Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, UPN, Mutant Enemy, etc.
Summary: The ends of BtVS 6 and AtS 3 come together
Setting: The near future; say, August
A/N: This story is all about Spike taking his soul out for a spin, not about Angel, so we're not going to solve Angel's problems. There might well be a sequel, though; Spike and Wally really hit off!
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GRANDPA Part 7. The Larger Kind
"Bloody hell!" Spike stood in the doorway of the Magic Box and looked around. "Must've been quite a mess."
"Yes, but believe it or not, we're insured," Anya said. "So we're rebuilding. Come on in, I've got your package here." Actually, Buffy had accepted the mysterious package from LA and brought it personally for Spike to pick up, but she didn't want him to know that.
He closed the door behind him, saying, "Sorry about that, pet; guess they just didn't know how else to reach me. Won't happen again."
"I don't mind." Anya smiled at him, and handed him a box about two feet long by one wide. As she saw him clearly, her face changed. "Spike! How did -"
He gave her a warning - and imploring - look, as he noticed two other people standing uncertainly in the training room doorway.
They all stared at each other.
"Hey, Spike!" Dawn said.
He pulled himself together. This had to happen sometime.
"Hello, Niblet," he greeted her cautiously. "How are you?"
"Hi," Buffy said.
"Slayer." He nodded in her direction. "Sorry 'bout Tara, and Red. Don't think I could've done much even if I'd been here."
"No," Buffy said, smiling faintly. "All the baddies were human this time."
Dawn was tired of all this awkwardness.
"Aren't you gonna open your present?" she chirped. "D'you know what it is?"
"Haven't a clue," he said. He was pretty curious, in fact. The box wasn't heavy, and was clearly stamped 'Fragile' on all sides. There was also an 'Angel Investigations' logo.
"Please, go ahead." Anya had set up a sturdy folding table where the counter used to be. "Over here."
Spike set his package down carefully and began to unwrap it. Dawn went right over to see what it was, and Anya moved closer, but Buffy hung back.
No one knew - with Willow gone away, who could she tell? - but very soon after Spike left, Buffy had begun to dream about him; in her dreams he was somehow a 'real' guy, the kind of guy she'd always wanted. He was sweet and loving, and in her dreams she treated him with tenderness and respect. Maybe it was her subconscious apologizing. She knew she'd foolishly fallen half in love with this dream-Spike; that's why she was afraid to see the actual Spike. She was deeply ashamed of the way she'd behaved towards him; she still couldn't bear to think of some of the things she'd done and said. But his hands and mouth, the sounds he made, the cool, silky, rough feel of his cheek against hers, his strong shoulders under her hands, were as fresh in her mind as if she had felt them last night. Which in a way she had. And now, just as she'd feared, the real Spike couldn't even look at her. It was humiliating.
"Oh, wow! It's a little ship!" she heard Dawn exclaim, and curiosity overcame her embarrassment. She went to see what the fuss was all about.
"Boat," Spike corrected Dawn. "It's a tugboat." He held up a model of the Marvella, admiring it from all sides.
"Who are all those little people?" Anya asked.
"Ooh! I get it! The one with the white hair's you!" Dawn exclaimed. "And who's that with the hair sticking up?"
"Must be Angel. And the blue one's Wally." Wally's figure had clearly been adapted from a model of the Creature.
Other little painted forms represented Captain Jack, Gunn, and Fred, and there was a suitably ominous oblong box and a tiny coiled chain on the deck. Buffy heard Spike catch his breath; on the side of the little ship - boat - the name 'Marvella' was crossed out, and underneath was painted 'Friendship.' She thought she knew him, but she'd never seen such an expression on his face before - amused, proud, humble, moved, just a mite apprehensive, and - happy?
"Is this about what happened in LA?" Dawn asked. "Can you tell us? Is it like a secret or anything?"
He shot Buffy the briefest of glances. "No, but could be you've got places to go - " he suggested.
Suddenly Buffy made a decision - she wasn't going to be such a damned coward anymore. She sat down in one of the folding chairs at the table.
"No, we'd like to hear, really," she said firmly. Dawn suppressed a squeal, and sat down too.
For a moment, Spike studied the three lovely girls, all watching him with sincere and sympathetic interest. Then he had to clear his throat for some reason. "Well, then," he began, "Seems the Old Man has some right vicious enemies..."
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"First, would I have you know, for every gift
Or sacrifice, there are-or there may be-
Two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind
We feel for what we take, the larger kind
We feel for what we give. Once we have learned
As much as this, we know the truth has been
Told over to the world a thousand times;-
But we have had no ears to listen yet..."
Edwin Arlington Robinson