Pretty Dollies: Our Girl

Part 8

            Buffy stretched slowly and yawned.  She licked her lips and nuzzled closer to the pillow in her arms.  Then she smelled something suspiciously like whiskey and blinked her eyes open to a splitting headache.  It was very dark, she could just barely make out the outline of a bed.  A bed? What bed? She was in the…oh no.  Sitting bolt upright she looked around in terror just to see it was true.  She was in Spike's bed.  A quick check confirmed even worse news.  She was naked.

            This was, of course, not a good sign.  Waking up…naked…in the bed of a guy in love with her, who she was definitely not ready to be spending the night with…and she couldn't seem to remember anything about what happened the previous night. Think Buffy think! She berated herself mentally.  What could she remember? I remember…cold.  Cold hands.  Not a good thing to remember!

            There was a thump as the basement door swung closed.  Spike came trotting down the stairs, carrying a large tray.  He flipped the light switch with his elbow and smirked at the sight of Buffy quickly pulling up the sheet.

            "Morning, pet.  Brought you Red's best hang-over cure, plus some pancakes if you feel peckish."

            "Ummm, Spike? About…about last night…what, well," she cleared her throat with embarrassment.  This was not a question she ever thought she would have to ask, "what happened?"

            "Well, are you including getting piss drunk and stripping?"

            "Stripping?" Buffy's face flushed a brilliant pink and Spike chuckled despite himself.

            "Oh yeah, you're quite the little stripper.  You might consider it as a career path…especially considering I don't even have a pole."

            "Oh," she managed to choke out a nervous giggle, "So, um, what…else…did I do?"

            "Well, you were saying quite a bit, lemme think, uh," he put on a high-pitched falsetto, "'Oh Spike, you're so pretty…do you love me Spike? Do you wanna screw me? Huh?  I wanna screw you, Spike…can we? Can we now?  Oh, take me Spike!'"  Buffy's face was a shade of red previously unknown to mankind.

            "So…ahhh…did you?"  Spike's amusement quickly melted into anger.  He glared at her insinuatingly.

            "How can you even ask me that?" he growled quietly, "I can't believe this.  After all of this…that hurts Buffy.  I've sat around in stinking Sunnyhell, slaving away for your Scoobies, doin' my best, giving it my all.  So that you might figure it out.  Might show a sodding brain cell for once.  And just when I think I've gotten it through that thick Slayer skull of yours, you ask me something like that.  I love you, Buffy.  You.  Not your body.  If all I wanted was to screw the Slayer, I would have had my go with Faith and been out of here in a flash.  But no.  I stuck around, loving you.  It isn't about sex Buffy. Not even about kisses and hand-holding.  It's about you.  How perfect you are, in every bloody way.  Except love, though.  You hang on to any scrap of love someone might throw at you, but you ignore the guy who's begging for a scrap of yours.  No, Buffy.  I didn't 'take you'.  I wrapped you in a blanket, I put you into bed, and I watched over you all night long.  Because I love you.  I'm that stupid."

            "Spike…" she whispered, tears streaming slowly down her cheeks, "I didn't mean it like that…really I didn't.  I didn't want," she hiccupped, "to hurt you…"  Spike glared stonily at her for another minute, but he couldn't hold out against his girl, his Slayer, his Buffy, in tears.

            "Hush now, luv.  'S alright.  It's all alright.  There, it'll be fine now, Buffy.  Jut peachy keen, ducks.  Peachy keen."

            "I enjoy watching the foolish humans display their woes on national television," Anya told Gwinnie conversationally.  She had been sent to stay in Xander and Anya's apartment while Buffy worked things out with Riley.  Xander groaned and tried to bury himself in a carpentry magazine.  Anya seemed to have found a companion nearly as tactless as she was.

            "I haven't had access to a television for a very long time," Gwinnie admitted, "I haven't witnessed the latest dramas of the mortal coil."  Xander shook his head.  Trust the two of them to bond over talk shows.  Well, at least they'd finally solved the flower girl problem.

            Buffy took a deep breath and smoothed her blouse.  She wanted this to go smoothly and quickly.  The living room was clean, and there was a bowl of pretzels and a pitcher of lemonade on the coffee table.  She had done her hair, dressed up nicely and was perfectly ready to go (Willow's cure had worked wonders).  Ready, except for the abyss in the pit of her stomach, expecting doom.  She had a foreboding feeling things were not going to go as planned.

            The door swung open, and Riley entered the house.  Buffy prickled slightly at this, but her smile didn't betray it.

            "Hey Riley, come on in.  Would you like some lemonade?"  He pushed past her with a grunt and settled himself on the couch.  She walked around to the other side of the table and hovered.

            "This isn't a social call, Buffy.  Now, would you mind explaining to me what hallucination I seem to have had last night?"

            "You weren't hallucinating Riley.  It was real," she said, trying to keep her voice calm and unwavering.

            "So it's true that you're shacking up with Hostile 17.  Having his children, no less. I thought vampires didn't reproduce, Buff."

            "Gwinnie isn't my daughter, and she's not a child.  She's nearly 80, and a powerful warrior.  She's, well, she's sort of Spike's daughter.  She's half-vampire."  The was a bang as Riley slammed his palms on the table.

            "So you're letting Hostiles of all shapes and sizes into your home."

            "The 'hostiles' have a name, Riley.  Spike and Gwinnie are completely safe."

            "The only safe Hostile is a dead one."

            "Now we both know that-"

            "I leave and look what-"

            "Exactly!" Buffy's entire body tensed as she finally let her anger out, "You left.  You left me, and Sunnydale, and the whole thing.  That voids all your privileges, membership card was cut in half, end of story.  You have no right to barge in here and judge me!"

            "Judge you?  Judge you?  I come here, concerned about you-"

            "Concerned? Well that's a laugh!  Where was this 'concern' when you were off whoring with vampires?  Where was this 'concern' when you told me I could accept that you were a scumbag, or you were gone?  Where was the 'concern' when you flew away and left me standing here all alone?!  I loved you Riley!!"  They sat in silence for a few moments, chests heaving, keeping eye contact.  Buffy recovered first.  "There.  I said it.  I loved you, and you left me here without so much as a word.  But there's the operative word, you know.  'Loved'.  You aren't part of my life anymore, Riley.  You told me that when you got into the chopper and took off.  You can't just walk into my house, because there is nothing here for you."

            "Fine," he stood, "I understand.  I'll go."  He gave her a very fake smile and stormed out of the house.  Buffy sank weakly to the floor with the nagging doubt that he had given in much too quickly.

            When the doorbell rang, Spike was alone in the house.  Dawn was at school, Buffy was picking up Gwinnie, Willow and Tara were minding the Magic Box.  He grumbled as he went to get the door.  All the windows in the house had been at least partially covered, so he had almost total mobility.  When he opened the door, a fairly squat and pear-shaped woman with tight curls and clipboard stared up at him.

            "May I help you?" He asked cordially, not wanting to threaten someone important.

            "Yes, my name is Doris and I'm from Child Services.  I'm here to do an inspection on Miss Buffy Summers."

            "She isn't home at the moment," he said, relieved he had decided to wear the coffee colored sweater he had nicked from Giles instead of his usual black, "could I be of service?"

            "Yes, if you could give me a tour of the house, and I have a few questions to ask you, if you have the time."

            "Of course, of course, please come in," he waved her in, adopting a persona of warmth and trying to be as Giles-ish as possible.

            "So, if you could tell me your name and your relationship to Miss Summers?"

            "William Thornton.  She's my landlady, actually.  My daughter and I live in the basement."

            "The basement?" She asked, pushing a pair of reading glasses up her nose.

            "Oh, it's been furnished and very nice.  I could show you after the normal tour if you'd like."  He led her through the living room.  She peered around, jotting notes as they went.

            "Do you find Miss Summers an adequate guardian to her sister, Mr. Thornton?"

            "Oh, the best.  Buffy gives her all for Dawn, plus she's a complete sweetheart. Makes everyone in the house feel like a big family."

            "Who else lives here?"

            "Well, Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay are upstairs.  They help out with watching the girls and chores.  Then of course there's Buffy, Dawn, my daughter Guindeviere, and myself."

            "Where is Miss Summers?" Doris asked, sounding more curious than anything else.

            "Oh, she's off picking up Gwinnie, my girl.  She was off visiting friends, and I couldn't go get her myself, so the dear went to get her for me."

            "Why are all these windows covered up?"

            "That would be for me and Gwinnie," Spike said, trying to sound slightly embarrassed, "Extremely photosensitive.  It's not really a condition, but very close.  Gwinnie can go out if she has sun-block and most of her body is covered, but I really shouldn't be exposed at all.  Buffy is so accommodating, when she heard, she just covered it all up for us."

            "That was very thoughtful…" Doris said absent-mindedly, inspecting the kitchen cupboards.

            "Just goes to show how perfect she is for Dawn.  Doris, if it's not too much to ask…why are you here?  I thought everything was taken care of."

            "We got a call about possible neglect," she admitted, now watching him closely.

            "Really?  From who?"
            "I'm afraid that information is confidential, Mr. Thornton."

            "Oh, I didn't mean to pry.  It's just, I thought it might have been from Riley Finn."

            "What if it was?" the woman asked, suspiciously.

            "Well, you didn't hear it from me, but he's Buffy's ex-boyfriend.  Tried to get her to leave Dawnie and go with him.  But she wouldn't do it, so he ran off.  Now he's come back, stirring up trouble and telling all sorts of tall-tales about poor Buffy."

            "Ahhh…" Doris seemed to consider this and find it quite plausible.

            "I'm such a gossip, really I am.  But I just couldn't let something bad happen after all Buffy's done for me.  Especially since she's had a lot of time on her hands lately."

            "Oh, really?  Why might that be?"
            "Well, when their lovely mother died," Spike crossed himself pseudo-piously, "Buffy had to quit college so she could take care of Dawn.  She just can't seem to find a nice job that makes enough money to support the family, plus has hours where she can take good care of Dawn.  We all try to pitch in, but Tara's job is paying for Willow's college, and I'm a writer, so the pay's erratic.  Besides, Buffy will hear nothing of us giving her money.  We've tried everything.  Gifts, loans, even depositing money straight to her account.  She gives it all back and turns every offer down.  She's a proud bird, wants to stand on her own two feet for her sister."

            "Well…" Doris shifted her weight nervously, "I might be able to help with that."

That's all.  Lots of speeches in this chapter I know.  I generally tried to avoid them, but it seems I've got Noxon-itis.  Poor me.  cough speech