Disclaimer: Sadly, Joss owns Robin Wood and won't give him to me. Jerk.
Note 1: Thanks to Tanja and Gyrus for the beta-read.
Note 2: Story takes place directly after "Lies My Parents Told Me".
Feedback: very welcome. Character-bashing, not so much. Please don't waste
Robin Wood dreams about leather. The smell, the feel, the sound it makes
when it's formed into a long coat swishing around a tall, lithe figure-
these things are imprinted upon his subconscious. He was cradled in
leather-clad arms when he was a baby, and those same leather-clad arms
embraced him the night his mother went away to die.
So many memories are lost. He can remember her face, most of the time, and
her voice. If he's grateful to the First for anything, it's for confirming
that his memories of her voice are correct. And he does have pictures of
her. But while he remembers her voice, he can't remember much of what she
said. Snatches of conversation here and there, her soft, husky laugh, even
a phrase or two of a lullaby (Spike's mother wasn't the only one who sang
to her son), but the rest is lost. He can't remember much of what she did,
either. He knows she was the Slayer, of course, but what about everyday
things? What did she like to eat? Were there any television shows she
liked to watch? What kind of music did she listen to? She must have
cooked for him sometimes-did he have a favorite meal she'd make for him?
Crowley never spoke of her. The Watcher did the best he knew, and Robin is
grateful to him, but he was more adept at raising a warrior than a son.
Robin never called him Dad. Robin never called anyone that.
But he called her Mom. He remembers her smell as she bent over him and
kissed him goodnight-leather, perfume, and cigarette smoke. He remembers
hanging on that coat, crying because he didn't want his mom to leave.
Black leather, smooth and cool in his grasp as her hands gently worked his
free. She had to go, because she was the Slayer.
Robin sits in a chair, an ice pack on his eye and a glass of bourbon in his
hand, and he thinks about that coat, stolen from her dead body by her
killer. How perverse it is that it fits Spike so perfectly, that it
somehow manages to look right on him.
Spike is a mystery, one that Robin can't solve. And honestly, before this
night, he didn't want to solve it. Ever since the First revealed to him
who Spike is (was?) and what he did, Robin has only wanted one thing: Spike
dead. He can be honest about that now. He pretended to himself for a time
that he wanted to understand this being Buffy had taken into her home and
her confidences, learn about him, find out if it was the same creature who
killed his mother, but that, as Crowley would have said, was utter bosh.
Robin wanted Spike dead, and by his hand.
But Spike isn't dead now. If anything, Robin should be. Dumb stunt, he
thinks, bringing Spike to that garage and triggering him so they could go
mano-a-mano. Spike killed Robin's mother, and Spike would have killed him.
Spike also killed his own mother. And he had the gall to compare his
mother to Robin's and declare that his was superior because she could love
him more than the world. More than that, he had the gall to play amateur
psychologist and declare that Robin resented his mother's Calling.
Well, as the kids at school would say, duh!
Being the Slayer took Nikki Wood away from her son long before it got her
killed. She had the weight of the world on her shoulders, just like every
Slayer before her and after her right down to Buffy. Buffy, who sometimes
also wears black leather and makes Robin feel dangerously Oedipal in spite
of the fact that she and Nikki are worlds apart in looks, for they share
the same too-old eyes in a too-young face. They are the same under the
skin, girls called, forced into being the world's defenders before they can
be anything else. Robin the 30-year-old, highly driven educational
administrator who's gotten everything in life he ever set his sights on
understands why he couldn't be the center of his mother's life.
But the other Robin, the 4-year-old whose mother never came home one night,
"Be strong, old man," said Crowley when morning came. "I'm afraid it's
just the two of us now."
Something inside Robin stopped that day. His childhood had barely begun,
and it was suddenly over. He can't recall crying over his mother's death,
not when he was a boy, not when he was a teenager demanding that Crowley
tell him everything he knew about the night Nikki Wood was killed, not when
he thought he'd finally given up the hunt for his mother's killer.
Until tonight. Another tear leaks out of his eye and down his face.
Perhaps he should be grateful to Spike, that smug bastard, because he
finally brought the tears out.
"It's the way the game is played," Spike said. Not terribly different from
Crowley's, "Slayers die. It's how things go."
Giles said that, too, while Robin was persuading him to allow him this
fight. The Watcher's British accent and cadences echoed Crowley's, giving
Robin an eerie feeling of déjà vu. What had won Giles over in the end was
his concern for his Slayer, just as Crowley's affection for Nikki
(unspoken, always unspoken) had persuaded him to take in Robin instead of
turning him over to child welfare. Giles and Crowley, too, are alike under
the skin. And they were both right in what they said to Robin about his
They were. Shit, as they say, happens. Robin could quote every cliché in
the book, though, and it still wouldn't matter. One night, on a subway,
his mother lost a fight. Tonight, in a garage, Robin lost another with the
same vampire who killed her. The vampire who took her leather coat not
once, but twice. And now, apparently, he's got to either work with that
vampire or get gone, because Buffy won't back Robin up if it comes to a
He suspects she was exaggerating. After all, if Spike killed him, Buffy
would be not only out one warrior but, in all likelihood, two. Robin's not
sure, but he thinks that a Spike who kills humans just because they piss
him off might finally lose Buffy's trust. As he can't say for certain
that's the case, though, he'll keep quiet. He'll bite his tongue, and
he'll work with what she's given him.
Because the world has to be saved. Because if it's not, his mother truly
did die in vain, and Robin can't have that. Because Buffy's right: it's
not the time for vendettas.
So he'll wait, and he'll dream of leather.