’m over it. I’d say I was even glad it happened, only, well, you got hurt because of it, and I’m sorry about that.”
“Hey, wasn’t your fault the stairs were all rotted, and me and Xander? Would never have lasted. I might even thank you and Spike, except that I still have the scar, so, forget the thanks.”
“Uh, yeah.” I didn’t know what else to say about that topic, not exactly a comfortable one for me or Cordelia, but there was something else I wanted to bring up. “So, what’s this about Angel having a son? I’ve been pretty out of the loop stuck here in the hospital.”
“His name’s Connor.” Cordelia sighed again. “It’s a long story.”
“Hey, not like I’m going anywhere,” I pointed out, and settled down to listen.
- - - - -
“So I said ‘no’,” Cordelia related, after a long and complicated tale. “And then suddenly Skip wasn’t this big friendly thing any more. He was just an armored demon warrior, and he was mean and threatening, and I didn’t like the look in his eyes at all. He snarled, and then he forced a smile back on his face – phony as all hell – and said ‘In that case, Seer, I regret that you must lose your abilities, for they were granted to you only as a preparation for your ascension. Tough luck, babe.’ He raised his hands, said ‘Last chance, Seer. Accept the power, and ascend.’ I shook my head, ‘cause hey, after that there was no way that I was going to take that bargain – and then he sorta ripped the power out of me. I hope I did the right thing.”
“Well, that word ‘Ascension’ would have kinda put me off that deal,” I said. “’Cause, giant snake? Not a good look for you, Cordy.”
“Thanks,” Cordelia said. She opened her mouth to speak again, but was interrupted by the door opening.
“Sorry, pet, couldn’t wait,” Spike said, and walked in. He came over to the bed, took my hand and gave it a squeeze, and nodded his head to Cordelia. “Cheerleader,” he greeted her.
“Spike,” Cordelia responded. A sudden smile flashed across her face and she said “You look smashing. And have you lost weight?”
“Yeah, I know this great gym,” Spike replied, grinning back at her.
“Love the hair,” Cordelia went on.
“Wish I could say the same to you,” Spike responded, which struck me as odd, ‘cause even though it was pretty much what I was thinking it seemed, you know, kinda rude. Only they just kept on grinning at each other, sorta like they were having a moment. Then Spike switched his grin off, and put his head to one side, and gave her one of those ‘little boy lost’ smiles. “Sorry about all that, love. Wasn’t anything personal, y’know. Just wanted to be able to walk in the sun. Can’t blame a bloke for that, right? ‘S bloody brilliant, innit?”
“And you couldn’t have tried just asking nicely?” Cordelia said, arching an eyebrow.
“Would it have worked, love?”
“Well, no, but it would have saved us all a lot of trouble, and Angel wouldn’t be nearly as pissed at you.”
“Yeah, there is that,” Spike said. “Is the Mick here?”
I thought he meant Angel, but Cordelia obviously knew different. “He’s dead, Spike,” she said, and I could hear in her tone that this was someone she missed.
“Oh. Sorry to hear that, love. Had balls, that guy.”
“Thanks,” Cordelia said, and fell silent, and I was able to get a word in at last.
“Did you get Warren, Spike?”
Spike gritted his teeth. “No I bloody didn’t, love. Sorry. Nearly had him, but this floppy-haired tosser jumped in and got in the way.”
“Floppy-haired tosser? Was he a teenager?” Cordelia put in.
“Yeah, sodding reject from a boy band he looked like, maybe a year or two older than Dawn. Strong little bugger. Would’ve thought he was a Slayer if he’d been a girl.”
“Connor,” Cordelia said. “You didn’t – hurt him, did you?”
“Punched his lights out,” Spike said. “Nothing more than that. Dunno what his bloody problem with me was, but he buggered things up enough for Warren to get away. Little git smashed the cell-phone, too, so Joel’s gonna be pissed off at me.”
“That was Angel’s son,” I told him.
Spike’s eyebrows soared upwards. “Blimey!” he exclaimed, the only time I’d ever heard him use that one. “Thought when I heard Angel had a kid it must be a baby. Well, first I thought Willow was having me on, but no. What the sodding hell was the Soul Man up to in the Eighties? Thought he was hanging out in gutters with rats. Mummy’s not a were-rat, is she?”
Cordelia gave him an eye-roll. Buffy might think she could do them pretty well, but Cordy was still the undisputed queen. “Connor was born late last year. He got kidnapped and taken to a hell dimension where time passes fast. He’s only been back a matter of days. Oh, and his mother was Darla.”
“Run that by me again, love,” Spike requested, shaking his head. “Lost me there. ‘S worse than trying to pick up on ‘Passions’ after missing half a season.”
Cordelia gave him another eye-roll and then filled in the blanks.
“Ta, love,” Spike said. “Bloody hell, when I said it was worse than ‘Passions’ I didn’t have the half of it.” He flashed her a grin. “Guess Willow must have filled you in on how things are with me these days, seeing as how there hasn’t been any screaming and frantic pointing of crossbows.”
“Uh, I haven’t really had the chance,” I said. Once Cordy had gotten full steam going on her story there hadn’t been much that I could do besides listen and say ‘huh?’ at appropriate places.
“Giles and Anya gave us the skinny,” Cordelia said. “Not Angel, he was off brooding somewhere dark, and not Connor, he was doing his tracking thing and getting in your way, but me and Gunn and Fred. The others are a bit ‘hmm’ about you, but I’m okay with giving you the benefit of the doubt. Giles is the guy on the spot. Well, so’s Xander, but he’s not exactly the big brain. So, if Giles is okay with you, I’ll go with his decision. Anyway, I’ve seen another vampire make a stab at being good. Besides Angel, that is.”
“Harmony? How did that work out, anyway?” I asked.
“Oh, she screwed up and tried to kill us all,” Cordelia said airily, “but hello? Harmony? Willpower of a goldfish there. She gave it a pretty good try for a while, considering. Maybe she might have pulled it off if we’d given her more time to ease into it. Or not; I mean, Harmony.”
- - - - -
“Buffy’s much better,” Tara announced. She’d been in to visit Buffy while Spike came to me, and now that Cordelia had gone they had swapped over and Spike was visiting the Slayer. “Really. She’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, wanting to be up and about, and not liking being in the hospital one bit.”
“Yay, go Buffy!” I said. Tara was pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed herself. I couldn’t help noticing how relaxed and confident she was, calm and strong and sure of her own abilities, and thinking that she’d never quite been like this when we’d been together as a couple. Had I been holding her back, suppressing the potential that was in her? I had an uneasy feeling that the answer was ‘yes’.
Still, if I’d held Tara back in the past, if I’d hurt her, those times were past. She was growing now, becoming someone even more wonderful. It seemed like she’d changed during her time with Spike, and gained in strength through acting as his mentor. Really not such a big surprise, ‘cause I’d had the same experience. Being there for him had made me stronger.
And maybe it was time for me to be there for him again. Hey, lying around in the hospital bed was making me frustrated and cranky. I was sick of being out of the loop, just hearing about things happening after the event. It was about time that I started taking some action. There were heads to knock together, people who needed to be made to see reason. I could feel Resolve Face slipping back into place.
Tara discussed the day’s events with me for a little while, and then I made my decision known. “I need you to bring me some clothes, sweetie. I’m checking out of this place tonight.”
“Are you sure, hon?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. Hey, Spike and I said we’d lean on each other; well, maybe I’m gonna take him up on it in a literal sense for a while. Anyway, I can use magic to make up for only having one working arm, which I can’t really do in here.” I didn’t ask for Tara’s approval on that score; I was confident that she’d agree that it was a perfectly legitimate use of magic. It would be using it to overcome a handicap rather than to gain an unfair advantage, and I was pretty sure that she would do the same herself in my circumstances. Wouldn’t she? I checked her face for approval, and to my relief I saw that her smile was still there.
“Don’t try to do too much,” she cautioned me.
“Don’t worry, I’ll make Spike do all the heavy lifting,” I assured her, just as he re-entered my room.
“Heavy lifting?” He waggled his eyebrows. “Hope I’ll get something in return, pet.”
“Well, some kinds of rewards are pretty much out of the question for a while, for a couple of reasons,” I said, “but I’ll see what I can do. I’m checking out of here, so at least you’ll get my company.”
“That’s great, love, as long as you’re up to it,” he said. “Don’t want you hurting yourself.”
“I won’t, but I’m going stir crazy cooped up in here. How’d you get on with Buffy?”
“Bloody brilliant,” he said, with a big grin that made my heart give a sort of nasty lurch ‘cause I still had issues about the Spike and Buffy thing. “Right back to herself, she is. Haven’t seen her this lively since the day we nicked that sodding great Winnebago.” He did the head-tilt thing. “No need to look worried, love. There’s nothing like that between me and the Slayer any more. Apologized, she did, said she should never have done it, was just using me, didn’t feel that way towards me but asked if we could be friends. Bloody hell. Friends. Sodding fantastic! Like you with Tara, innit?”
“Family,” Tara said, in a tone of calm certainty.
“Family,” Spike repeated. “Yeah, I could go for that, pet.”
It made sense. I’d realized a while back that what Spike really wanted was acceptance and respect. When his family had been a bunch of vicious vampires, he’d terrorized his way around the world and sought to gain respect by taking on and killing Slayers. If we were his family, things would be pretty different.
“Family,” I confirmed. “Hey, Spike, my parents want to meet you.”
His head rocked back and his eyes went wide. “Bloody hell. Makes it a bit bloody official, that does.”
“And you have a problem with that?” I challenged.
“No, don’t think I do,” he said. “Bloody hell. Meeting your parents.”
“I won’t subject you to that ordeal for a while yet, ‘kay? First let’s get Angel and his bunch to go home, and get Warren dealt with.”
“’Course, love, first things first.”
“You were acting pretty friendly with Cordelia,” I observed. “Were you just playing nice to get her on side?”
“Well, maybe a bit of that,” he admitted, “but she was playing nice to me, only polite to play nice back. Got a bit of fire to her, that one, always quite liked her.” He shook his head slowly. “Told you before that I’m totally buggered as far as being a vampire goes. Just can’t see people as Happy Meals any more.”
“I know, and hey, I’ve gotta say ‘yay, go Spike’ to that,” I told him, and Tara nodded in agreement. “But we have to convince a few other people – and a vampire – before we can get some peace around here. I’m gonna make a start on that tonight.”
- - - - -
“Hey,” Buffy said. She was pale, and I could hear a rasp in her breathing, but there was a light in her eyes that I hadn’t seen for a long time.
“Hey, Buff,” I responded. “So, you’re up to talking now?”
“Well, my throat’s sore from the ventilator, but nobody deserves mime, so I kinda have to,” she said. “I’m sorry, Willow.”
“What for? It was Warren who shot me.”
“Actually, I think it was Andrew,” she corrected me. “He was firing wildly up in the air. Warren looked straight along the sights at me.”
Well, that kinda explained Andrew cracking up so bad that Warren shot him. If he’d fired high and then seen Dawn falling back from the window it would have been a big shock; I doubt if he was all that evil, just a dumb kid looking for excitement. “Yeah, well, wasn’t your fault, anyway,” I said.
“I mean about Spike,” Buffy clarified. “What I did wasn’t fair to you, or to him. I was just thinking about myself. You love him, and I don’t. I just wanted to feel something, I used him for that, and, well, I wanted to hurt you. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not like I haven’t done plenty to hurt you lately,” I said. “I’m sorry for all the bad magic stuff, and I’m sorry I dragged you back out of heaven.”
“I’m not.” Buffy eased herself up higher in the bed. “I’m glad. I want to live. I want to get out of this hospital, and kick Warren’s ass all the way to a maximum security jail, and then take some time to make things up to Dawn for the way I’ve been neglecting her. Maybe take her to Disneyland. And to make things right with you, Will, and with Spike.”
“There’s nothing to make right,” I told her. “I’m just so glad to have you feeling like the old Buffy again. And hey, Spike’s good with things too. He says being friends with you would be ‘sodding fantastic’.”
“I’m not sure I’m quite feeling like the old Buffy yet,” she said. “Hey, they cut through my ribs getting the bullet out. If they hadn’t I’d probably have been okay by now, but as it is I’m pretty fragile.” She shifted position again. “Is it right that Spike saved Dawn’s life?”
“Sure is,” I confirmed. “He was getting instructions on the phone for how to do CPR, and he followed them, and he got her breathing again.”
“Good for Spike.” Her lips tightened. “When I – drowned – Angel couldn’t do CPR on me. Xander had to do it. Why? Was Angel looking for a way out? Did he think that if I stayed dead his life would be less complicated?”
“No, Buffy, I’m sure that’s not it,” I assured her. “I think Angel’s just a bit dumb about some human things. They hadn’t invented CPR back in his day. I don’t think he knows how human breathing works.”
“That’s not the only thing he’s dumb about,” Buffy sniffed. “Where does he get off thinking that he has to come over here sticking his nose into things? Like I can’t handle Spike. Um, not that way. Not that I’m gonna need to anyway. He’s done enough to earn some trust.”
“Uh, Buff, suppose he kills Warren? ‘Cause I kinda told him to. Can you deal, I mean, ‘cause of Warren being human and everything?”
“As far as Warren’s concerned the gloves are off,” Buffy confirmed. “If I see him and he has a gun I’m putting a throwing knife in his throat. As long as Spike kills him in a fight I won’t have a problem with that. If he caught Warren alive and killed him in cold blood, well, that would be different. But I don’t think it will come to that.”
“Uh, he’s already kinda killed Rack,” I revealed.
“Tara told me. He just saved me the trouble, Will. I’m good with it.” She slumped slightly in the bed. “Throat’s getting sore, and I bet Xander and Giles will be here before long. And Angel once it gets dark.”
“I’ll let you rest,” I said, and stood up. “Love you, Buffy.”
“Love you too, Will.”
I left her and walked out to where Spike and Tara waited. Time to be Take Charge Girl and get some things straightened out. Xander and Angel weren’t gonna know what hit them.
Unfortunately Warren had his own ideas about that.
The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.